Shiraoi Ainu and First Nations forge global partnership

Ainu Currents Post 4
Shiraoi Ainu and First Nations forge global partnership

In December, representatives of First Nations communities from Canada, including British Columbia, visited the Shiraoi Ainu Association in Shiraoi Town, Hokkaido. The visit marked the first collaboration between these groups, which aim to foster understanding, share experiences, and address common challenges faced by Indigenous peoples worldwide.

The president of the Shiraoi Ainu Association, Kazuyuki Yamamaru, welcomed the Canadian delegation. The discussions, lasting about one and a half hours, delved into shared histories of assimilation policies, highlighting the struggles and triumphs of both the Ainu people and First Nations Peoples of Canada. Chief Linda Price of the Canadian delegation expressed the warmth of shared values, emphasizing the importance of connecting and exchanging information with indigenous communities globally.

Reflecting on Canada’s history, Chief Linda Price shared insights into the collaborative efforts with the United Nations and the government’s acknowledgment and apology for past mistakes. She also outlined ongoing initiatives, such as regular tribal meetings to discuss political issues and solutions. In response, Kazuyuki Yamamaru found inspiration in Canada’s experience and expressed a determination to advocate for Ainu rights.

As a symbolic gesture of friendship, both groups exchanged handmade gifts: shoes crafted from moose skin and coasters adorned with Ainu patterns. The visit was organized in response to a request from Chief Linda Price, aligning with the delegation’s business negotiations on timber products in Japan.

During the meeting, the Canadian delegation shared the history of assimilation policies, drawing parallels between the challenges faced by Ainu and Indigenous children. President Yamamaru inquired about Indigenous rights in Canada, learning about the hard-fought restoration of certain rights, particularly in British Columbia, where Indigenous peoples were granted rights over forests.

Harlan Schilling, a member of the Canadian delegation, emphasized the significance of international exchange for indigenous communities. President Yamamaru applauded the strength of Canada’s indigenous people, drawing inspiration from their advocacy efforts and reinforcing the importance of the Ainu people voicing their needs clearly.

This cross-cultural exchange serves as a pivotal moment in promoting global solidarity among indigenous communities and fostering mutual understanding in the face of shared challenges. The participants expressed a collective commitment to continued collaboration and information exchange in the future.