Here’s the side of our heritage
That we would rather hide.
Canadian’s pride often resides
In playing “nice”. Everybody loves us
Because we are “tolerant” not “racist” like
Our neighbours to the south.
But does that bear a closer look?
In a word – “No”.
This blog says it all,
If it makes your feel small
Or makes your anger tall,
Then there is resonance for you.
Be truthful. Especially with yourself.
Don’t distance and deny an attitude
That can’t be hidden.
Let’s really look at what happened.
The truth is simple:
1. There were millions of people living here when the explorers came from Europe.
These people had a wonderful relationship with the Earth,
They had excellent social structures and a culture that was honourable. Far more honourable than the European one, which supplanted it. They valued tradition, family, the heart, the spirit, and especially the Earth.
2. Our ancestors came looking for a way to make money. They valued money, status, religion, and mental intelligence. They were not well connected with the Earth and they believed that they had to fight and kill to survive. They were not interested in co-operating or co-existing.
They took the gifts the people offered them in friendship. But they weren’t interested in having new friends, so they didn’t stop there. They took their land, a little here and a little there. Still the people had pity on them and helped cure them when they were ill. But possessed by the greediness that drove them, our ancestors formed companies and urged the people to kill more animals than they needed to, and lured them unsuspecting, into the poisons of capitalism and alcohol. Like a horrid infestation, our ancestors stamped their way of life onto the land, not interested in working with Nature. They used germ warfare and killed many of the people with smallpox.
3. When they had them down to a safe number. They decided they needed to break their way of life and not just disrupt it. They forced the people onto reservations, which no longer allowed the men to hunt as they always had. This demoralized the men. Yet the women were the backbone of the Aboriginal society and they were still strong. So our ancestors did something so dastardly, I rage as I repeat it here.
They passed a law requiring the children to be removed from the people for ten months of the year. They gave the children to the Catholic Church and fed them poorly. Some children died. Others were abused. But all suffered terribly from the loss of their families. This demoralized the women and disrupted the families and the natural passage of the culture.
At the schools the children were forbidden to speak their language. They were given non-nutritious food and bribed with candy. They were beaten into submission. They were not allowed their heritage.
Our ancestors did it to assimilate (destroy) the Aboriginal culture.
But in this world, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
So now, the media and video games have taken our children from us. We feel powerless to stop this. Our original culture is being usurped by Hollywood and television. Our families are disrupted. School takes our children for ten months of the year and few of us can homeschool because of financial pressures. Many of us are on drugs for depression. Many of us are ill. Many others feel the need to drown the sorrows of their lives in alcohol. Our food supply has become ever more questionable. We are often more isolated than ever despite technology that should bring us together. Religion is failing us in many regards, due to all the scandals we know about.
In light of what happened to the Aboriginals, it does seem like poetic justice, doesn’t it? What was that verse? Oh yeah, the sins of the father are visited on the sons unto the third generation. Some might say – what goes around comes around.
But it does seem like – what we dished out to them is coming back to us now. How to stop it?
Be honest. Are you racist? We all learned the history from the conqueror’s point of view in school. Take another look – find out the truth. And then take a good hard look at your reactions to the media reports on anything about Aboriginals or more importantly to the Aboriginals in your daily life.
Look into what the Residential Schools were and ask yourself – what if that were my family, my child? How would that affect me? What would my family life be like after that? Would I be angry? Would I want some redress? What would it take to make something like that right?
Then read this article:
a halfbreed`s reasoning
Not All Classrooms Are Created EqualPosted on January 21, 2014 by SAMANTHANOCK
Through the years I’ve developed a thick skin; I have gotten used to snide remarks by teachers about my “special Aboriginal status”, and rude remarks from my peers about my free school and “special yearly Native cheques” the government apparently gives me because I’m Native.
The government is about 22 years behind in payments.
There are few things I hear that surprise me or ever really hurt me, like they used to. I’ve spent too many of my few years on this earth angry, hurt, and sad because of the words of racists… but every now and then, there will be something that is like a slap in the face: something will happen that usurps my outward shell. Today was one of those days.
It was not so much bigoted words uttered, but instead a simple knee jerk reaction from a classmate. I was giving a presentation in a class and had brought up Indigenous protest to the topic at hand… and there it was: this kid rolled his eyes. It wasn’t a subtle, maybe-there’s-an-eyelash-in-there roll, it was a straight up dramatic, get-this-kid-an-Oscar-because his acting is on point, eye roll.
My first reaction to my peers eye roll was to launch across the table and show him just what 500 years of colonization feels like … but instead I just let it go in that moment and left the class personally flustered, frustrated, and kind of empty: this is the reality of being an Indigenous student in academia. I am privileged in many spaces because of how pale my father’s genetics made me, but it doesn’t negate the experiences I have had and the experiences my fellow Indigenous peers have in the classroom everyday.
For the most part, due to my degree in First Nations Studies, most of my classes are safe spaces: they are spaces where we as Aboriginal students can freely learn and be without the pressures of bigoted peers or hostile professors. But when we leave these spaces and enter our elective courses, minor requirements, or if we are not graced with being in Native Studies, we enter classrooms that sometimes feel like battlefields. I know when I enter a classroom that doesn’t hold my usual cohort of FNSP peers or members of the UBC Aboriginal community as a whole, the space is unsafe. I know, that at any point, something can be said or done that will make my heart hurt. I have left classes feeling sick to my stomach because of the things that have left my peer’s or my professor’s mouths.
This isn’t a experience that is dedicated strictly to university, these feelings have existed since elementary school. I have a plethora, as I am sure many of my Indigenous peers do as well, of anecdotes of racism from kindergarten to bachelors degree and beyond. This is not about pointing fingers at specific individuals or UBC, but there’s some cliché about snowflakes and avalanches that cements this feeling. When you are Aboriginal and you enter a classroom, and the topic of Indigenous peoples arises, there’s a surge of adrenaline because you’re bracing yourself for the worst: you’re bracing yourself to hear the same colonial stories that have been playing out since Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
Frankly, I’m sick of being poised and patient: I want action by my professors and non-Native peers to call out our fellow comrades in the classroom when oppressive situations begin to arise, because I’m exhausted. I’m exhausted of leaving the classroom feeling like the only voice shouting, I’m exhausted from coming home feeling anger in the pit of my stomach, and I’m exhausted from having to shoulder the responsibility to try and teach every person who doesn’t take the time to educate themselves.
This is my reply:
So sorry to read about the bigotry that I am aware exists. Thanks for your bravery! There is much denial in academia, who would say that Canada is a non-racist environment. This is not true. Yet most Canadians would pat themselves on the back for being "tolerant" and sneer at Americans as being "racist". Yet when it comes to the Aboriginals, we are blind to our own racist attitudes. Ironic?
Some of that no doubt comes from the fact that our ancestors did dispossess your ancestors. Maybe at some level we are afraid that there is no real way to acknowledge that, without wondering if that means that we need to leave in order to redress it. I think we can't as a nation or as individuals, deal with that. Far easier to try to discredit or minimize your pain. Not okay but likely it is the psychological undercurrent. But the truth is that no one wins when one segment of the society is treated badly. In Canada, as in the rest of the planet, we need to begin to create win:win situations, not perpetuate a system that is bringing us to the brink of disaster as a species and despair as individuals.
History needs to be taught truthfully, not from the standpoint of how wonderful the Caucasian race is and how primitive everyone else is. We seriously need the help of those who are closer to the Earth to save us from the mess we have created. We need to get the truth out there and people need to wake up and realize what they are really doing with their reactions and how hateful their attitudes are.
Everyone deserves love, acceptance (not just tolerance), and freedom to be who they are. We need the talents of all to help us find our way back to a sustainable future and a compassionate world.