Two items came across my Facebook creeping this week. Both are timely and important.
The first: a video of Wab Kinew talking about common stereotypes Canadians have about Aboriginal people.
The second: an article from the Toronto Star by Noah Richler called “The hard, important truths of Indigenous literature: The “truth” in Truth and Reconciliation is not a surprise to readers of Canadian and First Nations stories.”
Maybe I am more aware of these videos and articles because I have chosen to be aware, or maybe all of Canada is becoming more aware. Reconciliation. That is a heavy word and it requires action, not just reports and acknowledgement. Even in Calgary, there is talk about renaming the Langevin Bridge (Langevin was one of the men who spearheaded the residential schools). Action and awareness.
I have had the graphic novel The Outside Circle sitting on my ‘to-read’ pile for a while. Wow. What a powerful, emotional, important story!
The Outside Circle tells the story of an Aboriginal man in Alberta who goes through stages of healing after a rough beginning. Issues of residential schools, the 60s Scoop (where children were put into foster care), disturbing stats on Aboriginal youth in Alberta and Canada, number of Aboriginal people in prisons, and also the power of walking the Red Road (a conscious decision to live the right path of life).
This is a novel I hope every Canadian reads. It truly gives some perspective into the pain, anger, and shame some Aboriginal people feel and the effects these emotions have on their lives, their families, and their communities. Throughout the novel, the images by Kelly Mellings are powerful and staggering.
For more information on the graphic novel, here is a great interview with Patti LaBoucane-Benson (author of the graphic novel) and a woman who has beat the odds and is a graduate of the Spirit of the Warrior Program, run by Native Counselling Services of Alberta.
In the interview, Patti LaBoucane-Benson states that today’s First Nations people are bleeding colonial history. There is a direct connection and is a historic trauma response. She also says that this generation needs to learn: we need education on who our first people are and the relationship we have.
Although fictional, this graphic novel, the story of Peter Carver, is a similar story for hundreds of First Nations people in Canada. This novel also shows the importance of programming within the prison system and especially before people end up in prison. There is a potential for change in Canada. I hope that there is a change in how Canadians see Aboriginal people and how Aboriginal people see themselves. Our entire country needs healing.
“My goal in this book was to tell the truth, whether it was an ex-gang member that picked it up or someone from the government who’s in charge of policy.” (Patti LaBoucane-Benson)
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3)