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Canada’s National Day for Truth and Reconciliation: A Conversation with Ta7talíya Nahanee

Canada’s National Day for Truth and Reconciliation: A Conversation with Ta7talíya Nahanee

Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation will be observed on September 30, 2021, honouring the lost children and Survivors of residential schools, their families and communities. Last week, I met on Zoom with Ta7talíya Nahanee, the owner of Nahanee Creative, a company dedicated to changing neo-colonial narratives through workshops and online courses. Ta7talíya and I spoke about her company, Canada’s new statutory holiday, and what you and your family can do to show your support on September 30th.

Here’s what Ta7talíya had to say:

Q: Tell me about Nahanee Creative.

A: We’ve been around since 1996 and started as a Communications and Design company. Since then, it’s evolved into something that has become a very liberating journey for me. It’s been really eye-opening. We call ourselves a social change agency now.

Q: What is the focus of your workshops and courses?

A: All of our workshops and courses centre around decolonization.

Ta7talíya Nahanee and daughter
Photo Credit: Ta7talíya Nahanee

Q: Who do you think should take your courses and workshops?

A: I like to say that I don’t work with anyone in what I call neo-colonial denial. People have to be at a stage where they admit that colonialism happened, that it’s a problem, that it’s not right. They need to acknowledge that there continues to be ongoing impacts. I’m not here to convince anyone that colonialism exists. Instead, my focus is on “the what happens now stage” of healing.

Q: What do you hope people take away from your workshops into their lives and communities?

A: I hope they see themselves in the work. A lot of people tend to put it off to the government. But, it’s a Canadian history and a Canadian future story. So, I hope people see themselves as part of the work and healing that’s beginning to take place.

Q: With the upcoming National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, I hear many people talking about wearing orange shirts. Do you think that’s enough?

A: It’s a continuum. We all have to start somewhere. And when we see people wearing orange shirts, it does really mean a lot. It shows that you care enough to take a stand and acknowledge what has happened.

Nahanee Creative workshop
Photo Credit: Ta7talíya Nahanee

Q: How do you hope people honour this upcoming day for National Truth and Reconciliation?

A: I hope people grab the resources available to them and go out on the land and see the continuum that has happened. If they haven’t already learned their territory acknowledgment, it’s a great time to take a look at the Squamish Atlas. People can also google and learn how to say thank you and hello in their host nation’s language.

Q: I’d love to know more about the game you designed that you use in your workshop and what else is on the horizon.

A: The game is called Sínulkhay & Ladders, and I originally created it as part of my thesis. It’s a take on snakes and ladders that focuses on teaching decolonization practices in a fun way. I like to use a big floor-sized one in my workshops.

Nahanee Creative Sínulkhay & Ladders game
Photo Credit: Ta7talíya Nahanee

I’m also creating a new game called Walking in Good Relations. It’s designed for families, and the goal is to provide them with a fun and interactive way to learn host nation greetings, place names, and how to be in better relations.

I brought a lot of my design work into it Sinulkhay & Ladders and I’m really proud of it. I’ll be doing the same with Walking in Good Relations.

Vancouver Mom – Thank you Ta7talíya.

Final Thoughts

I had a lot of eye-opening moments during my time with Ta7talíya. One of the big ones was around the many reasons people (including myself) put off doing this type of decolonial work. People often blame time and cost, which I learned is in itself a very colonial way of thinking.

If, like me, you’re looking to use September 30th as a launching point for your own decolonial work, there are so many places to start on Nahanee Creative’s website. A fun way to introduce decolonizing practices to your family is to order Ta7talíya’s original workbook “Playing Post Colonial: a decolonizing activity book for the woke and weary,” you’ll find a copy of Sinulkay & Ladders inside. One of my favourite suggestions from Ta7talíya is to order Nahanee Creative’s workbook Decolonizing First, get a group of friends together, and start to go through it together.

A dedicated day for Truth and Reconciliation means that we as Canadians have an opportunity to pause, take action, and begin to heal together as a country. On September 30th, I plan to google what territory acknowledgment to use and add it to my email sign-off-something I’ve put off for too long. I also plan on googling how to say hello and thank you in my host nation’s language with my kids, and downloading Ta7talíya’s workbook Decolonizing First.

How do you plan to honour Canada’s very first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation?

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