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One small step

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Tomorrow, consider how you can make a positive difference, however small, towards Reconciliation. Even one step is better than none, says Jody Vance.

My first-ever job in media was to cruise around town in a logoed vehicle in search of cool community events, like a car/home/motorcycle/boat show. I kissed a lot of community event frogs before finding a game-changer.

In my first summer behind the wheel of the CHRX Community Cruiser, I received a fax invitation (yes, it was 1989) to attended a “First Nations Fair” at the PNE Forum Building.

This fair was so unique and special, not because of flashy staging or banners — in fact the opposite was true. I walked into the most simplistic set up. As far as I could see there were tables with hardworking artisans working their crafts with simple cases of the most incredible wares.

Even on the most precariously tight budget, I would make my first of many Indigenous art purchases.

The item is still on my hand, its purchase deeply etched in my mind, and heart.

The artist turned out to be Richard Baker, whose entire lineage has been native artists, and was influenced deeply by his maternal grandmother, Katherine Scow, of the KwaKawk’kwa Peoples.

He was explaining what each animal represented, and how it was drawn, then carved, into the wood or metal. He handed me a gorgeous silver carved eagle band, which I slipped onto my right ring finger thinking there is no way I can afford this, I have barely enough to make rent.

“$40”

“Pardon me?” In my mind it was worth ten times that.

“The ring, it’s $40…..”

I bought two, a pendant, and earrings.

The artist lit up, reacting as though I had honoured his family. A raven pendant for my grandmother, orca earrings for my mom and the silver band – just like mine for my older brother. (Of course on Christmas he eyeballed my band and ended up swapping so he could have it adorn his pinky — which it still does to this day.)

Those impulse purchases became not only that Christmas’ most coveted gifts, but started a tradition of Indigenous art at the centre of our family’s gift giving.

In one Saturday afternoon’s purchases my entire immediate family was hooked on the astounding craftsmanship, stories, and meaning behind each item.

Thirty-three years later Indigenous art is woven into our family, and has elevated how we give, and receive. I explain all this to help have more join our humble learner’s path.

There has been much more growth in understanding far beyond beautiful Indigenous art: the importance of learning the history of those whose lived here before settlers arrived, and the impact that arrival had on their ways and cultures – not to mention the horrific treatment of the people.

I tell you this little tale so that you might be a part of the awakening and start your journey on tomorrow’s stat holiday.

September 30th, 2021 is the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, and should be recognized and spent similarly to Remembrance Day: opening eyes to history, honouring those tragically and avoidably lost and the heroes who made change, and moving forward to see our political leaders take meaningful action to repair damage done.

The importance of collective learning around the culture of First Nations, Indigenous, Inuit and Metis Peoples on this September 30th, 2021 is truly a must in this Middle. It cannot simply be “a day off with pay.”

What you do with this day, matters.

It matters how you spend the time offered for learning.

It matters Truth and Reconciliation be a subject to tackle with loved ones on this day.

It matters for those of us whose ancestors came from elsewhere to acknowledge how that happened, how racism continues against Indigenous Peoples.

It matters who made your orange shirt.

Take pause.

If you happen to be a non-Indigenous person, there’s a responsibility here – but with acknowledgment and learning, there’s a path toward a new Canada where equality is the foundation.

Stepping down that new path should not require more stirring of generational trauma. Now is not the time to shift burden onto, nor ask, Indigenous Peoples to guide us.

One worthwhile suggestion out there is a grassroots initiative called @GiveOneDaysPay: calculate your day’s pay and find a way to spend it in support of Truth and Reconciliation.

Seek out First Nations, Indigenous, Metis, and Inuit organizations, artisans, and businesspeople and lift them up. There is so much to learn from and acknowledge here.

Healing can’t happen in one day, but I invite you (if you’re non-Indigenous) to consider making a tradition of giving at the root of the new September 30th stat holiday.

If your budget is tight, look ahead on your holiday calendar — perhaps someone or everyone on your Christmas list gets something made by or sold by an Indigenous artist.

If your budget is zero, this Middle asks that the day be spent really learning about what has happened and what must change. I highly recommend Indigenous Educator Kevin Lamoureux’s Ted Talk:

The path from the atrocities of the past toward a healing future starts with your next move.

Take the opportunity to do something, however small, to contribute to Reconciliation.

Jody Vance is a born and raised Vancouverite who’s spent 30 years in both local and national media. The first woman in the history of Canadian TV to host her own sports show in primetime, since 2011 she’s been working in both TV and radio covering news and current affairs.

SWIM ON:

SWIM ON