BOS 10 06 2021 doublesize
Every Saturday, we turn on Quirks and Quarks and listen to at least part of the show. Last week, I was impressed that they interviewed an archeologist who has been helping indigenous communities search for unmarked graves at residential schools. CBC as a whole made a real effort to provide indigenous programming for the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, but even this science show found a way to be relevant.

The archeologist was indigenous herself, though she had been raised outside of her community, because she had been adopted. She described how the ground-penetrating radar works. She also talked about the process of consulting with communities, the ceremonies that are done before and after this painful exercise. With Bob MacDonald, she also talked about the history of the relationship between archeologists and indigenous communities, and the way that relationship is changing. This was an important discussion about the morality of science.

At a time when our country was alert to the issues around residential schools, this was a particularly relevant topic. Good for Quirks and Quarks.

Having said that, I am also worried. One day of good programming is not enough. There are more scientific issues that concern indigenous communities. The under-explored stories from indigenous communities that need to be brought to light should be a question at every production meeting for that show, for all CBC programs, for all media.

My concern is that the settler community is patting itself on the back for making an effort for the first of these days of reflection, but that the issues and the work of reconciliation will again retreat to the background. We did well that day. People across the country came out to events, to show their support, to listen, to learn, to grieve. The danger is that we go back to our lives forgetting this ongoing work.

One of the CBC shows that often digs into indigenous thinking is What on Earth with Laura Lynch. As this show examines climate change, the need for a cultural shift pushes them to talk about indigenous understandings of our relationship to the earth. Unreserved is a regular program that looks at issues in indigenous communities, and Reclaimed presents indigenous music. These are good opportunities to learn, to appreciate indigenous culture. They provide space for indigenous voices.

But the fact that we share this land with the original inhabitants needs to be part of our everyday thinking. Indigenous culture and issues need to be on our minds more than one day a year.

I have been impressed by how many events begin with a land acknowledgement. There is more and more awareness. However, as an elder reminded me, what happens after the land acknowledgement matters. We aren't done when we admit to being settlers.

Here on the Hub, Anne Finlay-Stewart did a wonderful piece with three concrete things that Owen Sound could do right away. In case you didn't read it, she pointed out that Owen Sound needed to put up a highly visible sign on the new bridge so that we remember its name. Rename the park that was called Ryerson Park; taking down the sign was only the first step. Enforce no parking on the Nawash burial ground (now called Mary Miller Park). Owen Sound recognized September 30th when the province did not, but these are concrete steps to continue the work.

There are more things that we can do locally right now. Bruce County can shift its relationship with the Saugeen Ojibway, dealing respectfully with outstanding land claims among other issues. Our school board can put money into ensuring that teachers have access to materials that teach indigenous history. Each of our churches can use the materials that are available to build knowledge about indigenous culture, about residential schools and issues of colonial actions and attitudes.

It was good last week to stop and reflect on the harm done in residential schools. But one day is not enough. Our country will be stronger as the relationship between settlers and indigenous peoples improves. It is time to live out the knowledge that we are all treaty people.

Cathy Hird lives on the traditional territory of the Saugeen Ojibway


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