Monday, Oct. 18 was history making in the lives of all Canadians. I wonder how many of us witnessed it?
Our Prime Minister did show up at the Truth and Reconciliation Ceremony in Kamloops and spoke eloquently and brilliantly in response to the many speeches by men and women who were survivors of Residential schools. He did not, however, make any firm commitments. Each speaker drew a very clear, tragic picture for Trudeau and those of us who witnessed it. A picture of survival against so many terrible odds.
We and Trudeau heard of the consequences for generations of children who were torn forcibly by the RCMP from their families, who were forced to give up their language, who were taught to be ashamed of their culture and were deprived of love and subjected to abuse, physical as well as sexual.
We heard of how these damaged men and women were unsuccessful at parenting, of showing love to their children, of depression and despair, seeking relief in alcohol, drugs and of the many suicides and early deaths that resulted. We also heard of the strength and resilience of these people to survive such institutionalized attempts to eradicate them.
As Non Indigenous Canadians, we need to understand our true history. Our government institutions, schools and churches failed to teach us what really was happening to our fellow citizens for generations. We were raised in a culture, as Trudeau said, of systematic racism. Thankfully, in B.C. schools today, First Nations values are being taught including respect for the land, the forests, oceans and all those who dwell within them.
But it is up to each Canadian to educate ourselves and put aside generations of Colonial biases to improve not only the lives and futures of Indigenous people living today who are working to heal, but to work towards an understanding and appreciation for the value and the great store of knowledge their Culture possesses of the land, rivers and oceans, as well as their spiritual values.
Being receptive to the thousands of years of knowledge passed down orally through their dances, stories and art, will greatly enrich us as a nation.
Only through education about the horrors of residential schools as well as the evils and damage done by the Indian Act can we move forward. We need to build a new bond of acceptance of our First Nations as equal and worthy of our respect and regard.
Hopefully, if we all work together we can help Canada win respect again in the eyes of the world.
More importantly, only through education about our true history will we heal as a nation. We owe this to our fellow Canadians: Metis, Inuit and First Nations with whom we share this marvellous country called Canada.Frankie Dosen