I started this post with the title of Indian Humour versus Lateral Violence. It was because of meme with Ethan Bear where Indians said it was lateral violence. The meme was about Ethan Bear the National Hockey League player who is Cree. The meme was teasing about being down in the play-offs hockey series and not worrying because he had been down in Native hockey tournaments. Some Native individuals were saying it was lateral violence. I thought it was a heck of stretch to call it lateral violence, when it was clearly teasing and not even cruel teasing. My take was about the complexities, the nuance of Indian Humour and the difference to lateral violence. But then something else happened.
Two hundred and fifteen unmarked graves were discovered at Kamloops Indian Residential School. Two hundred and fifteen kids as young as three years old. Two hundred and fifteen children discarded like they were nothing; like trash. It is like when you live in the rural area and when your dog dies you just bury it somewhere out in the yard. There was no service. No Father (Priest) saying Godly blessings, reading Scripture. No family members at the grave site. No Sacred Fire lit for the deceased. No chance for anyone to wail to sob by the graveside as the body is lowered into the Earth. No cries of "no, no, no, no by a Mom, a Dad, a Sister, a Brother, an Aunty, an Uncles and the Mishoom's, the Kookum's of these children. There wasn't even the chance for the hysterical jump on the casket. There was nothing, just dumped and hidden away, never to be heard of again.
Predictably the Indians were angry, were saddened and were outraged, but they were not shocked or surprised. The gut wrenching horror of kids being killed, dying just for being Indian, like them, like us is awful, is sickening. Our people have been telling the stories of how evil the schools were for a long time. There are countless accounts of just plain cruel activity by those charged with care; with those following the Golden Rule. So there was no real surprise of finding dead kids at the Indian Residential School. So what now? There it is, right in their collective faces of genocide deniers, some dead bones for them to see.
Well there is some traction in the National media which seems to cause the political animals to bring out the claws. Even long time political foes of the Indian are growling, snarling and showing teeth. The favoured theme is to investigate, maybe have a review. It is quite funny the call is for a review when there was a Commission which did this a few years ago: "Aboriginal children attending residential schools died at higher rate than school-aged children in the general population, and were often buried in unmarked graves, according the final report from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission." The general population, including political representatives of the various levels of government are shocked about the finding of 215 dead bodies, dead children. Why do you think this is the case? After all it has been told by Elders, by families and even reported in the government report - TRC Report. It is because Canada's people don't believe atrocities can occur here in Canada (and the US). The immediate reaction is always "not here." We think of some far away place; South American jungles, war torn Eastern European conflicts, African countries, Asian sectors but not here, never here. It is easy to dismiss the horror which happens to Indigenous peoples the world over. The 215 children is an anomaly, a freak incident. "Unthinkable" is the headline of a major news station.
With politicians calling for "funds" to be provided, there is going to be the public reaction: "oh those damn Indians getting money again." There of course will be more colourful language to describe the "Indian" as there always is. Let's forget about the fact the average Canadian shouldn't be here to begin with. The enormous wealth the Canadian government (and corporations) reap from the stolen land and broken agreements with the Indigenous people. Nevertheless there will be some funds made available for programs and organizations. Canadians will be upset, the government will have felt they have pacified the Indians again. The local economy will get a boast if money is provided to Indians via jobs; as you know, give an Indian a buck and they (poor people in general) will spend the cash.
My first granddaughter had a superb angelic personality as a young child. She was very caring, overtly friendly, open and a bit emotional. If a commercial on television came on and it had a sad theme, she would express those emotions. It got to be normal for someone in the house to yell "change the channel!" So when she was sometimes sad or emotional her remedy would be to say "A popsicle will make it better." And of course we would give her a popsicle. What is going to happen is this: government will say a popsicle will make it better. You know what, a popsicle can soothe the sadness of a three-year-old, it is not enough when the babies are killed (by neglect, illness or by murder) by their supposedly care-givers. The families and the people should be heard on what is needed. The first thing people are seeking is accountability. How the government's proceed from here will be telling. There are many recommendations which have shelved from countless inquiries, review, reports and commissions. Time for government to dust off the reports (RCAP, etc.) and really, really look at what should be done. In the meantime keep the popsicle remedies to cute little children. Time to treat the Indigenous people with serious, truthful respect.