Ruby opened by sharing her Cree name with us. It is Kihew Pihesiew Iskwew, which means Eagle Thunderblood woman
Ruby gave an honest and informative presentation, referencing events and patterns of our past to understand the focus for healing and growth in our present. She spoke of her desire to instill empathy, not sympathy, quoting Dr. Anne Anderson, “You don’t know where you are going if you don’t know where you came from.”
Ruby spoke from her own experience of the many barriers faced by Indigenous peoples, including:
- Lack of literacy and education
- Cultural differences/identities
- Racism, Discrimination, Stereotypes, Stigmas
- Lack of Self-Awareness, Self-Confidence, Self Esteem (Not sure how to heal)
- Poverty, poor housing, transportation
- Lack of adequate child care
She spoke with vulnerability and honesty about oppression and the harm that comes from victimization that becomes part of our identity. She spoke of internalized oppression, the process by which a member of an oppressed group comes to accept and live out the inaccurate myths and stereotypes applied to the group. Quoting Michael Denneny, “We hate ourselves because we grew up and live in a society that hates us”.
Part of addressing Truth and Reconciliation is over-turning myths and misconceptions that continue to distort perspectives of Indigenous peoples in Canada. See resources for a video on stereotypes of Indigenous people.
Ruby talked specifically on a number of topics relevant to First Nations and intergenerational trauma:
- The profound impact of Residential Schools on a spiritual people who weren’t allowed to pray, to sing, to dance, creating a craving for spirituality and the place that people are hungry for healing. This emptiness is what addictions are trying to fill.
- Intergenerational Trauma is known by losses, loss of meaning, family, childhood, feeling desensitised, loss of culture, identity and ceremonies.
- Truth & Reconciliation – Ruby shared a link to a video on What is Reconciliation to support us to understand the context of what coming from these past patterns means.
- Health & Wellness – In speaking to health, wellness and balance, Ruby spoke about resilience, the ability to bounce back and grow and thrive during stress, challenge and change. She shared the Medicine Wheel with four aspects to our nature – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual as a way to participate in something greater than yourself to develop yourself as a healthy, well-balanced individual through the development and use of volition.
- Decolonization – She also described Decolonization as a movement towards spirituality, wholeness, wellness, serenity, balance, equality, respect, empowerment, and communication. Decolonization is a process to re-evaluate what we have internalized and the systemic change in our society.
Making a Difference
How can workplaces support Indigenous employees in a positive way who have been traumatized and how can Indigenous employees find that support?
- For Indigenous employees, if you develop self-awareness, to know who you are you are no longer the person who is bullied – this takes away the power of lateral violence in the workplace, takes away its power over you.
- Provide flexible work hours, work at home policies to help when things come up from trauma history/recovery.
- Find champions/allies – stay close to them.
To be a change agent as a Cree woman, Ruby learned to find champions, walk with them, learn and grow. To question different approaches to leadership.
Ruby shared a variety of resources with us throughout her presentation including:
CBC video on the 60s Scoop – https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1261820995891.
What is Reconciliation – https://vimeo.com/25389165
Wab Kinew on stereotypes of Indigenous peoples. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlkuRCXdu5A
+firstname.lastname@example.org I’m not sure I understand the go away from convo with their old beliefs. Can you explain this? TIA
_Assigned to Cheryl Whitelaw_