Canada | Education | Opinion

Carly McIntosh: The deep and dark secrets of Canadian history

Students at the former Brandon Indian Residential School in Brandon, Manitoba. Photo from Residential School Archive Project

The True Colors Of Canadian History
By Carly McIntosh

When I reverse in time, I see myself back to a time when I was in geography class.

When I was in class, I was a student who listened to every word that was spoken by the teacher. Geography was our history class, and one subject to come up every year was the Underground Railroad. Always to be taught in class was the positive aspects that Canada brought, not once did a teacher bring the full circle of our Canadian history out from the woods.

When being taught or told that Canada was not against the color of skin or culture, I believed them. Students have been told to believe what we were truly being taught in class, and from what I was taught I was to believe Canada did not judge others.

With all the true colors spilling out of our Canadian history it shakes me. Being shown historic photos of indigenous children being abused in residential schools, it shows that abuse was done on Canadian soil. In seeing and hearing the pain and abuse that indigenous children had to live through it was not for just one month, one year, or one decade they had to live with the abuse trapped inside them for centuries. From what my country made indigenous people live through, being Canadian there is not one way possible that I cannot feel guilty. I am Canadian.

With hidden secrets of Canada's true history escaping, many stories are now being told by our elders. A story that was recently told to me by my grandparent, was that many people heard stories about the residential schools but nothing was done. In the city of Brandon, Manitoba, a residential school was set in a church on top of a hill with a fence surrounding it, it was told you could hear the screams and cries of all the indigenous children. Canada kept all the terrible struggles hidden in the back of the books and they were left there till the year of 2015.

The speaking on the closing of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, I do believe a positive change is in our journey. Having see the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau apologize to all indigenous people, you could see and feel the guilt in his speech he made. Coast to coast Canada has to work together to make a change in this country.

For many past years missing and murdered aboriginal woman have been given zero help from Canadian government. Each year that past the number of missing and murdered aboriginal woman would increase, never did it decrease. I remember when I was very young, I would walk into any grocery store and placed right by the entrance was a missing person poster. Placed on the posters were many faces of indigenous people who had been missing for years.

Now seeing the Royal Canadian Mounted Police open cold cases on missing and murdered aboriginal woman, is a beautiful first step in change. First Nation families will be given the strength to rebuild the belief that their daughter, mother, or sister can still be found.

The history of indigenous people must start being taught in every educational school across Canada. I would love to see a growth in Indigenous Arts done by First Nations being able to be seen all across Canada. Being able to see and learn indigenous culture, it would let many be able to learn a piece of themself.

I, Mikinaak Iskwew, am speaking to all the indigenous people who are presently here and to those who we have lost. I deeply apologize to all my brothers and sisters who have had to live through the pain, and to those who still live with the pain hidden inside them. This is the first year I have ever heard about residential schooling in Canada, and it is very hard for me to hear of what my country has done to indigenous people in the past.

Even knowing that I was not one who taught or abused the indigenous children in residential schools across Canada, I still feel as if I deserve a punishment of some kind and it is because I am a Canadian. With placing my hand on my heart I deeply apologize.

We were, we are and will always be Canadians.

Born and raised in Manitoba, Canada and now residing in Calgary, Alberta. McIntosh recently found her ancestry. Her goal is to pursue a future with writing and hopes to open some closed eyes and minds.

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