Looking white and being Indigenous, a complicated relationship with identity - Regan Burden

Part of:
9:00 AM, Friday 4 Oct 2019 (30 minutes)
This presentation will discuss my own personal experiences of being an Indigenous person with a light complexion. Growing up in southern Labrador in an indigenous community, my identity and my understanding of my culture was never something that I had questioned. But upon moving to St. John’s to pursue a university degree I encountered people who would make racist and derogatory comments about indigenous people in front of me. When I called out their behaviour, stating that I was indigenous and they were being offensive, I was told that I was overreacting and that I couldn’t be ​that​ indigenous. For me, this brought up a lot of questions in my internal dialogue about what being indigenous was and what it meant to be indigenous.

For some time, I was made to feel that I wasn’t indigenous enough, I felt guilt about claiming to be indigenous. My understanding of my own culture and identity was shaken and through talking about it at the Provincial Aboriginal Women’s conference and speaking with the indigenous elders that were there, I felt able to reclaim who I was and the most important part of my identity, my indigeneity. I wrote an article about my experience for CBC Newfoundland and Labrador that I have attached a link to below, and after the article was shared I heard from so many indigenous people who felt the same way and realized that this was something that many people experienced.

NunatuKavut Community Council
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