October 1st – News & Views

Today is the beginning of a new month so it is time to move forward with a new theme. This month, my challenge will be to focus each day on one news story and present my personal take on it. I am hoping to find at least as many positive stories as negative and to branch out to as many media outlets as possible, to include as much variety and as many point of views as possible.

To start things off, the ‘news & views‘, let’s look at Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation which was celebrated yesterday. As Canadians, we have been asked to set aside this day annually to honor the victims, survivors, and generational survivors of the native residential schools that operated across Canada for over a century and a half.

Countless indigenous and non-indigenous people came together, many wearing orange shirts, to remember the more than 150,000 Native, Inuit, and Metis children who were torn from their families, deprived of their heritage and culture, and often uncared for and physically (and/or sexually) abused in these schools. Thousands of these children perished from illness or injury. Thousands of others simply vanished into unmarked graves or unknown whereabouts.

Yesterday, there were official speeches on government grounds, native dances and demonstrations, school programs, picnics and birthday parties for the lost little ones, and obviously many calls for Truth and Reconciliation.

In my view –

  • The truth about native residential schools has been hidden and denied for way too long. The truth needs to be told and acknowledged by Canadians. It is a national disgrace but facing the truth is a crucial beginning to addressing any situation.
  • The Truth needs to include the full extent of damage done to Native, Inuit, and Metis people. The trauma that has been afflicted will not vanish with a cheque, a handshake, or one day of remembrance per year.
  • While the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation sounds good, I am not sure how much it will accomplish. These big gestures aimed to bring Canadians together, more often than not, seem to drive us apart.
  • IMHO The only way forward to reconciliation is through respect, compassion, understanding, consideration and genuine remorse on the part of non-indigenous Canadians and a genuine desire to heal and reconcile on the part of Native, Inuit, and Metis Canadians. I know that is a lot to ask of anyone who has been part of the history that they have, but it is the only way.
  • In some areas of Canada, Truth and Reconciliation will be a long time coming.

I have lived in Saskatchewan since I was three. I grew up knowing nothing of residential schools. I grew up knowing nothing about the Natives or the Inuit or the Metis. I grew up knowing nothing of segregation in Canada. I first met a Native when I was seventeen. We became friends. He came to my parents’ shop one day and stood chatting with me as Dad pumped his gas. When Dad was done he looked at us and my friend (I cannot recall his name) asked if he could go inside the office to pay. I looked at him and asked if he usually stood outside and threw the money at the counter from the the doorway. I had no clue that anyone would refuse him entry anywhere because of his heritage.

A few years later, I met a young native woman in a hospital, when we both suffered miscarriages. The staff treated me with genuine kindness and respect. I was appalled and embarrassed by how they treated my roommate.

Over the years, I have seen the divide between “us and them” in this province many times over. There is systemic racism. There are violence, and alcohol, and drug issues as a result of generations of degradation and abuse . There is anger, resentment, fear, skepticism, mistrust, and disrespect on both sides. I do not see this ending soon.

But, I do see a softening and a blurring of lines in younger and older generations. I see strength and healing happening on one side and I see respect and consideration growing on the other. I can only hope that, with time, there will be true reconciliation and healing through all generations.

That is my ‘news and views’ for today. As always, respectful comments are welcome in the comment section below.

Take care and have a great day. 💞