How do you go beyond the land acknowledgement?
In recent years, we see more and more nonprofits including decolonization as their strategic priorities. But if we do a gut check, how’re we actually committing to decolonization everyday?
On today’s podcast, Tim Fox, Vice President of Indigenous Relations and Racial Equity at Calgary Foundation, shares his lived experience of facilitating the Calgary Foundation to commit to transformative changes and learning. Tim urges us to challenge us to think beyond decolonization as a short term project that has easy fixes. He encourages us to reflect on how we might make ourselves open and vulnerable in sharing our responsibilities for decolonization and commit to life-long actions.
Myths that Tim wants us to leave behind
If we do this and that, it will get us to decolonization. There is no quick fix. Systemic oppression has existed for hundreds of years, and decolonization is generational work. It’s not enough to just do land acknowledgements. It’s not enough to just include indigenous communities in your funding catchment areas. With actions like that come responsibility to intentionally learn and understand the Indigenous communities.
Indigenous, black and people of colour have all the answers for decolonization. It is not the responsibility for BIPOC people to lead decolonization. BIPOC people are there to walk alongside with settlers to facilitate change. The responsibility for leading change rests with settlers. As well, the idea that some people are experts and have all the answers in and of itself is an assumption encoded with settlers’ logic.
Tim’s tips on transformative unlearning and learning
Recognize and try different processes of learning. Shifting away from the linear learning process of getting knowledge from experts or listening in workshops, Tim encourages us to be open to different methods and ways of learning, such as the circle learning process and art of hosting.
Letting go of the idea of perfection. Don’t set a deadline for decolonization work, and walk away from the mindset that there is a perfect way to do this. Allow yourself and your organizations to make mistakes, acknowledge them, and keep push through.
Be open and vulnerable. If you’re not an Indigenous person or a BIPOC person, put yourself in situations and settings where you’re the minority. Be vulnerable and don’t be afraid to be uncomfortable.
My favourite quotes from this episode
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“We have to realize this is generational work. This isn’t work that that’s working towards a deadline, that we have to do this and that by a certain date - that mentality again is following the settlers’ notion of understanding time. 500 years of oppression is not going to change overnight because of 5 or 10 year of strategies, and frankly sometimes it’s not even about the strategies, it’s about doing the work.”
“To make changes we need change in beliefs and attitudes. Let go of the notion of perfection. Get rid of the idea that we have to do everything right and follow the experts. Take a leap and take a deep dive into the work. The best way is to have communities working side by side with you. Make mistakes. Be Humble. Have enough respect for yourself to move through mistakes, and keep pushing through.”
Resources from this Episode