For the past two decades, Matricia Bauer, Iskatochitawachiy (She Who Moves Mountains), has connected to her Cree heritage by sharing it with others. The fact that Bauer's relationship to her Indigenous culture hasn't always been guaranteed makes her work all the more important.
As a Sixties Scoop survivor, Bauer was one of thousands of Indigenous children in Canada removed from their own families to be raised by non-Indigenous families. The upbringing separated her from her heritage, leading Bauer to reconnect in her own way through a process of decolonization and Indigenization.
Today, Bauer runs Warrior Women — an initiative that focuses on Indigenous education and engagement for all ages through school visits, guided experiences, workshops, fire-side chats and Wapakwanis plant walks in and around Jasper. In singing, drumming, teaching and storytelling, Bauer looks to “Indigenize the world — one drum beat at a time.”
On the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Bauer shares what reconciliation means to her, and reflects on the founding of the federal designation.
“Reconciliation means a relationship. And when you have a symbiotic relationship — when you treat other people like they’re family — you treat them differently. You treat them with a higher level of respect, and you give them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to understanding.
“I think the road to recovery for Canada is in reconciliation and understanding the damage that happened to Indigenous people historically, and how they're still recovering. That damage is still prevalent in racism that happens today. [Reconciliation is] challenging what we think of as the Canadian story and understanding the complicity of being in this beautiful country — what cost that has come at for the people that were here originally. Reconciliation as a nation is understanding and is relationship-building on both sides — both on a colonial perspective and on an Indigenous perspective.
“I hope that people will take some time to reflect on what [National Day for Truth and Reconciliation] means. And I don't mean this in a negative way, but I hope people don't expect to be spoon-fed by the Indigenous community — that they instead take their education into their own hands. The information is out there. It's been done [for] the Sixties Scoop, it's been done through Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, it’s been done for the residential school system. I would like people to regain their sovereignty and be able to say that they’ve done their homework and their research in understanding the larger story.
“Truth and reconciliation is every day. And certainly for Indigenous people. [It’s about] understanding that we live with this story all the time, and that this is part of a bigger story. And it’s something that can be explored at any time, not just one day of the year.
“Every Indigenous person has their own personal story, and we’re all incredibly different in how that story is incorporated into our everyday lives.”
Learn more about truth and reconciliation at nctr.ca. To support residential school survivors, consider donating to the Indian Residential School Survivor Society (IRSSS) at irsss.ca.