Image: View of Merritt and the horizon (Photo: Brooke Edmonds)
Tēnā koutou, e te ILRU Community, nau mai e te Tau Hou,
(Greetings, and welcome to the new year)
The pandemic and events of the past year, including protests about police violence, defence against continued colonial land theft, rallies for acknowledgment and action on climate change, white supremacist riots, and even murder hornets, have seen challenges and uncertainties for many that will continue through this year. The Indigenous Law Research Unit (ILRU) has not been immune to this upheaval, as we also navigate the ups and downs of new physically distant and virtual landscapes. Thinking on this, it is easy to feel overwhelmed with the loads each of us carry—not just for the ILRU team, but for all of those communities, friends, and loved ones around us as well. I am reminded, however, of the rhythm and nature of ILRU’s work: wow, there is often an overwhelming amount to do, but also, what a gift and a pleasure to be able to engage in this work and the relationships and communities we build along the way. While there are still many challenges, we have also seen new opportunities to learn and grow as a community, to engage with our community partners and the public, and to be attentive to each other. Of course, this growth would not have been possible without our wonderful team and the many hearts and hands that have helped us along the way, including our community coordinators and researchers, our community partners, our collaborators, and our donors. For this, we share a heartfelt thank you to you all.
So, what’s on deck for the new year?
We have received (and continue to receive) many requests and inquiries about important and exciting opportunities to collaborate on projects, workshops, and events. We are excited to discuss the possibilities of these future initiatives together and see where they take us. In the meantime, ILRU will continue to nurture our existing relationships with community partners and collaborators through our ongoing projects. Virtual focus groups, validation sessions, and other engagements are already planned or in the works.
As mentioned in our Annual Report 2019-2020 (see our flip book version too), we had been shifting some of the directions we are taking in our work prior to the pandemic. We have heard from communities that ILRU’s collaboration and co-facilitation in regards to the implementation of our reports is important, and we have listened and responded to this request by building implementation workshops into the final phase of our new and existing projects. This shift reflects our commitment to the relationships we form with community partners and their ongoing revitalization efforts.
Workshops and training sessions are an integral part of getting Indigenous law out into the world and discussed critically. The pandemic has necessitated a shift in how we deliver these; however, it has also generated new ways to reach out to a wider audience and bring in new faces who might not have had access to these conversations otherwise. Keep an eye out for upcoming dates and announcements on this front.
As we recognize that we will be unable to have in-community visits throughout a large portion of 2021, we will continue to build our online presence and think creatively about engagement with community. With this in mind, we hope to keep this momentum going in the new year through our new website and blogs, and in the community-centred tools and activities we develop.
One new tool you can expect to see this year is the Nuts’umaat: Cowichan Water Warriors graphic novel co-created by Deborah Curran, Val Napoleon, and Sarah Morales as part of the Water Laws Lessons from Indigenous and Colonial Stewardship project. Other tools, publications and activities you can expect to see this year include toolkits, learning journals, and mini learning circles.
This year will also see new faces, as we look forward to welcoming a new ILRU Researcher to the team. Stay tuned for virtual introductions soon!
At ILRU, we have what we describe as the ‘ILRU beast’: thick skin, soft hearts, strong minds—an apt description of the ILRU team and a mindset that will serve us well as we leap forward into the new challenges and possibilities that 2021 brings. On behalf of the ILRU team, may the new year bring you, our ILRU community, a year full of joy, rest, growth and possibilities, with a dash of the ILRU beast to take on these new challenges.
Noho ora mai (keep well),
(On behalf of the ILRU team)