I was going through my twitter feed this morning and I came across a tweet that just made me stop and think.
“Don’t start with cultural genocide and residential schools. Indigenous people are not victims first. Take the time to learn about the many proud and resilient people who were impacted by Canada’s residential school system.” @BonnieSears20. She was referring to this article.
I think that we forget that the Indigenous people were on Turtle Island for tens of thousands of years before the colonizers came and tried to eradicate them. This is just a short, sad part of their history. It is important to celebrate the many cultures and teachings that have continued despite what has happened. Honestly, I feel a connection to the Indigenous ways of knowing and to the First Nations people, but I don’t want to be thought to be guilty of cultural appropriation. I love parts of my culture, but I also like parts of indigenous culture, am I allowed to teach it, take part in it?
The questions that I have is this, should we, as settlers, be condemned for not doing anything sooner? Are we really complicit in this if we didn’t know or that we were taught that? Should we have known better that everyone is human and should be treated with a basic level of respect and humanity? Going back to what I know and connect to, how is this different than the Holocaust? Did the Eastern European people know any different when they turned in Jews to the Nazis to be sent to the death camps? Did they know? Were they complicit if they have been taught for years that the Jewish people were less than everyone else? At least the German government has very strict laws around Neo Nazis. Unfortunately, the rest of Europe, not so much.
Just as the Holocaust should not be the penultimate historical event in a long rich history of the Jewish People, neither should the treatment of the Indigenous people of Turtle Island by the Canadian government be the only thing that defines them.