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Healing the Cultural Genocide of First Nations


Walking downtown in Victoria yesterday, I met a First Nations man named Willy, panhandling in the streets with his hat sitting in front of him on the ground. With a big smile on his face, he said hi and instead of continuing on my merry way, I stopped and said hello.

The next 20-minutes seriously made my day.

While chatting away, he told me about his life and struggles. He talked about being in a severe car accident and learning to walk again. He even jumped up to demonstrate how mobile he now is.

We talked about how he often gets harassed downtown for panhandling so he can make extra money to feed his son and him.

As we arrived to this part of the conversation, I felt so sad and angry. I said to him, that it’s total bullshit that he has to live this way and that self-righteous, ignorant white people have the nerve to judge or harass him.

I told him, that Victoria is his and the local First Nation’s land and they all deserve to be treated with respect.

At this point, he made a joke that when getting harassed, he tells people that he’s just trying to buy back his land. We both laughed about that.

But afterwards,I did say to him, “Willy, I am so sorry for what has happened to you and your people. It is not right. On behalf of myself and all my ancestors, I am terribly sorry. I pray for justice and I truly hope we can find a way to right the terrible wrongs that have been inflicted upon you.”

I know it’s not much, but I also gave him the $20 I had in my pocket, at which point he jumped up and gave me a huge hug, thanking me for my generosity.

It is time for global healing.

It was our grandparents, great grand parents and great great grandparents and their friends who came here and raped, pillaged, murdered and stole this land. Land all across North America that is. As well the indigenous people’s homes all across the planet.

We cannot ignore what has happened here. We can not sweep these matters under the rug and pretend like we earned this land. We cannot treat them in this way any longer.

I do not know how the healing will take place, but for me, yesterday was a starting point.

This healing goes for how we treat all people of all colours.

On behalf of my ancestors, their friends and acquaintances, I am sorry for the pain and suffering that has been inflicted upon so many people.

I am committed to doing what I can to stop the injustice with my generation and with myself.

Willy, if you read this. I am grateful we met and would love to spend more time with you someday. You’re fucking awesome and you inspire me!