Opinion: the importance of good (healthy) leadership
- Alyson Bear | October 20, 2019
I have spoken to breaking down barriers and misrepresentations. I would like to now speak to ways people are achieving this. Change is happening but it is happening relatively slow. The question that comes to mind is, how do you overcome an ongoing genocide of your people and land when generation after generation has internalized lies/biases/stereotypes/misrepresentations of the true history of this country and who we are as Indigenous peoples?
This is no easy task but it is one we need to talk about to produce solutions. As you may have seen Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth around the world are speaking up in regard to climate change. The youth are concerned about the serious crisis the state of our world is in. The impacts of greed and capitalism is reflected in the degradation of the land, soil, animals, environment and the overall health of our world and the people. Therefore, our youth are taking lead as young role models to show us the way when it comes to their future.
Being a good role model is directly related to good leadership, you naturally take charge of situations thinking about what is best for the people and not just what is best for yourself. Currently there are a lot of political issues arising especially in light of the federal elections. Politics can easily divide people and at times bring out the worst in people who want to impose their perspectives on others. The issue here is that many people take peoples words/promises at face value. People are eager to hear only what they want and many are not willing to go out and do the research necessary.
It is difficult to come by true leadership that is transparent, accountable and follows through with their promises. This is like a relationship and when the trust is broken it’s not easy to get back. I think in many ways society will mirror those in power and that has become a reality in our Indigenous communities where colonial systems of governance have been imposed. This has created division amongst Indigenous Nations and the people within those Nations. There needs to be a common ground and goal for everyone to want to work toward.
I do not have enough room to speak to all the role models I am blessed to have in my life but I will speak to a few. My dad is about to celebrate 25 years as Chief and one of the main reasons he has been Chief this long is because of his leadership abilities. There have been years of hard work and sacrifice to make my Nation what it is today, nothing happens overnight. With being in leadership for that many years comes trials, triumphs but also stability. With constant overturn of leadership comes instability. A lot of work can be undone in one term of defective leadership.
I also see how a lot of my dad’s leadership skills has come from his mother, my Kunsi Rose. My dad was raised by his grandparents due to impacts the Residential School System had on our peoples parenting skills and lifestyle choices. Despite all she endured she overcame that and what I see now since my grandmother’s passing is that she was the glue in our family and Nation. She was the backbone and matriarch and things have not been the same since she passed. I have noticed a divide since many of our elders have passed in the past few years, but we must continue to figure it out together for them.
My papa OC also passed away. These were leaders in our communities. The work does not go unnoticed. He worked hard navigating the colonial world facing discrimination to trailblaze a path breaking down barriers and stereotypes so more people can come through. That is true leadership and that is what I see my dad doing, building a future for generations to come so that when that day comes where he grows old, we are not left with nothing.
I have been fortunate to witness many great people including my grandma Ruth and my mom work within both the Catholic and Public-school divisions, working tireless hours helping as many families and students as possible. I watch my mother’s dedication to our family and our community, she’s there every day for the youth as the principal for Charles Red Hawk Elementary.
From all of this my main take away is that the answer is not in being divided by difference in perspectives but coming together on common grounds for how the best outcome can be achieved to benefit everyone as a whole. This is what true leadership looks like to me. This comes from our inherent Indigenous values and laws of, honesty, wisdom, courage, respect, truth, humility and love.