In section: News

Setting out to discover Indigenous Peoples: a rewarding experience

What if the Quebec identity is the outcome of a significant blending with Indigenous Peoples?
Gathered again for a day of formation on the indigenous culture, the forty members of the Association of Women Religious for Women’s Rights (ARDF) discovered important similarities of both thought and values with the Amerindian Peoples.

The conference given by Mrs. Nicole O’Bomsawin, an Abenaki, paved the way for this enriching day by concentrating on the theme of transmission of the values and culture of the indigenous people - between mothers and their children. Those who attended thus learned the seven key values that are passed on to children, and are better known as “grandmothers” values.

The focus was on presenting each of these values: LOVE | RESPECT (the Earth – Material Goods – Others) | WISDOM | COURAGE | HONESTY | HUMILITY | TRUTH; the speaker knew how to build up her audience’s curiosity while promoting thought-provoking discussions. 


A revealing film 

This first step prepared the way for watching the documentary film “L’empreinte” (the Footprint).  This film features comedian Roy Dupuis who explores his thoughts and reflections, along with a host of personalities, one of whom was the invited speaker for this day.

The screening of this film was a revelation for a number of participants. The presentation of discussions with historians and Amerindians made it possible to go back over the evolution of the historical links that tie French Canadians to the First Nations. 

It provoked many comments and reactions of which some key highlights are found below. 


•    Awareness of the richness of Aboriginal values that are a part of our heritage, including values of democracy, consensus, tolerance, sharing. We are committed to these values in Quebec.

•    We are pleased to say that the values of Quebec society are based on Judaeo-Christian values ... Perhaps they are more Amerindian: sharing, respect, harmony ...

•    Our justice system can well be inspired by Amerindian values such as rehabilitation, mediation rather than punishment. It is an inheritance that must not be overlooked.

•    There is much emphasis on tolerance among the indigenous peoples; we can learn from them how to better accept others and their ideas in their differences.

•    We notice the winds of freedom in this film. The Amerindian feels comfortable in the forest; they have the option of contravening the laws ... Why are Quebecers so free regarding male-female relationships, homosexual people? Could there be something of a blending of ideas between us?

•    In Quebec, during the Quiet Revolution, society rejected the institutional Church because it was too restrictive ... Could there be a repressed part of ourselves to be rediscovered?

•    We come from a blending of two cultures … There is a need to again find an inner freedom regarding the institutions.

•    We realize that we do not really know the Amerindian culture and are aware that we have not been taught the true history.

•    We sometimes hear disdainful comments from "whites" in relation to indigenous people. We must intervene in front of these disparaging comments and stand up for our aboriginal sisters and brothers.

•    We realize that alliances were broken when England came to power in our country. We carry this wound that we did not want. The Amerindians are beginning to be proud of their peoples; we too have to be proud, proud of them and proud of what we are as we slowly rediscover what this blending involved. It is an invitation to be happy about who we are.

•    The Quebec people have a difficult relationship with money. It  seems that they don ‘t like to be above it ... they want to be with it ... they are recognizable in popular community groups who are united in their fight to improve their situation

•    In Quebec, the religious Congregations consider these groups as their hands. We must fight to retain the priorities of Service in the donations to the CRC, even if it only concerns Quebec Francophones. 

As you can see, it is a film with rich and stimulating content, and can be seen again and again… You can rent it, buy it  (in French only) and even organize a screening.

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