Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Apology - Some Thoughts

I refrained from writing to any great extent at the time of the apology because I wanted to reflect on what I saw and felt.

Like most people, I found it moving, overdue and I was grateful that the aboriginal leaders were permitted to receive the apology while sitting in the House. I felt much more than that though.

At times I was somewhat perplexed that residential schools actually existed. I knew of it, but found myself really absorbing the enormity of it and realising just how little time I'd spent thinking about it. It's astonishing really that it hasn't been discussed or written about more. Because I don't have children, I wondered if this part of our history is being taught in schools today? It certainly wasn't when I was there.

As the various leaders responded to the apology, I reflected on the history of their people and in the face of all that they have endured, how proud and strong they continue to be.

My thoughts then went to how different it might of been and what we lost as a country. Obviously nothing can compare to what aboriginals have they themselves endured and lost, but we deprived the rest of our country much as well. Think of the culture that should be a more rooted part of our society. The art, the music, the various languages, traditions relating to the earth and how we treat it, etc. Really, all of these things and more should hold a much more prominent place in the fabric of the country.

I've always been interested in other cultures and to this day, explore the many who have come to this country. For me, part of that includes understanding people through their music. In the 80's, I stumbled on a group named Kashtin. I was mesmerised and remember thinking then, I wonder why we don't have more music from First Nations. At that time, I had no idea about this history. I went to every concert I could and annoyed all of my friends, who soon became as enamoured as I was, to make a point of listening to this music. While more music is beginning to be produced again in these communities, it's still a tiny segment. The art being produced by different communities is becoming more valuable and while that too has some distance to go and sometimes I think it's trotted out without the pride it deserves, at least in some circles it receives respect.

We've all lost. Our Aboriginal communities obviously have lost the most, but we who are not aboriginal, have so much to learn. It's time to turn that old equation on it's head.

The apology was a good step in what I think is a long journey. This is not a partisan shot, but rather what I see as one of the necessary pieces of this puzzle and that is the Kelowna Accord. Aside from what it sought to achieve, it included the aboriginal point of view. They were part of the discussion and at the table. Making decisions on behalf of others is beyond inane.

I do not know that I'll live long enough to see it put right, but I hope I do see some change.

I have more thoughts, but I'll stop here. I'll leave you with this vid. It's dated of course, or is it?

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