Dear Justin Trudeau:
There’s a LOT to criticize about Canada’s relationship with our First Nations, both past and present. So, two thoughts about this statement:
1. Words matter. Tone matters. On this, I will commend you for your words and for attempting to strike a real dialogue for perhaps the first time in Canadian history.
2. But actions also matter. And your government has been in power for nearly two years now. Indigenous women are still going missing or being murdered at alarming rates, while law enforcement turns a blind eye. Indigenous communities still suffer from a lack of clean drinking water, services, schools, healthcare, resources, and opportunity. A young person in a First Nations community is more likely to end up in jail than to graduate high school. Indigenous land is still being destroyed to accommodate oil companies. And so on, and so forth. The litany is endless. And this isn’t the past. This is 2017.
In short, these protest are urgent and necessary. And visiting the protesters with open ears and a willingness to engage in dialogue is a good first step. But honestly? Talk’s cheap. It’s time for action. Not only because you promised, But because it’s right.
Canada turns 150 this weekend, and plenty of people will be celebrating. There’s lots to celebrate in this great country of ours. But we have to acknowledge that we built this country by trampling over the rights of its original inhabitants. And that they deserve not only truth, but true reconciliation. As in, making shit right.
Actions. Not words. Get to it.
A Canadian citizen.