An Indigenous Response to Black Lives Matter
An example of human failure that systemically reveals itself in waves, is racism. Recently, senseless deaths, or should I say murders, of Black people in the United States have given the issue light once again.
Black Lives Matter posters and marches flood newscasts. Then, inevitably, possibly feeling left out, other oppressed groups raise their voices to be heard. Their signs show up on social media. And Indigenous people are among them. I’ve seen Indigenous people asking, “What do we do about this? How do we respond?”
Well, to me it’s a no brainer: support them! Walk beside them. Don’t raise your issues to try to drown out their protest, just because they have media attention. I consider that a kind of theft. Stealing their thunder, so to speak. This demonstrates a lack of integrity.
I began to give it more serious thought and discussion. I saw on mainstream media, at one protest, a sign stating Indigenous sovereignty and Black Lives Matter on the same poster. Amen.
Then Creator brought to my attention a little known fact about June 21. Nearly 100 Indigenous people in the United States demonstrated outside the Bureau of Indian Affairs to show their support for the Poor People’s Campaign in Washington, D.C., which was conceived and organized by Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968.
This is what I expect Indigenous people to do. So now we have a precedent. I also discovered that John Boucher (1938-2010), a long-time senator for the Métis Nation-Saskatchewan, and the Métis National Council had given Nelson Mandela a gift of a Métis sash on September 24, 1998 in Ottawa. When Mandela addressed Parliament later that day, he wore the sash. How cool is that?
So this is how we (Indigenous) people should respond. Stand beside, support, and also give honour to Black leaders.
Sharon Pasula is an Indigenous spiritual and cultural resource person who lives in Boyle Street.