Self-care is Revitalization of Traditional Knowledge
- | February 14, 2021
Self-care is the revitalization of traditional knowledge, systems, culture, laws and language.
Attempts at surviving in a colonial society leaves no room to appropriately and respectfully revive our own systems while we are too busy caught in another system.
We are too busy fighting to survive, fighting for basic rights and justice for our peoples, the land and environment. We are trapped in colonial education systems from day one. These colonial institutions keep us focused on something that is not ours and trying to fit into spaces that do not take the time to respect or apply and make space for Indigenous knowledge and laws.
Education systems continue to fail our Indigenous students due to the lack of positive representation in the classrooms of the truth about our country. I know things are starting to get better in classrooms, but it is nowhere near where it needs to be and there is not much taught about how Canada and Canadian society in general benefits from Indigenous peoples and Indigenous land.
The education system continues to perpetuate that Indigenous knowledge systems are inferior, as they are not applied even when it comes to Indigenous law in the current colonial justice system. The only perspective that continues to be accepted in colonial spaces is colonial knowledge and perspectives, which amounts to systemic oppression.
This systemic oppression can be overt but it is also subconsciously deeply embedded in our society and institutions. When I think of how this system works, it reminds me of a fishing net and we’re all caught in some world that was never our own. This colonial world is imposed and forced on us with no consent given. It comes from every angle and it is exhausting.
Systemic oppression is much like this pandemic: it finds its way into all areas of our lives, imposing barriers which directly transmit to stress, anxiety, depression, hopelessness and suicide.
True self-care is being able to determine ourselves and have the time and space to focus on what our spirits longs for. Mine longs to be with the land and being able to experience ceremony without interruption from the stresses of colonial time and laws. Colonial laws once outlawed our ceremonies through the Indian Act and other impositions of colonial policy and laws that continue to infringe on our rights.
There should be a remedy owed to us and not only in the monetary form, but in the form of time that was taken away from our people. More time to revitalize and pass on our own ways while not having to be grinded out by these institutions in a colonial world, to just barely be making it.
Running ourselves into the ground by becoming too busy using negative coping mechanisms for all the trauma colonialism has inflicted, juggling multiple jobs, being a broke student, trying to parent our children and running ourselves to burnout. This is the reality of trying to keep up in a fast-paced world not built for you.
Time is of the essence when we think about how critical this moment is when it comes to what we are going to leave the future generations and the time we have left with our elders as they are growing older. Colonial laws and institutions need to make space for Indigenous laws, and ways of life to be able to thrive and survive together. Safe spaces are essential to our survival, to be who we are born to be. Self-determination is our inherent right. This is the self-care we so desperately need.
Our world is evolving, and our laws and society need to evolve with it. Evolution comes in the form of a circle and going back to our traditional ways so the ones coming up have a better chance at surviving. This work depends on our ability to work together.
Revitalizing Indigenous law takes more time than the trivial time we are left with after trying to survive in a foreign system. To relearn one’s language, culture, songs, stories, and teachings of traditional ways of living is not a hobby for the weekend, it is a way of life. Especially before too many of our old ones pass onto the spirit world, it is vital to the survival of the future and the health of all people.
With domestic violence and mental health on the rise since this pandemic, it is important to find solutions and have services and spaces available for everyone. Our traditional teachings are grounded in lessons, self-discipline and the ability to better control our emotions with an understanding of all living beings around us.