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Three Questions and Three Perspectives on Canada’s National Indigenous Peoples Day

June 21, 2023, commemorates Canada’s National Indigenous Peoples Day. This day calls for celebration, reflection, and ongoing action year-round. 

Since 2018, Solve has offered the Indigenous Communities Fellowship, which seeks solutions by and for Indigenous communities building upon traditional knowledge and technology to meet the social, environmental, and economic goals of their communities. This year marks Solve’s Fellowship expansion to Canada.

Hear directly from three Solve community members about what this day symbolizes to them and how individuals can continuously support Indigenous technological advancement, sovereignty, and overall prosperity.

What does this day mean for you?

National Indigenous Peoples Day is a day to pause and reflect on the Indigenous experience through history, a day to celebrate Indigenous contributions to Canada and a day to acknowledge the diversity of First Nations, Inuit and Metis people across Canada, by learning or sharing something new about my Indigenous identity. There is always something new to learn.

What's your call for action?

My call for action is simple–lean in and be intentional. Lean into uncomfortable conversations.  Lean in to learn. Lean in to unlearn. Be an intentional and active Ally.

Do you have any additional thoughts about Indigenizing spaces like technology?

When I think about Indigenizing spaces like technology it is important to ensure that Indigenous voices are at the table. For me, this means building meaningful, sustainable relationships with Indigenous stakeholders and communities, over time.

What does this day mean for you?

National Indigenous Peoples Day is a day to recognize the brilliance and innovation of Indigenous Peoples on Turtle Island. It’s also a day to reflect on the struggles and sacrifices, past and present, of Indigenous Peoples and on the systemic barriers that continue to have critical impacts on their social, economic, and environmental circumstances. At Raven, this is a day of connection, reconnection, and self-reflection to ensure that we are staying true to our values and commitments to ourselves, the entrepreneurs we work with, the communities who welcome us, and to all inhabitants of Turtle Island.

What's your call for action?

How people mark this occasion is personal. We encourage everyone to spend the day in a way that resonates with their spirit and purpose. And from that, our hope is that everyone continues their journey on the path to reconciliation with renewed energy and vigor. From small actions on a personal level to striving for large-scale change at the organizational and government levels, we all have a responsibility to work toward the improved health and well-being of Indigenous Peoples.

Do you have any additional thoughts about Indigenizing spaces like technology?

At Raven, we believe that the process of Indigenization or the embedding of Indigenous epistemologies and viewpoints in different sectors and areas of modern life can only be good for people and Mother Earth. This applies to our core work in investment and finance but equally translates to spaces such as technology and AI, where we think paying attention to the human elements of what technology can and should do is critical with the realization that we are in relationship. 

What does this day mean for you?

This day is a powerful reminder of the beautiful diversity and power of Indigenous cultures. It's a day of celebration, reflection, recognition, and respect for the contributions of Indigenous Peoples to the world. More personally, it reinforces my commitment to integrating Indigenous wisdom into our technological landscape and use it as a tool for equity and empowerment.

What's your call for action?

My call to action, particularly for the tech industry, is to proactively engage and collaborate with Indigenous communities as contributors and innovators. We need to recognize and value Indigenous knowledge systems and incorporate them into our technological designs and systems. The Indigenous perspective brings with it an intrinsic respect for the interconnectedness of all things and a long-term view of sustainability. These concepts are increasingly crucial in our rapidly digitizing world.

Do you have any additional thoughts about Indigenizing spaces like technology?

Indigenizing spaces like technology is first about representation, but it is also about redefining how we approach, design, and use technology. At Animikii, we advance the concept of Indigenous Technology, a fusion of traditional Indigenous knowledge and values with today’s technology. Our product, Niiwin, is an embodiment of this idea - a tool designed to empower Indigenous-focused organizations to control their own data and narratives. We've seen how this Indigenous-first approach resonates not just with Indigenous communities, but with others who feel marginalized by mainstream tech.

Technology can play a crucial role in Indigenous self-determination and nation-building. It's time we reframe the narrative from Indigenous Peoples being mere consumers of technology to being active contributors and creators. That's the direction in which I hope we can steer the dialogue, especially in spaces and platforms such as MIT Solve.

If you are an Indigenous entrepreneur or want to support these innovators, learn more about Solve’s Indigenous Communities Fellowship.

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