“Reclaiming My Indigenous Identity and the Emerging Warrior” by Walsh

The article “Reclaiming my Indigenous Identity and the Emerging Warrior: An Autoethnography” describes an autoethnographic study which provides the reader with an insight into the interconnectedness of identity and social work. The author, Natalie St-Denis, documents her life during six stages awakening, exploring, indigenizing, reclaiming, belonging, and emerging Warrior. The first one concerned her search for evidence about her Indigenous heritage and an attempt to find information about her late family members, while the second one led her to engage in traditional ceremonies. Indigenizing implied changing her worldview, and reclaiming meant merging her old identity together with the newly-discovered one. During belonging, she established a connection with one of the Indigenous people to be closer to their culture. Finally, the emerging Warrior stage led the author to change her status from social worker to a Warrior as a way to counter oppression and colonization. The article’s message concerns the necessity to modify the approach to social work with Indigenous peoples to make it less patronizing and more anti-colonial.

The article made me reflect on the systemic oppression of Indigenous peoples in North America, which, as evidenced by the author’s discoveries, continues to this day. This study is extremely significant since it demonstrates that, today, people with Indigenous ancestry like Natalie St-Denis can experience certain difficulties reconnecting with their culture due to not being born in the community. Moreover, the complications related to the problem of individuals with Indian ancestors not being able to become members of a reserve are caused by the authorities’ lack of funding (St-Denis and Walsh 10). The article also raises a major issue concerning social work and the curriculum approaches promoted by the government, which are not consistent with the Indigenous worldview. I think that the perspective outlined in the paper is particularly relevant for the current discourse about the importance of not placing the western way of life and philosophy above other cultures. The author’s idea about reforming the current system is timely and needs to be addressed thoroughly by the government agencies to ensure that trend of oppression, which lasted decades, comes to an end.

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I also agree with the specific recommendations proposed in the article, especially those concerning the empowerment of Indigenous peoples and adjusting social work practices to better reflect their cultures and experiences. The scene where one of the children the author taught was scared that she, as a social worker, would take them away from their family shows that the current approach is problematic (St-Denis and Walsh 11). Moreover, according to the statistics, twenty-five percent of Indigenous people and forty percent of Indigenous children in Canada live in poverty (“Poverty in Canada”). This demonstrates that the transformation of the social work programs have to become relevant for those they are intended for. The change must begin by providing people who have knowledge about Indigenous culture with an opportunity to create a curriculum which would empower the communities. Here, the concepts of decolonization and indigenizing must become central for this effort. Personally, I experienced these concepts myself when trying to understand various cultural phenomena of other people and civilizations. Previously, I viewed them from my Western perspective, but after discarding it and applying a different logic, I could easily understand them.

The article “Reclaiming my Indigenous Identity and the Emerging Warrior: An Autoethnography” is for understanding how social work and identity are tied together. It also contains considerable evidence and recommendations concerning the current state of social work provided to Indigenous peoples in Canada. The author clearly states the established system and approach to social work programs intended for Indigenous communities have to be modified to reflect the needs and culture of these communities.

References

“Poverty in Canada.” Canadian Poverty Institute. n.d. Web.

St-Denis, Natalie and Walsh, Christine. “Reclaiming my Indigenous Identity and the Emerging Warrior: An Autoethnography.” The Journal of Indigenous Social Development, vol. 5, no. 1, 2016, pp. 1–17.

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