This September 30th marks the second annual Day for Truth and Reconciliation, in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action. This is a statutory holiday at the federal level and in some provinces, but has not been declared statutory in Quebec.
ACCM is an organization that serves people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) and/or affected by hepatitis C on unceded Kanien’kehá:ka land, in a city that is home to a diversity of Indigenous people from many nations. ACCM’s obligations are to a community among whom Indigenous people are overrepresented: while First Nations, Métis, and Inuit account for only 4.9% of the total population, 11.3% of all new HIV infections in 2016 in Canada were among Indigenous peoples. These higher rates of HIV and hepatitis C among Indigenous peoples in Canada are a result of the legacy of colonialism, residential school system, and ongoing genocide, that further led to intergenerational trauma, ongoing suppression of self-determination, disconnection from traditional lands, systemic racism, and marginalization in regard to social determinants of health. Trauma needs to be acknowledged, addressed, and healed, but structural changes are required too. Non-Indigenous people must ensure that changes happen at the individual, organizational, societal, and political levels.
As a non-Indigenous organization, ACCM is committed to actively learn and improve our practices. To this end, ACCM offices will be closed on October 3rd, to focus on reading, learning, and reflecting on our own practices and programming and how to decolonize our work.
Over the past year, here are some of the things we have done in order to honor this day of truth and reconciliation:
- Revised and updated our land acknowledgments.
- Held a staff workshop regarding Indigenous history and realities.
- Reached out to the Native Friendship Center of Montreal in order to develop a relationship of support.
Some of our upcoming plans:
- Participate in a workshop exchange to share respective knowledge with Indigenous organizations.
- Facilitate a workshop and discussion with volunteers and members in regards to Indigenous realities and history.
- Develop a volunteer partnership to support Indigenous organizations.
ACCM encourages its Staff, Members, Volunteers, and community to educate themselves on Canada’s ongoing colonialism. The following resources may be helpful:
- National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR): https://nctr.ca/
- Schedule for Truth and Reconciliation Week: https://nctr.ca/education/trw/
- The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ “Calls for Justice”: https://www.mmiwg-ffada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Calls_for_Justice.pdf
- The First Nations Child and Family Caring Society’s Indigenous Knowledge Portal: https://fncaringsociety.com/knowledge-portal
- Indigenous Canada, a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) from the Faculty of Native Studies: https://www.ualberta.ca/admissions-programs/online-courses/indigenous-canada/index.html
- Northern Quebec: Issues, Spaces and Cultures, a MOOC offered in English and French at Université Laval: https://www.ulaval.ca/en/academics/mooc-massive-open-online-courses/northern-quebec-issues-spaces-and-cultures
- Update Your Land Acknowledgement: https://www.dayofpink.org/land-acknowledgement