Sunday, May 30, 2021

Canada's Shame

 



Last week, the remains of 215 children - some as young as 3 YEARS OLD were found on the grounds of a residential school in British Columbia.  The horrific reality is that it is almost a certainty that every single residential school in Canada will reveal a similar horror.  Canada's history of genocide with respect to the Indigenous peoples in this country is unequivocal and utterly terrible - and is compounded by the continued prejudice, racism and treatment of the Indigenous population today.  Many Indigenous communities continue to have NO access to clean water - keeping in mind many of these communities exist only because these groups were RIPPED from their ancestral lands and forced to go to places that were unsustainable and foreign to their way of life.  Indigenous people continue to be disproportionately represented in the penal system - they continue to be denied basic rights to food, education and dignity of person.  Indigenous women are routinely and disproportionately "lost" - murdered with no one caring what has happened to them.

And Canada continues to deny, tiptoe around and downplay the concerted and deliberate genocide of entire nations of Indigenous people through the benignly labelled "residential schools".  To be clear, the reality is that children as infants and as young as 2 or 3 were STOLEN from their families and communities and thrust into primarily religious-based residential schools where they were punished (horribly) for speaking their own language, sexually abused, beaten, tormented and MURDERED all with zero repercussions to the perpetuators of these horrors.  And to be clear, these "schools" functioned well into the 1970s and 80s!  

The consequences and end result of this trauma reverberates to this day.  Torn away from their families, denied their culture, denigrated, beaten, sexually abused, these children were then thrown out into society with zero support and then told THEY were the issue when they were unable to function in a healthy way.

Every single residential school MUST be forensically checked and these CHILDREN must be FOUND and returned to their communities. Canada must have a national Day of Mourning not just out of respect for the horror these children endured but as a reminder and ongoing admittance that current and future citizens MUST NEVER FORGET.

Make no mistake - residential schools were a concerted, deliberate and systemic attempt to eradicate Canada's First Nations - to obliterate and destroy the cultures, the language and the reality of nations that had flourished and existed long before the white colonists were still in caves.

I have a couple of my own stories that I will relate shortly but I am so overwhelmed at the horror right now i can barely think...

Several years ago, there was a terrible bus crash in Humboldt where 16 (white) hockey players were killed.  It is awful, yes, but the absolute measure of horror, help and outrage over that was so disproportionately HUGE and an immediate day of mourning was announced.... 215 small children are discovered in mass graves and so far NOTHING.... Racism is alive and well and functioning in Canada....


ARTIST IS KENT MONKMAN,  A CREE ARTIST WHO EXPLORES THEMES OF COLONIALIZATION

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Scars

Your STOP last night when I spoke out of turn shocked me and the instant reaction reminded me of the fragility of scars....

My body, as all bodies do, bears the story of my life, the vicissitude, the pain, the detritus of a life lived and the events that form and mark us. The faint white lines on my wrists speak of teenage angst and despair. A thin, white slightly raised scar starts on the ball of my thumb, twisting sinuously around the shaft of the thumb then onto the meat of the palm - a reminder of being so exhausted and worn out, juggling 4 small children, working nights, feeding, cleaning and an attempt to rip open a recalcitrant cat food tin with an old rusty can opener while simultaneously holding a babe on one hip, two pulling at my body with childish demands. And the blood arching out, shocking crimson and the SOUND which to this day I can recall.. a wet, whistling sound as blood spurted and splashed against the cabinets and little M's face, shocked and white. I remember standing and watching the blood pumping out of my palm and saying quietly, reassuringly, "dearest M, go get mummy a towel honey, ok?" - putting the baby down into his playpen, then taking the towel and kissing M and saying, I'm fine, honey, really! and suppressing the cries I wanted to make for fear of frightening her more.... I remember with an almost perfect recall, taking a deep breath and turning on the water until running hot it sluiced like a razor into the gaping wound (gristle and bone visible)- and then when I felt it was enough, squeezing Polysporin into the red gash and using duct tape to close it.... Driving M. to school, wrestling a toddler and two babies into the car and out again, stopping at the walk-in and it not being open Mondays and contemplating and dismissing the hospital (not with 3 small kids!). For the next several weeks morning and night gritting my teeth, peeling off saturated gauze and duct tape, cleaning with hydrogen peroxide and squeezing in antibiotic cream and closing again with duct tape...

The scar on my shin from the horrific crushing of a ridiculous and quixotic cycling accident, steel rods and plates inserted from ankle to knee.... now so faint I have to search. For having pale, fragile skin that is remarkably resilient when all is said and done, assisted by a quirky child's home-made concoction of Vitamin E and other fresh herbs pounded and gelled together so that on check-ups nurses would call their fellow workers to see how remarkably I was healing...

Those scars, corporeal and real, touchable and solid healed well.... but at your STOP the thin fragile skin which lay atop the scars of emotional pain and deep, aching angst quivered and ripped and the pulsing realness lying beneath is once again exposed... so many hours and days and weeks and months and YEARS of work and one simple word undoes my hard, aching work. Yet not completely. Not entirely.

I am aware, painfully so of your own despair and pain, of your inability to grapple with the emotions which buffet and wound.

And I still stand today. I feel some despair and real frustration that my desperate measures to find a modicum of peace are so easily swayed ... yet, yet .... it does not bring me to my knees as it once did. I snapped back last night, denied the anger, repudiated the censure, refused to be cowed or made silent... though the reality is I am the crab and for me my first and most reassuring reaction is to pull myself in to my hard shell, to NOT cower but protect, to scuttle under the overhanging rock and nestle deep in my quiet, dark place where the rhythmic pulse of the ocean calms me and the quiet, white noise lulls me to that grey place....


Sunday, February 14, 2021

Daybreak

I shiver and pull the heavy, dark blanket of depression over myself, shuddering slightly at the musty odour which emanates from its scrathcy surface. Despite the weight, layers upon layers of angst and sorrow, of broken promises and shattered dreams, of goals not met and hope broken, all woven into the cloth of its making, it doesn't warm. Rather, as I stand beneath the increasing weight of expectation and despair, I feel colder. Not only does it fail to warm, but it feels damp and frsot begins to worm its way into my bones, and the pale, freckled expanse of skin, always pale, blooms cooler and bluish. The dreary, endless February days don't help... the frigid cold, the enforced solitutde due to COVID, the monotone of snow and ice, the monolithic trees standing grey amongst the drifting storm. Winter is like a snapshot from the past before Colour brightened and lit the landscape with promise, black and white tones and blue of drifts. Snow clings to the bare limbs of trees, yawning to a drifting sky, muted and obscured by the breath of falling snow. Evergreens, muted in the early morning gleam, stand palely in the soft light, while ice spills in a frozen stream over the reddish hue of the exposed Canadian shield . In the hollows of the forest beside the stream are steel blue shadows, whispering, sliding into the palest of blues then into cream and palest white, the surfaces smooth and untouched yet by foot or paw or wind. Dragging my own self-made hair shirt, trailing tendrils of despair and shivering within its cold embrace, I slip drearily to the kitchen to put on the coffee to drink energy into the beginning of yet another pointless day.