I have been blessed enough to live my life growing up with my parents around, attending good schools, and having the freedom of choice in religion.
Many Indigenous people have not. “Many” doesn’t even begin to cover just how many. Colonization of Canada saw children taken from their loving parent’s arms, families torn apart, and cultures erased through the implementation of the residential school system.
So many people are surprised when they hear the last residential schools were closed in 1996. How could this happen in our generation? Haven’t we moved forward enough? No. There are so many messed up things that have happened, and it is time to open our eyes, accept responsibility for what happened, and work together to ensure it never, ever happens again.
The hurt and loss created across Aboriginal communities is unsurmountable. It carries on to this day. Victimized by the Indian Act, residential schools, sterilization, the ’60s scoop, and colonization, we still have not reached true reconciliation.
The truth is, even though we try to keep moving forward, First Nations still experience the trauma of having their children taken away, placed in foster homes, living with distant relatives, or living in institutions.
The effects of colonization dating as far back as the original settlers hasn’t come to its completion yet. A mix of poverty, addiction, history, and politics continues to work against the First Nations. The trauma inflicted by residential schools has led many people to turn to substance abuse.
When children are taken away from their parents at a young age, they don’t learn what parenting is. They lose family values, and community behaviour between generations.
Being raised in a schooling system doesn’t teach them how a parent would act to love, nurture, and discipline their young. These children grow up to have children of their own, and they don’t have the necessary tools to parent. The art of parenting has been lost on them, since they grew up without theirs.
On goes the pattern. Creating intergenerational issues long down the line. You then have a whole society based from isolation, sadness, anger, hopelessness, and pain.
According to the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies, each nation’s culture has a foundation of original traditions and teachings passed on through generations, so that children would grow up knowing who they are, what their responsibilities are, and what would be expected of them as adults. Now, many of those teachings are being reclaimed by First Nations, Inuit, and Metis communities.
In the 2006 Statistics Canada census of population, 1,172,790 people identified themselves as an Aboriginal person, Metis, or Inuit. In Golden, there are more than 150 members of the Metis Association.
It is time to open our eyes, recognize what has been done, and truly work together to move forward in a loving and culturally accepting society.
We have come to accept so many different cultures, religions, and ways of life into ours, so what is holding us back?