FNT2T Life Long Learning: Andrea Landry, Indigenous Kinship

Andrea Landry is a lifeskills coach through Red Echo Associates. She currently runs a variety of programs in the areas of parenting, health and wellness, social justice, colonialism, Indigenous kinship, grief and recovery, trauma, and other topics. She is originally from Northwestern Ontario from a small community called Pays Plat First Nation but currently resides on Treaty 6 Territory on Poundmaker Cree Nation in Saskatchewan, Canada. She teaches Indigenous Studies for the University of Saskatchewan, and has also done therapist work for schools on reserve. She holds a Masters in Communications and Social Justice from the University of Windsor, with a degree in Child and Youth Care and a diploma in Social Work from Vancouver Island University. She is a mother, an Indigenous rights defender, a freelance writer, blogger, and strives to provide individuals, families, and communities with the tools they need in order to create change for themselves. Over the next few weeks, Andrea will be writing about the importance of Indigenous Kinship. Here is her first piece titled, “Revitalizing Indigenous Kinship Practices Starts with Healing our Colonial Trauma”:

Indigenous Kinship Practices have existed for generations, intricately woven into our DNA and bloodlines. They are practices that have bonded centuries of teachings, indigenous truth, and expansive love within our peoples.

These practices even make themselves known when we are harvesting medicines on the Land, the plants and roots reminding us that they are our relatives. They are felt when we snare rabbits and hunt for wild meat, the recognition that these animal are our relatives, the knowledge embedded deeply within our blood memory.

Yet, on the surface of this deeply embedded knowledge and these practices exists something that has disrupted our kinship systems to the point that we have forgotten some of the basics of kinship knowledge.

Generations of colonially caused trauma has buried itself under the skin of our family systems. Not deep enough so that all is lost. Yet, deep enough to create the impacts at the level we are seeing today. And with this trauma comes projections of pain and behaviours that ultimately do not serve who we are and where we come from. This colonially caused trauma and these projections of colonial pain attempt to undo what we have always known, and what we have always been aware of, while raising our families, communities, and nations, at the sacred standards that we deserve.

The goal of this colonially caused trauma is simple. To dissolve and disrupt Indigenous kinship practices to the point where Indigenous kinship systems become irreparable.

So what do these traumas and projections look like? They can look like gossip, lateral violence, belittling and calling down others. They can look like generations of families holding grudges against one another to the point that children down the lineage can no longer interact with one another. They can look like violence, threats, and addictions. They can look like families forgetting how to forgive, forgetting how to love, forgetting why, and how, we related to one another in the way that we did prior to colonization.

Because here’s the thing. We had our traditional legal systems which made it against our own laws, and natural law, to be behave in such ways towards one another. And it was these laws, and the people who upheld these laws, that allowed us to live as vibrantly, and lovingly, as we did.

The reality is, if we really want change in our families, communities, and nations, we must begin by acting accordingly. We must restore the humanity within ourselves in order to restore the humanity within our kinship systems.

So the real question comes down to: How do we restore and revitalize our Indigenous kinship practices? We practice the art of forgiveness. We create spaces for ourselves to feel the generations of emotions that were never allowed to be felt. We do our trauma work. We do our grief work. We face the triggers that we often avoid.

We relearn our relationship with the Land, with the animals.

And most importantly: We love, and accept, our relatives while at the same time, setting healthy boundaries when needed for ourselves. Regardless of where they’re at on their journey in life. Because it is with that Indigenous love that we can ultimately restore Indigenous kinship practices within our families, our communities, and our nations.

Miigwetch Andrea for your wise words. Renew and revitalize!