Growing up in Canada: One Canadian's acquired knowledge and experiences about ‘Indians’
I am a researcher by profession … an educational researcher. I am from a historically conservative rural/small town Ontario family, mainly refugees from the potato famine in Ireland, subsistence farmers, and horse people … people who understand and respect the land … people who picked stones out of the rocky land for generations without complaint, grateful for the living and the opportunity and the freedom it gave them.
I didn’t have to do any research to know the truth about Canada’s treatment of the Indigenous people who gave us shelter in this harsh land. It is part of the oral tradition in my family. My grandfather taught me respect for the knowledge and talents of Indigenous people … especially where it had to do with horses. My grandmother taught me compassion for “those poor poor people”.
My mother carried on that compassion … and she taught me why.
My mother had no tolerance for drunkeness or laziness. She would cross the street to avoid someone looking for a handout … unless it was an Indigenous person, in which case she would cross the street to give them some of her very hard-earned money and a few kind words. For some reason, she considered them more worthy. “They haven’t been treated very well.” she said. When I was older I asked “Who didn’t treat them well … us? “The government.”, she whispered (though we were alone in our own kitchen), and she told me not to say that to anyone.
Stricken by the poverty I saw at a reserve where we went for a baseball game, I asked my Mother “Why do they stay here.” She said “It’s beautiful here … (and it was)… and then she added “If they leave, the government will take their land. Shhh … don’t say that out loud.” “That’s not right!” I said. “Shhh.”, she said.
A few years before he died … about eight years ago … my stepfather talked about the war … WWII … which he spent inside a tank always wondering when a grenade would be thrown in … because they couldn’t see out and couldn’t keep it closed long as it was unbearably hot. They depended heavily on their scouts and snipers to clear the way for them. Those scouts and snipers were usually Indigenous men. He spoke of his great respect for their knowledge, talents and their incredible courage. “They were each worth two of us … we depended on them … and we were all the same there … and yet when they came back from the war they were treated … like dirt … they didn’t get the same pension as us and they couldn’t even go to the legion for a beer with us.” My stepfather was a quiet, peaceful, accepting man and the whirlwind that was us and our familes and our passionate ways often swirled around him, laughing or yelling, and he was always the calm in the storm. This was the first time (in 28 years) that I had ever heard him speak passionately … angrily … more than that …
He was white with fury.
I know why he told me … My passion for social justice was sometimes at the middle of the family whirlwind … but he wanted me to carry on that passion … so here I am.
Canada and that “SHHH” word
I admit it … I am shocked and very disappointed that there are not more Canadians actively supporting Six Nations' right to fair and honourable treatment without violence. Many Canadians know the same truths as I do. I guess it has to do with that “Shhh” word. Canadians are not supposed to talk about the way our government has abused, discarded, defrauded, murdered and oppressed Indigenous people. It is still not ‘polite’ to say that our Canadian government is guilty of centuries of criminal acts against indigenous people. It is certainly not polite to say that those criminal acts continue today.
My country is founded on a lie … the lie that this land was uninhabited … was “discovered” by Europeans. It wasn’t. It was stolen by devious means … pretending to be allies, making peace treaties but never intending to honour them, betraying the allies who helped us survive in this harsh land … who saved us from being part of the U.S. … stealing their land and resources and the money from their government accounts that was intended to fund their future, providing conditions of life for them that led to their deaths in large numbers, tacitly endorsing abuse and murder … trying to force them to assimilate and become Canadians, never affording their communities the support that other Canadian communities receive, even today … enlisting help from corporations that poison the land and the water … thus poisoning their food as their land and resources are stolen … mass murder carried out over generations … carried out still … right now …
March 27, 2003: Clearcut Defiance
Wednesday, November 22, 2006: First Nation wants mine project stopped
Or try here:
Canada’s (“SHHH”) ‘Indian’ residential schools
Canada mandated, funded and supervised the ‘Indian’ residential schools. Canada has acknowledged physical and sexual abuse in the residential schools. Sexual abuse was rampant and untrestrained in the residential schools, before the days of birth control. What happened to the babies?
There is a CBC movie called “Butterbox Babies” that describes what happened to these "mixed race" babies from one area in eastern Canada. They were murdered and buried in butterboxes.
There is an eye witness account of a residential school in the west that had rows of baby skeletons hidden in its foundation, uncovered when the school was torn down in 1972.
Are we to believe that this practice skipped from one coast to the other without occurring elsewhere in the country? Not according to my mother: “It wasn’t just there.”, she said with great intensity, "We all knew."
It was common (“SHHH”) knowledge back then. It was, I believe, the primary reason for her compassion.
"WHY would Canada do all that?", you may ask.
Because the land that we call Canada still legally belongs to the Indigenous people, but Canada does not want to acknowledge that because Canada has been profiting from their land and resources ... so it has traditionally tried to oppress them, keep them in poverty, keep them in jail, keep them down, keep them quiet ... while we steal their land ... "SHHH"!
Where to now Canada?
The media’s current negative campaign against the traditional Haudenosaunee people of Six Nations is just another part of a long Canadian tradition of trying to force traditional people assimilate … become ‘Canadian’ like the rest of us ... and mainly, to GIVE UP THE LAND TO CANADA. However, the traditional people will not give up their traditional ways, and they will not give up their title to their land. Now that the land is becoming polluted, they are stepping up to fulfill their responsibilities to care for the land for the ‘coming faces’, because Canada is not doing that: Canada is draining the land of its ability to support life.
Canada’s hidden war of aggression against Indigenous people is now hobbled by instant mass communication, international law, UN oversight, and thus a need for at least some superficial public displays of concern ... like the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.
Canada is now confined to even more devious means, tacitly supporting manipulation of and by the media, planting people on discussion boards, harassing and intimidating Canadians who speak out against injustice, stalling, demeaning, and still using violent aggression against Indigenous people as we saw on April 20, 2006 in Caledonia.
There is a lot of Canadian oral history of the 19th and 20th centuries that more recent Canadian arrivals don’t know … because it was hidden, spoken of in whispers … and it still is. It is time to speak up. It is time for Canadians to tell the government: We KNOW what you have been doing and we do not approve!! It is important that Canadians know … when you are complicit with the government in hiding the genocide against Indigenous people, you are guilty of a crime under the UN protocol of 1948. Our government expects us to act like criminals … hide the truth … “for Queen and country”??
I think not!
Oh Canada … my Canada … will you find a new and honourable way to live in peace with our closest neighbours and allies? … or will you find new and devious means to steal their land and resources and silence the traditional people? Will Canada seek peace … or lead us into generations of strife trying to protect the proceeds of its crimes?
Will Canada ever be a country I am proud to leave to my grandchildren … or will it continue to be a deceitful and vicious fraud? Will Canada continue to ‘SHHH’ the people who know the truth? Will Canada ever ‘grow up’ and behave decently?
There is a resurgence of strength and conviction among traditional Indigenous people today. The residential schools took a huge toll on the elders, and many died too young. Consequently, their population is young, half of them are children or youth. They are educated, they are healthy … and their eyes are open. They see the hypocrisy of Canada clearly. They see the subtle and blatant racism and genocide that is Canada’s policy. They know the oral history … and they don’t say “Oh, poor us, oh poor me.”
They say: WE ARE GOING TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS!
And they are. They are reclaiming their land and their sovereignty. ... and if you think "we can't afford it" ??
And I support them 100%. Our goals are exactly the same:
They want Canada to act respectfully and honourably.
I want Canada behave respectably and honourably!!
... that's just another lie our government wants us to believe.
What IS the value of common decency!?!