Editorial: Reconciliation on someone else’s terms

by Andru McCracken, Editor


Canada is a young country. What kind of nation we are going to be is still being decided.

Are we a country of citizens that really care about each other and believe in justice? Are we a country that believes in giving everyone an equal shot at succeeding? Do we value people for more than their skin colour, creed and background?

And as a nation, when a kid is being beaten and abused, do we look the other way, or do we stand up for the kid?

Or are we the type of country that kidnaps children, abuses them, rapes them, denies their history, stamps out their languages, and buries our adolescent and infant victims in unmarked graves?

We’re still in our formative stage here, so what we choose to do about recently revealed transgressions is important.

Currently we are both the unreconciled abuser, murderer and the justice seeking, egalitarian country.

Truth and Reconciliation between indigenous people and the rest of us is important. It’s about who we are. It’s important to every Canadian.

“It wasn’t me,” isn’t a valid response.

It is so weird

Former chief of the Simpcw First Nation Nathan Matthew’s top of mind idea for the use of reserve land in Tete Jaune isn’t a museum to the horrors perpetrated by Canadians on indigenous people. The Simpcw don’t want revenge for the woe and displacement they suffered. They want some land in the valley and a shot at economic opportunity that will benefit both them and us.

That’s strange. It’s generous. And it’s a great opportunity to make good.

The reason I trust First Nations people over any johnny come lately developer with a hare-brained scheme to develop our economy, is because unlike the genius schemers, First Nations people don’t run.

They are attached to this land come what may (Unless they are physically, forcefully removed from it, as they were in 1916 from this region).

It’s not for First Nation’s sake that we confront the demons of our history.

Too often I hear this: Why don’t they just get over it?

Or: We won.

As if we had something as honourable as a war with the Simpcw First Nation. That would be different. War has rules. Declaring war is a whole level of honour that we haven’t even come close to achieving.

We used and abused First Nations in a bid to survive and know the land, navigate it. Then we stole their children, pushed First Nations to the side, and allowed any peasant from any place the world over the right to free land. The only people specifically ineligible? First Nations.

Canada had to change as a result of colonization, that’s for sure. I am really grateful I get to live in Canada and I won’t be moving anywhere else soon, however it isn’t unreasonable to look back at the bloody past and recognize the things that went wrong.

Aboriginal people make up a very small percentage of Canada’s population, but how we interact with them will continue to define us as a country. Dealing with them fairly isn’t going to break us.

I would argue that a show of character could, in fact, make us.

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