There have been unmarked graves found in various Indian Boarding Schools. We knew there were bodies and we know there were bodies which were burnt up in the furnaces of those schools. Canada has down played it and public messages have been "it was long ago." I am only 60 years old and I was there. Lot of my relatives were there. The funny thing is people, the general Canadian doesn't even care. This will be one those media events that will be forgotten and be a footnote in history. The general distain against Indigenous folk will go on. The Canadian, the "Old Stock Canadian" will continue to look down on the Indigenous people. New-comers will be sold the same old goods and carry the message - "Those people are no good."
This is the way it is. Just like we are sold a tale that the immigrants are no good, the Palestinians are no good, the Chinese are no good, the Russians are no good, and only the American's, the British, the French, are good. I have met people who did not know I was Anishinaabe and spoke openly, candidly about my people, my relatives, my family. What do you think was said? When you yourself speak to your confidants, what filter do you use? You are in your circle so you speak with no real filter, no subtle messages, no you speak openly; "those people are no good."
I picked up this young man on the streets in Winnipeg. He was being chased by a group of men. I got him to jump in my vehicle and we took off. I took him to a Tim Horton's coffee shop to calm down. He told me about what happened. In his story he told me, he tried not to hang around Aboriginal people because they were trouble. I didn't say anything to him. He asked me to drive him home and to wait until he got into his house. This young man was "ethnic." I felt good and bad for him. He was sold a tale that "those people are no good."
I was driving some people to Kenora Ontario. On our way we picked up a man who was hitch-hiking. He was very grateful. As our conversations got going we found a tale of woe. He was a young man from Toronto, he was Pakistanis. His company was owned by Indian people (India) and they had been cruel to him. Since he had no Canadian status, he was treated very badly. He was not being paid; he was on longer trips before being home; he had no money to eat; they company promised to put money in his bank account so he could eat but did not. They fired him and took the truck away from him while he was in Manitoba. He was under a lot of stress because they threatened to report him to customs and make up lies about him if he did not continue to work under their conditions. We were shocked by how cruel his company was to him. Eventually the conversation turned to us, being Indians (Canadian Indigenous) and he said "you people get everything for free." We spoke with him about the real way Canada is with our people. We ended up driving him to the outskirts of Kenora, we bought him food and gave him some money for the rest of his journey. Not sure if we changed his mind about "those people are no good."
My neighbours in Winnipeg consist of a German married to an Ojibwe, a Barbados married to a white woman, an Iranian family. The Iranian family seem to be devote Muslims. Our neighbours are friendly folk. I get to hear about their previous lives in their homelands. From my Iranian neighbours it is clear they too had a very narrow view of the Indigenous folk in Canada. We have had many a conversation and have many exchanges, neighbourly things like borrowing tools, helping with small tasks and everyday living. The neighbour has become very candid with the common (widely held) view of Indians in Canada. He has quickly learned what he had learned was a lie; "those people are no good."
It seems I have become a broken record with my writing, I keep trying to humanize us, while trying to expose a needless hatred towards us. Years ago in my undergrad I wrote a paper about Canada's hypocrisy; "Tarnish in Canada's Moral Amour." I felt quite pleased with the title. I explored the soft power of Canada's influence in world politics with its humanitarian reputation and how that reputation was built on a lie. In any case I envisioned Canada as this majestic knight with gleaming armour. The real truth was there was holes of brown metal, like when the corner panels of your Ford Galaxy start to rust away. We are now witnessing in real time the cancer on the metal (rust stains on cars are called cancer) called Canada. Canada is indeed full of rust, full of cancer. Canada will apologize, maybe even have the Prime Minister shed a tear or two on television. Canada will try to calm the Indians with some token amounts of money for a few select lobby groups and program agencies. The general public will be upset (again) with Indians getting money for free. All the while families continue to live with the pain, the grief of what Canada has done to "those no good people," meaning us.
I agree: Canada is indeed full of rust, full of cancer. As well as the other colonizers who were writing their books as victors.ReplyDelete
The payment is due - they owe us big.
Don't give up writing - ever! Please, brother.
Miigwech for the cool words. Yes it is a struggle to keep sharing a voice. Sometimes I wonder if people hear the voice and get sad, but when I get a comment like yours I beam. It makes me feel good, even validated. I know my voice is small in a chamber full of loud, informed, worthy, unworthy, wise and wild voices.ReplyDelete