I remember being 18 and travelling overseas – a maple leaf sewn on my backpack, proud to be Canadian.
I remember when that changed.
It took one day eight years ago when I attended a workshop filled with statistics. Among those statistics were items like:
- 90% of the Aboriginal population perished within two generations of European contact,
- 3/100 students in residential schools passed grade 6,
- residential schools were not about education,
- Canada adopted laws and policies designed to kill off the Aboriginal population,
- 50,000 children who went to residential school remain unaccounted for,
- cover ups, lies, abuse, death, injury, loss of relationships.
This is not my Canada.
I remember feeling shocked, shamed, guilty, horrified, and confused. I remember crying once I got home. I was so angry. How is this history possible? Didn’t I go to good schools? I was ashamed by my lack of knowledge. I continue to be ashamed of my people’s lack of accountability and at their actions. No, I wasn’t there – I didn’t do these things but my people did. Those exact people are no longer here so it is up to us, their ancestors to reconcile.
Reconciliation begins with understanding. I think we need to better understand colonialism, racism, and how we practice judgment. Ignorance is not acceptable. Learn, read, deconstruct and teach others. I feel we need to teach Canada’s real history in our schools and to our children.
By learning what happened we can learn to not let it happen again, we can come together.