A time to listen

June 30 marks the end of National Indigenous History Month. In 2021 this date became A Day To Listen, an event where radio stations and broadcasters across the country united for a full day of programming dedicated to amplifying and elevating Indigenous voices and perspectives. Interviews from this event have been archived online for later listening, and there is hope that this may become a recurring or even annual celebration.

Hopefully the listening and learning that this day can bring will inspire us – individually and collectively – to ensure that the long weekend that it ushers yields insight, reflection and a shift toward reconciliation and justice.

The NSCSW encourages social workers across Nova Scotia to take time today to listen, learn, and reflect on ways that we can all work toward implementing the calls of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and those of Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

Given the unique role that social workers have played in perpetuating violence toward Indigenous communities, we collectively bear a responsibility to work toward this pressing goal. We recognize that the profession of social work has itself been complicit in these harms. Our College has committed to dismantling structures that impede the full, equal, and just participation of Indigenous peoples in all aspects of economic, social, cultural, and political life.

Acknowledging the truth is hard, but the work of reconciliation is harder. Because we are embedded in colonial systems that perpetuate racism and discrimination, this work will also require each of us to reflect on the ways in which we have absorbed unconscious messages and biases.

May each of us take time today to listen to the stories, voices, perspectives and insights of the Indigenous people of Canada, particularly the Mi’kmaq. Their inherent rights to Mi’kma’ki, their ancestral and unceded territory, were recognized in the Peace and Friendship Treaties which Mi’kmaq, Wəlastəkwiyik, and Passamaquoddy peoples signed with the British Crown from 1725 to 1779. This series of treaties did not surrender Indigenous land, resources or sovereignty to the British Empire, but instead established rules for an ongoing relationship between multiple nations. The treaties were later reaffirmed by Canada in Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, and remain active to this day. The Nova Scotia College of Social Workers joins our members and our communities in the necessary labour of reconciliation, and we are grateful to live and work together as treaty people in Mi’kma’ki.

On July 1, let us reflect upon the treaties that enable us to live here, on Turtle Island. This weekend, and every day, let us listen, learn and do what we can to honour these treaties and the people whose lands we live within.

Tags: Indigenous