Fight Where you Are

Editorial by Jonathan Garlow

When you think of the aftermath of the Holocaust, you can wonder how long it takes a society to heal from something like that. Or if it’s possible to heal at all.

Researcher Henry F. Dobyns concluded that 90 million indigenous inhabitants of the Americas died post-contact with Europeans. Scholars say that we had no immunity to the small pox virus and 90 per cent of us were wiped out.

According to Charles C. Mann, small pox mutated out of horse pox and believe it or not, horses did not exist in North America until the Spanish brought them. Hollywood tells us Indians and horses usually go hand-in-hand. Maybe 200 years from now we will be depicted driving Chevy’s and Pontiacs.

Here’s a thought. If an equivalent cataclysmic disaster happened to earth today with the same force that annihilated indigenous people the global population would drop to 740 million people.

Would humanity be able to recover from that?

And so, special recognition should be given to all indigenous people who are still reeling from the aftershocks of genocide and colonialism.

That’s us. We survived. We are still here.

And this is a fact we expect will be taught at local schools now that the government of Ontario has officially apologized for their role in our destruction.

Some cash was promised and a Ministry was renamed to something less racist.

Probably the best thing that Premier Wynne said was when she admitted that, “residential schools are only one example of systemic, intergenerational injustices inflicted upon indigenous communities throughout Canada.”

But it’s difficult to thank the Premier for simply being honest. Someone needs to remind her speech writer that even though most of us perished from disease we are still Nations not communities.

We were always Nations and we will continue to be the true Nations of this entire continent. Not First Nations of Canada but NATIONS — period.

And we should try to speak gently with each other with great care because our Nations are re-covering, regenerating, and repairing. Soft words are needed when we talk with extended family and our other relations. Especially when we disagree with one another.

Another issue altogether but equally grievous is when non-indigenous people get involved in matters internal to the indigenous community, Because it creates a power-over dynamic automatically.

It also further grieves a people who are still hurting from the trauma of colonization and trying to heal. What results is inevitably chaos regardless of the intentions behind those opinions — bringing harm to the very community they hope to engage with. It becomes a lose-lose situation.

So while indigenous nations may appreciate the sentiment of our many different allies, its important to remember the advice about solidarity given by Shawn Brant – “Fight where you are.”

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