By Fergus Allen
If you live in Canada, you’ve doubtless heard a land acknowledgment or two in your time. “We recognize this land as the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh peoples…” It functions as an attempt (however meagre) to recognize the ills of colonization. In a country that has seen the tragedies of the Indian Act and Residential Schools, the lingering effects of colonial genocide are still felt strongly.
Acknowledgement is an important step along the road to reconciliation, but there is still much more to be done.
“The root of this must be addressed,” stresses Crystal Ricketts. She is a mother, a grandmother and a proud member of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) and a proud advocate for the decolonizing process. Crystal is currently pursuing her masters in education at Simon Fraser University, with a special focus on Squamish Praxis.
“Indigenous people learn differently”, says Crystal, “And those needs should be accommodated. “Prior to colonization, we learned through our elders, the stories they told, our traditional ceremonies.” It is the desire to see these needs met that led Crystal to join the Crisis Centre to devise a mental health programme catered specifically towards Indigenous youth.
Consisting of four 1-hour sessions, the programme brings together the Crisis Centre’s mindfulness initiative with the traditional Squamish Praxis of storytelling, the traditions of oral history and more.
Youth enrolled in the programme are guided by an elder, or knowledge holder, who encourages them to find and develop strong voices of their own. Crystal: “In our culture, you’ve got to learn how to have a voice. We have been hushed and shushed for so long…we want our children to be able to feel comfortable speaking their minds, sharing their feelings and their growth.”
The ultimate aim is to encourage open conversations and an ongoing acknowledgement of one’s emotional health. “Everything is preparing them to be more confident,” says Crystal, “I wanna hear their voice.”
If you are interested in learning more about the Crisis Centre’s Indigenous Well-Being Project, please click the link here.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call:
- Vancouver Coastal Regional Distress Line: 604-872-3311
- Anywhere in BC 1-800-SUICIDE: 1-800-784-2433
- Mental Health Support Line: 310-6789
- Online Chat Service for Youth: www.YouthInBC.com (Noon to 1am)
- Online Chat Service for Adults: www.CrisisCentreChat.ca (Noon to 1am)