Our home ON NATIVE LAND!
Oh, those aren’t the true lyrics but those are the lyrics I sing and will continue to sing until life gets 100% better for the original people of this land.
I love and appreciate the Kwakwaka’wakw because they brought me to my own heritage. My Aboriginal history is Cree.
My dad was Metis, Cree and French/Scots. I didn’t learn about my Cree ancestors until I was learning about the early lives of the Kwakwaka’wakw when I was a child in Grade 4. I came home, bubbling with excitement and eager to share what I was learning with my family. I felt a kinship with these people who lived these amazing lives and it was then that I was told ” Your dad is half -insert offensive word here-” by my mother.
My dad was quietly proud of his Cree roots once prompted to talk about them but it was never spoken about before then. I had no clue!
I cant know for sure but I do wonder if my dad had learned to keep quiet about his heritage because it was safer/easier that way.
He faced racism in his day to day life. Nasty comments were what I noticed most although I didn’t understand them at the time. A guy scowled at him and yelled ” Go back to your own country!” when we were out shopping. Just out of the blue…unprovoked. We all had a good laugh about the sheer stupidity and ridiculousness of that statement but I know it hurt him.
Life wasn’t easy for my dad. He told me with tears in his eyes that he was never Cree enough for the Cree crowd with his lighter skin and gray eyes, and he was most definitely not white enough for the white crowd.
He sure was Cree enough to be forced into a residential school in Northern Alberta by the colonizers though! What he experienced there stopped his development and negatively effected him for the rest of his life.
So these are the things I’m thinking about today as people celebrate Canada Day.
Growing up in a culture that tells you in so many insidious ways that there is something wrong with an important part of who you are, made me downplay my heritage and live in the in between places too.
Would you believe I know next to nothing about Cree culture ? I learned about the Kwakwaka’wakw and they were the catalyst that opened up my world to the Cree but the reality of racism in Canada put a stop to further learning.
Today seems like a good day to change that.