by David Groulx
If the Whiteman thinks
Indian lives were
“nasty brutish and short”
before he came
He should see them now
David Groulx was raised in Northern Ontario. He is proud of his Aboriginal roots—Ojibwe Indian and French Canadian. David’s poetry has appeared in over 160 publications in 16 countries. He lives in Ottawa, Canada.
"Returning Home" by Aaron Paquette.
Editor's note on the art
The image above is dedicated to the survivors of Canada's "Indian Residential Schools." The First Nation / Métis artist who created the image, Aaron Paquette, is also allowing its free download to anyone who needs it.
In the artist's own words: "The idea for this painting was to communicate safety, security, a return to tradition and traditional teachings. In essence, it was to be about healing...A tipi lit from within, offering sanctuary against winter’s chill...And better yet, there is a community here. No one is alone. In every home is a family, laughing, playing, dancing, or praying. This is a good place to be."
Background: Canada's "Indian Residential Schools"
*For confirmation and further information, please see the webpage for the Government of Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Much is also specifically recounted in the Prime Minister's apology.
Canada long had an official, nationwide policy to—explicitly—"kill the Indian in the child" for for the purpose of assimilation. The government forcibily removed First Nations children from their families, and sent them to faraway residential schools run by religious organizations. The children were held there for years, forbidden to speak their language, forbidden to practice their spiritual or other traditions. Many were physically and sexually abused. By the time they were allowed to return home, enough knowledge had been successfully wiped-out that most were left unable even to communicate with their own parents—because they had forgotten their mother tongue. Intergenerational trauma is still being expressed and experienced through high rates of alcohol and drug abuse, suicide, etc.
The last school closed in 1996. Some 80,000 of the 150,000 former students are still alive today.
In 2008, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper spoke to formally apologize (YouTube link) for the residential school system, which he called "a sad chapter in our history."
- George Filipovic, Editor, One Throne Magazine