So many generations have gone through the education system and not learned the truth of residential schools, of our collective history. So, in our own lack of awareness, how do we guide kids?
Look to the people who are contributing to the wellness of our world, for guidance; who ask: how do we be together? Like Monique Gray Smith, children’s book author, who says, “kindness is a salve right now, it lowers cortisol, the stress hormone. If you want to contribute, be kind!”
Be kind to yourself, for what you didn’t know. And as you learn and know better, do better.
A huge part of the learning and unlearning process, I have found, is realizing that things I thought couldn’t possibly have happened, because they were just so unimaginably cruel, actually happened. I realized that my personal ethical lines (‘surely no-one could be subjected to something that horrific’) are my blindspot. That people I was taught to trust and respect – teachers, police officers, nuns, authorities – were often perpetrators. Taking the blinkers off then opens us to a real loss of innocence, disillusionment and horrible heart-ache, a pain that we’ve been protected from, as non-indigenous people, and so we also need to learn what to do with that kind of pain in our own bodies. We need to learn a whole set of healing and self-care tools, so that we can sit with the discomfort that comes up, so we can right-size ourselves so our pain isn’t always centred, but is honoured, and processed and freed to enable us to witness the stories of indigenous people, without denying people’s truth. In this way, we can contribute to the work of metabolizing the trauma that has been at large in our culture and society, instead of ignoring it and allowing it to metastasize.
I take heart in the words of Tanina Williams, who has worked with young people throughout this territory, who said, the kids can do this. They get it.
The explanation can start simply, says Monique Gray Smith: “For a very long time in this country there were laws that sent indigenous children to schools that were far away from their homes, and in those schools really bad things happened. The laws were put in place because indigenous people were seen as inferior, and their ways were not held with dignity or respect.”
In this video, Monique share tips on both talking to kids about Residential Schools, and also how to prepare yourself as the adult to have these conversations. The video is for parents, grandparents, educators…anyone really with children in their lives.
Also included are a number of author tips of books to read, podcasts, etc to deepen and continue your learning.
Learn more about Monique Gray Smith at https://www.moniquegraysmith.com/
Books: My Heart Fills with Happiness, Illustrated by Julie Flett, Published Orca Book Publishing
You Hold Me Up, Illustrated by Danielle Daniel, Published Orca Books
When We Are Kind, Illustrated by Nicole Neidhardt, Published Orca Books
Lucy and Lola (The Journey Forward): Published by McKellar and Martin
Speaking our Truth: A Journey of Reconciliation, Published by Orca Book Publishing
Tilly: A Story of Hope and Resilience, published by Sono Nis Press
Tilly and the Crazy Eights, published by Second Story Press
Coming Soon: I Hope published by Orca Book Publishers