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“I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.” ~~ John G. Diefenbaker

WUN FEATHER -- can we just put those two names to bed for a while? You can call me an ‘Indian’ and I won't mind. And let's not call the farmers and ranchers ‘Settlers’ anymore



Hey there #TeamCanada! 

I can't take it any more! Well, I guess I can, but I don't want to.

I want to talk about the names we call each other. My very best friends, and all my Elderly Aunts and Uncles call me an Indian.

I have walked into the most magnificent dining hall at the Air Liquide Head office, Quai D'orsay in Paris, France, surrounded by the worlds top producing Cryogenics team, and Patrick Jozon, the President of Air Liquide, has seen me enter the room, and yelled:

"Bonjour! There is Warren! He is my Indian friend from Canada! He and I chased Beavers together in Northern BC!"

And over 400 people turned to look at me and then they all smiled, and nodded.

To most European people, an Indian is an absolute ICON!  The ultimate symbol of North America. They love us.

And then, one time I had just gotten married and took vacation days off to take my new wife to meet my Grandmother; I was so proud. But as soon as my uncle Randy saw me, he said:

"Oh look, it's that Warren guy".

He said it as though he had just stepped in fresh dog shit. The way he said my name, made me feel like I was some sort of pond scum. My own name! In fact, now I remember. He actually said my last name like it was a vituperous invective.

So, what is my point? We need to learn how to address each other in a respectful manner.

There have been times when I referred to some of my ex wife's relatives as "Settlers". But when I speak about the settlers, I mean the ones who came from Oregon. They came from the Dakotas, and Kansas, and many from Arizona and Texas.

They loaded every single belonging they had on old horse drawn buggies and covered wagons, and they basically walked all the way to the geographic center of BC -- just as many settled all across this country. They worked every day in the fields until their fingers bled. They built sawmills and houses, and stores and villages and cities.

Those were Settlers.  I have the deepest regard for them.

Well, in truthfulness, the ones I loved the most have passed on, and their children are all older than me now.

And I guess in some ways I am one of the last real Indians. The younger generations that were born after me, don't trap and skin and eat beavers and muskrats or squirrels anymore, because they don't have to.


I don't blame them.

And most farmers and ranchers have nice diesel-powered equipment instead of horse drawn plows, to keep their land cultivated.

So, can we just put those two names to bed for a while?  You can call me an Indian and I won't mind, but nowadays Trudeau says you have to call my children "Indigenous". A

nd let's not call the farmers and ranchers Settlers anymore. It is not nice.

I know some people will say, "Just call us Canadians!", and that is OK.  But you know something, I will never allow myself to forget where I came from.

In doing so, I forget the Elders who have walked this land before me -- and I do not want any of my non-Indigenous friends to ever forget their cultures or traditions. That would be sad.

Being Canadian is a wonderful thing, and when we call ourselves Canadians, we all hold on dearly to something in common. But as soon as we forget our forefathers, we also forget the hard work and dedication that it took for each and every one of them to build this amazing country.

I bet if we go back far enough, one of your relatives got into a fight with one of my relatives -- and the strongest ones survived. That means everyone reading this comes from good stock. I bet no one ever got away with calling them names.

It is just not the Canadian thing to do. 



About Wun Feather ...

I have literally hundreds of personal stories from the past. I am one of the last of my generation to have actually attended residential and Indian day schools. I have lived on and off reserve, and have seen the benefits and the hardships of my people in both situations.

My, my parents taught me that any time I fell down physically or emotionally, I just needed to pick myself up, shake myself off, and continue in a forward direction. So, I cannot claim that I did it on my own. I had great Elders



Comments

  1. Wun, thank you for sharing that. Those are awesome words.

    ReplyDelete

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