As I'm celebrating Thanksgiving this weekend in Canada, here are some things that I'm thinking about (rather things that I think about everyday but seem particularly pertinent on Thanksgiving given the historical context):
- This land was Turtle Island, Indigenous territory for thousands and thousands and thousands of years before Europeans ever stepped foot on it. We are not a nation of immigrants. Some of us are, Indigenous people are not.
- Treaties and Wampums were created to share, not to sell, the land. Land ownership was a strictly European concept.
- Those agreements, those contracts, both verbal and written, were broken and ignored over and over by the British and French.
- Indigenous people were never passive; they were allies of the various Europeans and they were active participants in the treaty process -- it was only through betrayal, sabotage and back pedaling that Indigenous communities lost their equal standing. It's like showing up for a boxing match and the other guy brought a bazooka.
- Aboriginal communities and groups continue to fight for their treaty and human rights, continue to be met with bureaucratic nonsense and forced to jump through hoops for promises that were made hundreds of years ago and never honoured.
- All non-Aboriginal people living on Turtle Island benefit from treaties and from colonization.
As Canadians, as non-Aboriginal people who live in North America it is imperative to educate ourselves about the true history of how this land came to be brutally colonized. To eradicate harmful stereotypes. To push for the right and the dignity of Aboriginal self-determination. And to accept the role that we have played and that we continue to play (passively and actively in some cases) in the colonizing process as Aboriginal people themselves go through the steps of decolonization. It is not the role of non-Aboriginal people to speak for, act for or save Indigenous or Metis people, but to be allies.
So this Thanksgiving and beyond, think about the land you live on and how you came to live there. Think about the propaganda pushed out about Canadian history and who benefits from the spin. Seek out information about Aboriginal issues from Aboriginal people. As with everything think critically and with an open mind. And eat lots of food.