From Historical Memories to Contemporary Visions: Honouring Indigenous Maternal Histories

Jennifer Brant


This essay will highlight the importance of knowing our Indigenous maternal historiesand reconnecting new generations of women with these cultural traditions.While contemporary realities of Indigenous mothering are often described in termsof disheartening statistical facts that may be understood as part of a colonial legacy,this article describes the empowerment that can be gathered through a revivificationof maternal traditions. The article will take the reader through a journey that draws attention to the strength and resilience of our ancestor’s, and the decolonizing legacy they have left us through blood memory, and cultural teachings. The decolonization ofcurrent maternal realities is also described making note of contemporary movementsthat share cultural teachings with Aboriginal women through literature. The belief that we need to know where we come from in order to know where we are going isintegral to contemporary visions of empowered Indigenous motherhood. As Leanne Simpson writes decolonizing future generations begins with conception; we must begin to decolonize our birthing and maternal experiences. Thus, reconnecting thefirst teachers of our youngest generations with their maternal histories is essential to strengthening Indigenous families and communities.

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We are grateful to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) for its ongoing support of the Journal of the Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement.