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Community Voices Blog

Amplifying diverse perspectives on community inclusion.

Lessons for National Indigenous Peoples Day and Beyond

Medicine Wheel using natural ingredients for soap making. Photo credit: Francesca Amine, owner of Sweetgrass Soap

Acknowledge &  Remember

Being Indigenous in this modern day is very interesting, I’m proud to see so many non-Indigenous people recognize the land and culture as being inhabited by our First Nation, but I’m also saddened by the suffering and abuse of the Residential School System and the recent findings of the mass grave at the Kamloops Residential School. This part of our history is very hurtful, not only to Indigenous people but to everybody. Someone once said to me “I don’t understand how the Residential School System can bother anyone still, it happened so long ago before they were even born”. At the time I didn’t know how to respond because no one in my immediate family had been in a residential school and my mother had been adopted by a wonderful non-indigenous couple.

Honour & Respect

I grew up in Winnipeg and had many Indigenous and non-indigenous friends and I identified as an urban Native so I was unaware of how the residential school system affected anyone and those around them. It wasn’t until the recent mass grave finding at the Kamloops Residential School that I finally understood how the residential school system can directly affect someone. Learning about what the children went through, the abuse they endured and how scared they must have felt makes me so sad. I don’t feel this way just because I’m Indigenous, I feel this way because I’m a mother. I’m always going to be proud and thankful for what this land provides but I’m also going to always remember and honour those who suffered and those who didn’t survive the residential school system.  

Appreciate & Support

I’m very proud to be Indigenous, I’m proud to walk down the street and see Indigenous art displayed on a wall, Indigenous graffiti art spray painted on the side of a building, the totem poles on display at Stanley Park, the hearty laughter my family makes when we are all together, the Indigenous actors, artists and poets we see in the media, smudging, sharing circles, pow wows, and even my morning coffee mug that has a beautiful native designed hummingbird on it. I admire and am proud of all these things. They are a reminder that we have a beautiful culture and that we are making our presence known as the First Peoples in Canada. 

About the Contributor

Francesca Amine is an Indigenous small business owner of Sweetgrass Soap based out of Coquitlam, British Columbia. Francesca lives in the unceded traditional territory of the Kwikwetlem First Nation, is married to a former refugee and a mom to a fearless and adventurous toddler. Follow her on Instagram @sweetgrasssoap

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