The Love Affair Begins
When I was in high school I wrote a fictional story about Chief Sitting Bull. To my surprise I discovered there really is a Chief Sitting Bull and he is famous for defeating General George Custer at the Battle of Little Bighorn. It was the beginning of a life long curiosity about North American First Nations People.
The Curiosity Grows
When our children were small, we used to go camping every summer at Bon Echo Provincial Park. It is a beautiful place, and though the park provided some details about the history of the land, I wanted to know more. A college history course seemed to be the next logical step and though it was interesting, I was always dissatisfied with the results. It took many years to discover why. Eventually I figured it out – the history “began” with colonization and there was no mention made of the people who lived there before the loggers and the farmers moved in.
Life Provides an Opportunity
The years continued on and then I was given the opportunity to host an art show entitled “The Creator’s Sacrifice” by Cree artist Ovide Bighetty. The Creator’s Sacrifice tells the story of Jesus, in the Woodland style created by Norval Morriseau. This series of paintings travelled across the country of Canada from Nova Scotia to Vancouver Island.
Hosting this art show led to the opportunity to attend a Truth and Reconciliation Hearing in Toronto. This event broke my heart as I listened to the stories of abuse in the Residential Schools perpetrated on young children by people professing to be doing God’s will. What further broke me was the grace and forgiveness displayed by those who suffered the abuse. As I wept helplessly, I was approached several times and offered comfort and help.
Looking for What Comes Next
Recently while on a long road trip I listened to a CBC’s Ideas, Decolonization: The Next 150 on Indigenous Lands. Keri Cheechoo, a Cree woman, and one of the people interviewed on this show suggested that the real issue behind the missing and murdered Indigenous women is colonialism, which was a new thought for me. The lack of respect and the refusal to treat our First Nations people with dignity is not a history problem, it is still something we are working through today. As I think about that, I wonder where all this passion and learning will take me. Maybe it will forever be something that belongs to my private life and I will do what I can as a volunteer, or maybe it will lead somewhere completely new.
Do you have a passion in your life that might take you in new directions other than the one you are currently on? Are you interested in seeing reconciliation between nations? What do you think it will take to reconcile with our First Nation people?