In my own personal journey with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, what we have discussed in class, and the research that I have done throughout this semester I have had many new understandings of Canadian History and First Nations history. Through the readings and videos that we went through in class all though I did not learn anything know it helped to strengthen what I did know. The hurt that I have in my heart because of the way that all those people in Muffins for Granny were treated helped me to see deeper into the true depth of the mistreatment that the First Nations children experienced at residential schools. It was hard to see all the personal stories instead of facts that many people in Saskatchewan grow up learning about in schools. Throughout this semester my heart has been brought into the equation when thinking about the many people who attended residential schools instead of just thinking about them as a number.
Through my own research for this project I took interest into how First Nations lived because Europeans came over and colonized them. Before contact the land that is Canada, the United states and Mexico was called Turtle Island. It was called this because of the creation story that the First Nations people believed in. From the name of the land one can tell that First Nations people related to the land and that they would name the land nothing after any person but after a creature. As well, that everything was centered on the creator because they honoured and lived totally in surrender to the creator. Before the Europeans came there were well developed communities that had been functioning for hundreds of years. For me this is something that I have always disregarded, and I was taught that the Frist Nations needed the Europeans. However, in my research this passed month I have realized how amazing the First Nations people were doing on their own and that it was the Europeans who needs the help of the First Nations people. It surprises me at how advanced their living was about also how simple. They have different groups that traded and shared. They had roles in each group that were relied on. And the simplicity was that everyone did what they had to do so that everyone else could survive. I am happy to say now that I love the life that First Nations people had before Europeans came. If we were to see First Nations people back before contact we would not be saying that they are useless drugs addicts who are trying to cheat the system and take the governments money, or that they were murders like many people think of them today.
Growing up I learned about all the terrible things that happened to the children that were placed in residential schools however I do no think that I ever understood fully what happened until watching Muffins for Granny. When listening to all the personal stories of what occurred to individuals at residential schools being told by the actual people that it happened to instead of my teacher or reading it in a book made me have a realization that these are not just stories but they are testimonies of events that took place in Canadas history. One line that stood out to me was that, “[…] Indigenous children were being mistreated in residential schools being told their were heathens, savages and pagans and inferior people […]” (Justice Murray Sinclair, Reconciliation Education). These words help explain how the Indigenous people were treated and thought of at this time and the reality of the brutality that they experienced. For me in my research there were many things that I had never realized how much the European settlers worked hard to bring down the Indigenous people. What shocked me the most was that, “[t]reaties were created with the intention to share the land equitably. To gain permission to enter Indigenous territories and the alliances of Indigenous Nations to protect our borders and assist settlers to survive on there lands, treaties formalized an equitable co-existence. Yet, today, Canada now controls nearly 99% of the land while Indigenous People own less than 1%” (Module 10, Reconciliation Education). The second thing that shocked me about the European governance was that, “Successive government policies and laws, such as the 1830 Detribalization Policy and Indian Act, legalized the theft of land, and outlined the ultimate aim to assimilate the Indigenous population” (Module 10, Reconciliation Education). Although I knew that there were many treaties that were not far because there were language barriers I never knew until going through Reconciliation Education modules that the Government of Canada at that time had full knowledge that they were trying to take away the land completely from the First Nations people.
After looking at all of the horrible events that have happened in the past and realizing the depth of all of them my research took me to look at Frist Nations people today. Although Canada is working on the rebuilding of the relationships that were broken in my opinion the effort is not enough. Why many years ago was the government so egger to build schools so that they could strip the culture of the First Nations people right out of them but now the government does not want to build them schools so that they can just learn in a safe environment. As well, I look at the amount of intergenerational trauma, joblessness, poverty, family violence, drug and alcohol abuse, emotional and sexual abuse, homelessness, over-representation in the country’s prisons and child welfare system and I realize that this is all the governments fault. That if they would have just left Indigenous people the way that they were we would be a lot better off now.
This is the conclusion that I came to. Not only does Canada need to restore the relationship but we as a Canadian people need to put in an effort to make Canada the way it should have been without the stripping of Indigenous culture. Although I realize that this may never be possible part of me wanted to dream up what could have been if the Europeans never would have messed with the way First Nations people were living and just lived along side of them. In my representation of blueprints to what I think the University of Regina would have looked like if we did not strip the culture of First Nations people, I reflect on I believe is attainable. I think that the way that we live, our way of knowing, the land, our education system, the government, and even the architecture would be more influenced by the Indigenous ways of life. I hope that one day we can get to a place where Indigenous culture is fully included not integrated into the Canadian way of life.