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Blog

Filtering by Category: Treaties

A Letter

Sara General

Dear Ione and Vivian,

I am writing this letter for you, because I think it is important that you understand some of the things that I have learned in my life that have to do with being an Indigenous woman living on Turtle Island and of belonging to the league of nations known as the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. 

A lot of what I am going to share with you is reflective of things I have learned and thought about over the last fifteen years. Things I am still thinking about. There are stories about your family members here as well, about your grandfather and your uncle. About your grandmother and your aunties. Your family on your father’s side has many stories to tell as well, but I will let him tell you what those are. 

I want to start by telling you that there is a lot of history in our community and that not all of it will be easy to read or hear about. But I did not know these histories growing up and I had to learn them in a sometimes hard and difficult manner over many, many years. I do not want the same thing for you—not when there is something I could do about it. A way I could empower you with knowledge by informing you sooner, though even by telling you—I cannot promise you will not grapple with similar issues in your lifetime. 

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Giving the Gift of Story

Sara General

A short little post, as this week has been all about getting ready to celebrate my daughter's 2nd birthday. If there's one thing I've experienced being a parent, it's that it's hard to find a good birthday gift for your child. Something that means a lot to you, something that shows them you love them more than anything and something they will have forever. 

I wrote this story for her birthday last year but didn't have a chance to finalize it and at the time, I didn't have all the other skills or know-how to finish it. Fortunately, I've learned a lot over the last year and was able to format the print book, design the cover, and insert the illustrations all by myself, which was awesome!

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Happy International Women's Day & Why I'm Supporting Devery Jacobs's Kickstarter

Sara General

I used to work for a First Nation organization. This organization was a coordinating and advocacy body for the 133 First Nation communities in Ontario. There were many parts of this job that were awesome—I got to travel to other First Nations, hear the experiences of Indigenous Peoples across Turtle Island and see the passion they have for their communities. But there were some parts of the job that were less awesome—this usually had to do with one of two things: the wretched relationship between First Nations and external governments, and the general lack of awareness that Ontarians and Canadians have about who First Nations are and what our relationship is supposed to be like.

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Eagles Among Us

Sara General

I don’t write very often about my family here on the blog, something I feel might be changing now that I have a daughter, but suffice it to say that I have an awesome family and I grew up in a household filled with art and creativity. My dad is a sculptor and though she’s never written a novel, my mom reads and tells stories with more flair than many of my favourite writers. I spent most of my childhood going to galleries and art openings, listening to my dad talk with friends, colleagues and patrons on the phone about new pieces he was working on, and learning how to create art of my own.

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Passion, Purpose and Positivity

Sara General

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I spent last weekend at a Youth Engagement Forum in my community.  The event was organized by the local Six Nations youth in collaboration with the Ontario First Nations Young Peoples Council.  Alas, I’m not a youth anymore, so my role was really to assist with a bit of the planning and try to help out in other ways.  I like this role, it gives me a lot of time to listen, learn and be inspired by the leadership that young people and elders demonstrate.  Many powerful and positive messages were shared throughout the forum from youth, elders and presenters.   Here are some of the highlights that I personally took from the event:

  • Everyone has a gift
  • Find your passion and purpose
  • Share your positive energy
  • You only fail if you stop trying
  • Help your community and your people
  • Be good to the Creation
  • Follow your original instructions

On Treaties:

1)  Indigenous Peoples are not Canadians

2) Treaties were made not signed

3) Treaties are internationally recognized agreements

Over the last week, I had read a few articles that were very negative.  One of them was about the negativity and hatred that was directed at a thirteen-year old girl who wore a sweatshirt to school that said, “Got Land? Thank an Indian.”  The second was a public statement by a Conservative MP who was defending the oil sands for creating jobs and slamming Neil Young for statements and positions he’s been taking about the oil sands through the #HonourtheTreaties tour.   I was disappointed by the attitudes of these women who were spreading this negativity around in defense of same-ness and economics.

I was disappointed because over the past few years I’ve realized that one of my dreams is for there to be clean water, a healthy climate and food systems for Indigenous and non-Indigenous families of the future. and I recognize that means I need to be aware of the very real challenges we are creating for those families and be willing to understand what I might have to give up to help ensure that future.  I read those articles, saw those negative attitudes and wondered what I could do about it without generating more negativity.  I think I got my answer this weekend.  The messages that were shared in the forum are all potential ways to be proactive without resorting to negativity.

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t ‘haters’ out there – certainly, they seem to be everywhere.  I read a lot of writer’s blogs and in the last few weeks a number of them talked about having the same experiences with people, trolls or others who criticize and belittle the work that they are doing.  Once again, I found a similar message.  I don’t have to make the choice to be negative or internalize negativity because there’s another option that fits me better, an option that lets me keep making the art I have to make and share the happiness that creativity brings me with others.  Definitely, this is the choice for me.

#HonourtheTreaties