This is the second year our nation will observe the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. An opportunity to learn, reflect, and commit to do. Do what? Learn more. Ask your elected official how they are going to create a positive reparation on the legacy of this time in our history. Challenge false narratives when you hear them. Volunteer. Attend an Indigenous gathering or ceremony.
The discovery of unmarked graves continues across Turtle Island. The number continues to grow. Our challenge is to not become numb to the ever-increasing number. If 215 was a punch to the gut, then thousands of these graves sound irreconcilable, paralyzing, and maybe hopeless. We must remember that whatever the number is, it always was. To become complacent now means others will perish from that legacy, as we witnessed from that terrible day on Labour Day weekend this year in James Smith Cree Nation, from the deaths of two innocent men from Chinatown this past spring, and finally, from the continued overrepresentation of Indigenous children and youth in care.
The tragedy in James Smith Cree Nation is directly connected to historical trauma and a lack of resources to address its impacts. The person charged in the death of those two men in Chinatown is Indigenous and a product of government care and our judicial system. Both of these systems collectively have 10 of the 94 Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action.
Today, we continue to have a record number of Indigenous children and youth in care. The practice is changing with the implementation of The Act Respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis Children, Youth and Families. This act recognizes and affirms that jurisdiction over child and family services is an inherent right and it carries the force of Canadian federal law and supersedes provincial laws. This is exciting news.
With the recovery from the ongoing pandemic, we are seeing the devastating impacts of it with our unhoused, mentally ill, addicted, and largely Indigenous citizens (75 to 80 per cent). I challenged citizens in a tweet thread to look at these issues through a trauma-informed lens and not through a “downtown safety” lens. To do so acknowledges the connection between the marginalization of this group and the ongoing impacts of the pandemic on Indigenous folks.
We hosted the Pope this summer. He apologized for residential schools. The impacts of that apology will continue to ripple through the nation. For the few that continue to doubt or outright deny that terrible things happened here, this apology acknowledges the Roman Catholic Church’s involvement and role in the historical trauma we see today.
On Sept. 8, Canada lost its sovereign. The loss of Queen Elizabeth II, the longest reigning British sovereign, marks another opportunity to reflect on colonialism, treaty, and our collective responsibilities in that.
It’s as if we are collectively and historically being provided with opportunities to do better.
Bent Arrow has made a commitment to be open each year on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, an effort to walk alongside those who want to learn and reflect. This Sept. 30, Bent Arrow will host an in-person and virtual event once again. All are welcome. Visit facebook.com/BentArrowYEG for more information.