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I was first introduced to Chief Edmund Metatawabin by Linda Lundström who guested on my podcast #BreakingBrave – Linda’s episode of Breaking Brave HERE

Aside from being a Canadian Fashion Icon, Linda has always been very involved with and committed to supporting Canada’s Indigenous communities. So when I expressed my desire to learn more about our First Nations people, Linda graciously connected me with Chief Edmund Metatawabin. 

Edmund is a First Nations Chief, Recipient of the Order of Canada, author, and survivor of St. Anne’s Residential School. He is certainly one of the bravest people I have ever personally met – and that’s putting it lightly. 

Before Edmund agreed to be a guest on #BreakingBrave, he asked me to read a couple of books; both of which I highly recommend: Up Ghost River: A Chief’s Journey Through the Turbulent Waters of Native History Up Ghost River: A Chief’s Journey Through the Turbulent Waters of Native History; 1491 : New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus 1491 : New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

Until I read  both of these books cover to cover, I had no idea how ignorant I was about the history of Indigenous People in Canada! 

So on this day, which marks National Aboriginal Day in Canada, it feels appropriate to share some of what I learned from Edmund. 

Today  is a day to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures, and outstanding contributions of First Nations people, Inuit and Métis of Canada.

 All of which they have been able to achieve, in spite of the fact that we have treated our Indigenous peoples in abhorrent, shameful ways throughout Canadian history. As a result: 

Suicide rates in Indigenous youth are six times higher than in non-Indigenous Canadian populations.

Thousands of Indigenous children  died in the residential school system which was only abolished in 1996 (!!!) in Canada schools.

1,017 women and girls identified as Indigenous were murdered between 1980 and 2012—a homicide rate roughly 4.5 times higher than that of all other women in Canada.

Because – 6 in 10 Indigenous women experience physical or sexual abuse.

For all these reasons and more, I think it is vital for us to ask ourselves:

What can we do?

Listen to Indigenous People and educate ourselves on their culture and history by reading, by teaching our children the truth, and by keeping the conversation alive

Here is the link to the #BreakingBrave episode with Chief, Author, and Recipient of the Order of Canada, Edmund Metatawabin (Here is Edmund Metatawabin’s episode of #BreakingBrave,) in which we discuss the real meaning of truth and reconciliation, the path to healing, and his survival at St. Anne’s Residential School. 

Thank you for caring and learning.