For some reason, I think a lot (most?) people in Canada believe that Indigenous peoples think only about their own situations. You know, Indian Affairs, Chuck Strahl, reserve life, suicide rates, diabetes, etc. I don’t think they realize that most of the things that affect their lives affect Indigenous folks across Canada just as much, that they worry about events in Burma and Ang Sang Su Kyi, or what is going on in northern Sri Lanka.
They’d be wrong to think that this doesn’t affect them. I remember when Inuit donated more per capita to send food for families starving during the Somalian famine because, as someone said at the time, they knew what starvation was like.
I remember my grandmother who had no TV, no daily newspaper delivery, and listened to her old radio only when the signal came through which wasn’t most of the time. Yet, she was more politically aware and astute than most of the other people around Kanehsatake, or anyone else that I’ve met since.
I have no idea where she picked up information but she read voraciously when she could. A cherished and much requested gift was a bundle of newspapers from family or friends on their travels to or from Syracuse, New York, Montreal, Ottawa. She knew enough of the world to decide for herself what was right or wrong – and being a tough old bird she would have let people know exactly where she stood. I can remember a few of the late-night debates with her husband, daughters, and their husbands. They put to shame the pretend debates in the House of Commons these days.
I can say this with certainty: She would have been appalled at Canada’s role in the genocide taking place in Sri Lanka. She would have known about Canada’s role in supporting the Sri Lankan military before this, and its government’s inaction during the past year. I know she would have been disgusted by Canada’s duplicity. I suspect that, if she were able, she would have joined the demonstrators in the streets of Canadian cities during the past couple of weeks.
And I’m ashamed that I didn’t.