For those of you who are unaware, today is National Indigenous Day.
Although, you can be forgiven given the clamor and zeitgeist where everyone has determined their rights, freedoms, and demands to be more important than anyone else’s; including those on whose land we’ve settled—willingly or not—and developed societies advanced enough to debate the finer points of fairness and equity. Well, it’s not fair that the indigenous people have been all but forgotten. It’s not fair that they’ve been shuffled off to camps where we only have tangential contact and can ignore their requests—often respectful, humble, and coming from a place of kindness, unlike the vitriolic “pay attention to me” activism of today.
If I sound angry, it’s because I am a little. I’m annoyed that we can discuss each grievance of the age—from micro-aggressions to casual racism to the infinite permutations of privilege—while completely ignoring the nation of people who we invaded and who we continue to step on and ignore for the sake of our “more enlightened” and topical discussions. I don’t think that these discussions on equity can truly evolve to a place of understanding without first going back and fixing the error, the original sin if you will, of the cultural genocide committed upon indigenous people in North and South America.
We have a gaping wound in our history. We have a wound that we need to address, heal, and resolve, before working on the wounds of the present. It’s like building a house on a shaky foundation; adding more and more complexity and structure, wondering why it’s trembling and continues to erode and crumble. North American history—and our propensity for forgetfulness—is that foundation. And it’s one of lies, misinformation and willful ignorance.
So while I will be celebrating National Indigenous Day with my partner, who is Métis; I will also be asking myself the hard questions about identity and equity. I will be forcing myself to read about residential schools (closed in 1996—so not some “wartime” atrocity, but a modern and disgusting offense), and asking the spirits and first people of this land for theIr continued grace and forbearance in letting me and all of us stay.