Blood Tribe study examines impact of racism

·3 min read

The Blood Tribe is releasing a study addressing racism in the area.

The study was conducted by Dr. Gabrielle Lindstrom of Mount Royal University and a Kainai member. It was achieved through the tribal government application for funding from the Alberta Human Rights Commission’s Human Rights Education and Multiculturism Fund to conduct a research project examining the effects of racism on members of the Blood Tribe Community.

The study was conducted over a two-year period with Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants from southern Alberta with assistance from tribal government staff.

The project shows how the issue of racism is complex and deep-rooted, having lasting generational effects, and how steps need to be taken to address the issues many Indigenous people are facing.

“The difficulty with addressing racism is partly due to how it is defined which shapes how it is both talked about and taught about. The definition of racism has typically been controlled by the dominant settler society. However, this research defines racism from a lens of deep experience consistent with a Kainai worldview,” said Lindstrom in a news release.

The Blood Tribe will be working on an implementation plan, Kimmapiiyipitssini – Moving Forward, that will work on external and internal strategies for reaching out to the community for input. Neighbouring communities and municipalities will be provided an opportunity to participate in the work as they address the harmful effects of racism.

“With the implementation plan, hopefully people will not be reluctant. By people, I mean with our neighbours, the municipalities, cities, and the services providers,” said Dorothy First Rider, chair for tribal government and member of the Blood Tribe chief and council.

“They will be able to reflect on what has happened in the past, maybe what they themselves have contributed towards the issue of racism, beginning to address it and say we need to change our outlook on this. Because if somebody isn’t the same colour as us, doesn’t mean that they’re inferior to us. “

First Rider notes that part of the plan will work towards the future through how children are exposed to race and racism.

“One of the prominent factors that was identified in this study was the need to be able to introduce these frank discussions within the school system,” said First Rider.

“We have to quit stereotyping other people. A lot of that, unfortunately, rests on the educational system. Because if we can assist those upcoming students that are going to then transition into the institutions and become professionals, they will be able to assist in changing the worldview,”

First Rider says racism’s history within the Indigenous community has existed since the eras when treaties were signed, the whiskey traders plied their trade, and residential schools operated, and is not something that is just now emerging.

She notes the lasting effects have generational consequences to the growth of a person as a human being.

“Unfortunately, when our people continue to experience racism, that leads to a lack of self-confidence and self-motivation because they themselves will start to see themselves as being inferior,” said First Rider.

“In order to thrive in society and be successful, people need to be able to have support. Building up their confidence and being told, yes you can do this.”

Ryan Clarke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Lethbridge Herald