Towards the end of December 2021 I updated my website by adding a section under the ‘About’ tab titled “Ancestry and Indigeneity”, with three sub-pages: ‘Ethics and Care’; ‘Territory’; and ‘Land Acknowledgements’. With exception to this update (highlighted in red text), all that info should still be present for the sake of transparency and accountability.
In early January 2022 several concerns were shared with myself and other community members around the authenticity of my ancestry as well as the benefits I have received. These are all valid concerns for which I encourage further conversations/investigation (and/or actions) as people see fit; and, I too want to know the full depth of my ancestral connection to the Algonquin (BAFN), and Metis/Mi’kmaq(MNO) communities.
It was why I made the point of communicating on this website the need for me to trace family connections and determine once and for all what the truth is. If it turns out myself and my family members are 100% settlers who have been benefiting/appropriating from Indigenous peoples/communities/culture – I want to know. Much like the investigations by CBC surrounding ‘pretendians’ and false claims of Indigenous ancestry, I’m going to be seriously pissed – At myself first and foremost (because of the culpability I hold as a person who has benefited from opportunities marked for Indigenous peoples) if it turns out that the whole of my Indigenous Identity has been a lie; and at those who have and continue to pillage and (trigger warning for sexual assault reference) rape the very notion of Indigenous Resiliency. If it turns out my and my families’ connections are all a lie, then, it will be an even greater imperative (then if I do have an ancestral connection) to dedicate my life’s worth to reparations and accountability. I will have to, as a response to the injustices done by myself and others, work to replace what was taken with new opportunities, compensation, and support, in any way that I can.
As some have rightly pointed out, ancestry and community connection are not the same thing – I’ve been asked to consider what it means to take up the space I have in my workplace, in my relationship to the Ottawa Indigenous Community and so forth, should my ancestral connections be proven true, never-mind if it is proven false. Do I have a right to take up the spaces I have, to benefit in the ways that I have, to speak and engage like I have?
For the immediate time this ‘update’ will serve as a means of full disclosure until the 2nd quarter update I plan on completing soon-ish. It would be longer in detail if I knew that weren’t counterproductive to the message I’m trying to convey here (in my experience the longer I try to explain things, the less credible I seem to others). Trust that more details will come soon.
If you have any questions, concerns, etc., please feel welcome to reach out to either myself or, with respectfulness towards anyone you contact, the people of the Ottawa urban Indigenous communities, the Bonnechere Algonquin First Nations, or the Metis Nation of Ontario – Ashley G
Tansi! She:gon! Kwe-Kwe!
Kwe’ Ni’n Teluisi Ashley Grenstone, I am a person of mixed settler/colonizer and Indigenous ancestry born on Unceded Anishinaabe Algonquin Traditional Territory in what is colonial referred as “Ottawa, Canada” on August 15th, 1989 (according to the colonial ‘Gregorian’ calendar system).
I was raised apart from any Indigenous community, my immediate family and I moving across ‘Turtle Island’ throughout my childhood, youth and young adulthood. I am a person of white-passing privilege and it reflects in the minimal ways I experienced discrimination while navigating/interacting with different systems of society and power such as education, healthcare and law-enforcement.
In an effort to retrace my steps towards community I am continuing the life-long process of learning and unlearning through various frameworks of theory and practice. Several examples include: community accountability, decolonization, equitable non-monogamy, accessibility, anti-oppression, anti-violence against women & 2S persons, anti-racism, inter-generational, intersectional; and, numerous frameworks not yet listed.
The “Ancestry & Indigeneity” tab as well as
- What is the ‘Indigenous Identity’ section about and why does it exist?
There are several reasons:
- If ever the validity of my claim to Indigenous ‘authenticity’ (or through the colonial apparatus of deciding who’s who based on “blood quantum”), I want to have all the information I have about myself available for review here. I am not interested in convincing people nor do I seek to put peoples concerns to rest. If you think I’m a fraud who’s harming Indigenous self-efficacy, please, follow your gut instinct and I’ll support those efforts
- If ever the validity of my relation or ‘claim’ to Indigenous ‘authenticity’ comes into question (Or people use the colonial apparatus of “Blood Quantum” to decide who’s who)
“Theory Drives Us, Practice Defines Us”Ashley Grenstone, 2009
May 15th 2021
My name is Ashley Grenstone, and I come from a mix of settler-colonial and First-Nations ancestors. I am at the moment, trying to figure out whether I should be calling myself ‘2-Spirit’ or Indigiqueer out of respect for those persons who’s identification as 2-Spirit had/has meant a significant involvement with community and leadership. Whereas I have been using it as an ‘identifier’ and that far outweighs any community involvement I have had the opportunity be a part of thus far.
My Dad’s side of the family is supposedly English, Irish, German and Austrian though I have no records under my own keeping at the moment to confirm that small information, or expand on that information.
My mom’s side of the family is French, Bonnechere Algonquin First Nation, and ‘Metis’ Mi’kmaq. I know my grandfather and some extended family members have done research in an effort to trace back our ancestry, but just as was the case with my dad’s side, I do not yet have any such records under my own keeping to confirm or expand on these details. I hope to change that as time progresses.
I am a transgender woman who’s name is of her own choosing/making. My birth name, to me, is dead, and will not be used here in full. I will share that it started with an ‘M’, and that my original family name was ‘Barnes’. The sir name ‘Barnes’ comes from my dad’s side of the family, while ‘Gaudette’ was my mother’s original last name.
Notes removed from the land acknowldgement page:
Algonquin communities in eastern ‘Ontario’ like Kitigan Zibi, Pikwàkanagàn First Nation, Bonnechere Algonquin First Nation make up in part the Confederation of the Anishinabek Nation.
, of which my ancestry to the Bonnechere Algonquin First Nation as non-status members
who are currently negotiating a land claim with the federal government under amalgamation of ‘Algonquins of Ontario’, or AOO.
my mixed ancestry’s closet ties are with the latter, under the Bonnechere Algonquin First Nation.