Cruelly, during the nights
215 heartbeats silenced
Bodies dumped out of sight
As a Canadian I must watch this unfold. I can not look away and pretend it didn’t happen. It’s so important that we not only pay respect to these children and their families but that we, as a nation, recognize the horrors that played out on our own shores. And within our life times as these aren’t stories from old. There is also way more to be uncovered, literally, on this sad commentary from our past, as this will not be the last site that has unmarked graves. One was found in Manitoba a couple of years ago. The Truth and Reconciliation Report needs to become required reading and not just used as a paper weight. I had started reading it on holidays in 2017 (during what was called Canada’s 150th ironically enough) but have not picked it back up. I need to do better.
Not my child, not my issue
DO NOT TURN AWAY
We must make this discontinue
The last residential school closed in Saskatchewan 1996. I was an adult living in this province and caring for Indigenous patients. I had no concept at that time that they were still taking children from their parents and “assimilating” them. In 1996 I had 9 and a 7 year old. It seems inconceivable to me as a parent and a Canadian that this was happening to children and that their parents had no recourse. Imagine if it had been my white child that someone had abducted. The police and the neighbourhood would have come out in force and if worst came to worst their picture would have been published on the side of the milk carton. Who spoke up for the indigenous during those years? Not their neighbours, not the police and certainly not the government who governed. This link https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/indigenous-suffrage is a really good article that details the years of neglect and abuse by the federal government despite what they often repeated to the Indigenous. Even Diefenbaker succumbed to the political pressure that “too many Indian votes” could harm his re-election despite the fact that he worked hard to ensure their civil liberties were granted and he saw that the laws changed.
Dums beating in pain
Honouring the lives lost
So easy now to lay blame
It would be easy to just cast all the responsibility at the foot of the Canadian government and the alter in any Catholic Church. But it doesn’t take much reflection to know that a)we elect those that represent us and b)individuals are responsible more so than the Catholic faith (to be fair there were other religious sects that had schools but it always seems to be the Catholic ones that get the publicity). I think back to Second World War and how ordinary German’s lived right beside Auschwitz, Dachau and the other concentration camps. They saw men, women and children file in and must have known that the space wasn’t big enough for the volume of the trains worth of people. What about the citizens across Canada who lived near a Residential School? They had to have an inkling that these children were not treated well. How about the school superintendent’s who’s job it was to make sure guidelines were met? Could they not see in the eyes of the children how beaten and bruised they were both physically and mentally? How about the doctors who cared for the sick or the farmer who supplied food – could they not see that these children were suffering from malnourishment? How about the families of those that took in foster children in the 50’s and 60’s? Did they not feel like perhaps these Indigenous children would be better off with their parents? Did they ask why these children needed a home?
So it turns out each of us who call ourselves Canadian, that are of the settler descent, have a responsibility now to step forward and learn the truth. Even if that means, like the South Africans post apartheid, that we have specific educational sessions we must “attend”. I remember one of the South African Doctors I worked with telling me that every night they had to watch an hour of television testimony of what apartheid had done to the Indigenous there. So along with paying our taxes we should all be required to read the 94 recommendations in the Truth and Reconciliation Report and we should push our government for these items to be ticked off faster than they have been since the report came out. It’s a sad state of affairs that only 10 items have been completed and 24 have not even been commenced. The following article does indeed provide a report card and it certainly isn’t a glowing one. https://ualbertalaw.typepad.com/faculty/2020/03/reconciliation-report-card-beyond-94-update.html.
We need to do better as a country.
Lip service is not enough
Change starts with us and it’s our responsibility.
I have read some really good blog posts and articles about the deplorable state of the justice system, basic living conditions and government inaction. I follow a very educational blogger who is going to highlight issues every Monday for June which is Indigenous Month which I think is a great way to share information. Her blogs are so well written with great fact checking and an interesting presentation. You can find her here at https://robbyrobinsjourney.wordpress.com/, I also follow a blogger who writes eloquently from her heart and has several posts that call us to action and they can be found at http://dareboldly.com/2021/06/04/more-than-just-a-lost-boy/
Recognizing the two hundred and fifteen
Barely scratches the surface of our demons
We have a long way till we “come clean”
There is more to come in the 94 calls to action. There is more to come in mass grave sites. The outstanding list is long. Reconciliation does not take place in one reading or encounter nor does it makes us “come clean” but it is what we must do for education and awareness. I am going to continue my readings. My plan is to be back with an update on June 21st which is National Indigenous Peoples Day. Till then think deeply and feel the pain. I know I do. Time is now to decolonize our minds.
A friend shared this link with me and said it is a very powerful message and worth the time. Hopefully the link works (I don’t always have the best of luck with videos linking up. Find it here at https://vimeo.com/321909285 This film is one of the responses of the Anglican Church’s Primate’s Commission on discovery reconciliation and justice. The purpose of this film is to respond to the calls to action by helping to provide education and insight into the racist foundations of many of our property and other laws still in existence to this day.