This paper presents my critical reflections on what it means to be a Taíno Indigenous person. It is part of an ongoing research project that started in 2013 and is based on oral histories, ancestral knowledges, collective memories of family, community narratives, and other historical accounts, including the voices of 10 people from two rural communities in Southern Jamaica. This research uses an Indigenous research methodology to honour ancestral knowledge systems.
Indigenous knowledge systems and spiritual traditions are intricately interwoven. They sustained First Nations peoples for centuries, are part of the everyday lives of Indigenous peoples and are at the core of Indigenous epistemologies. This paper argues that, despite the adverse impacts of Canada’s colonial policies on Indigenous peoples, their ancestral knowledge systems and spirituality guide and nourish them as they navigate their way through contemporary educational and everyday life contexts.
Many historians writing about Canadian history have failed to acknowledge, and some have even downright ignored, the history of chattel slavery that existed within Canada where Aboriginal people were bought and sold like commodities. Generally, when one thinks of chattel slavery, there are images of people of African ancestry being branded, whipped and labouring in cotton and tobacco fields or on sugar plantations. Yet, this is only part of a much more complex canvas of slavery in the “New World”.