Why “That was in the past, why can’t indigenous people just get over it?”, doesn’t really work as a healing strategy


shared via the Native Women’s Association of Canada

This animation, launched a year ago in Australia, at The Healing Foundation’s #OurFuture Youth Webinar was created as to explain where Intergenerational Trauma comes from and how it impacts young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

Because, here’s what’s crazy… the same thing that happened to indigenous people in Canada happened to indigenous people in Australia. (Which makes it harder to rest back on the myth “well, they were probably well-meaning when they took the kids off to school”, because honestly, it wasn’t accidental to deploy the same playbook, which was probably subtitled How to Subjugate an Entire People Without Formally Declaring War so you Can Colonize Their Land and Take Over Their Resources without any Bloodshed of Your Own.)

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the importance of acknowledgement, as the first step in any relationship. “Acknowledge” derives from an old English word – oncnawan – meaning to “understand, come to recognize.”

The word now signals an action that is the opposite of ignoring, overlooking, rejecting or denying. It’s a gesture of greeting, a demonstration of noticing, an acceptance of validity, an expression of appreciation. It strikes me that it is a very small act – a nod, a smile, a wave – but a massively powerful one. I’ve been trying to enfold “acknowledgement” into my (loose and spotty) gratitude practice… it’s a chance to think and name things I’m grateful for. I acknowledge the trees because their exhalation is my clean air, and that’s quite remarkable. I acknowledge the weeds around my yard that I have just learned have healing properties, how amazing, that medicine is underfoot. I acknowledge the effort my partner made to brew me a cup of coffee… all these things are just my attempts to see, beyond the surface, to weave myself into this network of stories and marvel. It requires me to name them. And to look for specific parts of their story. It’s my way of stretching and waking up each day, and attempting to not ignore, overlook, reject or deny things that matter. Like people. Like people’s stories. Like history. Like each other.

Having a better relationship with each other, and a stronger community, requires acknowledgement. And this short video seems to offer insight that can help there. It’s beautifully done, but it still tells hard truths, that are hard to hear, hard to not want to resist, hard to acknowledge. But that’s the work we are all called to do. In my opinion. Because our healing, and the healing of the Earth, is all interwoven. Our ancestors might have damaged each other, but our descendants are going to have to rebuild together.

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