Indigenous people, my people, have been victims. Victims of an unspeakable horror that no human being should ever experience. The Canadian government has enacted policies throughout history intended to erase our people. A massive genocide. It is estimated before the arrival of the white settlers that 200 million Native peoples inhabited Turtle Island. That number has been obliterated. Approximately 90% of that population has been snuffed out from disease, war, vigilantism and greedy westward expansion.

To articulate this, I painted the painting you see at the top. My painting depicts a dark, gloomy past—a past of depression, death and overall unhealthiness. Then you see a hand holding a healthy tree, with flowers sprouting and the sun shining over it. This is what a teacher can do in the journey to reconciliation. Uplift Indigenous children to a healthy, prosperous future.

The Nehiyawewin word at the top is roughly translated to English to mean “state of depression”. This is the state colonialism has left my people in for the last 500 years.

We have been witness to these wicked acts, but we are in a position of great privileges’. We get to use our position as educators to instill in the minds of our youth the goal of reconciliation. It will take time, it will not be easy. There our aspects that Indigenous people and non-Indigenous people will have to come to agreements on.

The utmost crucial aspect of our Indigenous way of life is our culture. Our culture has real medically recognized benefits to our health. As an educator, it is my responsibility to make sure each Indigenous learner has access to their culture through me. A quick google search of “Native American Culture” will show images of our dancing, and our regalia. Our culture is so much more. Our philosophies, our values, our beliefs are all part of our culture, and are all critical to our health.

I will ensure these horrors never happen to my people again.

For my full research paper on Indigenous culture and it’s critical importance to the health of Indigenous youth see “A Troubled Youth, and A Culture at Risk” under the resources menu

For my full research paper on my journey to reconciliation see “Reconciliation” under the resources menu