When serving Indigenous people it is important to serve local Indigenous people and allow them the right to define the help that they need. While many people are aware of this in a theoretical sense, at the level of practice this is another thing entirely.
Many organizations that claim to be doing Indigenous allyship, Indigenous solidarity, or Indigenous reconciliation work are not allowing local Indigenous people to define and direct the movement forward. This of course is problematic.
Indigenous people are in a difficult situation, in particular women, children, and persons with disabilities. Through colonial policy, internalized oppression, and lateral violence, so-called leaders are about to extinguish land rights, patriarchs (both men and women) are undermining women, and women are harming women. The short story is that the critical thinkers are being undermined and targeted from many directions. This is the nature of oppression.
As members of an organization that is claiming to do ally, solidarity, and reconciliation work it is your responsibility to hear the voices and needs of the most oppressed, especially the voices who carry a critical understanding and as such are targets of undermining practices and discourses. In the event that you opt not to do this, and carry on with what you think needs to be done, is simply not good enough. Who Indigenous people are and what our needs are is so much more than a job for others, a title for others, a degree for others, a research project for others, or an industry for others. Indigenous people need genuine help as they define it to be, not how you define it to be.
Thank you for valuing this open letter.