The Prime Minister is afraid to speak the words: Cultural Genocide. But it is true.
7 generations lost; 150,000 children stolen; 6,000 dead under the care of the Canadian government.
Any apology on the part of “Our Government™” is too little and far too late. I entered my teaching profession in 1968,; two years later a wise elder suggested to me that I read “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” before I began teaching any more history of the Americas.
The book broke my heart. I felt ashamed to be of European origins – the endless betrayals and lies and hypocrisy of treaties broken were shameful in the extreme. When I later taught Grade 7, the novel of the time was “Copper Sunrise” by Paul Buchan, a Canadian author and teacher, and neither I nor my students could complete a reading without crying.
The first major extinction of a a native species in North America by the English fishermen in Newfoundland was not the Great Auk – it was the deliberate extermination of the Beothuk native peoples. This attitude survived and extended into the British colonial policies that would govern a new nation.
This patriachal attitude is still alive and sickly in our governance to this day, Canada became a nation in 1867. The Indian Act came into effect in 1876. Yet the shame continues with “Our Government™” still unwilling to sign the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
I now insist that all student teachers read four books before they graduate: “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” by Dee Brown, “Stolen Continents” by the exceptional Canadian author Ronald Wright, “Germs, Guns, and Steel” by Jared Diamond, and “The Inconvenient Indian” by Thomas King. Their world view, and that of their future students, will never be the same. And hopefully, never will we repeat the shame of the past.
Until then, until full compensation is made, until the Declaration is signed, we are all shamed. I bow my head and ask for your forgiveness.
This Friday, I am going north to Lake Temiskaming to participate in a Pow-Wow and a Social Justice meetiing with the students at a local school – I will pray for full and honest truth and reconciliation. Never again!
Skid Crease, teacher
There is a huge disconnect between how those who care about such issues and our politicians and bureaucrats actually deal with our First Nations, Inuit, and Metis people and the gap seems to be growing wider. Education plays a huge role in this regard because so many people in Canada are relative newcomers who don’t know our amazing history of our First Nations relationship with europeans. They don’t know that it was the First Nations people who taught them how to survive over the long winters by drinking spruce tea so they wouldn’t get scurvy which is a horrible way to die; how to hunt, fish, and survive in the woods; how to treat each other with respect, love, humility, courage, wisdom, truth, and honesty.
My Dad was a clerk and then a factory post manager with the Hudson’s Bay Company from 1942-1955 along the east coast of James Bay (Fort George which is now known as Chisasibi) and my Mom arrived there as the regional nurse in 1944 so when I was born in 1950 I was immersed in a culture that honored all people – Cree, Inuit, or european. From an historical perspective there is no doubt that the Hudson Bay Company profited in a HUGE way because of their relationship with our First Nations people and they need to be part of the Truth and Reconciliation scenario that needs to take place if we want to be a people who share this great land equitably with our First Nations brothers and sisters.
Campaigns like the “Idle No More” are extremely valuable because they are bringing First Nations and other Canadians together for a common cause. Social media like the “Feeding My Family” site on Facebook has also helped bring Inuit, First Nations and others together to realize how racist our federal government actually is. The First Nations in British Columbia and played a particularly significant role lately because of their unanimous rejection of the Northern Gateway Pipeline; the Liquid Natural Gas terminal, and the shipping of oil through the inside passage between the mainland and the islands along the west coast. We are slowly learning how to gather together as citizens with a common purpose and I am thankful for that. I truly believe we need to do it in a non violent but forceful manner.
Most politicians and CEOs of corporations don’t know how to tell the truth and they have proven this time and time and time again, so – as citizens of Canada and the world we need to start turning this whole “terrorist” mindset around because it is NOT the environmentalists who are the “terrorists” – it is the politicians; the government; big oil/gas corporations (Exxon Mobil; Kinder Morgan; Chevron; BP; Shell; Enbridge); corporations like: Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, DuPont, BASF, NESTLE, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Pepsico, Mars, Unilever, Coca Cola, Danone, General Foods, and Cargill who are the ENVIRONMENTAL TERRORISTS, NOT the rest of us. Not the citizens who care deeply about the health of our planet. Not the citizens who absolutely depend on CLEAN water for our livelihood. Not the citizens who no longer want to be poisoned by GMOs. Not the citizens who have the right to a healthy environment. Not the citizens who deserve to know what they are eating. We need to create a paradigm shift; making these points in all the courts; in ALL the media and on every website possible. We need to change our thinking and our tactics 180 degrees – we are NOT the environmental terrorists – THEY are, and THEY need to be stopped. THEY need to change the way THEY treat us, as citizens, and the way THEY treat our planet because what they are doing is ECOCIDE. These people are destroying our world and they have to be stopped. They ruthlessly exploit the poorest on the planet for their financial gain. They ruthlessly exploit Mother Earth for their financial gain as well and that is just not acceptable.