Thinking of friends and especially the Elders and survivors in Alert Bay today as the residential school is torn down. I was in a meeting today where we were discussing ethics and the social contract that Canadians have with one another and here’s the thing: if you are a Canadian, whether born here or recently arrived, you are bound to an ongoing relationship with indigenous peoples. It is impossible for you to own land or to benefit from the taxes paid by those who have exploited resources without being directly connected to the original relationships that founded this country. This country was founded and made possible because of an ongoing relationship with indigenous peoples, which most times only indigenous people remember. And this is not about the past, this is current and real today. Each person living here is a contemporary beneficiary of the treaty relationships or the outright theft of land. Right now, if you are a Canadian, you are benefitting.
But if you forget that, you forget who you are and you have forgotten on what basis the accident of your birth has accorded you privilege.
May this be a day to honour those who have died and to remember and renew the relationship that makes living in this country possible for most of us, while lots of us still struggle to benefit from the original promises of respect, trust, reconciliation and mutual benefit.