Four Directions respond to National Inquiry with Sacred Fire

Cultural counsellor says Indigenous students need support

Four Directions hosts sacred fire in response to National Inquiry.
When the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls issued its final report in June, it called all Canadians to act against a genocide “rooted in colonialism and colonial ideologies.”
At a Sacred Fire hosted last month by the Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre, cultural counsellor Lisa Doxtator told The Journal it shouldn’t be up to Queen’s Indigenous students to educate others about the impacts of the Inquiry.
“So much already falls on their shoulders to raise awareness and to educate, I think what we need to do right now is be there for them, support them, and help them,” she said.
Four Directions hosted the Sacred Fire in an effort to support Queen’s Indigenous students and to honour the missing and murdered women and girls.
“We know this is going to impact our students in the fall,” Doxtator said. “I’m sure this report will be integrated into different courses, and our students already feel unsafe to self-identify, so now that we’re talking about a cultural genocide, that’s huge.” 
The report, Reclaiming Power and Place, found the genocide of Indigenous women and girls in Canada has resulted from decades of systematic and institutional violations of their human rights.
“I think the fact that they’re calling it a genocide has opened up a lot of dialogue and we’re hearing from Indigenous and non-Indigenous people,” she said. “[After] reading through [the report]’s list of criteria for genocide, I believe Indigenous people in Canada hit every one of those marks that they identified.”
Moving forward, Doxtator said it’s up to non-Indigenous people to respond to the report, as well as people like herself—adults and educators about Indigenous culture—but not Indigenous youths.
“The most important thing for us to do is to be there for our youth and help them deal with the feelings that result from this report,” she said.  
Doxtator has seen many students come through the doors of Four Directions over the years looking to learn about their ancestry, and said the Centre is able to provide the necessary resources and supports to do so.
“When they’re able to identify that we’ve had this very traumatic history, there’s a lot of anger in that,” Doxtator said, adding she’s seen the effects this history has on Indigenous students suffering from depression, anxiety, and feelings of unsafety on campus.
Since the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) task force in 2016, however, Doxtator said Queen’s has stepped up.
Doxtator’s position as cultural counsellor at Four Directions was a result of the TRC—a position she says has helped form that avenue for students seeking resources to heal and learn about their heritage.
In light of the new report, Doxtator emphasized the value in the resources Four Directions offers Indigenous students. 
“Now, with colonialism and racism, we’re adding cultural genocide, and we want to be prepared for our students in the fall,” Doxtator said. “It means engaging our partners, the other student wellness services, and being proactive in how we’re going to engage our students in the fall.” 

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