Stuart was visiting a village on a Greek Island when he took this photo of a carved nude female. Struck by its lack of identity, Stuart says that he “was drawn to it by the faceless nature of the woman; a metaphor for so many of the women in our world.”
First of all, I am going to take a leaf from my blog friend Melanie (http://sparksfromacombustiblemind.com) and warn you, dear reader, that controversial opinions follow. I don’t wish to offend, but just so that you know, there are religious and political speed bumps in this post.
Let me start by saying that I am a fiercely proud Canadian. I served in the military. I have done lots of volunteering. I like the values that have developed here and I grew to appreciate them even more by living in other countries.
But I have been very upset and troubled by what has been unfolding with respect to our indigenous peoples.
If you’re Canadian, you will know what I’m referring to: all the children’s bodies that have been discovered in unmarked graves at three former residential schools.
If you’re not Canadian, here’s a quick history: from the 1870s to the 1980s, the federal government decided that in order to destroy indigenous peoples’ languages and culture and force them to assimilate, all children between ages 4-16 should be taken from their families and required to attend residential schools. About 150,000 indigenous children were literally stolen from their families and compelled to attend; sometimes these schools were hundreds of kilometres away from their homes and the children were rarely allowed back home to visit.
In this tragic tale, what’s the most tragic is that many, many of these children never survived the schools to return home at all, and their families were never given any kind of explanation. The federal government contracted with several Christian churches to run these schools: Anglican, United, Presbyterian and Roman Catholic. The vast majority of these schools – 75% – were run by the Roman Catholic Church. These Catholic residential schools were also operated the longest and were the last to close.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission detailed the mistreatment at these schools, including the emotional, physical and sexual abuse that occurred. It also found that the crowded living conditions, poor nutrition and substandard medical care made the children more likely to die of disease and infection.
When this barbaric practice was finally fully stopped (this torture continued in some places longer than in others) the Anglican, United and Presbyterian churches apologised, turned over their records, and tried to make amends. The federal government apologised. The Roman Catholic Church? Nothing. Nada. Zero. No apologies. No records. No acknowledgment of any kind of responsibility.
It was long believed that there were the unmarked graves of children on many of the schools’ grounds, and now explicit proof is being found with the use of ground-penetrating radar. In the last month, more than 1000 graves in three different locations have been found. I am not surprised; I expect that now the search has begun, many, many more will be found.
I have very strong feelings about this: anger, embarrassment, guilt, sadness, and outrage.
I am mad at my government and I’m mad at the Roman Catholic Church. I was raised in that church.
But its actions have been despicable, it hasn’t apologised or taken any responsibility, and if it were any other organisation, it would be disbanded and its assets seized. At the very least, our government should immediately remove its tax-free status.
Meanwhile across the country, more and more Catholic Churches are being burned to the ground in the dead of night.
But instead of taking action, our PM stands around, shuffling his feet and spouting platitudes about how we need to behave ourselves. He’s a Catholic, and he hasn’t said or done anything about this horrible institution.
Some people are saying that Canada Day should be cancelled in favour of a day of mourning, reflection and amendment, and in many locations, it has been. Others say that this is nothing more than “cancel culture” and that we can’t blame historical figures for behaving in the context of their time.
I disagree. Human behaviour is human behaviour. Sir John A MacDonald, our first PM, knew exactly what he was doing when he helped to design the residential school system, and so did all the others who were also a part of this. His greed, his need for control and his sense of entitlement and superiority drove him and the many others who participated, including the Roman Catholic Church.
I work with many indigenous people, and I know first-hand how awful they have had it. As a result, I frequently experience white guilt when I really consider the fact that although I, personally, don’t bear any direct responsibility for what the colonialists did, every day I reap the “rewards” of what they stole. So does anyone who chooses to make this country their home.
But I’m not ashamed, and I’m not ashamed of my country. Shame won’t solve anything – it’s just a revolving door.
What will help is for us to face our past, squarely and honestly, without trying to sugar-coat or side-step, and without allowing a religious institution to escape taking responsibility because it’s religious. It’s the only way we can support our indigenous peoples. It’s the only way we can show our respect. And maybe, it’s how we can finally turn to them and say, “yes, I get it now. I understand.”
This Canada Day, I won’t be having a party while my friends are in mourning.
I am safely back in Canada and almost at my work-home to start my 14 days of self-isolation. It has been hectic as I tried to handle all sorts of things from a distance and the concern about being able to get home at all was also in the back of my mind.
Thank you to everyone who wished me safe travels and good luck. That was so very much appreciated. 🙂
And now, something lovely to look at …
I love the variegated pink and white petals.
Whatever you’re doing, and wherever you’re from, I wish you a happy weekend, good health, and a better week to come. 🙂
I am in the midst of returning home after an overseas trip. I have a strong sense of getting back just ahead of the drawbridge being pulled up, even though no deadline has been given. As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday in a press conference: it’s time to come home.
In common with many of my compatriots, I have travelled internationally a lot, have lived in other countries, and have served in the military. All of these experiences have made me very aware of how fortunate I am to be able to come home, especially to a country that cares about its citizens and that doesn’t see us a commodity to be expended. It’s nothing but an accident of birth, but that difference has given me multitudinous advantages and opportunities.
So over the next couple of days, I will be navigating airports and aircraft with lots of hand sanitizer, hand washing, and distancing. I feel fine, but I will need to go into self-isolation for 14 days to ensure my health and that of others.
And, for the first time ever, I will be working from home. A new experience.
Salted Caramel is asking readers to get personal. Here are her questions:
1. Do you blog under your own name or do you use a pseudonym?
2. Do you share personal details like gender, nationality, race or faith?
3. How much of your personality shows through your writing?
4. Do you share personal experiences to illustrate your writing?
I am not big on telling lots of personal details on my blog because I have a narcissist in my background who still likes to check up on me, and I would really rather that he not find any extra tidbits on how to contact or find me.
So, as a result of that, I do use a pseudonym – my actual first name and my grandmother’s surname. I have never bothered to specifically share my race, gender, or faith, although if you’ve read enough of my stuff, you likely will have figured these things out. To me, these things are incidentals.
I definitely share personal experiences, but I try to remove or alter any features that might definitively identify me, so there’s a smudging of the lines.
My blog is me. I don’t try to blur or change who I am, so yes, I believe my personality is here. But the thought that comes up for me when considering these questions is around how much of ourselves we should be sharing.
The online world is funny that way. It encourages people to share, but then, how much is too much? Many people drop off lots of personal information, far too much, I think. They feel safe in doing so. They feel that there’s nothing about themselves that they should hide or keep private. That there’s no need.
Until it’s too late and they need to keep themselves private for a very private reason. How do you turn that off? Is it even possible to turn that off?
It’s almost expected that we give up our privacy now, for work, for pleasure, for being able to just operate. And privacy is one of those things that’s precious; it’s been fought for and died over, many, many countless times. Shouldn’t we be a little more protective and respectful of this great costly gift that we have?
I know of people who, through WP, have met and become friends. That’s pretty great. People who otherwise would have never met, especially across oceans and continents, become lifelong chums.
But it bothers me when I’m told that I “should” be using such social media as Facebook and Twitter. For starters that would probably unleash the narcissist. And apart from that, I don’t want to. How much updating and tweeting can one person do? How do people find the time? Frankly, I find a lot of it boring.
I know that information is not only power, it’s money. And lots of companies want us to spill our guts so that they can make money from a raw material that costs them nothing but has the potential to be very costly to us.
They want us to use invasive devices such as Siri and Alexa. They get into our homes and cars and are inside our heads, mining for gold.
I don’t want to live in a society that more or less requires us to have one of these in our homes. Ten years from now, here’s the instruction on the side of a box: You will “need” Siri in order to complete the following task …
I don’t care if you want to have lots of Siris and Alexas all over your life. However, I want that to be a choice, not a pseudo-requirement that gradually eases its thin edge into our lives and over time evolves into a necessity.
Because of that, I think that these companies should be regulated. I think that AI should be regulated. And sooner rather than later.
What do you think? How personal are you with your blog? How far do you think technology should be allowed to go?
This post is brought to you by Melanie’s Share Your World and Ursula’s response to it. Please take a look at their blogs. They are thoughtful, interesting and stimulating bloggers who think outside the box. 🙂
Melanie’s question is: Am I a strong person character-wise?
What does “strong” mean? To me, it means being assertive, standing up for those you love when they can’t do that for themselves, being able to think independently, having integrity.
Having defined what “strong” is though, I have to say that sometimes I have been a strong person, and at other times, I have been a weak person.
Perhaps people need to be weak in order to understand how to be strong. If you’re uncomfortable because of the choices you’re making, then maybe you need to examine them. Recognising weaknesses means that you know what strong is (or isn’t)?
Is there a little interior voice telling you to pick something else, do something else, be something else?
I’ve learned to listen to my interior voice. It hasn’t let me down yet. I have let it down lots of times though because I haven’t listened to it. Without question, I usually know the right path, but sometimes I don’t take it, and this was more evident when I was younger.
Is that an excuse? I was younger and didn’t know better, blah, blah, blah.
Well, it is and it isn’t. I had impulse control issues when I was younger and even now to some extent, but I often knew that I was making a poor choice … I just thought that I could make the outcome be different. The hubris of youth? Well, not when you’re getting up there in age …
Here in northern Canada where I work, indigenous people believe in the “capable” person, not the strong person. They find the idea of a strong person to be a western concept that leaves other qualities (and therefore many people) out. Qualities that are important and needed, but not necessarily very heroic or romantic.
It’s spherical thinking, not continuum thinking, and I believe it gets at the idea that sometimes we are strong, and sometimes we’re not. It’s the notion that we’re able to do certain things, to make contributions, but we’re not able to do all things, or heroic things.
I love the idea of “capable.” That there are many things I can do and can contribute, but that I can’t contribute everything nor should I be expected to.
I haven’t really answered Melanie’s question in any definitive sort of way, but I’ve thought about it and I’m thinking about it still.
What do you think? Are you a strong person? A capable person?