The semester is almost over and my peace and justice class is over [except for the exam] so this is the last of my “I am..” series of blogs mostly related to various peace and justice issues. The following is my stream-of-consciousness poem about what I told my students was the most important issue facing Christians in Canada today.
like many others of the teeming thousands who sought refuge on these shores we thought it was an empty land terra nullius free for the taking we were duped by the doctrine of discovery that in 1492 columbus sailed the ocean blue and discovered america at least that was what we learned in history class until my grade 7 history teacher who was metis said it was not the massacre at seven oaks it was a battle and my young brain began to realize there was another side to the story and at the time i knew nothing about little boys and girls being taken away from their parents and sent to residential schools to try to make them christians as far as i knew the history of canada started with the vikings coming to new-found-land then the french and the english duked it out while the people who lived here began to die of no buffalo and new diseases we brought it was genocide and not just cultural this is the truth
it is interesting that in 1871 when Riel lost the war in the red river valley a few years later a ship containing my ancestors landed at the forks and the government gladly gave them the land vacated by those who lost the war it was a convenient buffer and we were grateful but Riel was pushed towards the hinterlands of the north saskatchewan to dream of a land where all kinds of different people would live together in harmony but the government would have none of his crazy dreams so we killed him and when he was again defeated by government forces in 1885 guess who got the free land after that more mennonites! the same ones who another generation later in columbia drained lake sumas because it was only a mosquito infested swamp without realizing that it was the source of salmon livelihood for the nations who were fishing it and living there we may not have done the policies but we were the beneficiaries this is the truth
finally there’s been a truth and reconciliation commission after thousands have died in residential schools too many suicides and dirty water on remote reserves and hundreds of missing and murdered aboriginal women on the highways and in the cities i hope my sister is never one of them after the 60’s scooped her into our family she’s bearing the load of generations what should we do feel guilty for coming here when we have been welcomed so hospitably and we brought booze guns and dandelions to return the favour should we all go back to europe no but the first thing we can do is acknowledge the truth we can’t even move on to the reconciliation part until we do the truth is I am a settler a squatter on somebody else’s land westerners always feel we gotta do something but maybe we can just sit with the truth for a while as uncomfortable as that is