Songhees Wellness Centre, home to the Songhees Innovation Centre. Photo courtesy of Camosun AV Services

Songhees Wellness Centre, home to the Songhees Innovation Centre. Photo courtesy of Camosun AV Services

EDITORIAL: Indigenous identity a right, not a privilege

In the past few weeks, the News has brought readers two stories about exciting opportunities for our local First Nations communities.

A bid to host the 2020 North American Indigenous Games has been met with support from the City of Victoria and Township of Esquimalt. Still, there seems to be some chatter out there, coloured with racist tendencies, questioning why an event like this is important.

Earlier this week we covered a recent announcement from the federal government to provide funding to spur Indigenous business growth. The support will enable resources like the Songhees Innovation Centre to expand into the community, for those with dreams of entrepreneurship.

Victoria has a long history of colonial influence, as do many cities in Canada, but the difference here is that steps are being taken in a different direction, not to erase that history, but to reconcile it.

Full disclosure: we are a newsroom of settlers, and that is why we deem it important to balance our coverage of our city with stories from the people who first made their homes here.

It is the comments we read and some we receive that reinforce how necessary it is to lend our voice to the chorus of voices of others whose culture and identity have not traditionally been heard.

For the young people growing up in Indigenous communities, it is vital to dream. It is imperative that they are offered the same opportunities as anyone else to achieve success. In order to do either, the first step is believing in and knowing who you are, and for decades, colonial reach has interrupted this.

Representing your Nation at the North American Indigenous Games, or having the tools and resources to brand your business as an Indigenous one, is a right, not a privilege.

Were the first Olympic Games not created to showcase and celebrate Greek culture?

Culture is what defines us, and differentiates us, but it will also be what sustains us.