Dear vigil speakers,
Thank you for speaking your truths to those of us gathered last night to honour the 215 children, victims of the residential school system, whose remains were found in Kamloops last week.
There was so much bravery in the speaking of these truths. Whether you were an experienced speaker or not, whether you were composed or cried through your words, whether you shouted angrily or sang alone, your words made an impact. You spoke about atrocities no one should have to speak about, let alone endure. I’m grateful for your courage, as I believe are many who were in that crowd.
I hope it was a healing experience, and that you felt safe. That you felt heard, and appreciated. That when you asked us “Do we matter to you?” and heard us say “Yes!” you felt able to believe it. That you had confidence in us non-Indigenous folks present to be your true treaty partners. Because based on the quiet attention of the listeners, I really believe that we are.
Most of us still have lots to learn. Personally, I have taken every feasible opportunity in the past several years to be educated on Indigenous truths, but I know there are still more. It’s like those 215 children. I have learned enough about the horrors of residential schools that the news of this particular mass grave, while appalling, was not a shock to me at all. I’m certain that more such places will be found. I have heard many heartbreaking stories, both historical and current, about the ways in which governments and citizens Canada (and its earlier versions) have tried mightily (and still try) to destroy you – and I know there are more such stories, in great numbers.
Thank goodness colonizers have failed in this mission.
I want you to know that I will continue to listen, and to believe what you say (much as it would be easier not to). I will not shy away from the discomfort. I will continue to learn about whatever truths you allow me, both harrowing and beautiful. I will use my platform as a privileged parent and teacher to help build a foundation of truthful understanding, so that someday Canada will be a new place.
It will be a place where you all – your women, children, and babies especially – are safe and able to thrive, where communication between our nations is open and respectful and productive… Like the Canada that should have been, had settlers opted to learn properly from those Peoples already living in this amazing place when they arrived. I will continue to grieve and yearn for that Canada, and to take what steps I can each day to push us a little bit closer.
Again, thank you, miigwech, niá:wen, nakurmiik, for sharing with us.
Read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action here.