During the 2016 Global Symposium on Overcoming Social Isolation and Deepening Social Connectedness, we had the opportunity to connect with many individuals including youth, Indigenous Elders, practitioners and other professionals who shared their insights, experiences and strategies in overcoming social isolation to accelerate a global movement of unity and inclusiveness within their communities.
One of the participants who shared their reflections with us was a Mohawk youth named Ariana Roundpoint from Akwesasne, Quebec. Ariana is an avid reader and expressed that she feels like she has lived over a thousand lives because of the many books she has read. This passion for stories connects greatly to her culture, as storytelling has played a critical role for the Mohawk and other Indigenous peoples to preserve knowledge, culture and histories. Traditionally stories have been passed down orally, some over thousands of years, and there are protocols around how they can be shared and with whom. This continues today alongside new approaches to sharing and preserving stories, such as books, films, podcasts and other forms of media. To Ariana, now more than ever, Indigenous peoples need to come together to share their traditions and experiences, and to find ways to document them so that knowledge and culture is not lost.
Connecting with other Indigenous communities — and recognizing their similarities and differences — is a huge part of the social connectedness movement for Ariana. “We have all these Indigenous peoples across the globe. I know I’ve heard many times that they all thought they were alone and they came to Canada and came to the realization… that things here are the same if not worse as things back in their home.” In her lifetime, she would like to see Indigenous peoples around the world come together to foster a true sense of belonging and regain what they have lost through shared experiences with colonization.
In Canada, Indigenous peoples are tirelessly working to recover and preserve their identities and cultural traditions. Ariana admits the struggle is far from over, and that they can find real strength in knowing that, globally, Indigenous peoples are also pursuing reconciliation and repatriation. “When people say that we are alone in this kind of fight, it’s really not true.”
Watch the full interview with Ariana Roundpoint below. You can also access this interview and the others conducted by visiting the Social Connectedness YouTube Channel.