The Importance of Listening
Mike Ashkewe is an independent media producer residing in Guelph. As a sixties-scoop survivor, Mike advocates for indigenous and disability-related issues and shares his insights on a wide range of topics through free-lance writing, podcasting, and more. He is also the executive producer of This Week in Geek and is a free-lance reporter for the Guelph Mercury Tribune.
In June 2008, Canada established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to answer a lot of uncomfortable and dark truths when it came to Canada and its relationship with Indigenous Peoples. Since then, the publication of the Truth and Reconciliation Reports and many more hard truths have been discovered. We have reached an interesting time in history.
What do we do now?
How do we move forward?
What does truth and reconciliation look like?
Well, if the answers were clear cut and easy to understand then we likely wouldn’t have need for this blog post.
The answers are complicated and I can only offer my perspective as an Indigenous Canadian, 60’s scoop survivor, but also as an advocate who has been described as ‘relentlessly optimistic’.
As Canadians living in the year 2023, we absolutely have to acknowledge that bad things have happened and that things will continue to come to light as evidence is brought forward. However, within that knowledge, I believe there is a chance to change things so that it is less likely to happen to future generations.
It is without question that we must listen to Indigenous voices and listen to Indigenous solutions to proposed problems. Of course, I believe that we must collaborate to create something better together, but Indigenous voices must be a part of ALL conversations where our interests are involved.
What does that mean for you?
Be a good ally to your Indigenous friends and family, first and foremost. Actively listen, be engaged, and in my opinion, as long as you’re asking from a place of respect and genuine curiosity, then ask questions. You are only ignorant of what you don’t know, and knowledge is power, right?
Be willing to seek out knowledge that you didn’t have before. That search for knowledge can come from many places, community leaders, podcasts, books, and occasionally speaking engagements that happen in your community. There are so many amazing Indigenous creators, storytellers, and others who want to engage with you and teach you or show you something.
Finally, understand that history is complex and often littered with things we’d rather forget about or gloss over. Sure, Canada can be a wonderful and amazing place of opportunity for so many but for each beautiful success story, there is also one of sorrow and sadness. We have to recognize and OWN that bad things did happen and many of them are terrible beyond measure BUT we can commit to ensuring they never happen again.
I understand that we are not perfect as Canadians, and neither are people as a whole, but I’ve never stopped believing in people and in the good that can and does exist.
I come from a shattered home, and an abusive past, that should have crushed all the kindness and optimism from my heart and soul. But I still believe that we can build a better tomorrow for all of us.
I extend my hand out in friendship, understanding, and most importantly in hope that we can continue to have a conversation built upon respect, understanding, and a commitment to doing better for those that will follow after our bones are put to rest and we join our ancestors.
-Written by Mike Ashkewe
The Live Work Well Research Centre encourages you to listen to and learn from Indigenous perspectives, and has provided a list of resources below to assist you in doing so: