An unreflected life is not worth living, or so I’ve read. There is a lot of wisdom in that. Today is Canada Day. It is also Memorial Day in the province of my birth, Newfoundland & Labrador, the day set aside to honor the men who died at Beaumont Hamel during the First World War when the Royal Newfoundland Regiment was all but wiped out.
Yesterday radio stations across the country gave a platform to the survivors of residential schools and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to listen to people from various First Nations speak about their experiences. Many stories were very painful to listen to. How much more painful for the people who lived through abuse and, too often death, at the hands of their “caretakers”.
Over the past hundred years there have been so many atrocities committed against the indigenous peoples of this land. The removal of children from their families was a very dark and tragic part of Canada’s history which had as its objective to annihilate the language, religion, and culture of the First Nations peoples.
There is much to reflect upon on this day. It is hard to celebrate when so many are mourning as unmarked graves of innocents are found, and more will be found, across this land. Hundreds, and more likely thousands, of unmarked graves.
I have chosen to reflect on that and on how I might be able to make a difference, albeit small, to the lives of the people who deserve so much better than they’ve been given. The least we can do, in my opinion, is to recognize that the benefits we enjoy as the dominant culture came at the cost of the indigenous peoples of this land. Perhaps writing our MPs to let them know our views in this matter will help.
My skin is white. My ancestors came from England, Ireland, and also from the Mi’kmaq Nation. However, I only learned of this a decade ago. Sadly, I never knew the language or culture of my Mi’kmaq ancestors. I have enjoyed so many benefits, by virtue of my skin color. That needs to change. The policies and political structures that have granted so much privilege to our dominant culture needs to be dismantled and a fairer, more just society for ALL should be something we all work toward.
Yes, there is much to reflect upon this Canada Day.