National Indigenous History Month – Brian Mazerolle reminds us that now is a time for healing
National Indigenous History Month is a time for learning about, appreciating and acknowledging the distinct heritage, languages, cultural practices and spiritual beliefs of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people. This year in particular, National Indigenous History Month provides a time to reflect upon the history and strength of Indigenous Peoples across Turtle Island.
Brian Mazerolle, Senior Manager of Community Engagement, is of Ojibwe heritage and a member of the Rogers Indigenous Collaboration (IC) Community Engagement Team. Growing up, Brian remembered hearing stories about the residential school system from his mother, aunts and uncles who are all residential school survivors.
Brian’s story is one of so many and serves as a reminder there is still much that needs to be learned in order to move towards reconciliation. To support Canadian education on the history and impact of our country’s residential school system and to advocate for action on reconciliation, we have relaunched our orange t-shirt fundraising campaign in support of the Orange Shirt Society.
Brian shared his thoughts on what National Indigenous History Month means to him and the complex emotions that this month brings.
What does National Indigenous History Month mean to you?
Indigenous History month is a time to remember, share and learn. Remember and honor the ancestors, and the way they lived, along with the hardships endured through colonization. Personally, I’m wanting to share what I can and am willing to answer any questions that I can, while continuing to educate myself and learn not only about my Ojibwe heritage but all the other Indigenous cultures.
Is there someone from the Indigenous Community, past or present, that inspires you?
My uncle Gary Bruyere has always inspired me. He has a deep knowledge of our culture and is an active musician and educator in his community. He drums and sings our stories and is always willing to teach and share his stories and knowledge.
What words of inspiration would you say to young Indigenous children of today?
I would say remember and honour your ancestors – always remember where you come from. But never let that limit you on where you can go, as you should always believe in yourself and go for your dreams.
Lastly, there is a lot of groundwork that has been done, and right now, it’s time for healing and it’s time for us to prosper.
If there’s one take away from National Indigenous History month, it’s that there is power in education. The history of Canada’s residential school system and the trauma it left behind for generations is still very much a reality, with survivors and their families still healing today.
To show your support, visit tsc.ca – Orange Shirt Day to purchase an orange shirt designed by Ojibwe and two-spirited artist Patrick Hunter. All proceeds from sales of the t-shirt go directly to the Orange Shirt Society, helping expand Indigenous education across Canada by bringing awareness to the truth about the individual, family and community inter-generational impacts of Residential Schools.
Learn more about the #WeWearOrange campaign here.