The Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan reported “hundreds” of unmarked graves of children at the Marieval residential school.
Let that sink in.
Hundreds of unmarked graves.
Hundreds of unmarked graves of children.
What the fuck Canada? What the fuck?
This news comes only weeks after 215 childrens bodies were found near a residential school in Kamloops British Columbia.
And guess what? This is only the beginning.
And today I cried – no – I wailed. Children. I wailed for the poor souls who were snuffed out, and buried without dignity. Were they buried in the dark? With no witnesses. Likely yes. But where is the justice?
I want those of you who are Catholic to know that I am not upset with you. I am upset with your organizations track record. Yes, we can get into a discussion about all the good the church does, ya-de-fucking-ya. This is not about YOU. This is about murdered children. And this is not an anomaly in Canada. Ireland has uncovered unmarked graves of children, buried at schools and workhouses. I am sure anywhere the church has been allowed to set up shop there are bodies. When is enough, enough?
These children in Canada were ripped from their communities and families. I am tired of hearing that removing children was for their own good and safety? Safety? From whom? The priests and nuns trusted with the care of stolen children obviously did not do such a great job. They literally hid the bodies of the children they killed or died from neglect while in their care. And the Canadian government paid them to do it. To “take the Indian” out of them. Well they sure as hell succeeded. They even managed to rip their lives from them.
And we are not talking about hundreds of years ago. There are still generations in Canada living with the trauma of being forced to go to residential schools. It makes me so livid.
Those of you who know me, know about all of my abuse at the hands of Catholic priests. You see, like Harry Potter, I bear a scar that distinguishes me from other people. It was from a final encounter with the principal in my school who grabbed me by the neck and threw me down two flights of stairs in an attempt to stage an “accident” and break my neck. Before he pulled me down the hall to the stairs, he made me remove my shoes. My sock-feet slipped along the heavily polished floors. I only now understand why he ordered me to remove my shoes. It was to conceal his forceful throw. I can hear him explaining to the police how I was running through the halls without my shoes and slipped down the stairs, breaking my neck on the basement linoleum. I am almost certain that was his plan as I recount those final moments at that school. My scar reminds me of that day.
I was lucky, though.
I was the boy who lived.
I was lucky.
I did not triumph over the evil of that school. No. I hid away for years.
Over the years the crimes of the Catholic orders has been leaking out. Initially just rumours. Indegenous kids who simply “ran away” never to be seen again. Though there were stories of the torture, the punishments, the experiments, the beatings and the rapes. Indigenous survivors were often ignored when they tried to tell their stories. Alcohol and substance abuse are often vices anyone who has survived trauma turns to dull the pain of unhealed spirits. Alcohol brought over by colonizers. Introduced into indigenous cultures.
We have turned away from our indigenous brothers and sisters. We have ignored their stories and only now, when proof of these crimes has surfaced, do we feel bad and angry. Why only now? For years, people have been told this was happening. Now we are concerned. I wish more could have been done long ago. But, there is at least now, a change in opinion. But it cannot simply be a ‘convenient’ anger. It has to be felt to the core. We have to feel it as a community of humans. We have to allow our indigenous brothers and sisters to grieve and to properly lay to rest their children. We have to listen to them, to hear them. It is up to us to learn the real history and effects of colonialization. Maybe then, some healing can happen.
You know how everyone was excited to get their home DNA kits and see what ethnicities made them up? Well, didn’t we all learn we are not just one culture. Many of us have percentages of other races and cultures. We are all of this world. There is no us and them. We are simply we. And we can do better. We can learn to listen. We can learn from each other. That’s when we are at our best. We must give the space to mourn. We must let people express their rage and their sorrow. We must be here for each other. We must fight for those who feel too weak or too alone to fight for themselves. It is up to us.
I have learned that the experiences in my past that have brought me to this day are a combination of horrors, comedies, tragedies and farces that I have lived through. Surviving physical and sexual abuse at a catholic school almost killed me. Now, more than ever, I see that I must continue to speak out. I speak out for the boy I once was. I ALSO cry out for the little voices that were silenced and buried to be forgotten.
In unmarked graves. Where was the dignity?
I believe in the Force. It binds us, surrounds us, and pulls us all together. In the moments of my meditation with the Force, I reach out to hear the song of the universe. I reach out to hear the voices of those children. Those who have been found, and those who still are waiting to be found. As a Jedi, my path is to continue to fight so all their voices can be heard. My ally is the Force, and I vow to be a powerful ally for those who have been silenced, and those too weak to be heard.
It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to feel helpless. It’s okay to rage.
It’s NOT okay to forget.
It’s time to stand up. It’s time to speak out. It’s time to listen to the stories, both old and new. Hear them. Feel them. LISTEN.
The Force will guide us, as long as we open ourselves to listen.
It’s for the children.
Thanks for this Nic. Your heartfelt words are so eloquent.
BTW I suspect the two churches burned down in the Okanagan were the work of Residential School survivors….and I applaud them.