Celebrating Indigenous History Month

Celebrating Indigenous History Month

Calgary Housing residents Lala and Hanlon.
Calgary Housing residents Lala and Hanlon.

Lala and Hanlon have lived with Calgary Housing since 2023. Lala works as a Customer Service Representative with Air Canada and is also a proud member of Air Canada’s Diversity Committee. She is also a strong advocate for Indigenous awareness and shares she “can’t sit idly by if someone is being intolerant”. She continues, saying that Indigenous History Month is a start, but that it can’t be just one day, and the conversations it brings up need to last the whole month.

Her son Hanlon, is homeschooled and wrapping up grade 11. He has a bright future ahead. His mother notes his diverse interests and talents, particularly in cooking and art. She envisions him pursuing culinary school, art school, or even becoming a pilot—a career that comes with both responsibility and lots of growth potential. Despite not having made a firm decision yet, Hanlon shows a natural aptitude for driving and mechanics, thanks in part to his involvement with Big Brothers Big Sisters and the guidance of his “big brother.”

Reflecting on Indigenous History Month, Hanlon shares mixed feelings. He appreciates the month-long recognition but believes it falls short in addressing the historical injustices faced by Indigenous peoples, including residential schools and systemic oppression. He emphasizes the need for deeper, more sustained conversations and efforts towards true inclusion and reconciliation. “Inclusion means we are all going to work together – co-thrive, not just co-exist” he says.

His mother shares a poignant metaphor for reconciliation. Comparing it to the exploitation of natural resources, she explains how Indigenous communities have been uprooted and exploited, yet they continue to show resilience and regrowth in the face of adversity. She stresses the importance of reclaiming and rebuilding rather than merely attempting to restore what was lost. She describes an oil well, and paints a picture of the birds and plants and animals that called that area home. Then she says the oil company sees value there, and they tear up the land. While they signed a contract to put things back, they can never be the same she says, “the scars are still there”.

Hanlon’s grandparents were survivors of the residential school system, and Lala says their experiences impacted their parenting. She says they didn’t get the chance to learn how to parent, because they were taken away from their parents. “Imagine not knowing who taught you how to tie your shoes, or ride a bike?” Lala is highly involved in Hanlon’s upbringing, she jokes that in her version of helicopter parenting her son is in the helicopter with her. But despite her childhood, “we all have a choice” she says. The trauma can stop with one generation she shares; her love and commitment to her son are very evident.

Lala was featured in an Air Canada inflight video on Indigenous reconciliation. You can watch that video here. She was also worked with her son on a project to create t-shirts memorializing the victims of residential schools.

Lala’s mothers’ language is Plain’s Cree, and she has named her son Hanlon; Shining Thunderbird; which is written WasihKopaowin-Piyisiw. Lala is named Star Woman and her name is written AtahKisiwew. Her youngest son December is named Walking Holyman. Walking Holyman is a name from her fathers’ language, which is Nakota.



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In early 2024 we will be reaching out to residents to gather your experiences, opinions, and ideas to inform our Anti-Racism Strategy.

You can participate by:

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  • Volunteer to join a focus group (this will be available through the survey)


Watch for more information coming soon!