A word from FGM – June 2021

Like you, my heart was broken by the news of the horrific discovery of a mass grave on the grounds of a former residential school in B.C. – where no less than 215 Indigenous children lost their lives while guilty authorities looked the other way and kept quiet. Too often, when we hear about Indigenous peoples in the media, it is to recount such tragedies. Not to mention the consequences of centuries of colonization and racism, that persist to this day.

Indeed, too many Indigenous individuals, on reserves and in urban settings, still live in unacceptable conditions. Those are scars that we can no longer tolerate. But as we head towards National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21, let’s keep in mind as well that Indigenous cultures have much to offer us and teach us. Our community has much to gain by celebrating this richness. We need to break down the barriers that keep us apart, and do a lot more listening.

Respect, recognition, partnership

At FGM, we seek to integrate these issues into all facets of our work. That is why we have adopted a Territorial Acknowledgement, which reflects the richness of the Indigenous presence on the territory we share. However, this recognition needs to be accompanied by action. That is why FGM aims to offer support tailored to the specific conditions experienced by Indigenous peoples living on the territory now known as Greater Montreal; often, they live in situations of extreme vulnerability. The specialized organizations that operate alongside Indigenous peoples are doing extraordinary work that deserves more recognition and backing.

Beyond that, FGM’s support for Indigenous peoples must be offered in a spirit of respect and partnership. We must also recognize ancestral cultures and knowledge. In that spirit, FGM seeks to draw inspiration from traditional knowledge. We strive to incorporate, into our vision of Greater Montréal, the profound relationships of interdependence between individuals, the community and the territory. We must also reflect on the potential impact of our actions on future generations. To us, this is one of the cornerstones of the structure of reconciliation we are trying to build. There must be, and there will be, others.

Breaking the solitudes

Let’s remember, too, that we still have a long way to go in terms of decolonization and reconciliation. The systemic racism that this continent’s First Peoples have been subjected to is deeply ingrained in our institutions, our economy and our culture. For quite a while now, Indigenous peoples have been putting out calls for help and making attempts at reconciliation. They are offering us to share the ancestral knowledge that holds some of the keys to our common future. And for too long now, we have turned a deaf ear. We looked the other way, and have taken refuge in the safety of our privileges. In doing so, we have ignored those who have lived here for 10,000 years.

Their longevity should, instead, inspire admiration and humility in us. It is by cultivating these values that we will grow together. Reconciliation is a concept that asks us to give the best of ourselves. In fact, this gift is an offering of justice and respect towards both Indigenous peoples and ourselves.

Karel Mayrand
President and CEO
Foundation of Greater Montréal