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Voices ᐋ ᐄᔮᔨᐧᒫᓂᐧᐃᒡ

Once again

BY Will Nicholls Jun 19, 2021

This editorial is the one that comes around time and time again. In Kamloops, the unmarked graves of 215 children were discovered. Shock, surprise and outrage spread across the country and the world. Yet those unmarked gravesites have been talked about for years and were part of the Truth and Reconciliation Commision’s “findings.” And brace yourself for more. 

The Catholic Church feels Justin Trudeau’s comments about their actions are based in ignorance, yet the religious institution won’t release any of its records. It still hasn’t paid into any healing programs for residential-school survivors as it said it would in the past. Guess when you’re one of the richest religions in the world, you become miserly and arrogant. Maybe it’s time to tax the Catholic Church to fix the problems it had a hand in. It would be a nice change from having all Canadians pay for the Church’s mistakes.

It was surprising to see how many Canadians were shocked about the discovery of the graves, until I remembered the history my son Eric learned in school. When Eric was living in Montreal with me, he came home one day with a homework assignment about “Joke” Cartier. All that Eric’s textbook stated was that Cartier claimed the lands he “discovered” for France and called the Indigenous peoples he encountered “lazy thieves”. There wasn’t much more than that. 

This really upset me, so I assisted Eric in writing his essay on how Cartier invited some of those lazybones aboard his ship for a tour. While they were looking around the ship, he set sail for France. What a joke it was to steal people from their home and take them to some foreign place. Unfortunately, none of them ever returned to Canada alive.

And that in a nutshell is why there are so many problems and misrepresentations of Indigenous peoples in the history books. The truth isn’t taught in schools and Indigenous peoples will always have a problem as long as they and their history, culture and way of life remains hidden from the mainstream of the Canadian population.

The Nation leaves you with a Facebook post attributed to Montreal Canadians goaltender Carey Price, a member of the Ulkatcho First Nation.

If you have not spent any time in a First Nations community and listened to their stories, then you have NO RIGHT to pass judgement on them. 

Racism is TAUGHT, please be mindful of your “opinions” and think about how you came to your conclusions about our First Nations peoples. Canada was NOT discovered, it was invaded. 

I am sick of the ignorant stereotypes and lack of respect and empathy that many have for First Nations. Our history is based on lies and omits many truths from coast to coast. The Federal Government with no apologies or accountability for the wrongdoings and pain another generation survived in Residential School, that is not something you simply “get over” – educate yourselves before taking the cop-out road of ignorant stereotyping. 

The truth is that the recent past and current oppression is still affecting our First Nations and the road to healing is not going to happen overnight, but what CAN happen overnight is the way we all acknowledge the wrongdoings, the way we listen to their stories in order to give them closure and help them heal, we all deserve to have a sense that we all matter and are all respected. 

The road forward is long, and it is not easy but together we rise. 

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Will Nicholls is a Cree from Mistissini. He started his career off in radio and is still one of the youngest radio DJ’s in Canadian history, having a regular show on CFS Moosonee at the age of 12. Will was one of the founding members of the Nation, and has been its only Editor-in-Chief.