I have some pretty strong feelings about today’s public holiday, foisted upon us as a last minute reaction by a federal government (and its provincial counterpart) that has been otherwise exceptional in its heel-dragging, litigious delay strategies, and utter failure of responsiveness in anything related to Indigenous people – for backroom deals that absolved the Catholic Church of a legal obligation to pay reparations, for failure to implement UNDRIP, for the BC governments talk-and-log policy (apparently, forestry practice has been “under review” for the last 25 years, and still the trees come down.) But wow, in comparison, today’s holiday was a quick and decisive turnaround.
A few responses that friends and colleagues have suggested that seem more responsive than reactive and might land with you as a way to move towards right relations with the kings and queens all around you all the time – :
- You could take this opportunity to make a donation to IRSS (Indian Residential School Survivors Society)
- Wear your orange shirt (and please don’t buy one from Walmart, and enrich the Walton family any further, but seek out a vendor that actually directly supports Indigenous makers and communities. I got mine from the Lil’watul Cultural Centre, in the Ts’zil Learning Centre in Mt Currie, which is the most wonderful and thoughtfully appointed gift store and well worth a visit.)
- Gift flowers to an Elder or an Indigenous woman. Tanina Williams has shared with me that one way she has worked at decolonizing herself is to remember that she is a matriarch from a long line of matriarchs… (and a matriarchy, in the way I hold it up, is not just about who holds the power, but what is centred in the system of power. It’s not about women lording it over everyone else, but about Life being centred, and so, the key values in a matriarchal society are going to support thriving life – things like clean water, and safe schools, and children’s health and maternal health and connection and mental health… )
- Spread out the learning and unlearning from now until September 30. One day for truth and reconciliation is never going to be enough, so maybe the Prime Minister unknowingly did us a big favour, by creating an unofficial 12 period of learning and mourning, for all that was lost and destroyed when a British monarch, the current king’s namesake, King Charles II, signed an exclusive and monopolistic charter to the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1670.
- Take some time to contemplate what it means to be a subject in a monarchy, (which is what we are in, because this public holiday is an acknowledgement of the death of our technical and legal head of state), versus what your inner sovereignty feels like, and what subtle shifts might take place when you operate from your own inherent power while simultaneously honouring the worthiness of every single person you encounter.
Yesterday, after a conversation in this vein with some friends, I decided to explore what it would feel like to step into that… how might I channel some archetypal queenly vibes? How might I channel a little Queen of Wands energy – the queen of wands being a symbol of creative confidence? I was trying to manage the selfie angle to get the sunflower in view when my cat showed up. Haha. So good. The best realisation for me was that empowering my inner queen did not require me to have subjects, to boss anyone around, to be waited upon. That is the dominance power-over paradigm that monarchy is part of and that we desperately need to rout out and upgrade now, into a power-with system. I just had to dig up the crown that a brilliant friend made me once and that I never felt quite arty and playful or worthy enough to pull off. Yeah, it all comes back to Brene Brown, a queen herself, reminding us that we are worthy of love and belonging. And hey, my backyard coronation.
I’m not say Elizabeth Windsor was not worthy of love and belonging. I’m just saying she was no more worthy of that than any of us. So go and treat someone today like they are wearing the crown of their own inherent worthiness.