Monday Morning Musings

Posted on October 28, 2019 under Monday Morning Musings with 3 comments


Oh Canada (Part 2).

I am filled with anger and despair.

In 2016, a young Cree man by the name of Colten Boushie was shot and killed on a farm in rural Saskatchewan. Colten Boushie was shot in the back of the head. An all-white jury acquitted the perpetrator of the shooting. Several indigenous people were called as potential jurors. None were chosen. At  a town hall meeting after the incident, hosted by the RCMP, members of the community, including many farmers, participated in a discussion about the events leading up to the tragedy. One farmer said that 80% of the people in the room would have done the same thing if their property (not their lives) were being threatened.

So, let me get this straight. It is somehow acceptable to shoot an unarmed First Nations person in the back of the head if he or she is perpetrating a property crime.

Last Friday, I sat with a few hundred other people at the Antigonish International Film Festivals screening of the disturbing film “We Will Stand Up “. The film is about Colten Boushie but it is much more than this. It speaks of overt racism in our country and the pathetic treatment of our founding people.

Three local First Nations young women opened up the evening with their own accounts of how their people have been treated for generations and the lasting stigma that continues to persist. They wept openly as they tried to explain how racism continues to affect them, their families, and the children. Many people in the crowd were moved to tears.

Sometimes Canadians can be pretty sanctimonious and smug. We are prone to looking at our neighbours to the south, pointing fingers at the treatment of blacks in that country. We have much to answer for in our own back yards.

It is hard to believe that in a country blessed with incredible resources and riches that many of our own people live in abject poverty, in sub-standard housing and in many cases,with terrible water quality. The racists amongst us will lay the blame at the feet of our indigenous community about their inability to manage the financial resources passed to them by various governments over the decades.

How did we get to this tragic state of affairs?

I have been doing a lot of reading lately including Tanya Telaga’s excellent book “All Our Relations”. If you want a brief history lesson about the history of First Nations people in Canada, this is an informative read. There is also an excellent YouTube series entitled “Eighth Fire”. If you want to better understand how we have arrived at a time when the lives of indigenous women and girls are rendered almost meaningless as they go missing and die with shocking regularity, get educated.

The plight of our First Nations people can be traced to colonialism, residential schools, broken promises and treaties that were signed in good faith but never honored. It can be traced to these people being placed on reserves. It can be traced to the loss of their way of life with the slaughter of thousands of sled dogs. The list goes on. It is appalling.

Robert Burns wrote a poem in 1785 called “From Man Was Made to Mourn: A Dirge”. In the poem, he speaks of “man’s inhumanity to man.” It means man’s ability to do horrible things to fellow humans. It speaks of oppression and cruelty that mankind causes and mankind suffers.

Understanding how we have gotten to this situation in our country is one thing but how to move forward and try to improve the situation is very complex.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission ( issued its report in 2015 with 94 recommendations. In it, is a detailed account of what happened to indigenous children who were physically and sexually abused in government boarding schools, where an estimated 3,200 children died from tuberculosis, malnutrition and other diseases resulting from poor living conditions. Estimates of the death toll are much higher because burial records were so poor, according to the Commission.

Stop for a moment. Imagine that your children are ripped from your arms and taken far away to get an education by strangers? And then imagine your children suffering sexual and physical violence at the hands of those entrusted to their care. No wonder our indigenous people are so scarred. We have much to answer for.

I don’t expect everyone reading this to agree with me. All I ask is that you educate yourself so that you might have some understanding and empathy.

Have a great weekend.

P.S. To my new friends in Cheticamp, Pleasant Bay, Cape North, Bay St.Lawrence, Dingwall, Neils’ Harbour and beyond. My friends at the Highlands Hostel in Cape North ( are raising money for Yvonne Daisley who suffered a stroke a few months ago. I have donated several copies of one of my books. Please contact Bricin or Patricia and support Yvonne’s recovery. Thanks.




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