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OPINION: Indigenous voices must finally be heard

Barbara Bernard is flanked by her daughter Deana Beaton, left, and granddaughter Kindra Bernard at the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Moncton, N.B. on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. Bernard told the inquiry about the life and death of her mother, Mary Francis Paul. Andrew Vaughan/
Barbara Bernard is flanked by her daughter Deana Beaton, left, and granddaughter Kindra Bernard at the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Moncton, N.B. on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. Bernard told the inquiry about the life and death of her mother, Mary Francis Paul. Andrew Vaughan/ - The Canadian Press

Systems in place that have created the abusive treatment of First Nations people

BY ALEIDA TWETEN

GUEST OPINION

As I read the not-guilty verdict of Tina Fontaine's suspect, and reflect on the absolute neglect of our First Nations people, I feel that the Canada I grew up in is not the Canada I see now. I don't even recognize what this country is now. I feel really lost here.

Sure, there are pockets of people (like me and possibly you) protesting and standing beside Colton Boushie's and Tina Fontaine's families, but masses of people don’t care. Their show just goes on; regardless that children's killers are deemed more innocent than their First Nation's victims.

Tina, a girl, shut in a hotel after living in foster care. A broken system breaking her spirit. Who knows what she would have felt? Who knows what her cries for help were, prior to being abused? Falling on deaf ears, voiceless souls crying out. Generations of voices, silenced by our system. Our government. Failed, repeatedly, deliberately, by RCMP, by schools, health care, and government.

Who will save our Indigenous people? Who will stop this blatant racism that is not just present, but growing like an ugly tumour?

I was naive as a child. I though racism belonged in history books. I thought it was for other countries, not a multicultural country like Canada. Don't we embrace differences? I grew up with an international blend of children; that was my classroom.

I do feel disgusted. I feel like our whole system has betrayed our First Nations people. And, instead of making significant, meaningful, tangible changes, we are carrying on. The show, apparently, must go on. ‘The white way is the way,’ we seem to be saying.

In fact, it is the systems in place that have created the treatment of First Nations people, not the First Nations People themselves. There is a focus on Indigenous people when another Indigenous child is missing or murdered, but never the system that was involved in the making of that. Never the foster care system failing the child and family, never the muddled investigation by RCMP, nor the justice system producing an all-white jury. The systems are miraculously exempt from these conversations.

There is a big picture systemic change needed. Voices and knowledge from our First Nation's Peoples should be included, shared, valued, and used to re-construct our current systems that exclude them. Meaningful change must reflect the voices and historical knowledge of our First Nations people.

- Aleida Tweten, Summerville, is a free-range farmer and mother with Metis heritage

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