Home Editorial April is an important month 

April is an important month 

Megan Kanerahtenha:wi Whyte The Eastern Door

Cultural Awareness Month makes us all take notice of what’s around us – our living, breathing language and culture, but also our history and what it took to get us here. 

It’s an opportunity to celebrate all of what we are, and to help the youth understand all the sacrifices, fights, and issues we have dealt with, gone through, and will continue to have on our plate as Onkwehón:we. 

The Eastern Door has been part of CAM from the beginning, translating stories in Kanien’kéha, including our front page this week. We have used the spirit of this month to create Sharing Our Stories – which collects stories from our elders and puts them out there for all to see, in print and online. We have done so since August 2022, and will never stop. This project is too important. 

And so is Cultural Awareness Month.  

It’s much easier to be knowledgeable and proud of your community and people when you have examples that remind you of how we got here and where we’re going. 

Hearing the language from the elders during this month and learning about things like wampum belts, books by our own authors, or our many facets of the artistic community, all paint a picture (excuse the pun), of what it takes to make Kahnawake what it is – a vibrant, growing, and vital community in the Indigenous landscape of this country. 

CAM was born out of a necessity to teach and learn, but also out of a hunger that exists within so many who often don’t know where to turn to learn our stories. 

Every Native community should have a month like this, but few do. Kahnawa’kehró:non stepped up and made it happen, and it showed quite clearly the kind of mobilization that can occur when we come together and decide to do something positive. 

Where do we go from here? Well, just having this month of April dedicated to such awesome teachings is great, and we’re not even sure how to improve upon it. 

Adding another month later in the year? Widening the month to include more activities? Taking some of what’s taught during CAM and utilizing it during other times or spaces in town? 

The important part is to keep ideas flowing and to take part in the pride that comes from Cultural Awareness Month. 

You don’t have to have access to your tóta to tap into the wealth of our very being, you just have to pick an event or two in April and listen and learn. One day you could be the teacher. 

The uphill battle for our language’s security exists, of course, but CAM is a way to combat that and reverse the low numbers of those who can converse in our language, and not be embarrassed by how little they know. 

This month is like a confluence of ideas, experiences and realities coming together to combat what colonialism has done to us, and no level, no matter how much of a beginner you are, is something to hang your head for. 

We must all learn one day, and today could be your day, but without getting out there to see, you may be letting an opportunity pass you by that could shape your entire future. 

Together, we can reverse the intergenerational trauma we are all victims to, but it will take time. During this process we have to be patient, grow individually, and always think of the collective as one big family working towards the same goal of being successful Kanien’kehá:ka. 

CAM started out as a humble initiative, but it has become a metaphor for the kind of action we all need to take to celebrate us. 

This editorial was originally published in print on April 5 in issue 33.14 of The Eastern Door.

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Eastern Door Editor/Publisher Steve Bonspiel started his journalism career in January 2003 with The Nation magazine, a newspaper serving the Cree of northern Quebec.
Since that time, he has won numerous regional and national awards for his in-depth, impassioned writing on a wide variety of subjects, including investigative pieces, features, editorials, columns, sports, human interest and hard news.
He has freelanced for the Montreal Gazette, Toronto Star, Windspeaker, Nunatsiaq News, Calgary Herald, Native Peoples Magazine, and other publications.
Among Steve's many awards is the Paul Dumont-Frenette Award for journalist of the year with the Quebec Community Newspapers Association in 2015, and a back-to-back win in 2010/11 in the Canadian Association of Journalists' community category - one of which also garnered TED a short-list selection of the prestigious Michener award.
He was also Quebec Community Newspapers Association president from 2012 to 2019, and continues to strive to build bridges between Native and non-Native communities for a better understanding of each other.

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Eastern Door Editor/Publisher Steve Bonspiel started his journalism career in January 2003 with The Nation magazine, a newspaper serving the Cree of northern Quebec. Since that time, he has won numerous regional and national awards for his in-depth, impassioned writing on a wide variety of subjects, including investigative pieces, features, editorials, columns, sports, human interest and hard news. He has freelanced for the Montreal Gazette, Toronto Star, Windspeaker, Nunatsiaq News, Calgary Herald, Native Peoples Magazine, and other publications. Among Steve's many awards is the Paul Dumont-Frenette Award for journalist of the year with the Quebec Community Newspapers Association in 2015, and a back-to-back win in 2010/11 in the Canadian Association of Journalists' community category - one of which also garnered TED a short-list selection of the prestigious Michener award. He was also Quebec Community Newspapers Association president from 2012 to 2019, and continues to strive to build bridges between Native and non-Native communities for a better understanding of each other.