How did I not know this? Jill Brooksbank gets a lesson in Canada’s true history and it changes everything

Guest post by Jill Brooksbank. Photo by Dave Steers.

Brutality. Abuse. Genocide. Slavery. Think I’m referring to the Holocaust? Think again.  This is Canada’s history. The history that I’m now learning, in my late 30’s. How embarrassing.

I’ve been given the opportunity through my job to take Cultural Training Safety Training; an online course aimed at helping non-Indigenous people who work in the public sector provide better care and services to Indigenous people. I’m only half way through my course, but I’ve needed to take a few days to process what I’ve learned about our dark history so far.

I had no idea the deep impact (this is putting it very lightly) colonization had on the Aboriginal people of Canada and how it STILL affects them today. I had no idea that babies and children were torn from their families and communities to be taken to residential school with the intent of assimilation, to only receive beatings, rapings, and imprisonment. I had no idea that our Government banned Aboriginal People to hold gatherings and cultural Celebrations, I had no idea that our Government had banned Aboriginal People from going to university or obtaining a lawyer to challenge the expropriation of Traditional Land.  I had no idea that Aboriginal people who are born in Canada were, AND STILL ARE, wards of the State.

Nor did I know how much of a dick Christopher Columbus was. How does this a-hole STILL have a day named after him? Why are we celebrating the torture and pain he inflicted in the name of ‘exploration’?

As I learn more about our history, the more questions I have.

I’m at the very beginning of my learning journey. In essence, I’m attempting to unlearn everything I know and relearn our true, ugly history. Which has been hard and frankly, terrifying.

I’m still not sure what reconciliation means or how we can achieve it.  But I’m committed to learning and listening to my First Nations neighbours and Aboriginal People on how I can contribute to their healing, and how I can improve and build upon our relations.

I challenge you to join my learning journey.

My name is Jill Brooksbank, and I live in the Lil’wat Nation Traditional Territory.