Come Wander

This content is part of the broader Our Connections campaign, and is intended to broaden the understanding of Indigenous peoples, their cultures, and their histories in Ontario’s Highlands.

Canada is home to more than 630 First Nations, representing over 50 sovereign nations with their own lands, culture, language, creation stories, language or dialect. With such a broad representation in our country it’s natural to want to learn more about First Nations’ culture and people.

Learning how to be an ally to First Nations peoples is moving one step closer to eliminating prejudice and racialized disparity between cultures in Canada. The news  is full of information about how Indigenous peoples in Canada have been harmed through  genocide and settler colonialism, but it often falls short of identifying how we can be a support to First Nations peoples as they grapple with the reclamation of their culture.

Amber Hein is Algonquin Anishinabek, an original inhabitant of Turtle Island, known today as North America. The traditional homelands of the Algonquin people are the Kitchissippi watershed, presently called the Ottawa River, spanning from Mattawa to Hawkesbury.

Read Amber’s thoughts below on the many ways we can all be a better ally to First Nations peoples – beginning today.

Understand Pan-Indigenous and Why its Harmful

It is harmful to categorize First Nations’ culture in Canada as one because it assumes that we are all the same and erases the unique identities of hundreds of groups of people that have existed for thousands of years prior to European contact.

A good place to begin being an ally to First Nations is to find out whose traditional territory you are residing on and whose stolen land you have benefited from.  Acknowledging these nations specifically shows respect and a cultural understanding of Canadas complex history with Indigenous people.

These resources are a good place to start to find this information.

Cultural Appropriation vs. Appreciation

Know the difference! Cultural appropriation occurs when a dominant culture takes from another culture that is experiencing oppression.  One example of cultural appropriation is dressing up for Halloween as a native person. Our culture is not a costume.

This is harmful because it dehumanizes First Nations people and creates a stereotype, often one that is hyper-sexualized.  The hyper sexualization of First Nations’ women directly contributes to the ongoing Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit People (MMIWG2S) crisis.

Another example of cultural appropriation is the trend of wearing a headdress or warbonnet to music festivals.  This devalues an item of great cultural significance to First Nations.  Cultural appropriation can be difficult to recognize and unpack.  There are certainly exceptions and if you find yourself questioning a situation, please take the time to do some research so you can make an informed decision.

Support Authentic Indigenous Artwork

When purchasing traditional crafts like beadwork, dreamcatchers or art make sure the person or business you are purchasing from is Indigenous and if possible, support local.  Do not support businesses who profit from stolen culture, this is an example of cultural appropriation. Authentic Indigenous tourism is developed and delivered by Indigenous people – not about Indigenous people.

It is important to support authentic artisans because the wealth of this country has been built off stolen lands and off the backs of First Nations people through genocide and tactics of oppression and is still happening today. So much has been taken from us.

When you support local Indigenous artisans, you are literally putting food on their table. Wondering where to purchase authentic items?  Attend a powwow, there are vendors who sell their work there.

Avoid Harvesting or Purchasing Traditional Medicines

White Sage is a ceremonial plant and should not be used by non-indigenous people.  Sage is one of our four sacred medicines and is currently being over harvested for commercial use.  Over harvesting this plant by large corporations for profit can lead to extinction.

It’s important to keep in mind that access to medicines is a privilege and that Indigenous peoples were not allowed to legally practice their culture or use ceremonial medicines until around 1951.  Alternative plants, such as Rosemary, can be used by non-indigenous people to smudge or cleanse.

Note the Terms or Phrases that are NOT Okay to Use

There are many inappropriate phrases or terms that are easily unlearned if non-Indigenous peoples take the time to understand their history.  These terms include Indian, Savage, Half-breed, Eskimo, Chief, Tribe. These terms can be microaggressions or unintentional discrimination  and show a lack of respect and cultural competency. Please stop referring to your meetings as a powwow.  When First Nations people were forced off their lands and onto reservations, powwows were a way to keep songs, traditions and ceremonies alive.

The intergenerational trauma that Indigenous peoples have endured is not something that can be easily forgotten.  Correct and educate people when you experience this type of language being used.  If you are corrected, please listen and do better.

Use Your Privilege to Uplift Indigenous Voices

You are responsible for becoming more ethical than the society you grew up in. Learn the definition and meaning of white privilege. You can help in the following ways:

  • Use your privilege in a meaningful and impactful way.
  • Amplify Indigenous and Persons of Colour’s voices who are already doing the work to educate and dismantle systems of oppression.
  • Have difficult and uncomfortable conversations.
  • It is a privilege to be able to speak on a topic that doesn’t affect you personally, if you are corrected by a BIPOC person give them space to speak and do not become offended, try to listen and understand from a place of empathy.
  • Lift the burden off the shoulders of Indigenous peoples and educate others on the history of Canada, the attempted genocide and continued oppression of Indigenous and POC.

We can do better than our past.  Together, we can create a future full of love and respect for one another.

Looking for more information about how to connect with the land and Indigenous culture? Click here.

Connecting to the Land and Algonquin History

Learn More About Indigenous Culture

4 Ways to Connect with the Land

How to Give Back to the Land

 

 

 

Stories

4 Ways to Connect with the Land

This content is part of the broader Our Connections campaign, and is intended to broaden the understanding of Indigenous peoples, their cultures, and their histories in Ontario’s Highlands. The next time you are outdoors, take a moment to stand and truly feel of the land beneath your feet. If you concentrate really hard you may be […]

Connecting to the Land and Algonquin History: Amber Hein

This content is part of the broader Our Connections campaign, and is intended to broaden the understanding of Indigenous peoples, their cultures, and their histories in Ontario’s Highlands. On my mother’s side, I am Algonquin Anishinabek, an original inhabitant of Turtle Island, known today as North America. The traditional homelands of the Algonquin people are the […]

How to Give Back to the Land

This content is part of the broader Our Connections campaign, and is intended to broaden the understanding of Indigenous peoples, their cultures, and their histories in Ontario’s Highlands. – Amber Hein is Algonquin Anishinabek, an original inhabitant of Turtle Island, known today as North America. Read her perspective on how to give back to the land […]

Educate Yourself About Indigenous People and their Cultures

This content is part of the broader Our Connections campaign, and is intended to broaden the understanding of Indigenous peoples, their cultures, and their histories in Ontario’s Highlands. Canadians are becoming more aware of the injustices perpetrated against Indigenous Peoples since settlers arrived on the shores of Turtle Island (North America). Still, many of us aren’t […]

Responsible Tourism: Be a Better Ally to First Nations peoples

This content is part of the broader Our Connections campaign, and is intended to broaden the understanding of Indigenous peoples, their cultures, and their histories in Ontario’s Highlands. Canada is home to more than 630 First Nations, representing over 50 sovereign nations with their own lands, culture, language, creation stories, language or dialect. With such a […]

Fall Studio Tours, Theatre, Maple, and More

*Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out. The summer may be over but that doesn’t mean the party has to stop. Events that take place in fall are in many ways even more amazing than summer events – there are no bugs, the weather is more reasonable, and we’re all eager […]

Responsible Tourism: Respecting Nature’s Soundscape

When you hike, is it to experience nature? Perhaps catch up with friends? Whether if it’s one or the other – or maybe both! – nothing trumps taking a pause to listen to nature’s ‘music’. There is beauty is listening to bird songs, frogs’ choruses, and the wind through the trees. In fact, it’s an […]

3-Day Creative Retreat

*Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out. A creative spirit craves uninterrupted time to dream, wander, and replenish. It longs to absorb the creative vibes from others and bask in beautiful art and artistry. If your creative well has run dry or you are looking for an inspirational retreat to relax […]

Translating the Vibe in Haliburton: Nick and Benton

“In every season, Haliburton is inspiring – the pace, vibe and cottage feel creates the perfect setting for creativity.” ~ Nick Russell & Benton Brown, Haliburton musicians Picture this: You are at the cottage seated with friends and/or family around a roaring bonfire, the low murmur of voices competing against a chorus of crickets and […]

Find Inspiration in Ontario’s Highlands

*Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out. We all want to be able to make beautiful music, paint stunning works of art or write beautiful prose, but if it were easy, everyone would be doing it, wouldn’t they? It’s fair to say that fostering creativity is difficult to achieve in a […]

Get the Most Out of a River Experience

*Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out. Getting to know a river is almost like embarking on a wet and wild love affair. You forge a connection, learn everything you can, and then strengthen it over time. Sounds like a relationship, doesn’t it? The connection you have with a body of […]

Discover the Benefits of Local Travel

When was the last time you discovered a local landmark or business that you didn’t know was there? In Ontario’s Highlands, we have some amazing spots and experiences that you might be surprised to hear about. For example, did you know the longest canopy boardwalk in the world is located in Haliburton Highlands? Or that […]

Finding Beauty in the Everyday: Meet Rosemary Leach, Almonte Artist

The community of Almonte has a habit of creating and fostering artists, a trend that’s perpetuated in the work and life of Almonte artist, Rosemary Leach. Rosemary and her husband, Jake, originally hail from Toronto and Peterborough, respectively, and intentionally went looking for a community with an unhurried pace in which to settle down when […]

The Evolution of Art: Wendy Wood, Haliburton Artist

Haliburton artist, Wendy Wood, has lived everywhere from Kapuskasing to the shores of Lake Erie, but says nothing can compare to the creative atmosphere in Haliburton, particularly when it comes to fostering art and artists. “There’s a little bit of everything here,” Wendy explained. “The art school here draws everybody…you have top-notch teachers then people […]

Light Up the Holidays

*Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out.  When the holiday decorations go up in December the whole world begins to shimmer with magic. Every car ride or stroll is filled with wonder as we drink in the night filled with sparkling holiday lights of all colours. For the next […]

Local Love: 9 Local Gift Ideas You Can Order Online Today

‘Tis the season – for shopping. Yes, the leaves may have barely fallen from the trees but the jack-o-lanterns will shortly be switched out for ornaments and holly and the days are numbered before the holidays are here live and in person. This year when planning your shopping to-do list, we have two words for […]

Finding Good Medicine on Thunderbird Mountain

Having a guide can turn an everyday hike into the most amazing adventure. Although I’d hiked on my own in the past, making the hike with Tim Yearington of Bird Mountain Journeys wove together a story that allowed a deeper connection and different outlook on nature and history. It gave me a greater outlook on […]

Shiver-Worthy Spooky Spots

There’s something lingering in the air throughout October, leading up to the culmination of all things spooky on its final day – Halloween.   October starts with the summer’s lush canopy of green bidding a final farewell through a stunning display of vibrant colours. When the leaves die off and settle as a multi-coloured blanket on the forest floor, and the fog rolls in over the lakes and […]

Haunted Walks and Hair-Raising Ghost Tours

Have you ever wandered through an older building and felt the hair raise on the back of your neck, and not been sure why? It may be you are sensing something that others aren’t, some spooky aftereffect from a historical wrongdoing or the ghostly pinings of a disgruntled spirit. Many small communities in Ontario’s Highlands […]

The Artist’s Way

Who says art can only be found in big galleries or urban showrooms? To find fantastic local and Canadian art you need to head to the places that inspire artists to create, and Ontario’s Highlands is among the most beautiful places in Ontario (in our humble opinion). Beyond the inspiration found in the rugged hills […]

Big Attractions in Ontario

Are you the type to pull over when you see a comically large roadside attraction, or a picture-perfect spot to snap a few shots? Amateur photographers and Instagrammers alike can agree that a giant ice cream cone, a massive mural adorning the side of a building, or a full-size replica of a jet plane are […]

Ground to Glass

Discover how four craft drink makers harness Mother Nature’s flavours to elevate their beverages in Ontario’s Highlands.

With Love, to the Ottawa Valley

From the rushing waters of the Petawawa, Madawaska and Ottawa rivers to the unspoiled woodlands of Algonquin Park, the Ottawa Valley is a sultry enchantress, enticing us with adventure. Renowned as a world-class whitewater destination and for the challenges found in its rugged hills and lush dales, the Valley pushes us to do more, live […]

With Love, to Lennox & Addington

Known for its pristine wilderness, incredible views and rugged natural spaces, the majestic beauty of Lennox & Addington speaks to the wanderer inside us all. From the craggy peak of Mazinaw Rock at Bon Echo Provincial Park to the starry skies overhead, there is wonder waiting to be discovered here, a vivid reminder of how our […]

Your Guide to COVID-19 Safe Travel in Ontario’s Highlands

This year the key to exploring is to keep it local; this is the time to explore our own backyards, and the regions close to home that have so much to offer us in the way of exhilarating outdoor experiences, fantastic food and drink, and blissful relaxation. If you’re exploring a new corner of Ontario’s […]

Dark Skies, Starry Nights

Have you ever wondered about the mysterious realm outside our planet? Maybe you’ve wanted to roam the galaxy, travel among the stars, and get a new perspective on the universe. For now, stargazing is as close to it as us ‘average humans’ can get! Luckily there are still places to getaway, where the view of […]

Get in Step

April Verch, fiddler, singer-songwriter and step dancer extraordinaire teaches the basics of stepdancing.

Exhale and Unwind

Experience a slice of farm life at Dwyer’s Farmhouse in the Ottawa Valley.

Discover Hidden Gems

Feed your curiosity and explore the diverse geology of Ontario’s Highlands at these Recreational Geology locations.

Shine at Giving this Holiday Season

Today’s craft markets are full of fresh, hip products made by creative and talented makers. This holiday season, go above and beyond by picking up handmade items with a story to tell at one of these Ontario holiday markets.

Art in the Summer

Celebrate creativity at art festivals across Ontario’s Highlands this summer.

3 Cheers for Mom

Discover ways to give a mom a Mother’s Day to remember, with gift ideas that go above and beyond.

Batter up!

Get a behind the scenes look into the world of baseball at Sam Bat.

Get Your Hands Dirty

Find out where to appease your creative side on this Creative Cruiser road trip.

The Creative Cruiser

I’m a Creative Cruiser. I wander with a desire to feed my curiosity, to follow my passions, and to grow from my discoveries.

Where Am I

Explore the sweet moments and ageless beauty of Perth, Ontario.

Hidden Gems

Seven charming museums in Ontario’s Highlands.

Where Am I?

Discover breathtaking beauty blasted from the Earth at Marmora Mine in Ontario’s Highlands.