The Sault Ste. Marie Public Library is putting together a video series, “Voices of Bawating” to celebrate Indigenous People’s History Month.
They will be showing this in addition to showcasing indigenous authors and stories.
The first video features a local woman, Chelsea Brunelle. Chelsea is a Bear Clan Anishinaabe Kwe from Batchewana First Nation.
Chelsea is currently studying at Algoma University, taking Community Economic and Social Development, with a minor in Anishinaabe studies.
Chelsea responds to the question: what does the month of June, Indigenous history month, mean as an Anishinaabe Kwe, as a student, as a young person.
“It means a lot of things. I could start with what I’m taking in school,” Brunelle goes on to talk about why taking Anishinaabe studies, as an Anishinaabe person, is important to her, and how colonization took away indigenous peoples’ rights to share and practice their culture.
“But a lot of that has to do with colonization and assimilation of indigenous cultures. Yes, there are so many traditional people, knowledge keepers, elders, that have passed on our teachings, our traditions, our culture, our language,” Chelsea goes on to explain, “As resilient as we are, the process of colonization, and the goal of assimilation, it worked in many ways. Many people aren’t connected to their culture,”
“I have prepared myself with all this knowledge of my culture. It’s been a whole journey through my life to be a cultural, spiritual, connected person,” Chelsea talks about bringing that knowledge back into the community after graduating, “there was a lot missing from my life and I needed to learn that culture.”
“What does that say about Canada? That indigenous people have to go to school to learn about being indigenous, yet non-indigenous people can continue to be unaware, uneducated, prejudiced, discriminatory, towards us, on our lands.”
“My main point is that I need Indigenous history month to be a time of education. Obviously, it doesn’t all have to happen in the month of June. It can continue to happen all year long. But actually having time for those conversations to occur, is really important.”
Suzanne Paros, Reference Technician for the Sault Ste Marie Library, talks more about their Indigenous History programming, “My idea was to reach out and try to see if I could get some local individuals that would want to participate by sharing an aspect of culture or teaching or tradition or an art that they engage in.”
“This is also a chance for the library to share a lot of what we have in the collection. So if people are wondering what happened at residential schools, we have lots of different books on them in the children’s department, in the adult department, in the nonfiction department, and we have a lot of great fiction that’s been written by indigenous authors as well.”
The Sault Ste. Marie Public Library will be releasing more videos this month, showcasing local community members in celebration of Indigenous History month. These will be announced every Thursday for the rest of the month of June. Follow their Facebook page for more!