Friday June 21st, is National Indigenous Peoples Day. As you know, the final report on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women was issued earlier this month. It is a monster of a report, some 1200 pages. Out of that, unfortunately, some of us have heard only one word, “genocide”.
It is upsetting for us to hear our country – and ourselves, as Canadians – accused of such a crime. But we must try to remember that this report is not about us and our hurt feelings. It is about communities from coast to coast to coast living in intolerable poverty, lacking medical care, and still suffering the fallout from Residential Schools.
What does all of that have to do with Missing and Murdered women, you might ask; shouldn’t the report have stayed focused on them? I believe the writers of the report could not honour those women and girls without putting their stories into the larger context.
Instead of squabbling over a single word, can we take the opportunity of this Indigenous Peoples Day to simply acknowledge that we as a country need to do better? By the way, nobody is saying that Indigenous peoples have a monopoly on suffering, but they have had collective experiences that most non-Indigenous Canadians have not. If you don’t believe me, next time you meet a First Nations, Inuit or Metis person, ask them if their family has been touched by murder or violent death. I can almost guarantee you the answer will be yes.
Find out about the United Church of Canada’s commitment to Reconciliation and Justice as well as other social justice initiatives of the church here.