I haven’t immersed myself in the news about the recent nationwide protests in support of the Wet’suwet’en Nation. There are two main reasons for this, I suppose.
- I’ve been busy/don’t have time to read all about it and listen to the news. I run a business and I have a child. Those keep me busy enough. And they often seem like good excuses not to engage with anything else. “I don’t have time” is a common refrain around here. But not engaging takes us out of the conversation and out of connection with others. How can I be too busy to support a fight against oppression?
- The story isn’t new. This isn’t the first time the Canadian government has disregarded Indigenous Peoples, their land and their wishes. It’s not the first protest by Indigenous Peoples in this country whose borders were drawn without regard for the millions of footsteps all over the continent and what that meant. But this lack of new-ness should make it even more crucial to step up my allyship.
Can you relate to either of these?
A Call for Compassion
But I did take note last week when I was driving (an anomaly in itself) and listening to CBC. They were covering the protests in Belleville and the blockade on the railway tracks. An Indigenous Leader (I can’t remember his name) was recorded speaking to the protestors there and telling them that the impact had moved from the corporate and CEO level to the “little guy” – the workers, who were now facing hardship because of layoffs.
This is what protests are meant to do – they create hardship so we pay attention. Money talks in ways other voices aren’t even allowed to speak in our society.
But then he said something more, he reminded the people he was speaking to that they too know about hardship, generations of having nothing, and to keep that in mind, and to end the blockade.
I was stunned.
What an amazing example of awareness, connection and compassion. In the midst of one’s own fight – and a huge fight for the survival of one’s way of life, beliefs, people…
Awareness, Connection, Compassion…
I can’t think of the last time I heard a leader express awareness, connection and compassion for the other side of a conflict. I wonder what would happen if we did this more. Raising awareness and increasing connection are part of my work. They are critical components of creating inclusion and belonging. WE have to see each other, we have to know at least a little bit about each other and what others are going through. We have to be aware of our own identities, lives and experiences. And when we connect, then, we start to create a bridge. Compassion takes that experience to another level.
If you are interested in learning more about how to create inclusion in your organization, schedule a time to chat with me here.
One more thing before I sign off today:
I have learned, in my reading in the last days, that much of BC is unceded territory. Do you know what this means? (It’s likely many of us don’t). It means that the land we call British Columbia, with a few exceptions, was never part of a treaty. That means, technically, it still “belongs” (even though Indigenous People don’t use the word ownership) to the Indigenous People who have lived on it for thousands of years. You can read more about this here.
What does it mean then, for the Canadian government to build a pipeline through unceded land whose people are not in favour of the pipeline, and to have RCMP officers on site?
Think about that for a moment….
And then consider that we are supposedly in the era of Reconciliation.
(c) 2020 Annemarie Shrouder