Last week at Culturally Committed, we hosted our monthly Community Call. This is a time when our members have the opportunity to gather with our treasured Mentors to listen, learn, and ask questions. Whenever we open our circles, we do so in alignment with Coast Salish protocols, which means that we always engage in introductions. For those who reside in the Western world, this might seem like a repetitive task; however, for many First Nations people, it carries important meaning. This past week, George Harris Jr. reminded us why it is so important to participate in this practice:
“I love that within our Culturally Committed community we uphold the tradition of introductions. In Coast Salish culture, introductions not only provide an opportunity for people to learn and remember your name, but it also reminds us as individuals of who we are and where we come from. Remember, we are people of the oral tradition, and this means that we don’t write notes or wear name tags; the way our people learn is through repetition. In Western society it might seem like we are repeating ourselves over and over again, but this is a way of practicing, learning, and gaining confidence. In our circle here, I see a lot of our members gaining that strength, practicing how to say their own introductions, and it is my hope that they carry these teachings out into the Western world.”
A couple of weeks ago, I was grateful to host a dinner at my home to honour the treasured Mentors who support Culturally Committed. As the evening approached, I was feeling excitement, but also nervousness at the thought of hosting the evening in a way that respected these people I admired so much. In my mind I knew that it was important to allow time for introductions, but I was uncertain as to how to weave them into the gathering. As we sat down at the table to eat, I looked over to my friend Kim Good of Snuneymuxw, and whispered that I hadn’t invited introductions, and Kim reassured me that it is never too late to start – then stood up and introduced herself.
Sometimes I still experience so much uncertainty about how to pursue this work in a good way, and I’ve had to accept that I will make mistakes as I learn. However, I will not allow the fear of getting it wrong paralyze me, and prevent me from continuing to try. I will continue to repeat - practice and learn - until I have confidence in moving forward in a good way.
In learning, Kim at Culturally Committed