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Honouring the Torchbearers & Pathfinders

This podcast was recorded live from the Wisdom Room Stage at the #SheEOGlobalSummit hosted in Toronto, March 9 and 10, 2020.

“Many women before us have done the hard work to give us a better world. Whether they knew it or not, their courage touched the lives of future generations, women they never met, women they loved. We stand on their shoulders.”

This panel brings together generations of SheEO Activators, entrepreneurs and leaders to share their stories and journeys while honouring the torchbearers and pathfinders in their lives and communities. This dynamic conversation is moderated by Dr. Golnaz Golnaraghi, founder of Divity Group Inc. and Accelerate Her Future, and features mother-daughter duo Teara Fraser, CEO of Iskwew Air and Raven Institute, and Kiana Alexander, COO of Raven Institute.

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TRANSCRIPT

Jessy Wang:

Welcome to SheEO.world, a podcast about redesigning the world. This is a special episode recorded live at the first-ever SheEO Global Summit, hosted in Toronto, Canada on March 9th and 10th, 2020. The SheEO Global Summit was a two-day conference that gathered hundreds of people in support of the theme, Reorganize.world. What does this mean? Collectively, we have everything we need to make positive change.

Jessy Wang:

We took action together at Global Summit, and continued working on the world’s to-do list in a variety of sessions. Over the two-day conference, guests participated in keynote presentations, wisdom sessions and get to action workshops, all centered around what we can do to reorganize our resources, systems and structures to create a better world, with SheEO ventures and activators leading the way.

Jessy Wang:

This session is called Honoring the Torchbearers and Pathfinders: Intergenerational Activation, and features a diverse panel of powerful voices. Recorded live on the Wisdom Room stage, this panel discussion was moderated by Dr. Golnaz Golnaraghi, founder of Divity Group Inc. and Accelerate Her Future. Golnaz’s passion lies in helping to advance representation and leadership of self-identified women of color at all levels in organizations.

Jessy Wang:

Our panelists are a special duo, a mother and daughter, both SheEO Activators. Teara Fraser is the CEO of Iskwew Air. Becoming a pilot truly gave this Metis woman wings. Teara is the first indigenous woman to launch an airline in Canada.

Jessy Wang:

Kiana Alexander is the COO of the Raven Institute. Kiana is a proud Metis Iskwew, storyteller, creative thinker, scholar, and researcher. In 2019, Kiana was named one of the Women’s Executive Network’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada in the Future Leaders category and in the Future of Good’s list of 21 Young Impact Leaders.

Jessy Wang:

The inspiration behind this session comes from a thought Dr. Golnaraghi shared. “Many women before us have done the hard work to give us a better world. Whether they knew it or not, their courage touched the lives of future generations, women they never met, women they loved. We stand on their shoulders.”

Jessy Wang:

SheEO Activators and Ventures travel on the same paths, doing the hard work to build a better world for future generations, our daughters, nieces, granddaughters, and women we haven’t met. In this panel, we will bring together generations of SheEO Activators, entrepreneurs, and leaders to share their stories and journeys while honoring the torchbearers and pathfinders in their lives and communities. Enjoy this dynamic conversation and wisdom session, Honoring the Torchbearers and Pathfinders: Intergenerational Activation.

Speaker 2:

Let’s welcome to the stage, Dr. Golnaz Golnaraghi.

Golraz:

Good afternoon. How is everyone doing? We’ve had quite a full day of sessions. Thank you for joining us this afternoon. My name is Golnaz Golnaraghi. I’m founder of Accelerate Her Future. Thank you. It is just a delight to be here today with this session. This is a Wisdom Session title Honoring the Pathfinders and Torchbearers, and this session was really inspired by a few people, including my mum, which I’ll share a little bit about in a second, and a very powerful mother-daughter, who will join me on stage momentarily, that I had the honor of meeting about four years ago at one of the Activator sessions in Vancouver.

Golraz:

How many Activators do we have in the room, just by a show of hand? Amazing. I wanted to share a little bit about my own journey. I activated five years ago after hearing Vicky talk at a conference in San Francisco, and what really inspired me five years ago was, we’ve heard us say she did a lot of “imagine if”… imagine the future… and I bought in right away, because of my own experiences but also seeing my mum navigate the ecosystem, and a system that really wasn’t working for all of us as women. It wasn’t even a question that I would navigate, and I wanted to be part of the transformation.

Golraz:

What I’ve observed year over year as I’ve engaged with this community is how much my own reasons for activating and being a part of this has really transformed; and so, thinking about how the role we all play as Activators here, not to win, but to transform, is connected to our past; is connected to our present and this community that we’re in relationship with; and also, in the last session that, for those of you that might have been in this room, it’s really about the state of things that we leave for generations to come.

Golraz:

I feel like we’re kind of picking up on the last session if you were in this room, and we’re going to explore the intergenerational piece around why we’re here today. Does that sound good? All right.

Golraz:

Before we get started, I’d like to introduce you to our panel members. We have with us, and I’ll introduce them and they’ll join in a second; so we have Teara Fraser, who is the CEO of Iskwew Air. Have any of you heard about Iskwew Air? Amazing. Becoming a pilot gave this Metis woman wings, literally, and Teara is the first indigenous woman to launch an airline right here in Canada called Iskwew Air.

Golraz:

We also have her daughter. It’s a delight to introduce Kiana Alexander, who is Chief Operating Officer of the Raven Institute, based in Vancouver, and Kiana is a proud Metis Iskwew, a storyteller, creative thinker, scholar, researcher, all-around amazing human and soon-to-be-wife, and in 2019, Kiana was named WXN’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women in the Future Leaders category, which is so appropriate for this session, as well; and also… my eyes can’t see… the Future of Good’s list of Top Leaders of Impact. If we could give them a warm round of applause and welcome them…

Golraz:

It’s pretty wild, isn’t it? All right. Love the dancing.

Kiana:

[inaudible 00:07:34]

Golraz:

Actually, did we plan this?

Kiana:

I like that.

Golraz:

I love it, too.

Kiana:

Golnaz is like, “No, put it back.”

Golraz:

No, no, no, you can leave them up. So, how are you? Thank you for being on this panel. Thank you.

Golraz:

Before we dive in into their story, I want to share a photo of my mum. She was one of the inspirations behind this panel. As we sort of talked and I heard their story, as I sort of navigated, “Why am I a part of this community?” A little bit about our relationship before we delve into this beautiful relationship is, we emigrated here back in the early 1980s. It wasn’t by choice. We had to. We were originally from Iran, and after the revolution, or sort of around that when we came here, later on I learned from my mum that she thought that we would move back in six months; 40 years later, we’re still here.

Golraz:

We literally left with suitcases and some money, and after a while, when that ran out and the prospects of moving back wasn’t an option, this woman that you see on the screen, and I will not cry, found sort of her self-empowerment through entrepreneurship, and her purpose in life was to support her kids so we get through high school, in order for us to have opportunities kind of pass up; that was her sole mission. No high school diploma, very little English, no knowledge of business, really, within a Canadian context; yet, connecting to her community and her customers as they started to kind of show up. Quite frankly, her kids, we were there to help her as she needed to; I helped build her marketing campaigns when it needed to happen; it was a team effort.

Golraz:

She’s given me a lot. I’m here because of her, and for me, that intergenerational piece and why I engage with SheEO has a lot to do with the woman that you see on the screen. Yeah.

Golraz:

Let’s focus now on these two beautiful women. I met Teara and Kiana four years ago in Vancouver when we hosted an Activator event, and I remember when I met both of you; I was first, I think, at a Deloitte session and then an event that we hosted. I couldn’t stop hugging you, number one; I don’t know what it was. I just couldn’t stop hugging her. She just has this incredible energy that you just want to hold on to. As I sort of observed their journey over the last four years, which we’ll hear about, it’s really quite inspiring from that intergenerational piece.

Golraz:

Very recently, they were the first mother-daughter to be recognized on the WXN Most Powerful Women’s list, so if we could give them a round of applause; that’s quite something. I’m just curious, what was that experience like?

Teara:

Well, at first, I thought, it’s just the first time in the same year, right? They’re like, “No, ever.” I was like, “Huh. Well, that’s pretty cool.”

Kiana:

Yeah, very articulate answer. I think, as with many things, Teara and I do mostly everything together. I think it was amazing and it was a super powerful moment, and it also can be challenging, and a lot of things that we talk about with our dynamic… there can be sometimes, and it’s different in different spaces; spaces of women of different, indigenous spaces are different. In a lot of spaces, a lot of people treat me less than as soon as I’m with Teara, and it’s not intentionally, it’s out of this, oh, not that I won the award, but, “Oh, what’s it like working with your mom?” Not about me, not about…

Kiana:

With this award, I think it was really beautiful to be honored for our unique things that we bring, and to also own that space and celebrate one another and the inextricable roles that we’ve played in supporting each other, in all the things that we do. I would not be proud of who I am in the way that I am. I would not be taken the path to really explore who I am and the legacy that I want to have in impacting the lives of young people across the country without her… and I mean, she probably wouldn’t do a lot of cool things without me, either.

Golraz:

That’s actually a really nice transition to my next set of questions. Certainly, in speaking with you and doing a lot of reading about your stories and whatnot, I find that your stories are so interconnected, yet so independent at the same time. Learning more and more about you, you’re both convention-breakers, and talk about trailblazers in your own right, with the many firsts that you’ve been able to kind of put out there. I’m curious, maybe seeing the world through each other’s eyes, and maybe starting with Kiana first, what have you learned sort of observing Teara’s journey as a mother, as a leader, as an entrepreneur?

Kiana:

She’s not afraid. She’s not afraid. She often tells the story of… do you want to tell it?

Teara:

Go.

Kiana:

I think you tell it, and then I’ll correct you, probably.

Teara:

She will. She keeps me on that… no, you go.

Kiana:

She tells the story of when she came home from Africa and decided to become a pilot.

Teara:

Oh, yeah, I can tell that one.

Kiana:

And I was… how old was I?

Teara:

Nine.

Kiana:

Nine. Nine years old, and I remember it so clearly, I was so full of judgment as a kid. I was like, “You make crazy decisions.” I was so self-assured at nine years old.

Kiana:

I said, and you can see it in almost every interview Teara’s had that I said at nine years old… like that… “Do you really think it’s practical to be a parent and a pilot?” The answer is still no, it is not, but it’s a really beautiful, I think, vision and clear depiction of how our relationship is. Teara is unafraid to do things differently, unafraid to risk things, unafraid to be judged.

Kiana:

I am much more pensive, contemplative; try and look at all the different things that will be impacted and affected in a decision or a position or an idea. Yeah.

Golraz:

Cute.

Kiana:

Yeah.

Teara:

I said to her, not just, “No,” but, “No, honey, this is the least practical thing I’ve ever done, and I want to show you that if your heart comes to life about something, anything, that you just don’t let anything stand in your way, and I’m going to show you that because this is going to be hard, and it’s going to be hard for everyone, and in that I hope that you see the ability to achieve things that seem impossible.”

Golraz:

That’s very powerful. We often hear, and we’ve heard throughout the last day or so, you can’t be what you can’t see, and in a lot of ways, when we have mothers in our life who can do that and show us what really believing in yourself is all about, it’s pretty powerful. Thank you.

Golraz:

What have you learned from this amazing human?

Teara:

All the time. I will add on the earlier piece; we have different last names, and so, we actually have the privilege of trying things, because I would notice that we have different names; everybody you had to introduce; everything’s great, everybody is just seen for their own humanness; people are curious. In certain spaces and dominant-thinking spaces, as soon as one would learn she was my daughter, you could literally watch them pick her up and put her in a box beneath, and if that isn’t an indication of our messed-up thinking…

Teara:

We have different last names, so people didn’t know we were mother and daughter, and that didn’t happen. It’s such a beautiful place that we’re in to now share an award together, share a stage together, be really proud and excited, but we have to honor our young people.

Teara:

In no time, in no space, are they less than. They are the wisdom keepers. They’re the knowledge holders. They are not this idea of leaders of tomorrow; they are leading today. Kiana is leading all the time. Well, she’s full doing like donut circles around me now. She is, and so what she teaches me is to be so thoughtful and caring about all the people in the world. Me, I’m just stuck out there doing my own thing, and she’s like-

Kiana:

It does look like that.

Teara:

Bun going flying, and she’s just like, “You’re not paying attention to these things. You need to pay attention here. You need to pay attention there.” She teaches me everything, all the time.

Teara:

I did an interview recently where the media person was like, “Oh, it must be so incredible for your daughter to learn from you,” and I’m like, “Mmm, no, no. You’ve got it backwards. I’m learning from her all the time.” The courage that she’s shown, in particular in the recent years, is inspiring. She inspires me all the time. She’s way cooler than me.

Kiana:

That’s true. That’s true.

Golraz:

I love that. That was good.

Kiana:

Just kidding.

Golraz:

Building on this theme of courage, as you’ve observed Teara sort of navigate her path as an entrepreneur and human, and likely the challenges that she may have encountered, not only as a woman, but based on all the overlapping aspects of who we are, what have you learned by watching her navigate, and also likely playing a role as part of family and that? Any learnings that you can share?

Kiana:

I think, particular to being an entrepreneur, and I think it plays into everything Teara does, but she just is so resilient. There’s so many times, particularly with the launch of Iskwew Air still, where it would have been so much easier to give up, for everybody.

Golraz:

How many entrepreneurs have those moments when you feel like… I know I have, daily.

Kiana:

Bea has never had that, has she?

Golraz:

Never.

Kiana:

Never.

Kiana:

I think, for me, the level of perseverance… and she says, everyone that knows Teara knows that Teara has a lot of self-proclaimed -isms, one of which is, “Dream it, design it, do it”; another of which is, “Just keep moving.” That’s one she pulls on a lot when things are really hard, and when the day is too hard, she leans on, “Just try again tomorrow.”

Kiana:

In all of that, it’s just about persevering and moving, and not because there’s something to prove or not because… but from a place of really believing that if we can just keep moving, something different is possible.

Golraz:

Thank you. Teara, so as you think about what’s just been shared, and you think about what life was like when you were in your late 20s or early 30s, have you seen things change for women of today, for the younger generations? Do you notice a difference? Has anything changed?

Teara:

I don’t know. That would be one of the things she teaches me, is to be with “I don’t know” a little more comfortably. I have no idea, and I don’t know what it’s like for young people. I’m not sure. I get a glimpse of that through Kiana’s experience certainly.

Teara:

I don’t think so. I’m in an industry, literally, where we call the working space the cockpit… actually. Isn’t that funny? Vicky, the other day we were talking about it, and I said something about the cockpit, and she’s like, “They call it… it is called a cockpit. That is crazy.” Less than three percent of leadership in aviation is women; two point three percent of airline pilots in Canada are women.

Teara:

What I will share that’s coming from me right now, though, is when I moved into aviation, I was like, “I don’t know why we’re having all of this gender talk so much. I think we’re fine,” and certainly, that is not the case, and it’s even more so now around all gender and respecting all people. I don’t know if it’s gotten better or not, but what I do know for sure is that we need to really keep moving, and we need to dream it, design it and do it, the kind of world that we want to live on, and then just make it happen.

Kiana:

I think-

Golraz:

I missed something.

Kiana:

No, but I think in thinking about what has gotten better, and I think that’s a hard question to answer because, what is better? I think it’s different and it’s changing, and even in witnessing Teara’s own journey of starting in an industry and repressing any parts of herself, or leaving in exile any parts of herself that weren’t reflected in the industry, to coming as far as naming an airline Iskwew Air; so I think, is that better? Is it maybe, maybe not? Is it reclaiming and transforming in even one person’s journey, in a really non-traditional field… although, what is traditional… yeah.

Golraz:

Amazing. When I reflect on my own mum’s experience, and I think about how she kind of stepped into entrepreneurship as a way of supporting us, primarily, there were no communities like this. She didn’t have a SheEO whatsoever, and to me, what… I reflect on what I’ve learned from her is resilience, as well; her ability to take risks certainly more so than I ever could, and that’s something that she constantly reminds me and my sister of.

Golraz:

I also imagine, what could the possibilities have been for her if she had access to communities like this? Yet, she still did it, and so there’s a lot of power in that, as well, for all who have.

Golraz:

I listened to one of your talks from last year where you talked about how really connecting to your identity, sort of reclaiming your identity, has been quite a journey, and again, very much interconnected to your mum’s, as well; and how this reconnection, you’ve felt a lot of different things, but it’s been a really powerful and a very important part of kind of the path that you’ve taken. I’d love to start with Teara; would you be willing to share a little bit about your journey of relearning and reconnecting with your indigenous history, language, culture?

Teara:

It is a really significant part of my journey, where when you have your own kids, you’re like, “Hmm, I better figure out a little bit better who I am and where I come from, because I’m going to have to talk to them about that.” You just have a different motivation or inspiration to really understand deep roots.

Teara:

I was disconnected from my indigenous culture in a couple of different ways. My grandfather was a residential school survivor who never returned to this community, nor had any connection, didn’t speak about it, or even acknowledge his own indigeneity; and then, my father died at 27 years old when I was three and a half, so there was a couple pieces of disconnection there.

Teara:

I went to a family reunion, and I’m like, “Cool. Oh, my mom always told me.” She tried to connect me with my cultural peoples and history to the best that she could, but I just was having none of it. I’m like, “I look more like my mum,” and I’m like, “That’s a long time ago. That seems so far back.” I learned the same as everybody else learned in our country, nothing about our indigenous peoples or the history of colonization; so I went to the family reunion and I’m like, “My immediate relatives speak in Cree. Hmm,” and I thought, wow, this was part of the family that was less impacted by colonization, and therefore was able to be in that in a very different way.

Teara:

This started a journey. I started on a spiritual journey. I drug my poor kids to a different church every weekend for I don’t know how long. “Well, let’s try this. Well, let’s try that,” because I was looking for something spiritual. I went to Powwow for the first time, and I still wear it on this side over here; I was so moved. If I close my eyes, I can see sitting on the grass, and I can smell the salmon being prepared in a traditional way, and I can hear the drums, and I can feel my heart beating in a way it had never beat before. I knew then in that moment who I was. I remembered who I was.

Teara:

They had the artisan stand… shopping, amazing… but as I was sitting there, I was really moved, like we have to listen to our deeper knowing. It was almost like somebody grabbed by the hand and was taking me around, and I just followed it. I trusted it, maybe for the first time ever. I go to this artisan stand, and I’m like, “Oh, that’s a beautiful ring. I’m going to put that on.” I asked him, “How much is that?” He said, “65 dollars.” I gave him the 65 dollars, and then I said, “What does it mean?,” and he said, “That’s the hummingbird,” and when you see the hummingbird, healing will begin.

Teara:

That is exactly what happened, and it is that connection with my culture… when they say that culture saves lives… in this country, for these peoples, I’m sure globally… when they say culture saves lives, it actually, actually saves lives; so that’s a little bit about that.

Golraz:

I have a follow-up question. You also talk a fair amount about warriorship; and so, how is that reconnection to culture connected for you for reclaiming the warrior, and what you talked around leading brave-hearted?

Teara:

I’m still learning that I’m on a learning path. That’s what I’m exploring in my Ph.D. work, is how our indigenous change-makers remembering, reclaiming, practicing and integrating warriorship, and not the dominant, colonial idea of warriorship. I define warriorship as standing fiercely with deep love for what matters, and I can only imagine what is possible in our world when all of us are standing fiercely with deep love for the things that matter.

Golraz:

Thank you. Over to Kiana, can you also share how you’ve reconnected as part of this journey back to your own roots and culture?

Kiana:

I paused when you asked that question because it’s something that I am in every minute. It’s not a journey that started at one time and has ended, I think. In every interaction with people, in the interactions and relationship that I have with myself, I think I’m constantly co-creating what that journey is for me.

Kiana:

What I know for sure is that being able to speak proudly of who you are; being able to be in relationship with yourself, even, where you do not need to put any part of who you are in exile, when you do not need to leave a story or a history on an experience of you or where you come from or who you come from outside of yourself, outside of a room, I think that place of groundedness and connection allows us to thrive.

Kiana:

What I also think is we live in a time and we live in a place where indigenous youth are the youngest, fastest-growing demographic across this country who have been robbed of the ability to be grounded in that, and that we all have a strong responsibility to restore that, and that requires us all to understand our own relationship and our own role in that.

Kiana:

I’ve been really challenged recently with the idea… and I know people say it out of love and good intentive, and people are the leaders tomorrow and they’re going to get us out of this mess, and young leaders are absolutely the leaders of tomorrow and today, and we all have a role in supporting them to be able to do that. When I think about supporting young people in loving and being who they are, whatever that looks like, we each have a role.

Golraz:

Can you tell us… I know you’re in the midst of your Masters’ thesis, and she’s doing research speaking with youth across the country… and so, can you tell us a little bit about what are they saying? What is the research that you’re doing telling us about the voices of youth, and in particular, indigenous youth?

Kiana:

Yeah, so there’s research that I’m involved in that’s across the country, and my own little research is just in the city of Vancouver with young people exploring this concept. One of the biggest things that comes up in all of that is that the root of belonging is connection, and the root of us being able to be connected? Land has an inextricable role in that, in nurturing and understanding her connection to self, because belonging exists within us, around us, and between us, but we can’t have it if we can’t have all three.

Kiana:

I think it’s a process of exploring and understanding that land is an inextricable role in how we move forward.

Golraz:

I’m going to kind of break convention, and we have another segment, but I feel like we can stop here for any comments or questions. What I will add is… I have to call it out… as a settler, as an immigrant who had no choice but to come here and very grateful to be able to come here, who was also disconnected from land very much, I find it quite powerful, in that absolutely I agree that we all have a role to play. Maybe us today, we’re not responsible for the brutalities of the past, yet we all play a role in decolonizing, whatever that means, and we’ll try to define that.

Golraz:

When I also look at my own immigrant experience, I really, really connected to a lot of what you shared in one of your talks, around having one foot in one land or culture, one in the other, and not really knowing where I belong; and also, actually, Bea’s comment from a session earlier, saying that a lot of this work often starts with doing a lot of deep inner work, which goes back to what you both describe in terms of reconnecting to the past and the healing that we need to do.

Golraz:

It also gives me so much hope, because the conversations that we have today didn’t exist a few years ago; we’re actually putting things out very, very openly and having these important discussions, which is a great place to be. As we kind of finish off and maybe explore what we can all do, what role we can all play for creating spaces where there is unbound belonging, I’m just curious, are there any comments or questions from the audience before we transition into that? Any questions for our panel, or what unbound belonging means to all of us as we kind of navigate community together?

Speaker 6:

[inaudible 00:36:26] I’m sorry. I do a lot of work with my daughter. She has her own business, and I guess listening you speak here, I’m reminded that I need to… she doesn’t speak herself up enough, and maybe that’s because she’s under Mum’s shadow, and I don’t want her to be under that. I don’t know if I’ve subconsciously put her there or others have, but she’s no longer going to be there after today.

Teara:

We often talk about it like we’re good; it’s sometimes that the-

Golraz:

It’s projected. Things that are projected.

Teara:

Yeah, like we’re awesome.

Kiana:

Yeah, I’m great. There is no shadow, but it is a real… and it has taken me, and by no part of Teara… and part of the biggest challenge is that it’s not about this relationship; it’s about the treatment and the change of treatment from… it has impacts, because it can’t not, and I think it has taken a lot from me to really own, and Teara does it all the time in every space of challenging the narrative that we are absolutely equals, and that we are constantly, reciprocally learning from one another.

Kiana:

It has taken me a lot of work to be like, “I am just as worthy of every conversation that she has had,” and that we bring different things and we’re not the same. There’s a lot of things that are the same, but we also have a beautiful amount of unique differences.

Teara:

I’ll speak to that now. I don’t know if it’s somewhere else, but it doesn’t matter. It’s like… because we are a lot alike, and we used to joke about her being a mini-me, but again, that’s diminishing, right? What we’re learning to do is to really actually amplify our differences rather-

Kiana:

Celebrate them.

Teara:

Celebrate them, absolutely. I think of it like, even if you want to close your eyes and think about our tree relatives, and think about how they’re all interconnected under the earth, and they’re similar in so many ways, and they’re the same, and they’re part of… they’re one. Then, they’re also standing beautifully as individual trees, unique and beautifully different, and that’s how I think about Kiana. We’re both completely connected in such unimaginably powerful ways, and we’re unique, and we’re different.

Golraz:

Oh, we need a mic, right there.

Speaker 7:

I would love you to speak about freedom, when you feel freedom in your hearts and souls to be deeply yourselves in that sense of belonging. What is the ingredient of freedom? How does that play into some of the work that you do with people, but also with yourselves, which is an important word that you’ve brought up, Kiana, in some of our conversations? It’s so powerful and surprising the way you think about it.

Kiana:

Thank you. One of the most… and I just want to point out Nicole, because Nicole has also been an inextricable part of all my work on belonging, and so she’s just as beautiful and [inaudible 00:40:39] wisdom as a part of everything that I’m about to say…

Kiana:

In exploring the concept of belonging with young people, we did it through different mediums. We did art space methods, we did body mapping, we did storytelling, and one of the most beautifully surprising parts of it was the exploration of freedom, and how so deeply interconnected relationship to self, relationship to others, and just as importantly, relationship to land is to freedom and to belonging. When we look in a global context, so many of us have been stripped of connection to land; and so, we’ve been stripped of freedom, and freedom comes in many so different ways and so many different relationships to land.

Kiana:

Part of that experience is also, for me… and I had a really experience of learning this, kind of experientially, as I was writing my research… was that reclamation of all being so deeply worthy of connection to land, and that land doesn’t ask us to be different. Land doesn’t ask us to leave pieces of ourselves outside or fit into a box, or be smaller or be bigger, or be… land just lets us be, and that is free. When we’re stripped of that, or when we don’t know how to do it, or we feel like we’ve lost the ability to do it, or that somehow we’re doing it wrong, we’re constraining and confining our ability to be connected to ourselves, to each other, and to the land. There’s a reason why we feel that way, and I think we’re collectively in a process, and young people are collectively leading that process of reclaiming it.

Golraz:

I’m going to actually open this up to the entire room, and the question that comes forward from me is, each of us, individually and collectively, based on what we’ve heard, what role can we each play, not only in building that community for ourselves, for each other as a community, but also for generations to come? It’s open to the panel and the room.

Teara:

I think I’ll go back just a little bit and then we can skip back ahead again, because this idea of freedom… I literally have the word liberty tattooed on my foot because it’s so important to all of us just to be liberated, and that’s what we’re asking to be as women here, as indigenous peoples, as everyone. We want to be connected and we want to be free.

Speaker 8:

Hi. I think that a lot of it starts, too, with just healing of ourselves. Imagine what that would look like if we all had the resources and the support and the community to do that healing. I think for non-indigenous folks that are wondering what they can do, I think it starts by just reading some books. Tanya Talaga, Split Tooth, Tanya Tagaq; there’s lots of reading we can do to educate ourselves first, that I think… and then help us look at the connections of the ways in which we can indigenize the future and indigenize our way of thinking and teaching, that will also remove that appropriation aspect of things, but really just sees how everything is really connected and how the past informs the future.

Speaker 8:

I mean, that’s some of the approaches that I’ve taken, and I think especially just understanding that concept of borrowing; we’re borrowing from the future. Coming back to my original point, I think one of the most influential things we can do is focus on the ways in which we can heal ourselves first.

Golraz:

Thank you for that.

Teara:

When we heal ourselves, or the teaching that I’ve received now from my beautiful Metis elder is the aim for collective restoration, and when we restore ourselves, we’re restoring the seven generations that came before us… healing, if you prefer… we’re restoring the seven generations to come after us. The potential is collective; we’re all connected to ourselves; so, actually when we heal ourselves and restore ourselves, we’re doing that for all others, as well. There’s so much power and possibility in that.

Golraz:

Thank you. On that note, I’d like to thank… oh, one more question? There’s time for one more question.

Speaker 2:

One quick one.

Speaker 10:

[inaudible 00:46:06]

Golraz:

Great.

Speaker 10:

I just want to say that with Kiana’s research, and part of that is super integral in moving forward and discussing more of what belonging means to young people and people in this room, and opening it up to people who have an influence and advice for us who are kind of navigating this weird sphere of what does it mean to be me, or in this place now that’s changing in a positive way, I hope, than possibly fast enough. That’s what we’re doing, and so, more work like Kiana is doing is really, really important.

Golraz:

I think that’s such an important point around amplifying the research and work, for sure. Was there a hand somewhere else? Great.

Speaker 11:

Hi. Thank you for giving this talk, because I had written, actually, in the SheEO feedback that when I registered, I always appreciate conferences that pay attention to the intergenerational aspects of inclusion, and here we are, so manifestation works.

Speaker 11:

Just by [inaudible 00:47:24], I won a soft-skills training company, and intergenerational understanding has come up a lot; and then the other half of my life, in my researches about social media’s impact on mental health, and I work with a lot of youth right now. One of the things I’m seeing in both circles, I find, is actually working with parents or educators who want to understand youth, but are also, honestly, really battling their own judgments and misconceptions or unconscious biases about youth, and might quite literally sound like, “Oh, my God, kids these days,” or, “My God, you’re so sensitive.” In all of these worlds, all the time, screens like, ah, they’re just so much, or they’re not resilient.

Speaker 11:

I have my own strategies, but I would love to hear, especially from Teara, and even you, and really everybody else, what strategies do you use to remind yourself to respect all generations, not just young people? Do you have any intentional strategies that you use that you can share to remind yourself to respect and show respect for young and old and everything in between?

Teara:

Yeah, there’s a real simple thing for me, and it comes from the place of building bridges between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples, because I hear all the time, “How can I help? I want to help.”

Teara:

As soon as I started telling people, the very first and simplest thing you can do is shift from helping to honoring; so, whether it’s young people… all of us… if we just shift to honoring, honoring each and every one of us, and honoring that the… certainly, different generations have different gifts, and let’s honor them all.

Kiana:

I think, for me, one of the things that I come back to, and I really reflect on how we shifted is, a lot of the teachings that I’ve been given and a lot of the stories that I’ve been told were… as adults or as elders, in previous ways of being in relations, sole responsibility was to witness the gifts of young people and support the cultivation and nurturing of those gifts, because it impacts everybody. So much of putting one another and pieces of one another in exile is actually saying that your gift is wrong, or it’s not right, or being sensitive is wrong, or being on a screen is wrong; it’s allowing interconnection to a whole different reality and way of being, and that if we were able to really nurture and honor the gifts, and understanding that it’s interconnected to each and every one of us; we’re not separate from young people or separate from elders, but we have different roles; and that the real role of young people is not supposed to be, nor should it be, the role of adults and the role of elders, that we all have rightful and respectful roles, and they don’t need to be the same. I don’t want them to be the same. No one… we’re all doing great.

Teara:

Everybody is doing great.

Kiana:

Don’t jam me in your box. I won’t jam in your mine. I don’t even have a box!

Golraz:

I will add, as an educator, one of the things that I’ve done differently is to meet with an indigenous expert, and I’ve built indigenous values through their guidance into my courses; very strength-based. It’s changed my practice, quite frankly. Going back to an earlier panel, I hear within an academic environment from those that teach around… I mean, it’s rampant that the views around younger generations or whatnot? It’s really nuts. It’s nuts.

Golraz:

Again, I call people in to have those conversations, and for me, I will work with millennials, Gen Z, youth any day.

Speaker 2:

Okay, I promised you I’d have your back, but we got tight on time and I’m getting-

Golraz:

Are we done?

Speaker 2:

We’re done.

Golraz:

Thank you. We are done. This has been a Wisdom conversation. We have to go to the other room fairly quickly, from what I’m told, so if you do want to connect with our panelists, we can take it to the other room, and we’ll all stay behind. Thank you.

Teara:

Thank you.

Jessy Wang:

This has been a special episode of SheEO.world, a podcast about redesigning the world, a SheEO Global Summit edition.

 

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