One of Pillar's recent interns, Marissa Ouellette Quimby, Marketing and Communications Assistant, had the opportunity to attend the Local Indigenous Learning Series during her practicum with us. Marissa took the time to reflect on what the experience revealed to her and how she will carry the lessons moving forward as she continues her learning journey.
On March 1st, I had the opportunity to attend the Local Indigenous Learning Series organized by Pillar Nonprofit Network. Prior to attending the series, I felt fairly comfortable with the upcoming discussion as my undergraduate degree provided me with a foundation in Women’s Studies. Based on my personal interest in the subject, I took numerous courses on Indigenous history and culture. I have written a handful of papers on the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Following the first session, I was humbled by how little knowledge I actually had. Listening to Francis, one of the Indigenous Wisdom and Knowledge Keepers, dissect the delivery of current Indigenous education, I reflected on the fact that the majority of my Women’s Studies education was instructed by white women. Throughout my Women’s Studies journey, I only had one female black instructor. This means the bulk of my knowledge and understanding was delivered by white women who, while meant well, have not experienced the themes of the history they are teaching.
Between parts one and two of this series, I reflected upon how I could become a stronger ally. Francis encouraged participants to lean into their discomfort. Reflect on when or how you were not a perfect ally. In the future, I will consider where, how, and by who the information is being delivered. I can strengthen my knowledge and understanding through Indigenous resources. There are many Indigenous resources published that can further my education without retraumatizing community members.
I appreciated the panel of Indigenous Wisdom and Knowledge Keepers for joining the discussion during part two of the series. Throughout their graceful introductions, I was able to reflect upon the use of space. Each Knowledge Keeper their turn to occupy an amount of space within the conversation. These moments were powerful for me as I reflect upon the lack of space reserved for Indigenous communities in the past. The purpose of this activity was to expose the hard truth as well as demonstrate how the lack of space can be uncomfortable.
I am humbled by the lack of comfort I felt throughout the series. I never once felt unwelcome, but I did become aware of the stark truth. I have more work to do to become a better ally. Both sessions made me realize how little I actually know about the Indigenous communities around London. I look forward to expanding my knowledge through Indigenous resources and continuing this conversation.
Are you interested in continuing your learning journey with regards to authentic Indigenous reconciliation? Check out this upcoming opportunity: