Photo: Miriam Katawazi

The Decolonizing Together: Indigenous Walking Tour, towards Victoria Island for the Asinabka Film Festival and Solidarity Assembly, started out at the Human Rights Monument in Ottawa for a very specific reason. 

“This spot is a place where a lot of people start their walks or their protests. It’s a great place to start because it reminds us of our rights, it reminds us of our equality and it reminds us that every person has the right to dignity,” explained Indigenous Walks founder and artist Jaime Koebel. 

Koebel said that all her walks begin at the Human Rights Monument. The monument is also important, she added, because it portrays the diversity among Indigenous peoples. On the monument, she explained, the words “rights, equality, and dignity” are written in the 73 different indigenous languages. 

“During the Truth and Reconciliation commission,” Koebel said, “There is a legal document that binds all Canadians to practice reconciliation.” Koebel said that she hopes her walks raise basic awareness of who Indigenous people are and their experiences. 

“The information is there, this is Indigenous people, this is Indigenous land, there’s ways to find that information, but somehow it just sneaks past our radar, for whatever reason it is,” she said. 

Koebel added that the purpose of her walks is to assist with healing and reconciliation by providing a resource for Indigenous people and non-Indigenous people. A resource, she said, where they can actively engage in reconciliation. She explained that too often people just pass by information detailing the struggles and experiences Indigenous peoples have faced without noticing it. She added that this is a wider Canadian issue. 

Speaking to the large crowd of over a hundred walkers, Koebel said that that one of the most striking things she has seen in Ottawa is the “huge surge of Indigenous peoples in the arts.” She added that the Asinabka Film Festival is part of this arts movement. 

Indigenous films, at times, also have a hard time attracting mainstream attention, Howard Adler, co-founder of the Asinabka Film Festival said. “Indigenous film sometimes doesn’t get highlighted as much as it could be. It’s important to have space where it is highlighted and where it’s featured,” he explained. 

He added that Mi’kmaq film director Jeff Barnaby had difficulty getting his film Rhymes for Young Ghouls, which was screened last night, into theatres in Ottawa. “He got into Mayfair theatre for four nights. But that’s a very basic run and it’s an amazing, just amazing film. This is just an example of how really good films won’t get the attention that they deserve. This Asinabka Film Festival is an important way to highlight indigenous films.” 

At the soldiadity assembly on Victoria Island, where the walking tour came to an end, visitors heard about the Algonquin history of the Ottawa River valley from Ardoch Algonquin elder and Queen’s University Professor, Robert Lovelace. 

A screening of Barnaby’s film, Rhymes for Young Ghouls, followed the assembly. 

Koebel said that it’s important for both Indigenous people and non-Indigenous peoples to connect with history and art that tell stories and shares information on the lives of Indigenous peoples in Canada. 

Ottawa resident, Anne Whitehurst said she was glad she had attended the tour because it helped bring more awareness to an important history. She added that it created, “an awareness of these things that are easy to pass without paying attention to the story, a story different from what we normally get.”

Miriam Katawazi is a fourth-year journalism and human rights student at Carleton University and rabble’s news intern. She has a strong passion for human rights and social justice in Canada and across the world. Her writing focuses on health, labour, education and human rights beats. 


Miriam Katawazi

Miriam Katawazi

Miriam Katawazi is an Afghan-Canadian journalist and currently the Morning Editor at Since graduating from Carleton University with a journalism and human rights degree, she’s worked...