Section 1: Getting Started
Developing and delivering training on sexual violence can be an opportunity to build upon existing work at your institution toward Indigenization, decolonization, and reconciliation.
Acknowledging the traditional lands of the Indigenous people on which you live, work, and study is an important way to begin an event or meeting and can be included as part of classroom activities and taught to students. Meaningful territory acknowledgements allow you to develop a closer and deeper relationship with not only the land but the traditional stewards and peoples whose territory you reside, work, live, and prosper in.
Acknowledging the territory within the context of sexual violence training will open a person’s perspective to traditional ways of knowing and being, stepping out of an organizational structure and allowing you to delve into the person’s own perceptions, needs and abilities.
When we speak about sexual violence, we cannot do so without highlighting the direct connection to tactics used to colonize and assimilate the Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island (North America). Sexual violence is intimately intertwined in Indigenous peoples ongoing traumas from colonization; from first contact in North America, to the horrific abuses perpetrated upon children in Residential Schools, the occupation of land and accessing of natural resources without consent, to the forced sterilization of Indigenous women, to the thousands of Indigenous women, girls and Two-Spirit people as victims of sexual or physical violence and death as highlighted by the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Commission of Canada.
Territory acknowledgements are designed as the very first step to reconciliation. What we do with the knowledge of whose traditional lands we are on is the next important step.
Some questions to consider as you acknowledge your territory:
- What do we do as good guests here?
- And what can you do in your personal and professional roles to contribute to reconciliation?
- How do we honour the resistance and resilience of Indigenous peoples in this work?
Should your institution have an approved territory acknowledgement please use that to open the session(s); however, we invite you to consider how to make that institution statement more personal and specific to you, in that moment and in the work you are about to delve into with learners.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action explicitly state that each of us as members of Canadian society have a direct responsibility to contribute to reconciliation; how we discuss colonization in relation to sexual violence is a direct response to that responsibility.
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) is an international instrument adopted by the United Nations on September 13, 2007, to enshrine (according to Article 43) the rights that “constitute the minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the world.” UNDRIP was adopted into the B.C. provincial legislature on November 26, 2019. Centering the history of colonization as a background and framework to sexual violence and misconduct both from a historical as well as current ongoing struggle is in direct response to our legal and moral obligation as members of Canadian society.
Curriculum Development and Indigenous Ways of Knowing and Being
Indigenization is a process of naturalizing and valuing Indigenous knowledge systems (Antoine, et al., 2018; Little Bear, 2009). In the context of post-secondary institutions, this involves bringing Indigenous knowledge and approaches together with Western knowledge systems. This benefits not only Indigenous learners but all students, staff, faculty and campus community members involved or impacted by Indigenization.
As you adapt this training for your particular context, consider how and in what ways you might interweave Indigenous content and approaches. Examples of how you might include an understanding of Indigenous ways of knowing and being:
- Incorporate Indigenous pedagogical approaches such as holistic and relational perspectives, experiential learning, place-based learning, and intergenerational learning
- Involve Indigenous students, faculty and staff with reviewing, adapting, and evaluating resources
- Integrate knowledge from Indigenous communities local to your institution.
As you do this work, as an Indigenous or non-Indigenous person, you will want to continue to draw upon and build on existing relationships with Indigenous people, both within and outside of your institution. As a way of continuing to work in intentional and respectful ways, you may want to reflect on questions such as:
- How does this work benefit Indigenous communities and help them to meet their goals?
- Will there be benefits for Indigenous students, faculty, and staff?
- Have the community or communities identified their own priorities or goals related to this work?
- How can this work support Indigenous efforts related to healing from past and ongoing colonial and sexual violence?
Elders have always been the foundation for emotional, social, intellectual, physical and spiritual guidance for Indigenous communities. As you find ways to naturalize Indigenous context, perspectives and traditional ways of being into your training, we recommend you consider inviting an Elder or Knowledge Keeper from your local community to support your sessions. One way of doing this is to speak with your Indigenous Student Services Department at your institution and share with them some of the recommendations in this guide and see how they might wish to support this work.
Not all institutions will have an Elder-in-Residence but each should have ways for you to contract an Elder or Knowledge Keeper to come in and support your work. Elders and Knowledge Keepers often support the whole post-secondary institution community, not just the Indigenous students. Involving Elders and Knowledge Keepers can help support reconciliation by helping to build respectful, reciprocal relationships that are deep and meaningful.
Whenever you plan to bring in a community member, Elder, or Knowledge Keeper, it is important to plan for the honorarium required to remunerate them for their time and sharing their lifetime of wisdom and traditional teachings. In many communities, it is seen as most respectful to offer payment on par with what you would pay a Ph.D. holder to do a keynote presentation. However, consulting on this with the Indigenous Services staff at your institution on what is a typical amount for this type of event is also a good practice.