You can find Andrea Menard on Twitter @Andreamenard
We have unparalleled access to different ways of making our voices heard.
Yet in this wealth of communication means, a huge number of people continue to be slienced, due to shame, fear, and systemic discrimination.
In this interview, I sit down with Andrea Menard, a Métis singer, actor, and storyteller who uses her gift with words and song to advocate for the voiceless, and in particular for women – especially indigenous woman – experiencing violence. We go over some tough questions, like what being silenced feels like, the difference between those in privileged positions feeling as though they can’t speak out versus those who experience systematic silencing through factors like racism or ignorance, and how we can help people’s voices be heard by surrendering space and embracing education.
These are tough topics, but ones that need to be discussed. And remember – silence isn’t silencing, so let’s make space for those voices we don’t normally hear.
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Lauren Sergy: Hello everyone, my name is Lauren Sergy and this is Talk Shop: the place where you can learn from industry experts how to become a more powerful communicator in work, and in life.
We are halfway through 2018 and this year has been marked by people across all socioeconomic backgrounds raising their voices against injustices in our culture and in our society. As inspiring as this is to see, many of us are still afraid to take on that act ourselves; to own the power of our voice and to lift it up against injustices we see happening in our own backyard or in our own countries. Here to help us learn how to own the power of our voice, how to lift it up and end the silence, is true Canadian treasure, Andrea Menard.
Andrea Menard is an accomplished Métis singer, actress and speaker, who crosses cultural and language boundaries by speaking from her heart. Whether speaking to a high security room of NATO officers, a stadium of Indigenous youth, or a hall of business professionals, Andrea inspires with her message about reconciliation and the empowerment of both Indigenous and feminine voices. She is one of the stars of the Netflix series Blackstone, has released four award winning CDs, written and starred in two television programmes, and has spoken all over the world. Her 2018 talk at the prestigious TEDx Stanley Park is titled “Silent No More” and encourages others to end the silence around violence against women.
Andrea, welcome to Talk Shop, thank you so much for being here and being part of this project. Your TED talk has been getting a lot of views and a lot of receptions, that was a powerful piece of art that you created there.
Andrea Menard: Thank you Lauren, I am happy to be here and thanks for you asking me to join your show!
Lauren: You are ever so welcome. I am delighted to have you on here and like I said, that TED talk was outstanding. The title was “Silent No More” and you also released a companion song with the same title. During this talk and in this song, you speak about violence against women and your own experience of voicelessness after being violently attacked. That is a concept I would like to dig into a little bit, in terms of the idea of having a voice, because letting your voice be heard, it goes way beyond the mere act of speaking. So in your view, what does it actually mean to have a voice?
Andrea: A voice can be a metaphor for so many things, so you’re right to say it is beyond to speak or just speaking, or singing, as a singer. The voice to me is our right to speak, our claim of space, our being-ness, our individual way of looking at the world, of approaching the world, of interacting with the world. So it is like your centre of gravity being seen, you know?
Andrea: Taking that centre of gravity, that way of looking at the world, that way of being in the world culturally, gender, whatever, you know. Just taking that centre of gravity and having the right to feeling like you have the right to take up space with that view.
Lauren: Right, that’s- I love that definition. It speaks very much to the speaker side of me, of course. You and I are both speakers, that’s how we met, and we’ve seen people who can stand there and be utterly silent, and simply by their dint of occupy- like you said occupying a space and holding that space, and the silence as well- they are saying something in that moment. They are saying something and they are being there. They are claiming that voice and that right to be seen, not just to be heard, but saying “Look at me!”. That in of itself is an act of speaking out.
Andrea: Totally. You’ll see on the opposite side, you’ll see the ones that are invisible. That try to take up as little space as possible. That happens with the training in our society whether it’s gender or culturally, you know there’s an acceptable space taking and then there’s a shrinking away from the norm. So I of course, care deeply about helping those who shrink back, who don’t seem to have a voice in society to take up space and to take their space in the circle.
Lauren: Mmm-hmm. And that is something that our society has been battling with and I am sure will continue to battle with because, of course the people that we silence shifts. It is one of those dark sides of human nature, that we do depending on our own position to seek to silence others, and that does shift around.
I think that it’s this notion not that we will all be able to be heard at all points in time, but that we constantly strive for that.
Lauren: That we constantly, relentlessly strive for people to have a voice and we realize that someone else that it has now been taken away, then say okay good, it is your turn now. Let’s make sure that you have it. It’s always looking to empower people in that way
Lauren: Now in your talk there was this great bit where you spoke about making noise and having permission to make noise, so that is something else I would like to unpack a bit. What shape does noise take?
Andrea: Well I think there is two ways to look at noise.
I think there is the noise of society’s standards. So there is noise of distraction, there is noise of TVs and cell phones and radios and everything just distracting you. It is like being above the noise is one thing, but then there is permission to actually make noise and that is when you are blocked in your throat, and in your heart and in your courage… when you’re blocked to be able to speak your truth.
Sometimes, when that blockage is happening in your throat or in your body, that blockage is there. The hardest thing, the most important thing to do is just give permission to “Eh!”, make noise, to go past that blockage. You know, many of us have been there, just a simple “No!” when you mean no, or a simple “Yes!” when you mean yes. Those are permission to make noise, moving past your blockage. Does that make sense?
Lauren: It does make a lot of sense actually and it’s funny because even people who we might see as being powerful can feel blocked in different ways. Oddly enough, and I am in no way making contrast in terms of the degree of silencing, oddly enough I deal with executives who say “I am fine in front of this group of people but you move me to a different group and it’s like I can’t talk in front of them.” I find that what it is is that they haven’t mentally figured out where they are in that space and what they are supposed to be doing, so in a way they have taken away their own voice!
They just say I don’t know what I am supposed to be and it really can take someone who is completely capable and might speak incredibly well in one arena and you put them into another arena and they go “Ah!”. It just vanishes
Andrea: Absolutely and that’s all walks of life. So there’s the professionals- I mean I am a singer and an actor and a speaker so I should be able to use my voice- but I went through major periods of blockage. So it’s about owning and overcoming that particular space and overcoming the fear of taking it up in that particular space, like you said the executives in one room and it’s like they have to engage their courage and their “Whew!”, you know? Their permission to make noise in that particular space.
It absolutely can be how you approach life generally or when you move outside that comfort zone.
Lauren: Yeah, and of course there is definite, indisputable, I mean to say, disproportionate silencing of certain groups of people, definitively of Indigenous peoples in Canada, definitively of women across many cultures.
How do others take away this permission to make noise. Because I think that sometimes when we do it it is unconscious but other times it is definitively intentional, but what are these things we need to watch out for to make sure that we don’t take away other people’s permission?
Andrea: Well in the Western society, and I will say the non Indigenous, in Western society, most English speaking or eurocentric views, all the systems in the western world are eurocentric and male-centric and all the systems of government- political, health, education, military- all of them have been set up and created for a specific group. And that is the euro, maybe no, you know, I guess the white male.
Lauren: Yeah the white male.
Andrea: And it just is what it is. There is no judgement around that, it’s just what the systems were created for. And so everyone, every other aspect of society, we’ve all had to fight to get into that system. You know women couldn’t get the vote and Indigenous people didn’t get the vote until the 60s, and on and on and on…
The systems are set up for one voice to matter and that’s the one at the top, because they are all hierarchical. And in an Indigenous communities, it’s a circle. [inaudible 00:10:15] So it’s a hierarchy or a circle. And I think the hierarchical systems are not, they are not valuable anymore. They have their value but I think they’re starting to crumble. A lot of human beings on this planet are waking up to the idea of equality and caring of our fellow humans.
But when one person is at the top, that means when one person is at the top and everyone else is less than, and that’s not a holistic way of looking at the world. So when we say “Who gets silenced?”, everyone below the top gets silenced. That’s just the nature of the systems in place. And all the systems, you know, education, you know… caters to the ones at the top. And you know, oh if you fall through the cracks well you’re just gonna, this echelon of society is just, everywhere you go you’re going to be in that echelon of society.
And you know, people of course fight to get in and reach the top, because that’s been what the goal is in our society, in these societies of these hierarchical system. But there’s an awakening happening. In my teachings, as I say in my TED talk, that my elders are saying, and all elders I think in all indigenous communities all over the globe, are saying it’s the time of the sacred feminine. We are moving away from those masculine ways of being. And there’s again no judgement, but that’s where we were [crosstalk]
Lauren: Yeah, it’s not a judgement issue at all, it’s this is what it is at this point.
Andrea: And it is falling away to make room for the others, and for masculine ways to expand and to conquer and to act, to you know… absorb… maybe not absorb, wrong word. But the feeling is more inclusion, caring, nurturing, so all those things that have left people in the cold are now being included in the circle.
So let’s say we are in the heart of it, we are in the beginning stages of it. So we are seeing things crumble before our very eyes, and that’s why my talk about raising empowering voices that haven’t been heard will reach the heart of people.
Lauren: I love that you recognize that it’s not a judgment thing when we say there are people who are at the top that have been given a greater voice. Its systematic, it affects people wherever they’re at. It doesn’t mean the people who have experienced the privilege are bad! It means that they’ve been operating within a different system and it is important to recognize that. And then say “Okay, how can we balance things out?”
There is another side to silencing and it is when we silence ourselves. That tends to be the side that I mostly see because of the way my own business operates- I usually what I see a little more. When people experience a lot of external silencing it becomes internal as well. So in what way to we deny ourselves the permission to speak? What is going on in our heads when we take away our own voices?
Andrea: Well I would say that you know, when we have systemic silencing that is one thing, but when we swallow it, we have all swallowed the systems. In ways we grew up with them and we are sort of programmed in every way around us to continue it. It’s like it wants to be self perpetuated. So in many ways the system has done its work and we’ve just swallowed it whole and go “I’m not allowed to speak here, not you’re not allowed, I am not allowed.”
And so it’s both, once we’ve internalized this silencing, this behaving in a certain way, we have to overcome ourselves. We become the one we need to overcome. And that becomes the greatest obstacle, but it’s the one we can do. And we silence ourselves in everyway, I mean to fit in, when we want to fit in.
Andrea: When we want just people to like us… “Oh if I say this I will be liked, or if I don’t say this I will be liked.”
Lauren: “If I say this I’m gonna be booted out and oh no!”
Andrea: Exactly, so when we do it, it’s for belonging and to fit in and that’s a huge part of who we are as human beings! We want so much to belong and you know instead of feeling a part of this circle, we know, we’ve been trained that there is one at the top and if we are at the bottom it doesn’t feel as good as being at the top!
Lauren: Heaven knows that’s true!
Andrea: Right, we all recognize that the circle is really great.
Lauren: It’s really great! [crosstalk]
Andrea: It feels so good!
Lauren: Now this silencing: in your talk you speak about the very, very big silencing that happens surrounding violence against women. Now how does the big silencing, not just the big silencing but the little silencing as well, how does this creep into everyday life? Where do we see it being imposed in everyday life? In your experience as well, our experiences will be quite different I think.
Andrea: Well there is… when violence against women has been normalized in our world, right, in many ways it’s been normalized. I mean 1 in 3 women will experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. That is my first line almost in the talk.
Lauren: That is a staggering statistic.
Andrea: [crosstalk] That’s a lot of women, and it is higher in women of colour and Indigenous. It’s higher, so almost 1 in 2 and that is half the women in the world. So you go “That’s a lot of women!”, but why then would only a small portion of it recorded? Like a tiny portion of it. That means somewhere it has been normalized, women have felt, you know, that we have to behave in a certain way.
So there’s the big silencing of like, that is a lot of programming for that many people to be silent. And for that many men, or abusers, to think that is normal and get away with it. You know, so that is a big societal problem, silencing.
But in the little silencing, that you asked about, again it comes down to overcoming our own programming for it. Because how many people recognize the idea of “I said yes when I wanted to say no!” That in itself, that is huge way of silencing self. Because the little voice inside your heart- like really if we were to put this into a really easy way to look at this, we have our heart voice, the intuitive voice, the one that knows us and is the best for us. And that is the one, because it is quiet, is the one that gets bulldozed into “Well I should say this because it is the right thing to do and everyone would like me if I say it.”
That heart voice said “This is wrong, this is wrong, this is wrong… yes I will.” You know? That is silencing of self, and that happens all the time in our lives. People do it all the time at work, in friendships, in families and then the guilt and all that other stuff. So that is a big silencing aspect, to hear your voice you know, your heart voice, your inner voice, whatever you want to call it. It knows what’s best for you in that moment, so listening to that is huge.
Lauren: That is huge and our brain likes to override a lot [inaudible]
Andrea: The noise of the room! Like “I can’t hear it, it’s too busy, it’s too noisy!”
Lauren: For people who are feeling silenced around these really big difficult topics, what do you want them to know? What do you want their brain to know, so that is can let the heart voice come out?
Andrea: That this is your true wisdom, your heart is your true wisdom. There is the wisdom of the programs, of the systems, which is wisdom in of itself, but it may not be wisdom for your own life. It may not be, like you may be coming to a period of life where your whole truth says it needs to go against this system. This system is wrong for my people, it’s wrong for my gender, it’s wrong for my sliding gender, you know? It depends right and we are a changing people and this system is not working for that truth anymore, necessarily.
So, was your question what can people do about it?
Lauren: Yeah, well first up what do you want them to know? What should they be saying: “Okay this is something I know, someone told me this and I can swallow it. I can swallow this so that it might help me raise up the voice.”
Andrea: Okay, so I would say little bit of nugget of wisdom: your voice is your truth. If you use your voice in that metaphorical way of owning your space, that’s your truth. That is the most valuable thing you have. And I’m not saying the truth, I’m saying your truth. Your truth is valuable for the world. I mean we are all here in this changing time and everyone’s individual truth coming from their deep inner knowing, is part of the change.
So if one person’s silence, if more and more people are breaking out of that silence of just being a good girl or a good boy in the system, and they are starting to speak their truth of saying this is wrong or this isn’t right for me. This, I don’t agree with this anymore.
Those kind of things are the change. They are the change we are going through on this planet and they are absolutely important to listen to. It may not be that you have the ability to listen to it yet, you may not be great at listening to it yet, but it’s there. Every single person has a truth, has an inner knowing; you may be familiar with it, or you may not be.
But maybe the invitation then is that for you to be the best voice, or the best speaker or whatever, whoever is listening, you know the best person with a strong centre of gravity as you can be on this planet, is to know that you have one. You know that you have a right to speak and you know you have a right to your truth, and that the world needs it.
And that the more you listen and the more you get to know it, the more you will be bringing about a better change in the world. Because your inner knowing is part of the change and part of changing this beautiful world.
Lauren: See, this is why people have you talk to large groups of people about this! This is why! Now you open up the door to let us get a little practical, I love getting practical with this sort of thing. So what are some, especially for people who are afraid to speak up in a big way, what are some small steps that we can take? Like little everyday things that we can practice to exercise that voice.
Andrea: Well, one of the things that I don’t really get into as a part of my training, but our emotions are our barometer of our truth. They actually are a way to develop knowing how to listen to it. “Oh that felt wrong, oh this feels bad.” It might feel bad, I feel bad, right?
So first of all, letting your feelings not be an enemy, let them be your friend. They are your friend, so when you feel bad, it’s because “Oh what’s happening, is there some truth I’m not… what’s going on?” You know, it’s like they are a barometer of what’s going with you in the present moment. And I don’t know if anyone has heard that before, but your emotions are your friends, your teachers, from the moment. Not yesterday, not tomorrow, today in the moment. “Did I say something? Did I say yes when I should have said no? Oh, that is why I feel bad.” That is getting to know yourself.
First of all listening to your feelings, getting to know them because that is the way inward. It’s an inner voice, your inner truth is not out there, it is inside which means you sort of have to get to know the little ways that the inner world speaks to you. And feelings is a big one.
And then, so there’s getting to know your feelings, and then there’s letting your feelings be expressed. It’s the little practices. So, getting to know your feelings, maybe express your feelings and then the next one would be practice saying your truth to someone. Maybe in a letter, or in a letter no one writes, no one reads. But to practice actually expressing it somehow. Because your voice can be through writing too, it doesn’t necessarily have to be speaking. But it can be again, your centre of gravity is you expressing your truth. So writing or practising what it feels like to write it out, or say it to someone.
That is a big deal, because if you’ve never said it to anyone, the first time you say it is like “Ah!” So practise saying your truth. It can be, like you said, saying yes when you mean yes and saying no when you say no.
Lauren: When you mean, really mean it. [crosstalk, inaudible 00:24:11] No hesitation, or don’t give the impression that you’re “Ah!”, having that internal struggle. Just…
Andrea: Well you know what, if you’re in the beginning stages of saying your truth, it’s okay if you flounder a little.
Lauren: Well yeah!
Andrea: It’s okay if you go “… Yes?”
Lauren: And actually that is something that I would love to hit on too. There was this amazing moment in your talk when you described a moment of noise catharsis. It was catharsis through noise on the riverbank. You’re howling out the grief, and the fear, and the shame that was keeping you silent for so long. And that’s, forgive me, it’s not an elegant thing, but it was necessary.
And I think that sometimes if people are going to speak, it needs to be well spoken and elegant and you know, the T’s crossed and the I’s dotted. And it needs to make sense and be perfect, and that idea just kills our voices even more. Like your riverbank moment, that is sheer inelegance but it’s the rawness, it’s the honesty behind it that matters.
Andrea: It’s messy! The inner world is messy. Which is why again this little hierarchy of everything [inaudible 00:25:29} in the circle everything is loud. Okay, this is loud in the circle.
The truth is I wanted to be a good girl too. I wanted to be a good girl and just be okay and contain everything, and I just couldn’t. Because my gift to the world is about learning how to feel and learning how to express. So me out in the riverbank- I need to express in the ugliest, snottiest way possible- and I still do!
Andrea: It’s always messy, but it is the cleansing process, a cleansing process. And by setting, see again, I got my voice back by cleansing my emotions. My emotions were stuck in my throat and in my heart and in my body. And I think that is what happens with most people. That a lot of our stuff is stuck in our bodies. For me, emotional release is a big, big part of the solution.
In a way, that is the rise of the feminine, you know, the feminine is associated with emotion. So, of course it wasn’t really looked at as something valuable, it was looked at as “Ew, ew, yucky!”
Lauren: Yeah, let’s not go there.
Andrea: Yeah. Well we are moving into a world where we are going to honour our emotions more, and they probably won’t lead our lives. They won’t run our lives so much because they are not suppressed. So that is where we are moving.
Lauren: And that is a good place to move!
Andrea: So that means there’s going to be a lot of riverbank moments for people, the transition.
Lauren: The mess is important, the mess is okay. Regardless, whether it’s a big silence you’re overcoming, or a little silence you’re overcoming, or you’re just trying to figure out what your voice sounds like, you figure that out by making a mess. I mean, I love to tell people- especially when they say “I can’t speak out because I don’t speak so well. I can’t express things as nicely as you know, this person does, or that person does, or as you do.” Like Andrea, you said it so beautifully, but that’s because you said it. That’s because we say these things in ugly ways a lot, in the background, and wrestle with them there. You’ve got to make the mess in order for the eloquence to come out.
Andrea: Absolutely! And here I am in my life, you should have seen the mess created just getting my TED talk. Just having the courage once again, all over again to say it. That was a mess! You should have seen the snotty Kleenexes that have [inaudible]. I again, once again, had to recall what that inner truth was. It was a big journey!
Andrea: I have surrendered to the fact that if I am going to be public- even if I wasn’t- if I am just going to keep constantly tuning into my inner truth to learn what my voice is here to add to the community, to the circle, I am just going to keep saying yes to the next release. Because this world is not easy. This world is rather difficult. We come up with obstacles all the time. And if that is the case, then that means our inner truth is going to change from each shift and each transition to go through. What used to be a resounding yes, might be a resounding no now. Well when did that happen?
Now all of a sudden, you have to have the courage to change your mind. So, if we say, if we commit to saying I am going to honour my voice and I am going to honour my inner truth, then that means it might be messy for your whole life. You’re listening, you’re listening and you are listening well. And again, if we are in a time of big change, then who said it is going to be static? Who said our life is going to be static?
Lauren: That would be boring. Let’s not go there. Let’s not let it be that.
Lauren: It is funny too because I mean I speak on things like rhetoric. My scale of trauma in my talks is non-existent, more or less. I am going to be very aware of this. And hell, when I am putting these things together, when I am putting these talks together, I am pitching fits and tantrums in my office. Because even just wrestling with the ideas is hard. So I can barely imagine the mess with these really, really big heavy life-altering societal issues, that you and people like you are taking on.
So I mean, for people out there who are watching this, that I say “I am afraid of the mess”? God, don’t be, don’t be, it is part of it. Anytime you are looking to lift your voice and raise your voice and put it out there, there will be those moments of doubt and messiness. Wrestle with them and embrace that part too, because when the mess comes, that is where the real golden ideas come too. That is where you start to change things.
Andrea: Totally! That is the truth. And the mess, if you know you were to change your thinking that the mess is sacred. Woah, total change. The mess is actually the sacred thing. Woah, big difference than the clean little finished product.
Lauren: Thank you for that.
Andrea: You know again, that’s the…. Whew… sweat, tears, we did it.
Lauren: I am going to be putting that out as a tweet, and I will credit you, Andrea, everytime I say this, but I think that might be a line that I need to borrow from you on stage, is that the mess is sacred. That’s such a big part of it.
Now just as we wrap up here, I want to throwback a little bit to the time that I met you. You were giving a talk about Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. How we can get through the awkwardness and the defenses and just talk to each other. And the issue surrounding violence against women is a big thing we need to talk about, because there is the disproportionate silencing of Indigenous women in Canada. This is beyond doubt.
So how can someone, like me – and I am well aware that I am privileged; I use this half joke that I am basically a suburban princess – how can people like myself who are coming from an angle of privilege help stop to the silencing without being patronizing, without being presumptuous, and God forbid, without appropriating someone else’s reality. Because that is a genuine fear that can hold us back when we want to help. We want to help but we know that you’re strong as well, so how do we do this dance?
Andrea: Well thank you for that question, because just the very fact that you’re asking the question is a big deal already. That is a big deal. Because those are the questions we need to be asking. I guess some of the things that I’ve recognized in the dialogue between you know, Indigenous Canadians and non-Indigenous Canadians, is that so many people want to suddenly be experts of Indigenous. “Ah, I have to know things about Indigenous culture. I have to be an expert!”
Well here is where you can relax. Indigenous people are the experts of Indigenous culture and Indigenous world, right? So maybe the invitation is you and fellow non-Indigenous Canadians need to educate yourself about the real history. That is a big deal, because most people still don’t know the history of Canada, the history of what happened in the residential schools, in the 60s scoop. That information is now being recorded and people can find it online and educate themselves. That is where Western mind can be an expert.
Lauren: Yeah, and it is a scary thing to confront too. [crosstalk] It makes you think about who you are, who we are.
Andrea: And it has to happen.
Lauren: It has to happen.
Andrea: That awakening and that facing of the shame and guilt and all that, that is your job. Your turn and your job to do that. It is awful and you are going to go “Well I didn’t, it wasn’t my culture, it wasn’t my family!” Well the fact is that, it’s part of a lineage and it is we today that need to do that work. So if everything is accepted in the circle: that shame and that guilt and that uncomfortable and you know, projection and avoiding, that all has to be faced and accepted. So that is your part, you as everyone, [inaudible].
Lauren: The royal ‘you’.
Andrea: Yeah, the royal ‘you’. And you know, that is the messy part, that is the part that most Canadians have to face. And when they are confronted with the real history, it is traumatizing. It is because your government let you down, your media let you down, your education system let you down, about what really goes on here. So that is important that you figure that you. That is where your expertise, education, research, and being able to track things down, we are a smart… systems have made us good researchers. That is most Canadians job now, you have to do that work.
Now what the invitation is for you is you don’t have to be an expert in our culture. You don’t have to be an expert in knowing what we know. But maybe the gift is to ask the questions and let us be the experts. We are not the victims, I mean we don’t want to be seen as victims. We are so resilient. The magic and the miracles happening behind the scenes that you don’t know about, is waiting for someone to open the door and peek in and go “Hi would you come and tell us about your expertise, your wisdom and your culture?”.
You know it’s like, think of it as two expert communities and one is different, one is very different because it is culturally based. I mean we don’t see… Indigenous people see the world in a circular way, a feminine way. So it’s, you can’t separate spirituality from Indigenous culture. And that is a challenge for many people raised in the euro-Christian way.
Andrea: But that is the work, so just the fact that you’ve given me the floor to speak and ask the questions on what you can do is a big part of it. It’s a part of true reconciliation, you want to know, and you have faced that discomfort and the “Oh God! This is a terrible history!”. It has to be faced.
Lauren: Yeah, and it is terrible.
Andrea: And it is terrible.
Lauren: It’s [crosstalk] Sorry, go ahead Andrea.
Andrea: Just one, I didn’t say it but one thing you can research are the truth and reconciliation commissions report, with 94 calls to action. There are 94 calls to action that Canadians can go research and go “Oh that is my field! I’m in health, what can I do? I’m in education, what can I do? Oh I’m in the religious sector, what can I do?” So there’s 94 calls to action right now.
And what is coming next is an inquiry into the Indigenous, the murdered and missing, Indigenous women in Canada. That is also going to have a report with hopefully some calls to action about that too.
It is happening, the gathering of truth is happening and now the ability for the rest of Canada to take action is coming. I hope that helps.
Lauren: It does help a great deal, and it does tie back beautifully to this notion of voicelessness, that raising awareness and becoming aware of this disproportionate silencing doesn’t mean that one side needs to silence themselves. It is not that, like God forbid it is not that. It sounds to me very much, again, like becoming knowledgeable, becoming informed, saying “I don’t know so can you help me understand?”. And then sharing the space and not treating people as victims.
Andrea: Oh totally. Yeah, because that perpetuates the systemic racism: “We need to save you. Who are you?” [crosstalk]
Lauren: That is not even remotely helpful.
Andrea: But what is really a respectful relationship between equals, is one person just you know, doesn’t talk all the time and fill the noise, and stops talking. Even if you are not silencing yourself, learning to listen is part of communication and relationship right? So what community is used to being the authority and speaking all the time may have to stop talking for a while. And that is part of it, right? That is the journey because it takes awhile for one community to start speaking when they’re not going to… I’m not saying it very well but…
In the circle, if one person is talking all the time, the other people don’t get a chance. So that is where experts and the non-Indigenous community can help, is by not having to be the expert every moment.
Lauren: Right, silence isn’t the same thing as silencing. Being silent is part of the dialogue.
Andrea: That was way more articulate than how I said it! Say it again?
Lauren: We will tweet that one too! Silence isn’t the same thing as silencing. That is an important part of the dialogue because, like you said, if one person is doing all the talking, the other isn’t being heard.
Well Andrea, [crosstalk], sorry Andrea go ahead.
Andrea: No, it’s like, and that would perpetuate the old system, and we are moving into a new one.
Lauren: You’re an absolute inspiration, thank you for doing what you do. And for making this be heard in so many different ways. Once again, for everyone watching, Andrea she is an actress, a very accomplished one, four CDs out… is it five now?
Andrea: Four plus little songs and a symphony that have been recorded.
Lauren: But, like has an award winning body of musical work. And that musical work aspect is really important to your expression too. That is a big big part of it. Is a speaker, is out there helping communities heal, helping Indigenous and feminine voices be heard. So thank you for absolutely everything you do.
Of course, I will link down below to all of Andrea’s resources. Please check out her website, check out her talk, share it around, and lets keep the dialogue going. Let’s keep voices being heard, it is your voice that needs to be heard, it is critical.
Now as always, if you enjoyed this video and you have found this helpful to finding your own voice, give it a thumbs up, hit subscribe on that button down below. Please head back to laurensergy.com to subscribe to my newsletter as I will be rolling out more great interviews, like this, with people like Andrea, for you to learn in the future. Thank you so much for joining us on Talk Shop, and I look forward to seeing you again soon. Bye-bye.