World Indigenous Peoples Day, here in so-called Canada, is a celebration of resiliency, empowerment and the ever-present need to recognize the diversity of all Inuit, Metis and First Nations people living on the land of our ancestors who have been caretakers of the earth, water, plants and animals in kinship since time immemorial.
World Indigenous Peoples Day comes with a sense of expanding acknowledgement of rightfully holding up and honoring Indigenous Peoples. This day reflects and solidifies a history, one that is rich with hidden truths — truths that have had to travel underground to be protected from theft and eradication, now being uncovered and held up in an exquisite, masterful renaissance. Indigenous histories take us into a world of deeply inherent knowledge systems entrenched in spiritual and sacred realms. These lessons for living have been carefully passed down through generations, crossing over time and space, coming to us often through vision and truth-telling if we listen carefully. World Indigenous Peoples Day celebrates the intricacies of our priceless governance systems, far more advanced than anyone could ever comprehend in one lifetime.
Indigenous Peoples have always had sophisticated economies for trade, justice, child-rearing, medicine teachings, and peacemaking protocols between Nations and communities, among other practices that put the planet first. We are vibrant communities, stretching far and wide — like the Dene, whom I am born into on my mother’s side, who extend from the far reaches of the subartic to the borders of Mexico. Even though our dialects are different, we speak the same language.
It is time to get back to living within these knowledge systems where Indigenous legal orders prevail. This is the only way forward. The way toward helping our world heal. I say to my Indigenous communities around the world, stand proud today and every day as we collectively advocate for the change coming out of all of us, from the heartbeat of the drum to the marching of our resilient, collective footsteps. The giants are waking, and our ancestors are waiting.
Katłįà is the Chairperson for the Keeper of the Circle National Indigenous Women’s Housing Initiative. Katłįà currently resides on the unceded lands of the Coast Salish peoples in lək̓ʷəŋən territory where she is in her third year of the Juris Doctor Common Law and Indigenous Legal Orders at the University of Victoria. She is the author of Northern Wildflower, Land-Water-Sky / Ndè-Tı-Yat’a, and This House is Not a Home.