To the Editor:
Don't you think it's time to stop hating, discriminating and labeling the native people of Canada? Is it time to see each native as our next door neighbor, and equal Canadian and a respected member of our society? Instead we think they waste our tax dollars, are unemployed, gamble too much, smoke too much and drink too much – but doesn't the rest of society do that?
The native people I know are kind, normal and everyday people. They work. They don't spend their money on cigarettes and beer. They actually go and help their own people. They become counselors, preachers and missionaries. They work as teachers and they encourage their children to build healthy, successful and productive futures.
But we as a society who are not native think we are better than them because we work for our money. We don't take government hand outs and we have jobs that meet our basic needs.
Reality speaking, we forget that when James Carter came to Canada in 1543 the native people didn't chase them out, didn't try to harm him or take advantage of him. Instead they welcomed Carter on their land. They made signs that they wanted to trade with Carter. Each child, woman and man did a dance to welcome Carter and his crew. Carter got to see how they hunted, how they lived, what they wore and how they governed.
Soon more explorers came, then settlers, then the trading post opened and life began in Canada.
But the native people saw their way of life change. There was disease, war and they were kicked off their lands. Louie Riel and his Metis people were nearly butchered and killed off because settlers came to Manitoba to farm. No treaty was signed, no bargaining took place. The white settlers just took over and the Metis people were driven off. The rebellion came and many native people lost their lives.
Today they live on reserves where there is no heat, no running water and there is black mould on the walls. They have problems with sickness, crime and addictions. They feel the shame, pain and disappointment that was passed on when their ancestors blood was spilled.
Today they are still fighting. They just want a healthy, normal and productive life for their children and grandchildren.
Do you think it's time to put our differences and disgust behind us? Let's support the native people. Let's encourage them to go to school and to graduate. Let's help them to make healthy choices and just see them as normal people rather than second class citizens. Racism isn't the answer. Accepting native people as real human beings can lead to a new beginning for our community and for our country.
Stacie Amber McLeod, Yorkton, SK.