Tomorrow is the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a day to recognize the painful past of the relationship between Canada and its first nations people.
A federal statutory holiday created in June under an act of parliament, it is a day to honour the lost children and survivors of residential schools and the unfair treatment experienced by indigenous people.
It is a day for those of us non-native Canadians to acknowledge our part, and that of the generations that preceded us. It will be a day of reflection on the lives we have been living and the systemic racism we have lived with.
It hurts to think about it.
How can we deal with the guilt of decisions made before our time?
How can we deal with the outright imbalance of issues that continue to strain this country?
We need only think of the murdered and missing women across this country.
We think of the large number of indigenous communities in this country without safe drinking water.
This is Canada.
We live on stolen land.
And we continue to learn more, and learn of more and more bodies being discovered on the grounds of former government and church-run residential schools. For years the ghosts of these rumours haunted us.
Now we know of the corpses.
These are the lost generations we will think of tomorrow.
How can we speak for those who are unable to speak for themselves?
We need to seriously ask ourselves how we can become a part of the healing process, and how we can leave a better world for those to come.
This is especially difficult since we have already imparted our biases and beliefs onto our own children — either directly or by implication — and society, historically, has enforced our sad shortcomings.
We have not always been the best neighbours. More so, we have sinned or committed sins against those we have not known.
Many of us have not taken the time to know the truths, or their stories.
Some of us have listened to, or studied, the wrongful ways of the past.
For too long, too many of us have viewed our nation’s first people as our country’s first problems, and successive governments have perpetuated this pattern.
How can we become better ancestors?
We can begin today. Tomorrow will not come soon enough.
© 2021 j.g. lewis