As Settlers living and working on the stolen lands of the Coast Salish peoples – the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations, Aisle is committed as a company and as individual team members to supporting the goals of Decolonization and Reconciliation.
As we approach Canada’s second national Truth and Reconciliation Day (aka Orange Shirt Day) on September 30th, this post is about sharing various ways that we support ‘Reconcili-action’, (ie: actually walking the talk) and some suggested resources.
Partnerships and Donations
Following our “Re-indigenizing menstrual health” interview series, donations and culturally affirming educational materials are two of the main initiatives that Aisle has undertaken in 2022.
Period underwear is our most requested donation item from Indigenous communities, as it's easily accepted by people of any age. In all cases, products go into the hands of Indigenous leaders (teachers, outreach workers, midwives, counsellors) who work in their community & appreciate who needs/ want them best. As an example, a midwife clinic packs up postpartum period kits when mothers go home - everyone receives a pair of period underwear.
Other places where Aisle products are distributed include outreach vans, school bathrooms, period kits that go home from school & after birth, with community workers when they work in homes, at drop-in moontime events, drop-in 2SILGBTQ centres, community events like fairs, gatherings in longhouses, and in midwives' bathrooms.
This year, through The Period Purse, Aisle has donated over 270 pairs of period underwear to Indigenous youth, valued at over $12,000. They were distributed by Indigenous leaders in the following locations:
- a territory in Eastern Ontario
- a school board in Northern Ontario with >50% Indigenous students
- a Treaty 1 area/ Winnipeg
Work in Progress: Developing Education
Also through The Period Purse, we are honoured to be working alongside a rural Indigenous community in Eastern Ontario to create a printed Moontime Zine led by Indigenous people working in their community who teach about rites of passage, midwifery, and reproductive justice.
This is an exciting project that is currently being translated into the traditional Mohawk language that we hope will also be translated into Ojibway in 2023. Stay tuned for the launch of this wonderful initiative!
A personal reflection on territorial acknowledgement
Two years ago, the Aisle team attended a workshop on understanding and addressing colonial biases in ourselves and in our company. One of the first exercises was to examine the the purpose of a territorial acknowledgement: a statement that precedes any form of gathering in order to create context that, thanks to Indigenous stewardship of the physical place(s) in which we find ourselves, we are able to work and live, and further that these places were brutally colonized in order to achieve this.
We learned that these acknowledgements should be as specific as possible (for example, not just saying “Coast Salish”, but rather the names of actual nations (in our case, the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), including traditional spelling if in print.
They also should be as honest as possible: eschewing language like “traditional” in favour of the more blunt “stolen” (if that is applicable to the land you occupy). There is something powerful about making this switch - you feel it in your gut. It escalates the conversation from being about passively acknowledging an important truth, to ‘what are you going to do about it?’ - considering personal accountability and reparations. What needs to be given back? What is your responsibility?
Other useful resources in support of Decolonization and Reconciliation
For those wanting to make a deeper commitment to education and becoming allies to the Indigenous community, here are a few resources we recommend.
- Anti Indigenous Racism Training by Jennifer Lee Koble. The Aisle team attended this powerful session in 2021.
- kinSHIFT workshops: These easily accessible public workshops are designed to build foundational skills for reconciliation based on Elements of Truth - BEFORE RECONCILIATION.
Nahanee Creative is an organisation that offers decolonial consulting, communication and design, grounded in Squamish Matriarchy. They work in service of undoing colonial impacts, transforming neocolonial perceptions, and catalyzing social change.
Main image courtesy of The Period Purse