Happy Apologists Day, Dear Country…
Firstly let me apologize – it’s the one thing we have to become good at if we want to keep our citizenship. We don’t have to actually care, nor do we have to believe in doing the right thing; we just must apologize better…
What am I sorry for now? Well it seems that I haven’t done a very good job honouring the legacy of the development of this country. It appears that those of us who have come here (or whose predecessors have come here) to escape famine, wars, poverty, pestilence, and other grievous conditions have gotten it wrong. We should have stayed where we were so that this wonderful country could continue to lay relatively dormant with the exception of the occasional inter-tribal war or the pillaging of villages in order to acquire new wives and keep the blood stock pure or maybe even the holding of confederacy talks about peace in their time. We all are bad colonialists and we should take our terrible society, along with its social norms, religious proclivities and economic creativities, and go back to where we came from.
Now the Sinclair side of my family actually was gratefully received originally by the then inhabitants of the land and in return gratefully participated in the land’s economy – even today, many distant relatives are scattered throughout the Great Plains in the Métis and First Nations communities as a result of working in the fur trade and marrying into local communities. That was the Scottish contribution – and ironically, the Scots really didn’t like the Brits all that much (and if the truth be told they still don’t) but can you imagine what they would now be feeling to be labeled as part of the English colonial conquests!! The other side is Irish (more specifically Northern Ireland which should make it more sympathetic to the Brits, but I fear not) and the idea that those escaping the potato famine or other forms of destitution were colonialists is as preposterous as thinking the Scots were.
So Canada, I apologize for all this. And if I could only get the Indian Chiefs to give up their 4X4 pickup trucks and their Cadillacs, and the many Aboriginal businesses to lay down their tools and return to the buffalo hunt, and the hordes of Aboriginal professionals to close their practices, take down their shingles and become naturalistic spiritual gurus, I think we might have a change at returning you to a pristine state, albeit one that China would quickly move in and subsume.
It is a shame I recognize that we have turned you into one of the countries most immigrants want to come to live within. It is a travesty that we continue to be rated as one of the best countries in the world within which to reside. I just don’t know what to do other than continually apologize. And now of course I have to apologize that after a minimum of twenty years, and in most cases, at least one hundred years, that there are graveyards in the general area of former residential schools and the churches that were built near them. This has shown to be such a shock to the media that I can only suggest that this is due to their complete ineptitude at doing their job.
Let me explain: when I was developing a new concept in Aboriginal education in the 80’s – the Aboriginal Independent School (which would get the Bands out from under the feds, gain official recognition from their respective provincial ministries of education, and maintain their own vibrant control of the educational process) there were two writers in Canadian media that showed any interest in the story and in the related world of Aboriginal education: a gentleman writing a regular column in the North Shore News (I think that is the name of the publication – the name of the writer escapes me at the moment — perhaps Killian Crawford), and Gordon Pitts writing in the Globe and Mail. No one else was the least bit interested. Just like David Suzuki was not interested in participating in the Salmonid Enhancement Program, W5 was not interested in doing a story on new directions in Aboriginal control and development of education.
Now the CBC bleeds with a maudlin sound that would scare the beejudas out of the buffalo if they were forced to listen. In fact, to listen to the once great and trustworthy newscasts now you would think there are only two things happening in this country – Covid-19 and finding Aboriginal grace-sites. I’m so sorry Canada – I really thought things were getting better and we were actually making you proud to be a country, But governments do seem to be more interested in power and in spite of corruption and lack of ethics, we keep returning people that are not committed to getting to better but rather just want to make sure they and they friends are comfortable and content.
I thought about all this as I biked into the mountains this morning very early. It was very windy (quite noisy too) and almost unreasonably warm – when I did find a patch of tree-sheltered calm, there were bugs offering themselves to me in the form of mouthfuls of protein. But it still was contemplative. And I wondered if we will ever make you proud of us again. I mean, many governments have cancelled your birthday, have repudiated you as a nation worthy of celebrating (although I’ll bet they will still want your wealth, or at least a disproportionate share, sent to them to spend as if it is their money).
The repudiation arises from the rediscovery of graveyards. Now I agree with those who say that if there were any tombstones or other grave-side markers that were removed, this poses an interesting legal dilemma. But as I biked I wondered how many bleeding hearts know how much money has already been given to residential school survivors (whether or not they suffered anything at all during their time there) and how much more lawyers made on those claims (check out a lawyer by the name of Merchant in Regina who made millions off survivors). And as you ponder this, ask these questions which I again asked myself this morning:
• why are these re-discoveries just being made now?
• who is financing the use of special radar? And, how can age be determined without exhuming the bones?
• who really is behind all this, given that there is now another new allotment of over a billion dollars being set aside? In other words, what legal and consulting firms are standing ready to collect huge fees in a pseudo-attempt to find out something that many have known about for decades?
• how is it that in the early eighties I was able to attend graduation ceremonies at Marieval Residential School (Saskatchewan) which was under the control of the Qu’Appelle Chiefs at the time, and celebrate with the people the number of Grade XII graduands who were heading off to college, tech school and similar avenue for post-secondary training, yet there was no noticeable concern about the nearby known graveyard?
• how is it that the Kamloops Bands have been using their old Residential School site for years and have actually built quite an activity complex, including pow-wow grounds and a magnificent circular edifice for cultural events, and no one was concerned about the nearby graveyard?
I could go on, Canada, but I think this is enough apologizing and questioning for now. Just know that I am sorry… sorry especially for the gutless band of political leaders who have not stepped forward to set the record straight on your behalf but instead have cowered in maudlin genuflection repudiating all that is so good about you.
I will talk to you again, when I feel less apologetic…