Local Indigenous residents share how to show support, solidarity

Local Indigenous residents share advice for non-Indigenous Canadians on how to show support and solidarity with Indigenous communities, specifically following the recent discovery of children's bodies at a residential school site in Kamloops, BC.

June 21 marks the 25th anniversary of National Indigenous People's Day

Tina Jacobs, right, and Jeff Kozolanka, left, with the the Canadian American Indian Friendship Centre in Windsor, welcome more residents to stop by and learn about Indigenous culture. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

As Indigenous people in Canada are honouring their culture on National Indigenous People's Day, non-Indigenous Canadians can show their support and solidarity. 

Bean Deleary, a community educator and community consultant on Walpole Island First Nation suggests people read Indigenous literature and share it with their family. 

"This is a time for learning. It's a time for examining those truths," Deleary said. "Find an Indigenous author. Find a book to read. Find a story to read your children about Indigenous people."

Deleary, along with many Indigenous people in Canada, is personally challenged by the recent discovery of what are believed to be the unmarked burial sites of children's remains adjacent to a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C.

"In many of our communities we're in a place of mourning. We're in a place of grief," said Deleary. 

"I wasn't feeling very celebratory today. At the same time, this day is about recognizing. Recognizing Indigenous people and honouring the fact that we still have our culture."

He and his family plan to spend time on the traditional lands and honour the cultural connections and lands. 

WATCH| Deleary talks about how people can show their support: 

Bean Deleary gives guidance to non-Indigenous people on how to show support and solidarity for National Indigenous People's Day.

3 months ago
Bean Deleary gives guidance to non-Indigenous people on how to show support and solidarity for National Indigenous People's Day. 3:36

June 21, 2021 marks the 25th annual National Indigenous Peoples Day, an opportunity for all Canadians to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage and diverse contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. 

Tina Jacobs, executive director at Canadian American Indian Friendship Centre in Windsor, said the recent discovery in Kamloops and ongoing investigations into other residential schools, has made this year more about awareness rather than celebration. 

"It's something that's always been there and never been talked about and now it's out and more people are actually realizing how true it is," said Jacobs. 

Orange shirts

She suggested wearing orange shirts, a budding tradition to show support and remember the effects of residential schools in Canada. Jacob's shirt reads, 'Every Child Matters.'

"It's every child, like all the children matter. I don't care if they are Indigenous or they're other cultures. All children matter and no child should be treated that way. Our children are our future and they're the ones that are going to look after our language and our culture and everything, so we have to cherish them," said Jacobs. 

Windsor-Essex residents were invited to swing by the centre this year for a taste of Indigenous culture and to show their support.

"The biggest support Canadians can show to Indigenous people is listen to their stories and understanding their stories are a part of Canadian history," said Jacobs. 

With files from Jacob Barker