What does it mean to be Canadian?
With the current atmosphere in the country and the discovery of 215 aboriginal children’s unmarked graves in Kamloops, followed by the awful Saskatchewan discoveries and more to follow, I think it’s a question we should all ask ourselves. What and Who are Canadians?
Prior to colonization Canada was inhabited by indigenous people. People that lived on the land that we now call home. Even the name Canada is believed to come from the Huron – Iroquois word “Kanata”, meaning village or settlement. However we tend to mark history from the time of the French and English arrival, followed by other Europeans, Fur Trappers, fishermen, missionaries and explorers, all expanding their territory. In the hopes of finding freedom and wealth in this new land.
What the Fur Trappers brought was an economic boom to the indigenous people who now had a European market for the furs, that up to now had only been for personal use, food, shelter, clothing. They also brought progress and more people.
I’m not a history major by any means, much more likely to study human nature and the impact we have on each other. Tragically human nature can take on a form of entitlement, greed and selfishness, not always but often enough to mention it. We see something we like and want to own it, to have it for our self. If not the item, then we want one just like it. Ive watched people do what ever it takes to get that item. Discontent with what we have and wanting more. Believing we somehow have a right to it.
Sadly that’s a major part of Canadas history. This expansive land full of natural resources and wide open spaces was desired and wanted by many. It was an opportunity for a new type of life. It also expanded the empire of French and British colonies. Seek and conquer is as old as history itself.
So where did this leave the original inhabitants of this True North Strong and Free Land? Was there a way to coexist and to create a culture that celebrated the diversity? A culture that used our strengths for the common good? At first this cohabitation did exist, with the French crown calling the indigenous people allies. They needed each other for the growth of fur trade and the bringing of goods to Europe and back from Europe. They intermarried and worked together in military alliances. Even participating in political activity at the time. It worked….for awhile.
The French initiated a type of reserve that invited the native people in close to the French so they could share in agricultural endeavorers. The British on the other hand moved the people onto designated lands so they could attain the agriculture land for their settlement.
It just got worse from there. Again, I’m not a history buff but I have researched the things I have shared here. More and more oppression happened, much heartache and hostility directed at the Indigenous people. Reserves and Residential schools are the result of this dark painful history.
So here we sit, 215 sweet children’s graves are found, and many others being found. Children that were vulnerable and victim to a system based on conquer, ignorance and pride.
Now that these stories are coming out to the general public, the stories the indigenous people have always known, where do we go from here? What will bring the Truth and Reconciliation moving forward into the healing required? Into the healing deserved? What part do you and I play in this process?
My heart Breaks………
We are now 200 – 300 years later trying to reestablish what we could have had all along, a coexistence. Now we have much pain and heartache to reconcile. Generations to find healing and restoration. I’m so sorry to be in anyway a part of the hurt. I honestly want to be part of the healing. If you are a part of the problem also be part of the solution.
My original question was this, What does it mean to be a Canadian? To live in this “True North strong and Free”? Until we are all free, none of us are free.