My Little Corner of Canada
Say it with feeling
by JOHN AMAGOALIK
The partial apology and statement of reconciliation from Jane Stewart, Minister of Indian Affairs is the sort of statement I have been expecting for the past 30 years. I have been wondering why it has taken so long for something as simple as this.
For many Aboriginal people, the partial apology and statement only comes part of the way. The history of broken promises and acts of discrimination has created a deep pool of cynicism and mistrust.
Many cannot be blamed for their suspicions of a department which, in the past, has acted against their interests and failed to respect their human rights. Some feel that the government is still just playing with words which their lawyers have crafted for them.
The apology and statement is a tentative step in the right direction. The apology is narrow and deals mainly with residential school abuse. There is only a vague reference to relocations. Acts of hostility and genocide inflicted on aboriginal peoples are generally ignored.
The silence of the Prime Minister is deafening. Is this a statement from the government of Canada or just from Jane Stewart? Does this statement reflect the attitude of the whole government? Jean Chretien needs to speak to us.
Jane Stewart should be congratulated for having the courage to take this step which other ministers have studiously avoided for too long. It is a tentative step, but it is a step which we must build on.
She also needs to put aside the documents which her speechwriters and lawyers have written for her on this matter. She needs to speak from her heart in order to bring out the human emotions that surround this issue.
The government has to express this apology with feeling and sincerity. They may be surprised at how good they will feel.
When nature twitches
The ice storms which devastated parts of Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick is another reminder of just how vulnerable we are when the forces of nature strike.
Growing up as a child, I often thought how absurd it was to talk of “taming” or “conquering” the wilderness. I had always been told that nature was not something to be fought or challenged. Nature was such an immediate part of our lives that attempting to change it or fight it was an absurd idea. It was never seen as the enemy.
When Mother Nature twitches, the best laid plans of mice and men can crumble under a sheet of ice.