#IdleNoMore has exploded on the twitterverse, so I thought, as a white guy, I'd write an open letter to anyone interested in #IdleNoMore and my own thoughts. I am not going to pretend I am an expert on the issues, just someone trying to understand and learn. Less so from the media, than by cultivating relationships with a wide range of indigenous peoples.
My life experiences and a mix of research and discussion have led me to support #IdleNoMore and I expect I will learn a lot more than even I could envision. At least I hope so.
I am not even going to pretend I have some kind of intellectual grasp of the many issues and challenges faced by First Nations in this country. I'm sure I am only scratching the surface, not because I don't want to know, but that the real truth of the history, treaties, abuses, and horrors lived every day by grassroots indigenous people are well hidden beneath centuries of lies and deceit, of deliberate attempts to eliminate the (please I find it disgusting to even repeat these words) "Native Problem", of governments and schools and media feeding the idea that our First Peoples were lazy and stupid and dirty and horrific, animal like beings who need to be exorcised from a civil society. It's difficult to try to find truth when so many are complicit in covering it up, and turning mainstream public opinion against people who did nothing but to welcome our ancestors and signed what they believed were honest treaties to share their bountiful resources with their new white friends.
They fought and died for us to be here, even before Canada was a nation. All we have done for them is cheated them out of their honest share of the resources of their nation which they have never given up their rights to it, never been defeated in a war, but we have screwed them, when we weren't attempting genocide by subjecting them to gifts of blankets infected with diseases they had no immunity to, we've been using up their resources as if we own them, and this doesn't even begin to address Residential Schools which existed in my lifetime. If you don't know what they are, do a bit of research. Better yet. Sit down, close your eyes, imagine the police coming and removing your children, taking them away to be beaten, raped, killed, and even tortured to remove their culture. Imagine your children being punished for speaking their own language. Now not even getting into conditions that exist today, has that ever happened to anyone in this country other than indigenous peoples? Absolutely Not. Attempted Genocide has only been a policy toward First Nations peoples in Canada. Whether you like it or not, if you don't admit that successive governments, in your name, have systematically been trying to eliminate native peoples and assimilate whatever is left, you have not yet faced reality.
I'm unsure exactly where #IdleNoMore got its start. That's not for me to debate. My understanding is it began as a movement to educate young First Nations people that they need to learn to embrace who they are, and to understand they have inherent treaty rights that it is important to know those rights. I've been told it was started by four ladies in Saskatchewan. I could be totally or partially wrong, I'm unsure, at least I'm trying to learn.
What I am positive of, is that is has become much more, and is growing. I understand Stephen Harper is the final straw that has broken the proverbial camel's back. It doesn't really matter which Prime Minister it was, this one, the last one, any previous one, our entire history is one of Canadian Government (and the British Crown before that) oppressing indigenous people in ways that, when exposed, should horrify any sane human being.
What I do want to say to the many showing leadership, and to the grassroots everyday person standing up for your rights, I apologize I have never been able to elect a government who would represent my personal wish to be an honest treaty partner with you. I am horrified at the ugly, racist, misinformed comments being hurled at you. I don't know what I can do, other than provide a voice of support, other than share my words with the world, and be there for you if you need me.
I'm not going to pretend to know your experience. I just want to make clear you know I can share one frustration with you. People we have put our trust in to lead us, have failed miserably. May we find our common goal and may you have unending strength in your struggle.
I am a white man. I am sick of my people getting ahead of everyone else because of a total lack of ethics.
THAT is why I support #IdleNoMore
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Mark McCaw ~ twitter's @bigpicguy
Author of "Insights Inside a Mind" ~ blogging the big picture