The SEIU-West Aboriginal Committee has launched PAWS, a new campaign aimed at spreading awareness and smashing myths; its ultimate goal is to enhance community allyship with Indigenous Peoples and movements. The paw print chosen as part of the Aboriginal Committee’s PAWS Campaign logo is a rendering of a wolf print. The clear print with no claws indicates a wolf who is on stable footing – an animal taking it’s time before proceeding – pausing before reacting too quickly. Wolves are social animals that structure themselves in packs. This is also true of this committee which thrives by working toward the same goals. There is strength when we work together. PAWS represents Power, Air, Water, and Safety. In each SEIU-West quarterly newsletter, the Aboriginal Committee will focus on one branch of PAWS, the first being Power.
The recent federal election demonstrated the power of Indigenous Movements – an inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women became an issue that all candidates had to respond to. Our newly elected Prime Minister has promised to launch an inquiry and our committee calls on Trudeau to fulfil that promise immediately.
The Aboriginal Committee strongly stands by the belief that knowledge is power. Oftentimes, myths and stereotypes are spread on the basis of ignorance. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Report is an important step and must be read in order to understand Indigenous communities and movements. To read the full report, visit www.trc.ca. You can also listen to the report – just search for #ReadTheTRCReport online and you can listen to Indigenous activists and allies read the entire report in segments.
Importantly, power does not come through government – it comes from the people. While Indigenous movements have compelled governments to act, they only act because of the pressure coming from the peoples’ movements themselves. We must all remember that lobbying is just one tool in the tool box for social change – what is most important is building people power. Indigenous Peoples demonstrate their building power in their voice, their song, their dance, their drum, and their elders and teachings; Idle No More is only one example of this power. What is particularly powerful is the ability to fight colonialism and attempted genocide; the unwavering commitment to Indigenous identities, cultures, and sovereignty has secured their power, and we the Aboriginal Committee hope to contribute to this power.