For those who are unaware, as recently as the 1980s the Canadian government was taking indigenous children from their parents and sending them to so-called Indian residential schools, which were boarding schools primarily run by the church. Ostensibly these schools were intended to "civilize" the native people, but in practice they were a form of cultural genocide, a mechanism to strip away the indigenous traditions and language from entire generations of kids whose ancestors lived here for hundreds of years before the first Europeans arrived.
Many children at the schools were undernourished. Many died. Many never saw their parents again.
It is one of the most horrifying chapters of Canadian history, and one that i would guess most Canadians are keenly aware of. Perhaps due to the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that ran from 2008 to 2015, the ugly truth is not shied away from in the media today. It was documented front and center in the booklet i was given to study for my citizenship test in 2013. It's a legacy that all Canadians bear.
Anyway, the remains that appear to have been found are on the rez literally just across the river from where i live. Like, closer to my house than the distribution center i had to walk to the other day to pick up a package.
It hit the front page of The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/may/28/canada-remains-indigenous-children-mass-graves
It has also been running on the CBC: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/tk-eml%C3%BAps-te-secw%C3%A9pemc-215-children-former-kamloops-indian-residential-school-1.6043778
And it's dominating what's left of our local paper: https://www.kamloopsthisweek.com/news/more-remains-expected-to-be-found-as-survey-at-tk-emlups-continues-1.24324498
There is a sacred fire being held and several vigils over the next couple days. I'm not sure if i have the stomach for it. I'm not really one for mass gatherings, but i wanted to do something. So i am writing about it here.
Just recently some right-wing commentator, i can't remember who it was because i don't care, made some comment about how indigenous people aren't a part of American culture. I can't speak for Americans, but i've occasionally heard Canadians pull that one out too, and it just seems so out-of-touch.
My town is about 10% First Nations and Métis. Maybe folks living up on the hill who never go anywhere except the mall might not notice it, but if you're downtown, or if you walk the riverbanks, if you interact with people on the street, or at the bar, it's very much a part of the stories you will hear. Indigenous people are clearly a part of the tapestry of Canadian society, both historically and today. You'd really have to go out of your way to not acknowledge that, i think, especially out west.
Of course, people still do. It's telling that the CBC hasn't opened comments on any of these stories. They undoubtedly know the shitshow that would erupt. I remember it from the NoDAPL protests. There are those who would like to pretend that indigenous people do not exist, or that they only exist on the rez, or that they just take handouts, and don't have anything to offer.
Fuck those people.
There have been a few American TV shows recently featuring modern indigenous representation that i think are worth a watch: Resident Alien and Rutherford Falls. The former is a comic book adaptation about an alien who crash-lands in small-town Colorado and his experience trying to figure out humanity. The latter is a bit like a Daily Show skit turned into a full series, about a history-obsessed white guy in upstate New York and his quest to preserve his family legacy.
I imagine both shows would resonate with anyone who has lived in a smallish North American town, just as Canadian sitcoms like Letterkenny and Corner Gas do. And, back on topic, these shows don't hide the indigenous people who are Right Fucking There in the real world, contrary to the popular media which tends to whitewash rural culture.
Anyway, i don't have much insightful to say. I tried to go out for a bike ride today, but i just wasn't feeling it. I sat down near where i met the beaver the other day (he was still hanging out guarding his lodge) and let the wind mess up my hair and pondered. A few drops of rain landed on my head. A general manifest train crossed the river, with empty lumber racks and padlocked boxcars. I biked home.
I am feeling sad.