Updated: Dec 28, 2020
First Nations Mural on Vancouver Island
Celebrate is perhaps a bit generous. Survival is perhaps a bit harsh. The aboriginal people who have inhabited what is now ‘Canada’ – for literally thousands of years – continue to live in the current national territory and throughout the Americas.
I feel somewhat ill-informed speaking on this particular subject, but I also know I must. Having aboriginal friends stands for little. Learning from them means a great deal.
Recently I have been very caught up in the British ‘BREXIT’ vote – framed by bigotry, xenophobia and and cultural elitism. Meanwhile at home I raise my beautiful child in the French language – yet again a colonial language. I firmly believe most of Europe remains entirely dishonest about its history – and thievery – from this side of the world.
Today in the America’s, the most spoken indigenous language is Quechua. By most statistics it is the 5th most spoken language in the hemisphere. The rest are the result of conquest and colonization. Easily summarized as genocide.
In Canada over 6o indigenous languages are spoken. This is important and far more special than French or English. In this regard I offer a particular assault upon French-Canadian nationalists. We would be bettered by overcoming our Euro-centricism and inviting all peoples of our land into the nation-building exercise.
Now in the 21st century (or year 5524 in the Aymara calendar) the story is complicated. Nevertheless, Canada’s indigenous people – and those throughout our two continents – are indisputably disadvantaged.
Yet many have rich, deep and fascinating cultures. They are not ‘Noble Savages’ nor are they somehow lesser. Collectively the First Nations, Metis and Inuit of Canada have every possible right to chose their own future and identity.
In this very short contribution, all I can ask, is that ‘we’ collectively, work to share with the original inhabitants of these lands and to reach across whatever (contrived or actual) divides whatever may exist, in order to build an inclusive, diverse and pluralistic society.
Honestly, the original inhabitants have given far too much in this particular deal. We can withhold our critiques of their particular societies. Perhaps for a while, we may respect and learn.
Rarely is disconnect actually the fault of minorities… and with reference directly to aboriginal people, they did come first. ‘They’ do not have to adapt to us! And generally we could show far more respect and honesty. Thats a fact.
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