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How Settlers Can Support Indigenous Peoples


A crowd of people dress in orange march down an urban street with signs protesting genocide on Canada Day.

Image by Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada


Here’s a non-exhaustive list with some of our recommendations on how settlers can divest from their complicity in colonization and instead take action to support Indigenous peoples.


Learn


Redistribute Wealth


Take Action


Land


Do you or your family “own” land?


At a bare minimum learn what land you are on and support the Indigenous community.


Actions you can take.


Job & Career


Was your job designed to displace and dispossess Indigenous peoples?


Learn the history. Listen to and centre Indigenous peoples. If change is possible, do it. If not, burn it to the ground and quit your job.


Examples of industries that displace Indigenous peoples:


Religion & Spirituality


Does your religion or spirituality actively contribute to the genocide or appropriation of Indigenous peoples and culture?


Understand that religion and the state are the interconnected root of the violence that Indigenous peoples have faced and continue to face.


Research your spirituality and spiritual practices to make sure they does not appropriate Indigenous culture (or other racialized cultures).


Action you can take:

  • Advocate for the release of residential school documents

  • Advocate for reparations to residential school survivors and their communities

  • Demand your religious organizations give formal apologies

  • Demand justice and accountability from those who committed abuse in residential schools

  • Stop going on mission trips (anywhere) and stop your church from hosting them too


Celebrate


Support and celebrate Indigenous joy and art!


Films


Books


TV Shows


Podcasts


Solidarity Work


Not all settlers are the same. Not all non-Indigenous people who live on Turtle Island chose to come here. This is especially true for Black folks who are the descendants of chattel slavery.


Some describe this nuance as being a “forced settler”. Others like Professor Ashley Marshall reject settler as a term for Black folks and use more precise terms like “stolen people on stolen land”. I recommend reading this article by Briana L. Ureña-Ravelo for more on the nuance of Blackness and Indigeneity.


While Black folks’ relationship to land and Indigenous people may be different than white settlers, we still have complicity in current colonization and responsibility to Indigenous peoples. Solidarity work can be powerful here.


As author Chelsea Vowel explains: “Solidarity between First Nations, Métis, and Inuit (FNMI) and Black people, is something that must be co-constituted. We all have to better understand… how we harm one another with anti-Blackness, Indigenous erasure/displacement, and so on. We absolutely must find a way to hold two truths at the same time: these lands belong (outside of capitalism, in a kinship sense) to Indigenous peoples AND the Americas are the home of the descendants of enslaved Africans. What that means is again something that must be co-constituted, and requires us building deep relationships with one another to fight white supremacy and settler colonialism.”


Commit to Longterm Action


Our list is just a starting point. Commit to taking longterm action to unlearn and divest from your complicity in colonization.


 

About the Author

Keneisha wears rectangular glasses and a green shirt with white flower patterns. They wear gold hoops, a necklace with a cowrie pendant and a nose ring. Their head is bald.

Keneisha Charles (they/them) is a Black queer non-binary activist, storyteller, poet, and musician dedicated to co-creating a liberatory future. They currently live on the ancestral lands of the Anishinaabe, Mississaugas, and Haudenosaunee in what’s commonly known as Toronto.


Connect with them on LinkedIn or Instagram.


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