The reconciliation between the Indigenous Peoples of Mother Earth and those who are often called 'settlers' represents one of the biggest challenges of our times. There is so much to be gained and so many ways to stumble. At the heart of the challenges lies the struggle within the Pākehā, settler or white community to transform historically oppressive relationships into stories of trust, respect and learning. Jen Margaret’s book on 'Working as Allies' offers us both hope and practical ideas about how to address the changes needed. Read it with a good and open mind.
The voices of these activists challenge non-Indigenous supporters and allies around the world to dig deep and honestly into the colonizing consciousness that they carry. Speaking from the specificities of their experiences and contexts, they demonstrate the quality of self-reflection, self-awareness and action that is essential to forming alliances and supporting the interests of Indigenous peoples and Indigenous sovereignty. Their engaging stories and candid sharing offer inspiration and instruction to both experienced and new supporters of Indigenous solidarity across diverse settings.
Lynne Davis, Department of Indigenous Studies, Trent University, Canada
Editor: Alliances: re/envisioning indigenous-non-indigenous relationships
Jen Margaret has presented us with a book that results from years of personal experience of working alongside indigenous peoples. It is a respectful portrayal of important reflections and experiences of other allies who have, like her, committed to actively supporting Maori and indigenous Australian communities. It provides important insights and lessons to all those who have a passion to undertake this work.
Jen has carefully presented experiences of people who are elders and some who are more youthful, some of whom have walked the talk for decades, others whose journey is now established to be a lifetime commitment. This commitment is not undertaken easily. It has serious challenges which she explores, including the potential for personal criticism and pain. Being an ally of indigenous communities is not for the feint hearted. Those who work alongside these communities will be usefully challenged in their commitment to become true and respectful allies.
Working as allies will be of considerable value to all who work with Maori and other indigenous peoples in the social services, health sectors, education, police and justice. The philanthropic sector has much to gain from reading this book.
The inclusion of resources for potential allies, based on international research, is very useful as it outlines challenges and responses for those who are stepping in to this role. It will have wide use, including for students in a range of disciplines such as teaching, health, psychology, social work and counselling.
Rachael Selby, Chair, Winston Churchill Memorial Trust.
Jen Margaret's intimate and open interviews provide much-needed political and practical advice for social movements willing to acknowledge and challenge racism. The reflection that, "If you're feeling uncomfortable, you're probably doing the work" especially resonated for me. Fear of 'getting it wrong' all too often leads to passivity. The seasoned and skilled allies in this book are generous in sharing their experiences of solidarity campaigns in Australia and Aotearoa. Their spirit of humility, humour and openness shines through in their inspiring testimonies.
James Whelan, Director, the Change Agency