Indigenous people are remarkably resilient and are claiming their rightful place on the global stage; further, they have much to offer workers and learners in the social services.
On August 9, International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples will be celebrated with a focus on the right to education. As the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) related to Education and Intergenerational Transmission states, “Indigenous peoples have the right to establish and control their educational systems and institutions providing education in their own languages, in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning.” The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) was passed on September 13, 2007, by an overwhelming majority of the United Nations General Assembly. The UNDRIP ensures that indigenous peoples' rights to cultural integrity, education, health, and political participation are protected.
According to United Nations reports, indigenous peoples are recognized as being among the world’s most vulnerable, disadvantaged and marginalized peoples. Spread across the some 90 countries, they number roughly more than 370 million. While they constitute approximately five percent of the world’s population, indigenous peoples make up 15 percent of the world’s poor and one-third of the world’s extremely poor.
One example of a group promoting the rights of indigenous peoples is the Circle of All Nations, an informal, unfunded, global eco-community dedicated to supporting indigenous wisdom, respect of Mother Earth, racial harmony and peace building, and social justice. Circle of All Nations has explored the value of traditional Indigenous approaches to child care, racial harmony and justice issues, in order to facilitate reclamation, increasingly mindful that these strategies might not only be critically important to indigenous peoples, but also to others. Indigenous restorative practices such as talking, healing and sentencing circles, can also strengthen an increasingly dehumanized criminal justice system.
Indigenous Circle of Courage principles, conceptualized in the form of a Medicine Wheel grounded on the ideas of belonging, mastery, independence and generosity, inform multiple aspects of the Isibindi Safe Parks child and youth care work of the National Association of Child Care Workers (NACCW) in South Africa.
Many now realize that it is critically important and mutually beneficial for meaningful bridges to be built with indigenous peoples. Education at multiple levels, particularly for social service workers, can contribute to such a process. Increasingly but still too infrequently, social service workforce training is being developed by and with indigenous peoples.
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by Romola Thumbadoo, Circle of All Nations, Canada