Beautiful Ground along Superior North Shore
I blogged earlier about the Hate Capital of Canada. As I returned on my jaunt to Thunder Bay I want to return to that subject as well.
There is a story in Thunder Bay that if you die in the water you deserve that kind of death. 7 indigenous teens had gone missing in Thunder Bay from 2000 to 2011. The indigenous community was deeply disturbed by what happened. Canadian society not so much. 5 of the teens were later found dead in rivers in and around Thunder Bay. Did any of them deserve that fate? I could not fathom such a thought. As Tanya Talaga who wrote a book about this series of events called 7 Fallen Feathers, and producer of the show Spirit to Soar, said this, ‘our youth must come alone to Thunder Bay just to go to school in a city where First Nations people have faced racism. Racism that kills.” That is often a traumatic experience for young children. They come to a city where as many have said racism was rampant and are there alone without their families because they want to go to school. The lovely city of Thunder Bay has been called the hate crime capital of Canada! Imagine if your grade nine indigenous student daughter [or son] flew in from up north all by herself. Would you be terrified?
Yet hundreds of indigenous youth make that trip each year. It made me think about the crocodiles that travel each year to the Mara Mara River in Africa to meet, greet, and eat wildebeests and zebras. The poor beasts must face a horrifying number of deadly predators, yet they plunge into the river in a desperate effort to get across the river and join the herd on a search for spring grasses. Is that how it is with these young indigenous children who want to get an education so badly they are willing to go to the Hate Capital of Canada to get it. And inevitably they go alone leaving protective families far behind.
First Nations communities repeatedly called for investigations into the deaths of these 7 fallen feathers. The Chief of the local First Nation asked Talaga why she was not writing a story about Jordan Wabasse the 7th of the missing students.
Talaga did write a book about those events and then discussed some of the issues again in the 2018 CBC Massey Lectures.
The deaths are part of the colonial history of Canada which our political leaders have denied. And this is not ancient history. This is recent history. It is ongoing.
According to Talaga each death was investigated and pronounced accidental or undetermined. She says the investigations were inadequate. No one was ever charged for any of those crimes.
This also reminded me of the fate of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls in Canada. It goes on an on. Predators find the vulnerable victims. Often, like the zebras and wildebeest in Africa come to the crocodiles, the women prey come to the predators. When will this ever end? It will come to an end only when Canadian society takes this problem seriously. Only when Canadians look at themselves critically and say, ‘enough is enough.’ This must stop.