“Mummy and me ribbon skirts: I picked a pattern with Alberta roses - being from Alberta and all - and had such a great time cracking out my sewing machine to design and sew these. Thank you to the Centre for Aboriginal Student Services (CASS) at York; we hold cultural workshops for students at York and I created this in our Ribbon Skirt Workshops!
I work at (CASS) as the Aboriginal Special Initiatives and Projects Coordinator and regularly engage with the services offered there, and in this space I’ve found a community that has changed the trajectory of my life and education. I actually only started going to CASS in my final year at York University, and this had to do with my insecurity of claiming my Indigeneity. Evidently, I don’t “look” Indigenous (whatever that means…); being Black and Indigenous, I was and am alienated by the racism I encounter; my non-representation in media and culture; and the constant need to ‘prove’ my identity. I had always been involved in Indigenous communities, but it was not until this past year when we unearthed documents proving our family’s Metis heritage that I was comfortable institutionally self-identifying as Indigenous, and engaging more with Indigenous spaces and services.
Now that I have allowed myself to reclaim this part of my identity, I have found a deeper sense of purpose and community than I have ever experienced. I am studying my Indigenous language, and gaining traditional knowledge; I am engaging with Indigenous research projects, including one in the LA&PS Dean’s Award for Research Excellence program; and I am advocating more vocally for Indigenous people, through my activism and policy work. What I believe to be most important, however, is that I am creating a home within which my one-year-old daughter feels proud and empowered by her Indigeneity, where she will understand how our predecessors created the space and opportunities we enjoy and where she will with every decision, act with the future seven generations in mind.”
Larissa Crawford, Student
International Development and Communication Studies program
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies
Photo credit: Larissa Crawford, Instagram