Palgrave Rotary Club, Thunder Air, Aeroplan donors (Hans Koehle, Maria Da Cunha, Cheryl Vhal, Victor Ford), The Royal Conservatory’s Learning Through The Arts Program, TD Bank Group, and the Paul Semple Scholarship Fund are supporting this project.
Sat. June 11th 2016 | Written by DAREarts Artist-Educator Glenn Marais | Day Four, Thoughts
This journey had a different structure, purpose and sense of immediate need and urgency to it. We have all seen the news on Attawapiskat and the many other reserves in Canada buckling under the weight of poverty and neglect and years of Post Traumatic Stress from the Residential School System. Yes it’s time that we start identifying history in Canada for what it is and not what we would like it to be and what we want to see through our red and white colored glasses of glory that we are all guilty of looking through. Our government enacted a cultural genocide on First Nations people through the Residential School System. The survivors have PTSD and their children bear the brunt of those symptoms that manifest in substance abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse. They are suffering in an isolated silence that is only disturbed by reports of the extreme, “11 attempted suicides in one day.” A miracle that it was averted, with doors kicked down in the nick of time, and lives barely saved, a macabre clock ticking on the madness of a life deemed hopeless by the young. Young lives, the heart-blood and promise of a community, in peril and jeopardy, because in our subjugated human nature we only take notice during crisis. I say this not to criticize, because I love my country. It gave my parents a place to make a life when they left South Africa in 1964 because of Apartheid laws. It is a place of peace. One of the students, a lovely girl, named Aniston who has worked so hard and passionately on this song and who is a shining light, to me, expressed that her community is a peaceful one. She said it with pride and assurance and it made me so happy to hear her say that. Happy but also aware of the struggles she and others her age have faced and have in front of them. She is in that golden age, Gr.11, moving into her final year of high school with all the promise and dreams of youth awaiting her. She wants to go to OCAD and study art and I pray and hope that fate will be kind and that she will find the resolve and determination to make that insurmountable leap from the reserve to college.
Yes we are a multi-cultural nation and a beacon of hope for many. Historically we have made mistakes. Now is the time to move past apologies and start rectifying these mistakes with the appropriate sense of urgency. There is a national emergency happening on our reserves. Can we mobilize and raise money and petition results the way we did with Fort Mac? Of course we can. Seek the purpose and find the reason my friends, because the answer is simple. It is the humane thing to do and we rise and fall on the depths of our humanity. It is the polar opposite to ignore the things going on and walk around in a utopian daze. It is insanity. I implore, plead and demand that we institute and embrace a national paradigm shift. Let’s stop looking back, pointing fingers, accusing First Nations of having a free ride, shaking in heads in disgust and then carrying on with a countenance of an indolent veneer that is preoccupied with the minutiae of life and misses the big picture that is in front of us so large and brilliant that we can’t possibly miss it. The fastest growing population in North America, the pride of our nation, a cultural legacy of art, music, craftsmanship, survival skills, trapping, hunting, existing in a peaceful harmony with the Earth and possessing a deep knowledge and respect of nature and the animals that is synonymous with our current search for an eco based lifestyle. Let’s embrace our First Nations brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, uncles, aunties, elders, sages and the glorious newborn babes and hold them in our arms like family and say with pride that we are here, we hear you, we will help you, we need you, you are family.
DAREarts Returns to Attawapiskat – Posts by Artist-Educator Glenn Marais
Read Day One
Read Day Two
Read Days Three & Four
DAREarts Returns to Attawapiskat – Posts by Artist-Educators Cathy Elliott & Shelley MacDonald
Read Days Five, Six & Seven
Read Day Eight
Watch “Walking for Peace” by the youth of Attawapiskat
DAREarts is a children’s charity that uses the arts to empower youth at-risk to become leaders. Our lead sponsors are Northbridge Insurance, Scotiabank, TD Bank Group, and the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.