In 2019, were there any significant changes in the situations for the original people of this land?
The indigenous believe that life is a circle. Our learning begins in our mother’s womb and continues until we make our final journey. We are born to serve our family, our clan, our people and our distinct nations. This continues for our whole life. Is this still happening today?
Settler colonialism is rooted in capitalism and individuality. Money and property form the basis for the foundation of this society that has seeped into the fabric of Turtle Island. Is there any parallel between this settler society and the original peoples?
The original people believe that the Creator lent them this space; therefore they do not “own” the space according to settler property laws. However, to protect this space and the sacred places that exist, many First Nations are making arguments inside the colonized property box. This is the first break in the circle of our teachings.
Currently in Canada, there are issues about First Nation kids being placed into foster care homes, several reserve communities have enacted state of emergency statuses on suicides or addictions issues and there always the continued ongoing fight between the original peoples and their treaty partners or inheritors, the settler governments.
Unfortunately, mainstream media and Canada continue to misrepresent to the Canadian public that the “indigenous” can be effectively dealt with in one box. Because Canadians are predominantly European immigrants who identify with a “new land”, they feel that equality is real or that every person has the opportunity to be equal.
Yet they are the same Canadians who check their locked cars when parking beside Indigenous people or people of colour. They are the same Canadians who follow Indigenous people in retail stores fearing theft. They are the same Canadians who shout down Indigenous athletes in sports venues with racist taunts. What do Canadians really know about the “Indigenous” truth?
How many Canadians have ventured onto a reserve and seen the poverty, the overcrowding in houses, the lack of clean water, the prevalence of mold, the poor roads and infrastructure or the close proximity to development without oversight?
The solution to these same Canadians is simple. Leave the reserve and venture into established urban settings where there is housing, water, infrastructure and a livable system available. This option leads to ghettoization of the Indigenous. When Indigenous leave their ancestral homelands, they become targeted in urban areas. Landlords can be racist and unyielding in their efforts to protect “their property”. The law usually sides with them on this issue because property is a tenet of settler colonialism.
Further to this housing dilemma is the accompanying racism in heightened situations. There are more opportunities for the Indigenous to be targeted in schooling or employment, while using urban services. The north end of Winnipeg did not form overnight.
This is the extent of the Canadian understanding of the problems that exist for First Nation people. They look at the problems that have relevance in “their eyes”. Mainstream Canadians can only empathize with what they understand.
How do the Indigenous begin to explain that their system is a covenant with the Creator to protect the land and waters and to live in harmony with one another and all Creation. Where is the mainstream box for this understanding?
Canadians can quickly bring this thought into their thinking, “Oh that’s volunteering or church work or specific to the environment”. This is incorrect. It is not one or part of three separate boxes for the indigenous. It is all the same thing.
Settlers do not understand the close relationship between First Nation families, clans and nations. Our children are held, there are moss bags or carriers to give babies the security of always being held and comforted. The non-First Nations approach is to put babies, alone into cribs. Sometimes there is swaddling, but basically cribs are mini beds for mini human beings. They have to learn to “be alone”, “self-soothe” and adjust to a schedule. Contrast this with the First Nation approach where the child is held by many family members, encouraged, teased and loved by all their siblings and larger clan families. Furthermore, if this child shows a gift in singing, drumming, art, understanding herbs or medicines, or is gifted with spiritual strength, this gift is mentored and acknowledged. The child is a gift to the community. The child is not an extension of two individuals who need an inheritor for their “stuff”.
Canadians continue to only see government propaganda about “best interests of the child”, “safety issues” and access to “services, for First Nation children. Canadians are not being told that these special words are paternalistic approaches to how children should be cared for in Canada. Where is the cultural understanding that had been practiced by the First Peoples for thousands of years prior to the coming of the settlers?
This break in parenting, education, health and nutrition, early childhood education, k-12, post secondary or training or any other box that falls under the settler compartmentalized understanding continues to be the problem.
If First Nations articulate their concerns – mainstream media, government and Canadians can only understand the reality that exists for them. “We care about kids”, so this is a children’s issue because “kids are at stake”. For the original people, it is about more than just “kids or kids in care”.
First Nations wanted jurisdiction “back” because the mainstream processes are not only assimilating our children, they are desensitizing these children to their ancestral commitments. Our children may very well thrive as individuals in mainstream organizations or systems. But they were born into their people for specific purposes.
I posted a short paragraph about this for my social media threads. Those few original people who understood my message shared it. Those scooped or foster kids waiting for a payout (money) who follow my threads did not reshare or comment on this thinking. That tells me that the assimilation and project to make our children into individual only thinkers is complete. Our ancestors weep with this knowledge.