By Caroline N. Sharp
You may or may not have read in the news that a Guatemalan firm has reached out to Canada in support of First Nations peoples taking the lead on using ground penetrating radar to find the bodies of those children who never made it home.
Indigenous people should be leading the search, after all, who cares about this more than them? But colonialism still has a tight grip on this land, and nothing happens without the government’s permission.
I’m not a politician. I really don’t care for politics and many Indigenous peoples do not believe that the government will ever be the answer to any of our problems – including finding our little ones so we can bring them home. The government certainly isn’t in a hurry to find our missing women either, despite the numerous asks to search the landfill!
How do you decolonize a government though?
I’ve been asked once: How do you eat an elephant (regarding the elephant in the room)? The answer is quite obvious: One bite at a time. Many First Nations on Turtle Island respect what’s known as the seven grandfather teachings.
These are a code of ethics that many Indigenous people follow (or try to). I am Mi’kmaq so I’ll share an example of our teachings:
Wisdom: To cherish knowledge is to know Wisdom. Wisdom is given by the Creator to be used for the good of the people.
Love: To know Love is to know peace. Love must be unconditional. When people are weak, they need love the most.
Respect: To honor all creation is to have Respect. All of creation should be treated with respect. You must give respect if you wish to be respected.
Bravery: Bravery is to face the foe with integrity. In the Mi’kmaq language, this word literally means "state of having a fearless heart." To do what is right even when the consequences are unpleasant.
Honesty: Honesty in facing a situation is to be brave. Always be honest in words and actions. Be honest first with yourself, and you will more easily be able to be honest with others. In the Mi’kmaq language, this word can also mean "righteousness, doing what is right."
Humility: Humility is to know yourself as a sacred part of Creation. In the Mi’kmaq language, this word can also mean "compassion." You are equal to others, but you are not better.
Truth: Truth is to know all of these things. Speak the truth. Do not deceive yourself or lie to others.
As you read through these, were you reminded of any passages, stories, or characters from the bible? All of these teachings have been woven into the bible and fit the golden rule for treating others as you wish to be treated. These teachings need to be embodied by everyone so that hatred and murder towards specific people disappear.
Until we can all treat each other equally or even more so, equitably, we need to help raise the voices of those Indigenous peoples to be given permission to search for their people regardless of whether it is in a school yard or a landfill. Don’t just wear your orange shirt on September 30 and call it a day. Become an ally, support small Indigenous businesses, get to know your local Indigenous community and go to events like pow wows. To find a friendship center near you, visit: https://nafc.ca/friendship-centres/find-a-friendship-centre?lang=en
If you haven’t experienced a Kairos Blanket Exercise (KBE) yet, perhaps consider hosting one at your parish and for your community. Although Kairos is making some changes to their program, if you contact them (email@example.com), they can send you a list of partners who can accommodate your request.
The KBE is a great way to experience the Indigenous history of this land. Most people claim to have never learned about this history in school, thereby making it an effective, one-of-a-kind tool to launch you, your parish, and your community into decolonization and true reconcile-action.
Caroline N. Sharp is a co-chair for Social and Ecological Justice Huron.