The real shame of Attawapiskat

Like a lot of people, I have spent much of my spare time watching news casts, reading articles and following social media on the situation in Attawapiskat. As frightening and depressing as it is to see our people living in such dismal circumstances, I know the Cree people are strong, resilient and determined to find empowering solutions to improve their community.

What I find really shocking, and most disheartening is the backlash of ignorance, racism and pure hatred that is being spewed all over the internet about Attawapiskat and First Nations people in Canada. This is in my opinion, is the real shame of Canada that is being exposed before our very eyes.

“This comment has been removed because it violates our terms and services.”

That’s a common thing to see in any comments section of an article about the current Attawapiskat crisis. Large news publications moderate their comments, but in places like Twitter and Facebook, it’s all too common to find haters trolling the bottom of the barrel, exposing the poison that is ultimately responsible for the condition of First Nations in Canada today. I can’t even repeat some of the comments I have seen. I just don’t have the heart for it.
It’s an understatement for me to say that it angers me to see such blatant racism so proudly displayed in the comments section next to a Facebook profile pic of a cute and innocent baby sitting in Santa’s lap.

[insert rage face here] Do these people feel no shame?

It angers me and above all IT HURTS. My heart is heavy, knowing that there are people out there that believe our lives are worthless, and they could be sitting right next to me on the subway, or standing in line with me at Tim Horton’s.

As a mother of two young children, I fear for the kind of world they are growing up in.

My well-meaning, non-native friend, concerned for me, suggested that maybe I should take a break from the news if it upsets me so much. My response – I can’t, I can’t.

Standing up for injustice is not easily balanced with maintaining personal happiness and well-being, at least for me it’s not. It’s been a struggle because of my sensitivity and how connected I feel to the people of Attawapiskat and our Indigenous nations all over Canada and the world.

It’s times like this I turn to our spiritual teachings, burn my sage, put my tobacco down and trust that Creator supports us in all that we do as we continue to stand up for our rights because we know our people deserve better. What anyone else thinks or says to try to bring us down, really only has as much power over our lives as we allow them to have – and you can bet that I won’t be letting that happen.

My children…our children and our future generations are counting on that.


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