It finally happened, something jarring enough to wake us up to some very hard truths in out beloved nation. A country we hold so dear, one we often herald as a moral compass in the world, one who prides itself as kind, fair, apologetic A country who often sighs with relief —- thank goodness we live in Canada when we witness atrocities playing out in other parts of the world. A country that must now reckon with the horrors that have been exposed in Residential Schools leaving us gasping to make sense of the inconceivable, that these unspeakable happened here. Facing the truths about Residential Schools is painful and necessary. We must acknowledge that we have all been complicit. Even those who didn’t know that the schools were part of a systematic policy carried out by all levels of government in Canada and the Catholic Church, with most other major Christian religions playing a role. They were designed as the centre piece of a doctrine design by church and state to wipe out Indigenous culture by any means. To call them schools of course, is part of the architectural colonial white wash that has been carried out for decades. They were designed to ‘kill the Indian child’ and wipe out ‘Indian culture’. This is documented Canadian policy. Even if you were not aware of the torture, rape, abuse and mass killing of children, you have to be aware of the lived experience in present day Canada of many Indigenous Canadians. The mass incarceration, homelessness, high rates of unemployment,the judgement and fear waged against their circumstances. The truth is that the inter generational trauma that has been hard wired into their being, has almost guarantees a life of struggle, a world that feels hostile, crushing. The weight has been pressing against them so hard and for so long, the sheer fact that they remain and are pushing forward to rise against it demonstrates breathtaking strength and resilience. The truth is Indigenous peoples have been crying out, their lived experiences, the circumstances and struggles have been laid bare for decades, many judged them harshly, assumed they chose their circumstances, shrugged, looked away. Non Indigenous Canadians are now at a point of reckoning with this hard truth...living with the sting of guilt…that all of this was allowed to happen in Canada....only ending in the 1990s. Finally one of the most prevailing Canadian myths has been broken, inconceivable evil was carried out here, that we have to care, we have to respond, we want to atone. Truth is the gift of this moment —- we now know, we can do the work to understand. We can listen, we can reconcile and work together to truly finally create meaningful sustainable change led by Indigenous leaders and communities, we can heal. And facing this doesn’t mean we have to love Canada less, it means we can finally heal – -together. By bringing the truth into the light, we reveal an opportunity to truly come together on a journey of intentional healing and recovery. Every tragedy of the human experience can be attributed to one human decision - the decision to withdraw from each other. Shared understanding, coming together to build community, leading with empathy is the antidote to separation. It is our only way forward. We need each other, we need empathy, we need to do the work together to heal and build. The truth about reconciliation is that you can seek to understand harsh truths, face atrocities and use it to come together to build unity and be stronger. We cannot change the past, but we can face it, we can grieve and love each other through deep painful healing. We can understand, we can promise to do no harm, we can face it and promise each other, never again, not in Canada.
Peggy Taillon Founder and President, HERA Missionwww.heramission.org @heramission 613-769-5499