IndigNation | by Bev Cardinal

So much death and bloodshed. So many tears and stories. So much heartbreak.

It’s overwhelming.

If you’ve had the courage to dive into the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Final Report, you’re probably still reeling. It’s a painful, uncomfortable tome, and designed to be exactly that. The stories are deep and traumatic — but most importantly, they’re true.

Time To Change The Story

The MMIWG Final Report has 231 “Calls for Justice” to go with its strategic and deliberate use of the word “genocide”, which has been analyzed to death (no insincerity intended) in the days since its June 3 release.

But here’s the thing — our Elders teach us there is truth in stories. Once a story is told, they say, it’s out in the world and cannot be taken back. Once we hear it , we can’t say “we did not know.” Stories are astonishing and powerful.

This particular shameful story has its origins in colonialism, racism, hate, misogyny and annihilation. But as important as what this story is about, is what it’s not about. It is not, as Saskatchewan’s Minister of Justice and Attorney General Don Morgan and his ilk prefer to portray it, simply about “…a series of criminal acts…”.

The truth of this story is that although it began well over 150 years ago, it still continues today.

So what are you going to do now that you’ve heard this story? That’s up to you. My hope is it’s going to cause each and every one of us — Indigenous and non-Indigenous — to reflect on the real truth of ourselves and our nation, and make meaningful, deeply personal and incredibly difficult changes.

We need to redefine our story, because our story is how we will be remembered.

… And Speaking Of Nationalism, Eh

This brings us to the topic of “why Canada Day seems to hate Indigenous people”.

Instead of full-on revelling on July 1 because it’s “Canada Day”, many Indigenous people will ignore the whole celebration to spend the day at a powwow or watch the Riders play the Argos. Others? Who knows. Maybe protestors will show up at the Legislature again? That would be exciting. Canada Day organizers might not like it, but they’d probably have less anxiety about possible “Indigenous protestors” if they spent more time genuinely working with the Indigenous community to understand the place we currently occupy in this country (see above re: MMIWG Inquiry).

Besides, there’s huge value and opportunity for big political anniversary days to include both participation AND protest. Surely our history has demonstrated that it is better to embrace both the comfortable and the uncomfortable.

In any case, the presence of Indigenous activists on Canada Day would most definitely remind everyone that for Canada’s Indigenous peoples, there’s nothing to celebrate about the past 152 years.

It’s important to remember, as people sing the national anthem, that Canada is “our home on Native land.”