5.8 Editor's Pick
June 30, 2021

Canada’s Children of Genocide: We aren’t Living Here without a Cost.

*Editor’s Note: Elephant Journal articles represent the personal views of the authors, and can not possibly reflect Elephant Journal as a whole. Disagree with an Op-Ed or opinion? We’re happy to share your experience here

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Can anyone answer this?

Forty-nine sex workers were discovered to be murdered in British Columbia and yet Robert Pickton is the most notorious serial killer in Canadian history, right? We can all agree his actions were nothing short of monstrous and he deserves to be rotting in prison forever—at the very least.

Now, 215 bodies of Indigenous children are discovered in the same province; and so far, it is proving just to be the tip of the iceberg. Yet there are people out there actually defending this?

Let us be realistic here and call this what it is, genocide plain and simple. A genocide that I, as a Caucasian person of European descent, benefit—simply by living in this country. My ancestors did not come over and colonize Canada—that is a fact. Yet without that original colonization of Indigenous lands, my life as I know it today would not be what it is. 

How fragile are white people that taking a moment to reflect, recognize, and acknowledge that these atrocities took place—and that yes, we benefit; and no, it is not our fault, per se, but we absolutely benefit is seemingly impossible?

Full disclosure, I used to be racist.

My upbringing was not one of tolerance and acceptance for anyone who looked different than myself or had different proclivities toward sex that differed from my own straight whiteness. It is exceedingly difficult to address that bias in ourselves. It took years to recognize that within myself. It took being forced into situations where I was with BIPOC or LGBTQIA+2S in close proximity for me to really face these preconceived notions I had of these groups.

Do you know what I found?

They are just people; they are just like me, or you. They have their good days and bad. I found friendships with people I would absolutely ignore or even sneer at previously.

Growth is hard. Growth is painful and uncomfortable, but it is absolutely necessary for us to evolve as one people and not segregated into groups.

I still struggle sometimes to know what is appropriate in what situation. I still make mistakes, but I will never deny that my bias was that bad and that it still can pop up in my day-to-day life even now. If I say or do something that crosses that line and someone calls me out for it; then good! It needs to happen, it needs to be acknowledged so that we can all move forward.

When we’re dead and decomposed, our skeletons will all look the damn same. Why in the hell should we be so caught up in what we look like outwardly?

Right now they are exhuming skeletons of children. Forget for a second that they are Indigenous children—they are children full stop.

In my lifetime, these atrocities happened.

My parents and grandparents voted for governments that kept these horrific places open. I remember seeing it on the news when I was ten years old that they were closing the last one. I remember thinking it was weird that the news covered a school closure like that because they never taught us the significance of shuttering those places.

Recently, the news announced that 751 more children were discovered and the comments sections on these articles are absolute dumpster fires of hate. People saying, “What about…” What about what? F*ck what about. These were babies, children, brothers, and sisters how dare we say “What about…” dehumanizing them even further.

This school was closed in 1996. Let that sink in for a little while because that is only 25 years ago. I have sports jerseys that are that age now.

This news is unacceptable to just try to brush off. One of the biggest parts of my own personal growth was learning to recognize the generational trauma inflicted on marginalized people. It is unbelievable how many folks just brush this off.

I always hear, “Oh, it was 100 years ago. Get over it” from the same people who post, “I miss you every day” for loved ones who have been gone for a decade or more.

This is an acceptable parallel to draw. There are survivors that I have been face-to-face with and have heard their stories. I have seen the pain and anguish behind their eyes.

It utterly breaks my heart that this happened to them. It pains me to know and recognize my privilege is a direct result of their suffering—and if we cannot take a step back for that level of inward reflection, then maybe the problem isn’t everyone else?

The Canadian government and any organizations involved in this should be held completely accountable for what essentially equates to war crimes. I have seen people on my social media feeds screaming about the genocides occurring around the world, but when it happens here at home, it’s time to “just get over it” because it makes fragile whiteness uncomfortable.

Where is that same “Justice for Rwanda” energy people had when the Tutsis were being slaughtered?

But this happened in Canada. Right here. It happened under my government’s mandates. It happened to people we have passed on the street. Until it is fully acknowledged by those living here, I do not think any healing can continue to occur. All the discoveries of the past few weeks have brought to light an incredibly dark part of Canada’s (not so distant) past. We, as human beings, need to run toward the hurt and pain so that we can grow from this.

I have sat on this for a couple of weeks now because, quite frankly, I had no idea how to process this.

We have had hours of conversations around the mass graves. I have had to explain to a six and seven-year-old what we are so upset about, and in turn, we upset them.

I’ve rebuked people online who are blatantly prejudiced toward BIPOC people, and it has taken me a while to really wrap my head around it The last straw was a woman with a nun in her Facebook profile photo stating, “I think we need to hear both sides of the story.”

What? No, no, f*cking no.

I cannot begin to fathom the unholy rage these people would exude if there was suddenly a mass grave discovered at a public school primarily attended by white kids, but zero of that rage right now because the bodies they found looked different from them when they were alive.

If someone who is as stubborn as I am can manage to recognize the need to change and embark upon that journey, I genuinely feel that anyone can do the same.

Stop blaming the victims.
Stop blaming the time.
Start to talk to those who differ from you.
Start to open your mind and look inwardly at your own bias.
Start to recognize that we are benefiting from this genocide and colonization of an entire Indigenous population.

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