Burning churches: ‘Do you really understand how and why?’
Are the modern voices of reason present and past?
P.M. Trudeau and thousands of others have mounted soapboxes shaking a finger at the smoldering anger of Native youth (or others) that have wreaked havoc on the brick-and-mortar symbols of Canadian genocide and they say, “Burning churches is not the answer.”
Okay, it’s not the answer. Is there an answer?
Some church fires are being investigated as hate crimes.
Though it’s impossible to go back in time, isn’t the long-standing devaluing of the humanity of Native peoples and the intentional destruction of their culture and societies as mentioned above, in actuality, hate crimes? You might know they are, and they continue now, but in a much less dramatic, and even friendlier way.
And what of the fire-setters?
Mistaken, yes, but the egregious fire-setting is emboldened by clear views of generations of racism, low key dislike or out-and-out hatred and intent to destroy Canada’s original Ab-original peoples. Yes, it sounds heavy. It should. It is.
In general, young men are most susceptible to bursts of unruly anger in their mid-teens to early 20s. They are most likely to be the ones venting their anger in a sad and unacceptable way, and will no doubt pay a price for what they did, if and when that’s proven.
It seems the fire-starters have put matches to generations of frustration, outright racism, ignorance, broken treaties and broken promises, and intentional economic poverty. Now with the uncovering of at least several hundred, if not eventually thousands of unmarked Indigenous graves, people who have accepted silence of Native mistreatment as the price to be paid for relative calm and peace are speaking up and expressing outrage.
If you know something of Canada’s history, you could say that the gas was poured by Canada’s 1st prime minister, in league with the Catholic Church, to carry out a pogrom-like master-plan for Indigenous peoples to get gone A.S.A.P.
Our current PM talks about finding a path forward. For whom is this forward path?
Maybe you understand why some say, “We’re reacting to what you (meaning the church and the government) have done to them, their ancestors, their family lineage, their reserves (which many have left), their lands or the ones promised to them long ago but reneged on?
Why should they heed Trudeau’s remonstrances? His election promises helping him to two terms of office are still mostly unfulfilled. Nothing substantive has relieved the bulk of Indigenous fortune.
There is little to brighten the future of Canada’s Native youth, especially on First Nation reserves located away from major centres. Suicide, alcohol, drug or other types of addiction has become the norm on many provincial reserves. Many parents, themselves missing some key life lessons many of us take for granted, feel helpless to reach their kids.
Non-Indigenous people in our country seem slow to get – that when you summarily remove children from homes – you destroy that family, and if done in a drastic, arrogant and somewhat hostile way across the spectrum of families of a certain ethnic grouping, the main role of the family i.e.: one’s usual source of strength and support – is destroyed. It will take a long time to restore the essence of these family structures.
The destruction of First Nations, Metis and Inuit family life, the neglect and brutalization of residential school children such as forbidding children to speak in their Native tongue and punishing them severely if they did, ignoring health needs to the point of death, then burying them in unmarked graves as if they had never existed – all this and more weighs upon the Native soul and should upon all Canada – not to wear as a sackcloth or unearned burden, but to truly understand the damage done.
Work must be done, especially led by Indigenous wisdom and practicing elders, to work toward a real and sincere, not imaginary, redux of the relationship between the First peoples and the European influx that clearly and shamelessly set out to destroy Native family life and, in fact, Indigenous-ness itself.
Eli Bryan Nelson, Langley City
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