Be thankful you cannot understand their pain


This may not be the most elegant or coherent thing I have ever written, but it is 4 in the morning, and I cannot sleep because this bothers me so much. 

Over the past week, we have all heard much about the graves of some 215 children found at the site of the Kamloops Indian Residential School. While I do not think this comes as a surprise to anyone who has been paying any attention, I think that facing the reality of this tragedy and knowing that it is likely just the tip of the iceberg should be a source of immense pain and outrage not just for Indigenous communities, but for each and every one of us. 

I would like to be able to say that I understand or even imagine what survivors and affected communities are feeling but in truth I cannot. I cannot even begin to comprehend. 

I have a five year-old granddaughter, with whom I have been very close. Unfortunately, for reasons I will not get into, I have not been allowed to see her for the past 6 months (and do not honestly know if I will ever see her again) and this has been extremely difficult for me.

But I know where she is. I know she is safe. I know she is taken care of. And I know she is with people who love her.

I look at her face, and I cannot imagine knowing that she has been taken away. Knowing she is alone and afraid. Not knowing where she is, or who is caring for her, or even if they are caring for her. Not knowing when or even if I will ever see her again. Knowing or suspecting that she is being abused. Knowing that her very identity is being stripped from her. 

Every one of these children was someone’s child, someone’s grandchild, and some community’s future. Every single one, and thousands more. This is not abstract. This is real, and it is horrendous.

This breaks my heart. From what I have read and heard in the media it breaks everyone’s hearts. 

But that is not enough – not by a long shot. Where is outrage?

I applaud the Indigenous community’s focus on Truth and Reconciliation, and greatly respect their strength and wisdom in following that path.

But for the rest of us, where is the outrage ay the things done in our name? Where is the absolute outrage that our government, the Government of Canada, not just allowed this to happen but actively participated? That the government elected by Canadians, that represents Canadians, was complicit in these atrocities?

We as a species and as a society can and must be better than this!

I would like to end with 3 calls to action:

  1. Listen. Listen mindfully to the stories of survivors, and to the communities. A few minutes of mindful listening can contribute greatly to understanding and healing.
  2. I ask that everyone who reads this take the time today to look at the faces of your children, of your grandchildren, and be damn grateful that you cannot comprehend the pain of these children, these parents, these grandparents, and these communities.
  3. And I ask, how are we and our government(s) going to make this right?

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