welcome to canada

I read a story by Thomas King awhile ago about a Plains Cree or Sioux mother and son trying to get back into Canada after attending ceremonies in the United States. A Canadian border guard asks the usual questions: Where do you live? Where are you coming from? What is your citizenship or nationality?

Welcome to Canada, eh.

Welcome to Canada, eh.

If I remember the story correctly, the mother tells the border guard that she is Sioux or Cree from some place in southern Alberta. This isn’t what the caucasian border guard wants to hear. It’s not on his list of officially acceptable answers. What is her citizenship or nationality, he repeats? The mother says again: Sioux (or Cree).

This begins a day-long standoff with this woman and her son, suddenly rendered stateless refugees, stuck in a no-man’s-land between U.S. and Canada customs sheds, victims of typical Canadian bureaucratic idiocy. The border guards are living testaments to Canada’s brainwashed populations through more than a century of an education system that tells the story of the settler, this was a land empty of Indigenous nations and governments, laws and institutions. They don’t know their own history, resulting in official denial of treaties and Indigenous rights.

The upshot of the story is that this woman and her son are forced to sit in the car, in the hot summer sun, forbidden even to enter the Customs shed to use its facilities, hour after hour, unless and until this woman decides to surrender her Indigenous rights, her identity, her dignity to an ignorant border guard.

You should look up and read that story sometime. That was one good story, that one.


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Filed under Aboriginal peoples, Canada, human rights, Indigenous peoples, Indigenous rights, racism, United States

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