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Voices of First Nations children need to be heard

Thursday April 26, 2012

For many years the government ignored us, forgot about the treaties and left us hidden on the reserves. Today our education is being ignored and our homes are in wretched condition. The government has ignored our voices. I want my voice, and our First Nation’s voices, to be heard for the sake of my child, and for the sake of future generations still to come. I want my voice to be heard, so we can keep this nation strong.

Many Canadians say that the native people are very strong, but I don’t see it. Our bloodline may be strong but our reality has taken over our soul, heart, and body. The reason I say this, is that throughout my whole life I have known nothing but abuse: physical, emotional, alcohol and drug abuse. Growing up, I always thought that it was normal for people to kill themselves, and to kill others. When I was younger, I told my friend that the way I wanted to die was by hanging myself. I told her I wanted to die young and never grow old. I thought I would end up like all the grown ups I knew, addicted to drugs and alcohol. I heard the excuses the adults gave saying that they were sick. They told me you only get as sick as they do when you are older. How can the sick have a voice when no options are available on the reserve for rehab and health?

People say that the native people are strong, but how are they strong? Most natives I know only speak English. Few even know how to speak a sentence in their aboriginal language. We are no longer native. We wear clothes the government gave us; we eat their food and we praise their gods. We continue to allow the government to keep us hidden on reserves, away from the public eye, out of the media. Even with the specter of residential schools haunting us, the government still seems to want a form of status quo. They ignore our problems, and for what exactly? Will we ever see our land the way it used to be? Will we ever speak our languages fluently again? Will our voices never be heard? These questions seem impossible to answer.
Humans were given land along with other land animals. Birds were given the sky, and fish were given the waters. But humanity continues to takes things that don’t belong to them, to pollute and destroy what they have – including themselves. For example, land is leased or “owned”, animals are put in cages, garbage builds up as we buy and throw away even more. Our land is contaminated by business and by people through a lack of respect and care. Both aboriginal and non-aboriginal people are making choices, and they are negligent choices. Furthermore large corporations are still mining in our region, but they are not helping our economy, or the land in the ways it needs to be helped. More people need to listen to our needs, and be more responsible.

My family was featured in the film, “3rd World Canada,” a film about a few everyday life struggles in KI. I want “3rd World Canada” to be an eye-opener to Native people of all nations, to all Canadians. Life in KI is easy – and hard. It is my home; it is where my roots and history run deep. But going back brings back memories, particularly when I visit the home that I grew up in. The house I grew up in had no drawers or doors; the damage was incredible, even though it was a brand new house when we moved in. Ten people lived in a four bedroom house. My two sisters and I were fortunate to have our own rooms, but everyone else shared another room. This is just an example of some of the difficulties we experience.

What needs to change? Teach my people, my family that there’s a better life out there other than drugs, alcohol, and smoking. With an education life opens up so many doors! The time is now for my voice and my people’s voices to be heard. If we are not listened to I’m afraid of what’s to come with our lives today, and for future generations to come.

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