At Lil Helper, we are proud of a lot of things.
We are proud of the way we do business and the team we have built.
We are proud of the community we have and the amazing folks who have found their way to us.
And we are proud of many things about the country that we call home. We are proud that it is a place where people can live, love, and worship freely.
But we can never let pride blind us to the inequities and injustices that brought us to this place. We can't uplift the stories that make us feel patriotic and turn a blind eye to the history that makes us ashamed.
We cannot ignore the fact that we have what we have because it was taken from others.
And nothing has reminded us of that more than the discoveries of unmarked graves at residential schools across the country over the past few weeks.
Hearing this news has left Indigenous communities reeling. Most aren't shocked. For them, the legacy of residential schools is well known. And the impacts of these "schools" are still being felt. But that doesn't make these discoveries hurt any less.
For many non-Indigenous Canadians, this is the first time we are learning about the residential school system. We are confused and heartbroken. We don't know what to do with the guilt and the hurt of this moment.
So this Canada Day, we as a company are taking action. And we hope you will join us.
Because feeling bad, or sending thoughts and prayers are not enough. Being a good ally means concrete action. So here are some things that we can all do to reflect, learn, and enact change:
Learn about residential schools.
Why they were created, who attended, and what happened to them. You’ll find a brief overview to get you started by clicking here.
Take a look at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to action.
The TRC was created specifically to look into the residential school system and its impacts on Indigenous people. Thousands of survivors spoke to the commission about their experiences. The whole document is worth a read, but if nothing else you should look at their final calls to action. These are the specific steps they have asked governments, businesses, and individuals to take in order to begin healing the damage done by the residential school system.
You can read the calls to action by clicking here.
Demand action from others.
The TRC Calls to Action have been in place since 2015. It is time for folks to demand action. Indigenous or ally, your voice matters. Politicians have relied on the indifference of non-Indigenous folks to continue sweeping these issues under the rug. Once you have read through the Calls to Action use the contact information found here and these tips to write a letter to your MP.
Put your money where your mouth is.
Residential schools are not ancient history. The last one closed in 1996. There are many survivors still struggling with their experiences and the intergenerational impacts of this and other systemic oppression are alive and well for Indigenous folks across the country. So consider donating to an Indigenous-led charity.
For our part, Lil Helper will be donating $5 from every orange diaper sold in the month of July to Indspire, a national charity that invests in Indigenous education initiatives.
To learn more or to donate directly, check out Indspire here. Legacy of Hope is another great option for those looking to donate.
Keep learning and sharing.
Dig deeper into the history that you didn't know about Canada's relationship with Indigenous people. University of Alberta has an amazing free course that is focused on this history. And share the actions that you are taking with others. Ignorance can no longer be an excuse. So be a voice for change.
In a recent interview, Chief Cadmus Delorme of the Cowessess First Nation said that we have "all inherited the legacy of residential schools."
No one alive today is responsible for their creation and most of us are not personally responsible for what has been done to Indigenous people.
But, Chief Delorme also pointed out, we are responsible for what happens next. And if we take the time, this Canada Day and beyond, to do the work of learning, reflecting, and taking action, our generation could be the one who makes sure that we don't pass this dark inheritance on to any future generations.
So, even though we may not be feeling as patriotic this Canada Day, we are still proud. Proud to be feeling guilty, devastated, and uncomfortable. And proud to be doing the work.