I have this sort of instinctive thing where I categorize stuff as right or wrong. Good or bad. Do other people do that? Books, or movies, or shows… you either like it or you don’t. It interests you or it doesn’t. Some of those things are trickier than others to put in one box or the other. Ethical questions can be tricky for someone who is a black & white thinker. It’s something I continue to work on…the trickier ones. To take a step back and look at a thing in a different way. Hear other points of view, so I can make a choice that’s based on a wider perspective. But there are some things that are easy, or they should be.
Now last week, September 30th, was the first ever National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. This was number 80 on the list of 94 Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It reads like this:
- We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.
So as I said, last week on September 30th was the first of these days. Now how this fits into my statement about black & white, right & wrong, is that I think it should have been pretty freakin’ obvious that the right thing for the Prime Minister to do on that day–the first EVER NDTR, would NOT be to treat it like a vacation and take his family to Tofino.
Hey, Tofino’s a fabulous place! On the west coast of Vancouver Island, home to an amazing surfing community, as well as a cool place for storm watching. You should totally go there! There’s a large Indigenous population there, too, so when I heard that’s where he was going I thought, cool. Great place to meet with First Nations people and hear their stories. .… But no. He took his family there … for a vacation.
Remember back at the beginning of June when I talked about the 215 unmarked graves located by ground penetrating radar at the Kamloops Residential school? That very First Nation invited the PM to attend their ceremony on September 30, not once but twice they invited him. And he didn’t go. Apparently he spent the day before on the phone speaking to several, like eight, residential school survivors, hearing their stories. And that’s great! But it’s not good enough. To me, it’s pretty frickin’ obvious that on the VERY FIRST EVER NDTR, the fucking Prime fucking Minister should not be on fucking vacation. He should be immersing himself in the event he and his government claim to espouse. And because the recent outpouring of grief that inspired such an enormous response across the country began with the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation, and they invited him to attend their ceremony, that is where he should have been. This is a no brainer.
And of course he has now apologized. And that pisses me off, because I’m so sick of people doing something shitty and then apologizing, instead of just doing the right thing first.
I had a teacher in high school who, if a student was late or… made some other mistake, and said, “Sorry,” this teacher would say, “Don’t be sorry. Just don’t do it.” And at the time I thought… what an assoholic thing to say! But as I grew older I learned what he meant.
Like Remembrance Day, the NDTR is not a vacation day. It’s a day for listening, for learning, for reflection, with a goal toward change. Justin Trudeau: Don’t be sorry. Just don’t do it.