Indigenous identity to be explored at Indigenous Awareness Week 2017
Where do I come from? Where am I going? Why am I here? Who am I? These are four questions Senator Murray Sinclair [LLB/1979, LLD/2002] has urged us all to consider. They have been difficult for many Indigenous people to address because of experiences such as residential schools, the Sixties Scoop, the degradation and loss of Indigenous languages, and other historic wrongs.
Melanie Belmore is an Anishinaabe member of the Whitesand First Nation reserve in Northwestern Ontario, and a first-year PhD student in the department of Native Studies.
“As an intergenerational Survivor, I have struggled in terms of my Anishinaabe identity and as an Indigenous scholar, I have begun to reclaim my Anishinaabe roots,” says Belmore.
Like Belmore, more and more Indigenous people are reclaiming nationhood, culture, traditions, languages and elements of identity that have been lost or adversely affected.
During Indigenous Awareness Week 2017, Elders, academics, students and alumni will share their experiences and research related to Indigenous identity and what it will take for all of us to answer Sinclair’s questions.
“Lately, there has been no shortage of conversations about Indigenous identity, and what Indigenous identity really means,” says Frank Deer, acting Executive Lead of Indigenous Achievement at the U of M. “Throughout the week we will explore Indigenous identity from many points of view, which will guide all of us – Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples – to a better understanding of who we are and how we can ensure future generations will recognize, affirm and celebrate Indigenous peoples are cultures.”
The week will begin with the fourteenth annual Elders and Traditional Peoples Gathering on March 20-21, including a presentation from Professor Martin Brokenleg, who will illustrate why the common assumption that Indigenous peoples are more alike than different is untrue.
Other discussions will explore Indigenous cultures, how to amplify Métis voices, how to reclaim identity, and other empowering topics delivered by thought leaders like professors Raven Sinclair and Adam Gaudry. Indigenous graduate students will also be sharing their research related to Indigenous identity.
“My research acts as a suggestion and I share my work with the hope that it will become the foundation for others through their journey,” says Belmore, who will be presenting “Searching, Finding, and Reclaiming and Indigenous Identity: An Anishinaabe Academic Perspective” on Friday morning.
The week will conclude with an Afternoon of Indigenous Excellence, at which the inaugural recipients of the Indigenous Student Awards of Excellence will be honoured.
What: Indigenous Awareness Week
When: March 20-24, 2017
Where: Various locations, please check website for details
Admission is free and open to the public.
The University of Manitoba is committed to ensuring every student graduates with a basic understanding of the importance and contributions of Indigenous peoples in Manitoba and Canada. Events such as Indigenous Awareness Week provide an opportunity for our community to expand their understandings of each nations’ and peoples’ role in our identity.