The Cold, Hard Truth
Photo Credit: Angela MacKenzie
I'm having a hard time processing this. I thought I had moved through the initial shock but waves of both shock and grief keep rolling over me without warning. It's too big to truly comprehend, really. It's too big to absorb. It's so horrifying that my mind and body keep trying to break it down, trying to make it digestible somehow. But it gets stuck in the throat, cutting off my breath. It can't be real, my mind rationalizes. But it was so long ago, this isn't us now. There's nothing I could have done to prevent this. This wasn't me. I didn't do this.
Except it is. It's me. It's you. It's all of us. We are complicit.
The cold, hard truth is that colonization did this and I am a daughter of the colonizers. The cold, hard truth is that church and state - institutions that supposedly exist to lead the people, to protect the people - did this. The cold, hard truth is that we have not been taught the cold, hard truth.
That's a problem. How can we possibly reconcile what's happened when the full extent of the atrocities have yet to be fully brought into the light? How can we possibly move forward to a place of peace or understanding in any of it when we have yet to uncover and expose all of it and hold authorities accountable? How do we hold space for the generations affected by the trauma when we are connected to the perpetrators?
I am angry. I am frustrated. I am sad. I'm at a loss as to what I can do. And if I am honest, it's easier to not know, to be ignorant to what needs to be done and let my privileged white life distract me with all my comings and goings. Because I can hide there. My every day doesn't bring me in direct contact with the effects of this latest discovery and its significance. I can turn off the news, stop my feed, look the other way and pretend. But then what? My mind still races...should we push to find more of these sites? Yes - because it's an essential part of the healing. No - because it hurts to know about it. It hurts to know that I was a part of it and further, to know that I am shielded from it.
It hurts to know the cold, hard truth.
So, what can I do? Nothing I have to offer feels like enough. How could it ever be?
Little steps. I started with visiting www.native-land.ca and learned that the Haudenosaunee were the caretakers of the land I now live on. The six nations that make up the Haudenosaunee speak Iroquoian languages which is over ten languages including Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Tuscarora and Seneca.
How do I say I'm sorry in Cayuga? Or please forgive us in Mohawk? I asked Google. None of these languages come up. More evidence of the ghosting. Then I read through https://oncanadaproject.ca/settlerstakeaction which brings a sense of hope and action. But will it stick? Will it be enough? I will undoubtedly go back to my life, lost in the living of it and this will fade to the back of my mind with all the other world issues I cannot fix. Until the next story breaks. And so, then what? Who's responsibility is it, to make sure this does not fade into background noise leaving those who are suffering feeling the same hopelessness, the same isolation. Yours? Mine?
Yes. All of us. That's the cold, hard truth.
The cold, hard truth is that when I stand in my yard, my feet are grounded on land that is not mine. I am a settler. I am here uninvited. So, we, the settlers, have to own that and then stand up and speak out. We have to help uncover the depth of the despair we caused. We need to see it, and feel it and share in the grief of the cold, hard truth.
There is a path forward. We can heal from all of it.
But it starts with facing the cold, hard truth.
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