During the week, I watched a video by a young, female, aboriginal word-artist decrying the violence against aboriginal girls and women. It moved me to tears. She will not be silenced, she cries out.
To blame, according to her, was the system, the residential schools, the removal of children by social welfare system, the cultural genocide and loss of traditional stories.
I have not walked in their shoes. Or maybe I have a little bit.
I have been to a Reserve and to other communities in the North. The social worker on the Reserve bemoaned mostly the fact that young natives are just passed through the school system without having accomplished anything. Their high school diploma is not worth the paper it is written on and therefore, they cannot succeed at the College and University level.
What bothered me, in the video, was the mention of "pale"-faced children who sleep soundly in their beds.
In Canada, there are many children who are not "pale"-faced, and many others who are poor, and many who have come here to escape war, atrocities, persecutions and genocides. We, too, were raised by parents who suffered horrors and were never the same afterward.
I know that survival of sexual abuse is one of the most horrible things to live with, disrupting all normal family life, but the continuing cycle of violence in the indigenous communities cannot be laid at the door of the "pale"-faced children.
Once, we were camping at a lake in Saskatchewan and I overheard some young, native girls talking among themselves about some "white" bitch. It was frightening talk to me. To combat racist remarks and events, I would suggest, at least, to drop the references to color.
The answer, according to the artist, was to be found in traditional ways and lore, the very thing that residential schools tried to strip them of. Recently, in the news, we heard the demand that aboriginal studies be taught at all levels and in Universities. I can relate to that. Why should the languages and the heritage not be taught and preserved? Some of it will be useful. Some of it may not be found useful. That part of it will fall away, perhaps.
When I was up North, the tribe on the Reserve had settled in a place that traditionally belonged to the Dene and had a Dene burial ground. It was felt that the spirits were still restless and all around. It was told me by the health workers in the health unit. Apparently, the health unit was built right on top of it. I am not sure that this is a very reassuring, progressive or even collaborative thought.
At some point, you have to let the dead be dead, but the murdering must stop.
Here is the link of the video.