Inherited war memories

In her debut poetry book, writer & theatre artist Danielle Janess (left) employs form and language – becoming theatre, film clips, photographs and dance – to delve into her grandfather’s WW II experiences. FULL STORY

#45 So long, Harpy

October 24th, 2015

So long, Harpy. Hello, Le Dauphin

 

Can Justin Trudeau, Le Dauphin, begin to heal relations with First Nations? That won’t be easy.

I have been struck time and time again by how forgiving FN people seem to be. There is so much for this country to clean up, so much to undo, so much to give more than mere lip service to doing. If Trudeau can fulfill his promise to Idle-No-More that will be a start. It might seem like a big start to some, but, really, it’s a small start when you look at the absolute horror that was the Residential School System.

Some years ago some elder women told me to write a novel about “Rezzy.”  God knows there’s plenty of documentation which clearly shows those hellholes were nothing but concentration camps, but, as a society, we don’t much pay attention to documentation.  These old women thought a “story” might work better. I tried. I’m still trying. I’ve had reams of research given to me, I have teetering heaps of paper, letters, articles, and notes.  I’ve sat and listened to members of my family as they told of their time in Rezzy, and I’ve heard stories from other people.

My problem is I do not sympathise with others, I empathise, and I have been rendered almost paralyzed because as each horror story unfolds, I can only visualize my own treasures.  Five of my six granddaughters are status first nations. Had those wretched schools still been open there is absolutely nothing at all I could have done to save my darlings. The mere thought of it and I am wiping tears and trying to swallow this huge lump in my throat.

This nation will not quickly nor easily undo all those years of raw hatred dumped on the heads of helpless children.  We cannot “make up for” any of that, we have to acknowledge it, we have to wear it and we have to work to get ourselves past the conditioned distrust and hatred we carry in our own hearts and souls. Because it could happen again!

What Harpy managed to stir up against the Niqab is evidence that those awful places are possible if we aren’t careful.

Some years ago my partner’s old dog found and rolled on a long-dead seagull.  We both quoted Shakespeare’s line “all the perfumes of Araby will not…”, and it took several baths with liquid detergent to get the disgusting oil residue off the dogs’ fur. I fear Harpy will be like that.

How do we heal the rift with Muslim Canadians, the shot-to-the-heart given them when the racist bullshyte was shovelled from our then-PM?  Such a needless go-round over a facial scarf, such dire warnings of Islamification, as if we were all in imminent danger of Sharia law being invoked tomorrow.

I don’t know many Muslims, I can actually only think of one acquaintance who is Muslim and I don’t think he follows the faith very closely.  Like most of the “Christian” people I know, it’s like a garment inherited from previous family members, one in which we might not feel all that comfortable. But for those people who are Muslim, and practise their faith, it must have seemed like betrayal of all the reasons they came here in the first place.

I apologize. I know I don’t speak for all Canadians, I wouldn’t be so stupid as to try, but for myself, personally, I apologize.

You didn’t have that coming.

Anne Cameron grows pussywillows on the western edge of Vancouver Island. She received the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award for an outstanding literary career in British Columbia in 2010. Her 23 books include Daughters of Copper Woman, the bestselling work of fiction ever written about B.C. and published from within B.C. She has banished herself to Tahsis, a small town not far from Friendly Cove where the shenanigans called British Columbia all began.

 

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