A shield or a pathway to Action


As usual, in a wonderful Winnipeg Free Press article, Niigaan Sinclair said it much better than I could. Like me he has been saying how enthusiastic he has been about what he has seen in Manitoba in the last couple of years. In fact, he has been eloquent  in his praise. That is saying a lot because he is an astute and relentless critic of colonial subterfuge and chicanery. Recently, he said how impressed he was to see an elementary school playground filled with young students of all ethnicities and races, wearing orange shirts, playing together while expressing their solidarity with indigenous people and their complicated relationship with non-indigenous peoples.

As Sinclair said,

“Dressed by parents who want children to know that relationships with Indigenous Peoples are important, these children are receiving some of the best and most inclusive and complete education in history.”


He also pointed out how most Canadian students are now learning about residential schools, treaties, and the complicated relationship shared by Canadian indigenous peoples from dedicated teachers. When I was growing up, we received no such education.  This will give Canada a chance for a better relationship to come. Thankfully too, we have not had much of a backlash from conservatives who don’t want their children to learn things that might make them feel uncomfortable as Americans are now experiencing.  This change has occurred without a lot of opposition, other than perhaps, some naysaying old men at coffee shops around the country in places like Steinbach. But those are just nattering nabobs of negativity as American Vice-president Spiro Agnew once said.

This might just open up a significant door. After all, as Chief Commissioner Murray Sinclair has repeatedly said, “Education got us into this mess and it is the only thing that can get us out of this mess.” As always, wise words from the Honourable Murray Sinclair.  His son, Niigaan Sinclair added this in his column:

“This is an opportunity few had in school. Most, including me, still carry the residue of the racism we were taught or the deafening silence that guided us to ignorance or entitlement.”


 Me too! I too carry the residue of that racism that I am trying hard and probably not hard enough, to erase. It is not easy. But it must be done.

Niigaan Sinclair said he has seen a change in the air in Manitoba. A change that has been a very long in coming.  As he said,  “This province and city, however, are different. This place is different.” He went even farther. As I said, he was lavish in his praise:”


Anyone who has read this column knows I’ve never said our community is perfect or even close to it, but readers do know I am frank and often uncomfortably blunt. So, with all bluntness I can muster, I say something special is happening in this place.

 Once again,I don’t want to sound like Pollyanna but I want to echo his words.

Yet—and this is important—Sinclair warns us that we must not be satisfied with baubles.  We need action.  This is how he eloquently put it: “Still, most in this community continue to wear an orange shirt. Let’s just hope it’s not used as a blanket or shield, but as a pathway to action.”

Boy I wish I had said that.


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