Thursday, June 4, 2015

We are still here

I meant to tell this story in yesterday's post but I forgot.  After much discussion, Joel and I decided to make Sophie watch the Residential School Apology.  She was pretty little at that time and we were worried about not overwhelming her, but we felt it was important.  We hoped that it would be historic.  Even thought the conversation with her was hard and she had many questions it was the right thing to do.  It was really poignant for me.  She was three and a half, the age my grandfather was when he was first put into the school.  I couldn't imagine such a little person by themselves cut off from family.  It explained so much for me, why he had trouble with normal family life, why he drank, why he made bad decisions.
So that night as we lay in bed we heard the cat door open.  This was not really unusual given that we had a cat, but Sophie came to attention and said "that's Harper".  For a moment we could not figure out what she meant.  She said "he is coming to get the children."  She did not seem scared, but she made the connection between Harper and the residential schools. 

Sophie has never been a big Harper supporter ever since she found out that he keeps women and minorities in his cabinet.  "Why won't he just let them out?"  So she did not seem to worried that he would be capable of stealing children away or that he would choose to do that personally after a long day at work.  I think too, that living in Ottawa, and at that time the Harper children were in the same school with Sophie, Harper is a more real figure to her than just prime minister.  We were just worried about what we would do when we came down in the morning and found the prime minister with his head stuck through the cat flap.

How much to tell the children has been a hard line to walk.  How much do you tell your child and sensitize them to some of these harsher parts of life and how much do you protect them?  I am glad that we told her.  It has given us spaces over the years to have lots of conversations about these things.  It has also raised her awareness.  When they did "First Nations" in school this year Sophie observed that while she was in a team with the other Metis kid in the class, the white girl took over the project and didn't listen to them.  Now there might be lots of reasons why that happened but I was glad to see her asking the question.

This morning, waiting for the bus, I was thinking about the seven generations idea.  I think of my last ancestor who encouraged his children and grandchildren to be proud of who they were and to be strong metis, it is that legacy that I am passing on to my children.  They are separated by six generations.  I hope my children will in turn pass that on.  We have not forgotten.

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