April 21, 2021 – Staying Warm – A Guide to Allyship in Action presented Jacqueline and Hunter Cardinal of Nayeyawin and sponsored by TD Canada Trust and On Site Placement
On behalf of the Edmonton Business Diversity Network, thank you all for making our 2020/21 season an incredible experience. We managed to adapt to the new way of operating and thanks to some very special speakers we were able to partake in some meaningful conversations.
We had the privilege of wrapping this year’s educational session series with a special presentation from Jacqueline Cardinal, Founder & Managing Director and Hunter Cardinal, Founder & Director of Naheyawin. Naheyawin offers sustainable, practical and indigenous-based solutions for the improvement of diversity and inclusion in business and organizations through education and storytelling.
Using these tools they took us on a knowledge journey, which was just the tip of the iceberg of what exists about Indigenous people and the way we navitate and experience past, present and future. Although we weren’t face to face, we approached the session as if in a sitting circle.
The summary below is just a snapshot of the knowledge that was shared.
We kicked off the session with an Opening Circle where participants were invited to share who they were, where their family is from, and where they make their home today.
Worldviews and language
Our journey started with Indigenous worldviews and language
- Indigenous people have resided on Turtle Island as far back as we can remember.
- Sakihtuk: The nehiyaw first sacred teaching to love one another. It comes directly from our understanding of how the earth shows its love by allowing things to sprout or grow.
- The connection to land is key to understanding the complex and dynamic relationality that underpins the worldviews of Indigenous people.
- Additionally, language comes from the land – and by speaking a language indigenous to a place is taking part in singing the songs of the world. Many Indigenous languages are very diverse and others are similar to each other and many Indigenous languages have a written form.
We were taken on a trip through history and explored the formation of governance.
- Jacqueline and Hunter shared that because Indigenous peoples understand all things and beings as connected to the land, we understand ourselves as connected to each other.
- This belief influenced the creation of complex and varied governance models, many of which include a strong spiritual element at their core.
- Perspectives were illustrated using the example of a tree: we can all be standing around a tree, looking at the exact same tree, but each of us will bring a different perspective to what we are seeing. When we take the time to share that perspective from the lens through which we are viewing the tree, together we are able to create an understanding of the whole.
- Western treaties are written after a conflict (Treaty of Versaille, World War 1) and draw a line in the sand as a means to set the stage for peace.
- Most indigenous treaty processes were created in kinship where the participants determined what was needed to coexist in a good way and the treaty was written as they moved forward.
- Examples of this include the Dish With One Spoon wampum, which was made between the Anishinaabe and the Haudenosaunee in 1142 CE.
- On Turtle Island, the first relationship agreement between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous people followed Indigenous legal traditions. One of the earliest was the Two Row Wampum Treaty: made in 1613 between the Dutch and Haudenosaunee.
- Effective governance led for a very active Turtle Island. The example that was shared was two rows of blue separated by three rows of white. Each of the blue rows represented a culture and the white – peace, friendship and understanding. It was agreed that if they had these values guiding their actions they could continue down this river, maintaining the uniqueness of each culture, accepting a change in a process in being and becoming with each other.
How does the work started by our ancestors influence or guide how we stand with or for each other in a way that is supportive and meaningful?
- Self- Location: We need to know where we are in order to understand our relationships and identities.
- Real Accountability: Expectation that we should be able to tell the story about our place in the larger set of stories we’re a part of.
- Calling In Culture: instead of calling out culture. This is built on respect and maintained by returning to clear values.
- Sustainable commitment: aim to build on small successes rather than big wins.
Ethical Space: when applied to the analogy of the vessels- we are not the same, we are equal, we are not the same, we are different – doesn’t mean we can’t explore but we need to respect and protect difference, diverse, vibrancy – take action to maintain our own vessels – more inclusive for indigenous people to enter.