Walking and “Living in Indigenous Sovereignty”

Graphic with photos from the “Living in Indigenous Sovereignty” Poetry Walk, Sat May 6, 2023 in Toronto/Tkaronto
“Living in Indigenous Sovereignty” Poetry Walk, Sat May 6, 2023 lead by Anna Nieminen


Walking and “Living in Indigenous Sovereignty”: Three Place Names

Today, March 31, is National Indigenous Languages Day. Many different Indigenous languages are spoken in Toronto, Canada, and across North America. This post highlights three place names: Ishpadinaa and Tkaronto, two Indigenous names for Toronto on Turtle Island. When we learn about and reflect on Indigenous place names as we walk “in this place”, wherever that is for you, we begin to reorient ourselves toward “living in Indigenous sovereignty”. I am grateful for resources like the City of Toronto’s Reconciliation Action Plan and the book Living in Indigenous Sovereignty by Elizabeth Carlson-Manathara with Gladys Rowe (Fernwood Publishing, 2021) for helping me to reflect on my relations and responsibilities regarding truth, reconciliation and justice.

Walking and “Living in Indigenous Sovereignty”: Two quotes by Dr. Shannon Waters from Visioning the Future report (NCCIH)

I’m grateful to have attended and learned at a webinar hosted by the National Collaborating Centre for Indigenous Health (NCCIH) on April 8. It was the first webinar in the series Visioning the Future: First Nations, Inuit, & Métis Population and Public Health Series — Determinants of Health. There’s also a related collaborative report that “not only complements the Chief Public Health Officer’s 2021 public health vision report but also privileges Indigenous knowledge(s)”. I created this post to highlight a couple of quotes from the article “ENVIRONMENT: THE ECOSYSTEM IS OUR HEALTH SYSTEM” by Dr. Shannon Waters. She writes: “THE ECOSYSTEM IS OUR HEALTH SYSTEM” and “INDIGENOUS SOVEREIGNTY IS SUSTAINABILITY”.

“Living in Indigenous Sovereignty” Poetry Walk graphic, May 7, 2022, Jane’s Walk Festival Toronto

I’m grateful to have lead the “Living in Indigenous Sovereignty” Poetry Walk on May 7, 2022, as part of the Jane’s Walk Festival Toronto.

This self-guided edition of the “Living in Indigenous Sovereignty” Poetry Walk invites you to explore themes of Indigenous sovereignty and truth, justice and reconciliation through the poetry of five Indigenous authors and two non-Indigenous authors. The blog post also serves as an archival presentation of the poetry walk as well as a model for future poetry walks focused on walking and “living in Indigenous Sovereignty.”

Dish Dances Movement Workshop at Toronto Biennial of Art 2022

On May 21, 2022 I was on location at Fort York in Tkaronto for the Dish Dances Movement Workshop, a Talking Treaties Movement Education Initiative which took place as part of the Toronto Biennial of Art 2022.

National Health & Fitness Day, June 4, 2022, graphic with quote from poem by Louise Bernice Halfe

For National Health & Fitness Day 2022 I’m featuring a quote from the poem “Over sixty-five” by Louise Bernice Halfe – Sky Dancer, Canada’s ninth Parliamentary Poet Laureate. Her poem was written for the occasion of last year’s NHFD and can be read in both English and Cree translation on the Library of Parliament’s Parliamentary Poet Laureate website. It was through reading her poetry on this site that I learned about NHFD myself, and I continue to learn about walking in Indigenous sovereignty from her and other Indigenous poets.

Canadian Indigenous Culture Training Certificate from Sport for Life

June is National Indigenous History Month. As part of my commitment to truth, justice and reconciliation, I am completing a couple of online courses from Sport for Life. I recently learned and reflected while engaging with the content in the course Canadian Indigenous Culture Training – Truth and Reconciliation Edition. I recommend all fitness professionals and others involved in physical education complete this cultural training. The course description reads:

This edition has been designed in accordance with the Truth & Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action (2015) and includes information about the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Indigenous rights, Indigenous law, and Indigenous-Crown relations. This course has been developed by the Indigenous Leadership Development Institute of Canada.

Na-Me-Res powwow at Fort York, Toronto/Tkaronto, June 18, 2022

On June 18, 2022 I attended the Na-Me-Res powwow at Fort York, Toronto/Tkaronto, where I danced in some intertribal dances and shopped from Indigenous vendors. I also made a donation to Na-Me-Res, which is “Helping Homeless Indigenous Men Find Their Mino Bimaadiziwin” and “provides outreach, temporary, transitional, permanent housing, and much more. We take care of the whole person with our Indigenous cultural-based approach filled with respect and spirit.”

Postering in my Scarborough-Agincourt neighbourhood ahead of the Grassy Narrows River Run 2022 at Queen’s Park, Toronto/Tkaronto

This past weekend, Embodied Climate Justice Fitness (ECJF) for me meant walking and postering on community message boards in my neighbourhood to help spread the message about the Grassy Narrows River Run 2022 happening this Thurs July 21 noon at Queen’s Park in Toronto/Tkaronto. Walk with Grassy Narrows youth and community members to show we are with them on their path to achieve mercury justice and freedom! Support their calls for fair compensation, no logging, no mining, and support for restoration of their culture. You can learn more and RSVP at FreeGrassy.net I included some posters at the intersection of Kennedy and Sheppard, near the office of Aris Babikian, PC MPP for Scarborough-Agincourt. As my provincial representative I’m asking him to support justice for Grassy Narrows.

Graphic with photos from the Grassy Narrows River Run 2022 in Toronto/Tkaronto

On July 21, Embodied Climate Justice Fitness (ECJF) for me meant standing in solidarity and walking with members of Grassy Narrows First Nation during the Grassy Narrows River Run 2022 as they continue on their path to achieve mercury justice and freedom. People of all ages, including members of unions and social/environmental justice organizations, supported Grassy Narrows First Nations’ calls for fair compensation, no logging, no mining, and support for restoration of their culture. At the bottom of this graphic are photos of Grassy Narrows youth and performer Waawaate Fobister at Queen’s Park, and Chief Randy Fobister and other community members and supporters during the round dance in front of the Indigenous Services Canada – Ontario Regional Office. One of the things I heard about during the speeches by Grassy Narrows community members was that some of them cannot engage in certain sports because of nerve damage caused by mercury poisoning, and there are other even more devastating health consequences from this environmental racism. I recommend learning about and supporting the Grassy Narrows First Nation as they continue their struggle for justice, including their health and wellbeing. You can also view photos and news reports about the River Run on FreeGrassy.net.

Robinson Huron Treaty Gathering 2022

On September 8, 2022 I attended the Robinson Huron Treaty Gathering – Traditional Knowledge and Governance Forum virtually. I have a connection to these lands and I’m learning about relating honourably as a treaty partner.

Yellowhead Institute Calls to Action Conversation on Truth and Reconciliation post. Artwork: “The Child” by Sonny Assu.

On September 29, ahead of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30, I attended The Yellowhead Institute‘s special online event The Calls to Action Conversation on Truth and Reconciliation.