Before I get into today’s topic, how did your role model search go?
I found a book at the Glad Day Bookshop that I put on my list to read. It’s by Neel Patel and it’s called If You See Me Don’t Say Hi. It’s stories of his experience as a Native American.
I also thought of Susan Aglukart and Buffy St. Marie (both musicians). As well as Jeremy Dutcher who I wrote about a few weeks ago (also a musician). Then I thought of Rosanna Deerchild, host of CBCs Unreserved. How about the Canadian actor in Wonder Woman? Eugene Brave Rock. I heard an interview with him on CBC last summer and heard him say how grateful he was to have been able to use his own language (Blackfoot) in the movie when he introduced himself. Imagine a young Blackfoot youth sitting in the movie theatre hearing their language in a Hollywood movie! What a thrill!
Role models are important. They give us something to aspire to, to hope for, to look towards as possible for our own lives. And when we can actually see ourselves in them…well, it’s even sweeter (and it’s important!).
A New Statutory Holiday
This week let’s think about the new proposed statutory holiday to remember and reflect upon the genocide in Residential Schools. Chief Bellegarde made an important statement in his interview on Power and Politics (which you can watch here).
He said, “We need to learn from the past. We don’t need to live there.”
A day set aside, in his opinion, would serve to educate Canadians about the impact of the Residential School System on Indigenous Peoples – an impact that continues today. He rightly added that education and awareness lead to understanding and action.
Learning from the Past
We can’t learn from the past if we don’t know it. Yes, residential schools are a dark part of Canadian history, but knowing about them helps us to understand the present and create a better future. It helps us to participate in reconciliation because it gives us the context for why it’s important. Chief Bellegarde goes on to say that a holiday is part of truth-telling – telling about what happened.
Of course, we have to use the day wisely.
It’s got to be more than a day off of work.
It’s an opportunity.
The day alone won’t get us closer to reconciliation, but using the day well just might…