Indigenous Inclusion: Why I Was Afraid

I am Indigenous.

I had huge doubts about sharing this. I wanted to be careful not to contribute to aboriginal peoples ongoing trauma. In case the media turned me into a monster, for having euthanized a dog for my employer. Last thing we need as indigenous people is another reason to add to discrimination.

Fact is many of us don’t know our parents, or siblings. We don’t know our language. We don’t know our culture, and almost lost our ceremonies. We were moved from our homelands. The Canadian government still refuses to use the word: Genocide.

Fact is: Many of us don’t even know how to smudge. A smudge is a prayer, it’s Ceremony.

Yet you can go buy that stuff in a store, and appropriate that part of our culture, say you have good intentions to release yourself from any responsibility. Where are all our accomplices in the fight for Indigenous Rights?

Ask any Aboriginal person, and they will tell you, our Earth is alive. Water is Life. Everything on this Earth is Sentient. Animals, Birds, Plants, Bugs, Rocks, The Sun, The Moon. And we are all connected. Science is just catching up to something our people have known to be true for thousands of years. Watch One Strange Rock, on Netlfix and learn about our earth from an astronaut’s perspective.


I did shoot a dog for my employer while working in the sled dog industry. Hope is not the first animal I have killed. However, she is the one who taught me about the truth of the treatment of animals born in industries of Canada. I didn’t think it would be important to share my full identity however I now realize it is my indigeneity that has given me strength to fight for accountability with the truth. It is the search for accountability that made me understand that the problem is the lack of recognition of animals as sentient beings in Colonizer’s Government on Turtle Island.

There are indigenous vegans. However, I do hunt, and fish. Before I learned how to hunt, I ate and processed Road Kill… It’s with these sentient beings, left to rot, that I learned to process an animal.

The whole process is Ceremony. Reading the woods for track and signs, listening to bird language, being still and quiet and checking yourself constantly for the vibe you give off that the bush picks up on. Believe me, to hunt like this takes a lot of training and awareness. Death is the quickest part of this whole process. It is also, the emotionally hardest, part of the whole process. To take a life, comes with huge responsibility. (I always wondered how meat eaters can carry on, without being able to take a life themselves, or even look at all the slaughterhouse media.) I don’t hunt like a colonizer.

Ceremony doesn’t stop when an animal dies… The animal is harvested with love, humility and respect. It’s teachings carry on: Unprocessed Foods, Clothing, Tools, Teachings and Community: Sovereignty. I always felt this way. I only learned that this was the norm when I moved to Ottawa (unceded Algonquin territory of sovereign Anishinaabe nations) 2 years ago, and started going to aboriginal community centers.

This week, I went to a Vegan Support Group because I see no difference between dogs in the sled dog industry, and cows in the agriculture industry. Confined to small spaces, no room to socialize, bread, then ripped apart from their kin. The only difference is we don’t eat dog in Canada. I went because I am tired of the jokes that come up when I try to bring vegan alternatives to pot lucks. I went because I didn’t know of any other people that would understand my struggle in this fight as much as my vegan allies would. I went because what vegans go through matters to me.

 

I attended a Vegan Emotional Support group. Other than this one major difference, we all shared our struggles with choosing to live a life that gives voice to the voiceless. I know it really hurts some vegans to hear that I have hunted and fished, but I cannot apologize for this. I only ask for patience as I learn more about my indigeneity. I won’t talk about hunting unless I get asked. I ask for inclusion of aboriginals in vegan spaces (whether or not they hunt).

 

Whether it’s for entertainment, food, or clothing; millions of sentient animals are exploited and killed on Turtle Island on a yearly basis. I can share with you that yes, aboriginal people care about what is happening to our planet. Allot of us are busy healing with our Ancestral, Childhood and ongoing  Traumas from the Genocide of Indigenous peoples in Canada.

 

I didn’t think it would matter, who I was, where I came from. I thought any human would do what I did… Turns out, it really does matter. Look out for me, I’ll be around. asking for inclusion of Aboriginal peoples in this very important fight. Learning about Canadian values and Demanding accountability for Canada’s omission of Agriculture: The leading contributor to our planet’s destruction.

 

A huge thank you to Nation Rising for giving me the time to make a land acknowledgement. Thank you to the people who participated in the Vegan Support Group, for allowing me to take part. Thank you to my End Sled Dog Cruelty allies who have helped me find my voice.

I invite all Aboriginal people to take part in the fight for Animal Protection on Turtle Island.

My name is Chantal Dostaler, I am a whistle blower for dogs in the sled dog industry. I am an Animal Advocate. I live on Unceded Algonquin Territory of the Sovereign Anishinabe Nation, Treaty 9. I am Agokwe-nini. I am Indigenous.

 

Meegwetch

 

If you are new to Virtuous Musher, Check out The Dodo’s Featured Article:

https://www.thedodo.com/close-to-home/sled-dog-grave-discovered-canada

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