History has been horrific, but we must look ahead
Information and education are the keys to a better future
Hot enough? How many times have we heard these words in the past few days? We move from air-conditioned stores and offices often to air-conditioned cars and even to air-conditioned homes. We stand in showers flowing with fresh, water and we take food out of refrigerators to cook on a stove in minutes. We do this while talking on cellphones or on social media wearing lightweight clothing, but in spite of all of this, we still say “Hot enough?” in a kind of whining way.
Weather is not new for the prairies. The plains have had heat waves and drought before and although we did break temperature records this week, a chart of highs since 1896 shows that we have had high temperatures at least once or twice a year for over 100 years.
I say these things because living as we do, insulated in so many ways from the ravages of extreme conditions, I wonder if we can even comprehend what happened over those past hundred years when Canada had residential schools and the United States had its horrific system of “boarding schools.” As we swelter in this heat, try to turn your mind to what the conditions must have been like and how awful it must have been for the Indigenous families that endured this period of history.
Imagine that you are existing in a confined area without adequate food, water or shelter. Suddenly, in the heat of the day or the cold of winter, men on horseback swoop in and take away your children. You are barely told where they are going, and there is hardly any way
We must learn and continue to learn from the past.
of communicating with them. There are no cellphones, no cars to speed you to where your children might be, no contact or explanation other than a few harsh words. As a parent, you are left in utter anguish.
The children were taken to large buildings that were completely foreign to what they were used to. They were punished for no obvious reasons other than something as simple as speaking to each other in their own language. The buildings were crowded, and on days like this, unbearably hot. Sanitation was minimal, and death was common with apparently little or no effort made to even advise the distraught parents of what might have happened to their children.
Living in 2021, it is truly incomprehensible for us to try to understand how any of this could have happened. Man's ability to inflict pain and suffering on their fellow men and women has long been a mystery to the world, and I am sure the vast majority of us will think of these things and ask ourselves, “How could this have happened?” How could governments and religious leaders have not only allowed this to happen but encouraged and participated in this horror? There are no simple answers to that question, but there is one thing we can agree on, that nothing like this should ever happen again.
Information and education are keys to a better future. Today, the actions of one or two or even a small group of extremists who are committed to hate do not represent the beliefs of the majority. Today, I like to believe that Canada is one of the most tolerant and free societies in the world. What is important is that we continue to celebrate and acknowledge those freedoms and do not allow them to be taken away or allow them to be abused. We can never allow individuals or groups to sew the seeds of hatred or destruction and we must learn and continue to learn from the past.
For that reason, I celebrated Canada Day on Thursday along with thousands of immigrants and refugees who have found better lives and made great contributions to this country. There will always be extremists who want to destroy and attack our freedoms, but they must never be given a platform.
I celebrated Canada Day, not because of the mistakes the country has made but because of the potential it has for the future.