Indigenous leader discusses effects of colonialism

Langara opens up conversations about colonialism effects on Indigenous families


By Steven Chang

Indigenous students at Langara are still dealing with negative stereotypes regarding their identity and their past.

At a college family studies’ event on atrocities, divisions and traumatic memories in human history, an Indigenous strategist spoke to students about the impact of colonialism on Indigenous families.

Kory Wilson, Executive Director of Indigenous Initiatives and Partnerships at BCIT, said the legacy of colonialism is sadly still around in Canada and getting worse in some ways, and education is the key to overcoming it in Canada. She encouraged students to learn about Indigenous culture.

Perspective of students

Langara student Virginia Lecoy, said education was used as a weapon against Indigenous people. Today, she is using education to help herself navigating in the Western world.

“Even though the residential school doesn’t exist anymore, intergenerational trauma remains in families. There are signs of micro aggression from people telling us to get over our history, ” Lecoy said.

Second-year associate general Arts student, Megan Hill, expressed the desire for the public to raise awareness with not appropriating Indigenous culture and seeking it for profit.

“It’s ironic when we weren’t allowed to embrace our own culture all these years. Now you see people wearing the headdress as a joke.” As an educator, Wilson said that students from all backgrounds need to be empowered with formal and informal education to boost their self-esteem.

“Discrimination makes people feel disengaged and alone,” she said. “Marginalized people don’t feel validated. When people’s voices aren’t being heard, they ended up retreating.”

Importance of education

Sociology instructor at Langara, Indira-Natasha Prahst, said that it is important to provide young Indigenous students with a spark of motivation to stay in school.

Prahst said Wilson is a role model for the Indigenous community.

“There is a disconnect with how the curriculum is being taught about Indigenous culture,” Prahst said. “So having more Indigenous scholars, teachers and mentors would really help to bridge the gap.”

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