What if?

One day not too long ago I grabbed my kids from school early to get a yummy treat and sit outside in the fall sunshine. As we sat on a park bench drinking lattes and people watching a tall white guy appeared with a very long, blonde, curly mullet. I mean it was long – down to his waist almost and it was very “business in the front, party in the back”.

My oldest daughter is a teenager and has a very good sense of humor. We both kind of took notice of him and smiled at each other – when suddenly out of nowhere a mini-me version of the man appeared! A young boy about 9 years old, identical to this guy and with the same mullet! It was awesome. They were just chilling out downtown enjoying the sun like we were.

The small boy stood up on top of a rock, raised his arms in the air, closed his eyes and drank in the sunshine. His spiky blonde mullet glistened in the sunshine and he looked incredibly happy.

“They kind of look like a daddy lion and a baby lion.” I said.The dad walked up behind him and put his hand on his son’s shoulders and they both looked out into the sunshine, smiling. I was sitting there drinking in this beautiful intimate moment between mulleted father and son when my daughter chimed in.

“Look Simba! Everything the light touches, is our kingdom.” she said a la ‘The Lion King’. Totally dead pan, right on time, perfect comedy! I laughed so hard I almost snarfed my coffee and for a good five minutes we had problems calming down. In all honesty as I write this I’m having problems gaining my composure again.

It wasn’t that we were making fun of this father and son. Not at all. In fact seeing the intimacy between them was heartwarming. And it also helped grow a moment between my daughter and I where we were happy, laughing and enjoying some rare quality time as well. What that moment did was bring into focus for me how precious our children are – to all of us.

I would do anything for my kids. And I am certain having seen the love that was positively glowing from mulleted father and son – that he would do the same. For most parents, the thought of being forcibly separated from our children is our worst nightmare. Perhaps though, for the indigenous person it is more than a nightmare.

Imagine for a moment that the year is 1899. It is fall time and you are basking in the sunshine with your children, picking apples, gathering hickory nuts and telling inside jokes back and forth. Suddenly out of nowhere a man rides up and you know exactly who he is; the Indian Agent. You heart sinks to the bottom of your soul as it dawns on you that he is there for your children and you are powerless to stop him. You have no protection, no voice, no rights and no way to stop what is about to happen because the law regarding Indians in 1899 says so. A few moments later ‘the man’ rides off with your children and you have no idea what will happen next. Soul crushing.

Given our actual history, an imposed forcible removal of an indigenous child from their community taking them from what they know and expect is doubly traumatic for the indigenous child. It could break not only the spirit of the child, but of the parents, of the siblings and the heart of the community. It is worse then our worst nightmare – and would be a gross failure of the society that Canada claims to be today.

It reminded me of when Makayla Sault was threatened with apprehension because of a difference of perspective regarding the treatment choice that her parents made for her.

Was it any surprise that the indigenous community was immediately ready and that we rallied together to ensure her protection?

I shudder to think of the what if’s. What if she’d been forced to continue with chemotherapy? Perhaps the bond between Makayla and her parents – her protectors – could have deteriorated along with Makayla’s health. The potential was there for her life to take a drastically terrible route if her parents had been given no choice in the matter and were forced to give her up and return her to chemotherapy. It’s food for thought.

Thankfully, I am pleased to share that Makayla is doing well. Her journey to the Hippocrates Health Institute was successful and she has started back at public school.

Her hair is growing back and she is stronger day by day. Now, she and her mom get to have more of those ‘basking in the fall sunshine’ moments drinking lattes and laughing at each other’s jokes.

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