Friday, March 21, 2014

Why the 'Cowboys-and-Indians' photo is not OK - Aboriginal - CBC

Serious food for thought.  As a "self-confessed white-settler" myself, I have long been aware of the harm caused to our indigenous communities.

In the early 1980s I was posted to a High Arctic community.  My education and curiosity began then.  I wanted to know why on earth anyone would live on the "island of gravel" I was visiting.  Doing some research, I learned about the Canadian Government of the 1950's "program" [pogrom?] of enhancing Canadian Sovereignty over the Arctic by moving indigenous communities.

First of all, WTF!  The paternalistic gall of our leaders! [and a tangent for another day]

Then I learned that my location was not the intended destination.  During the transfer, the ship got stopped by ice short of their destination. Because they could go no further that year, it was decided to change the destination and re-locate the community to this uninhabited island.  The epitome of "close enough for government work".

Never mind that it was uninhabited for a reason, there was nothing there!  No hunting, fishing, or any of the natural resources that original communities settled in places for.

I was gob-smacked that the government would move four extended families to this isolated and barren location and literally abandon them there!  I would learn about residential schools five years later.

I personally have been paralyzed for decades after learning of just these two policies of the government.  How can anyone ever make up for, apologize enough for, these kinds of horrific events affecting decades and generations of people?

We, the "royal we", Canadians, have got to start with educating the general public.  Since the internet, and reading comments by average citizens, I am appalled by the lack of education about indigenous peoples.

Reading essays like this one is a start.

The Aboriginal section of is a start.

Why the 'Cowboys-and-Indians' photo is not OK - Aboriginal - CBC: "As stereotypes of indigenous people and a frontier narrative of white-settler ‘progress’ are part of our liberal ideology, it is possible to both have good intentions and act in racist ways within Canada and Saskatchewan.

However, ‘good intentions’ do not undo the effects of our actions nor should they excuse them.

Rather, our responsibility as a (white-settler) community needs to shift from simple blind ‘good intentions’ (which justifies a continued ignorance of the effects of our practices) to critical reflection on our practices before we engage in them and reparations when we cause harm (whether unintentional or intentional)."

'via Blog this'

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