Cree from the Muskeg Lake First Nation, Saskatchewan, 65 (member of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation’s Governing Circle)
L IT’S IMPORTANT that people know what’s happened to us. We are so far behind in attempting to rearrange the status quo to more of an equal level. For me personally, that is part of any discussion about the impact of residential schools and the intergenerational dysfunctions and social ills that affect my community. There’s a reason for it. It’s not because we’re drunks. It’s not because we’re lazy. It’s not because we’re dumb and stupid. There are other colonial reasons that have to be exposed about why the First Peoples of this country are at the bottom of the social ladder in all aspects. It’s important for people to know that this is not about me, about us in the Survivors Circle and the Governing Circle. It’s about many of us who never got the chance to share the story, and who have never made it home and are in unmarked graves across the country. It’s about many of us who are trying to take corrective measures and are reprogramming ourselves from colonial thinking to Indigenous thinking. There are not many of us left that will share that experience. But if those of us who tell our experiences didn’t do what we do, the stereotype would continue, and this whole sad history would be erased. Our descendants would never have the chance to figure out why they have an identity crisis.
It’s important that people know what’s happened to us.
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