It’s a little ironic, but so is the rest of the Golden Spruce.
It’s a little ironic, but so is the rest of the Golden Spruce.
My poem uses words that can be found on page 60 of The Golden Spruce. While the words of the poem are formatted in the style of a fridge magnet poem, all of the words are in sequential order, much like blackout poetry. The text is as follows:
The bursting crowd rumbled outside.
Ravens hung motionless,
Singers rose into the air with grief.
Spirit was dead.
Spirit was leaving.
For a long time, it were comfortable
But some cracks begin to show.
People break out and glide away
Engulfed by the fire.
Accompanying my poem is an image that shows a dead forest, still surrounded by small flames and smoke. Unfortunately, I am unable to re-find where I initially retrieved the image from, however; the same photo can be found on the here on the Rocky Mountain Catastrophe & Restoration website.
I chose to create my found poem using words from the Golden Spruce chapter titled “The People”, as I found its detailed description of Aboriginal culture at the time to be quite interesting. From our initial look into residential schools at the start of the year, to my recent confederation character, I have been spending a lot of my social studies journey this year looking into the history of different Indigenous communities. I wanted to continue this theme during The Golden Spruce as well. The reasoning behind choosing the specific passage from page 60 is that I found the description of the events at Skilay’s funeral to be very captivating and vivid. The story paints Skilay’s funeral to be quite a joyous time — a celebration of life, instead of a time of mourning. I really admire how the First Nations can take something that many perceive as negative, such as death, and make it into an extravagant and positive occasion. Using the theme of duality, I took this happy(ish) celebration, and had it become something much darker. I turned the Aboriginal’s positive outlook on the theme of death, and conformed it to the stereotypical fear instead. I took the words that conceptualized this occurrence as peaceful and calm, and turned it around to become something haunting.
Confederation is often explained as a great and progressive thing, and I mean, it is hard to deny its value to making our nation what it is today. However, when we put confederation on a pedestal for its “inclusiveness”, that’s where we go wrong. When we take a good look into confederation, it is easy to notice that while many groups of people are included in the discussions, almost as many are not. This was true for Aboriginal communities at the time. What makes this particular exclusiveness even worse is that it was the Aboriginal’s land that was at stake. They, more than anyone, deserved to be included in the process of confederation.
All of the exclusiveness at the time makes me wonder how things would differ if the Aboriginals were included in the development of Canada. How would it have changed the relationships at the time or even our current relations today? Would there be new benefits for all groups by working together? How much of a say would the Aboriginals even get? Although the answers to these questions would all be hypothetical, I still wanted to take a look into a topic that would help me further my thinking about these things. Therefore, I have decided to look into the question:
- How did a country that included Aboriginals in confederation differ from a country (like Canada) did not?
The country I decided to look into to answer this question was New Zealand. Canada and New Zealand did, and still do, have many structural similarities, but also some significant differences on their relationship with Indigenous peoples. Like Canada, New Zealand had complications with their Indigenous communities at first, but unlike Canada, were able to resolve their problems in a timely fashion. The following PDF from the Cape York Institute was the resource I used to conduct my research:
A little background: New Zealand was home to Indigenous peoples before colonization occurred. Once the British arrived, the Maori people were treated poorly; their land taken, discriminatory policies made against them, and the inability to practice their culture. In addition, the British brought over disease. This resulted in the death of an abundance of Maori peoples, making them a minority. Sound familiar? This is similar to the early history of Canada in terms of their relationship with the various Aboriginal communities. Unfortunately, Canada’s story does not improve as effectively as New Zealand’s does.
27 years before Canada’s confederation, New Zealand went through major positive change with the Maori peoples. In 1840, approximately 500 Maori chiefs contributed to the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. This treaty is especially important to history as it was the framework for all future positive relations between the peoples of New Zealand. As outlined by Cape York Institute’s paper, there are three key articles which are a part of the treaty:
- “Article One declares that the native chiefs cede their sovereignty and authority absolutely and without reservation to the British Crown (although this is disputed, as the Maori text of the Treaty employs a concept that falls short of the English concept of ‘sovereignty’).
- Article Two confirms and guarantees the Indigenous tribes ‘full exclusive and undisturbed’ possession of their properties as long as they wish to retain those properties; but says that the tribes yield to the Crown the exclusive and pre-emptive right of alienation at agreed prices.
- Article Three says that ‘in consideration therefore’ – so in return, presumably, for ceding sovereignty and granting the Crown the exclusive and pre-emptive right to buy native land – the Crown grants the native people ‘royal protection’ and imparts ‘all the rights and privileges of British subjects’. Thus, Article Three gives the native people equal citizenship and equality before the law, but may also establish a duty of protection, whereby the Crown is supposed to act in the best interests of Indigenous people. “
The Treaty of Waitangi was a huge help in initially changing the national mindset to be respectful of Maori rights. Through this treaty, New Zealand recognized themselves to be bicultural, with Maori language and culture being a part of the country’s identity to this day. The New Zealand national anthem is often performed in the Maori language and Maori rituals are performed during various ceremonies. Each are also taught in schools. Furthermore, New Zealand celebrates “Waitangi Day” as a national holiday. While we have Canada Day, New Zealand chose to have Waitangi Day (as opposed to something like “New Zealand Day”) to celebrate the signing of the Waitangi Treaty.
Years later, following the practices of the treaty, the Waitangi Tribunal was born. In 1975, the tribunal was created as a safe space for the Maori to share their stories. In doing so, the remainder of the country is educated on Maori history. What makes the tribunal worth looking up to is the fact that half of the members are experts in Maori affairs, while the other half are Maori themselves. Thus creating a very valid representation of the group. Cape York Institute explains the Waitangi Tribunal as follows:
- “It is an important forum for the Maori to tell their story, and it provides a safe environment in which to air their grievances.
- It has an educative role for the country as a whole (particularly through the reports that it hands down).
- The process is empowering for the Maori: they are able to tell their history the way they want to—this enables them to deal with their emotions in order to focus on the best future.
- The Tribunal’s role has changed over the years: it has a historical role, but also a role in keeping the Crown honest in managing the Treaty relationship, which has shifted from a focus on compensation to maintaining the ongoing relationship.”
Finally, what really helped to repair the relationship with the Maori peoples was seriously following through with Truth and Reconciliation. In my last Document of Learning, I discuss Apologies vs. Actions in terms of the Aboriginal people of Canada. I note that early on, continuous “sorry”s were said and acts without true purpose were made. For example, “the way that the government and church chose to show apologies was through compensation packages. These packages provided residential school survivors money in order to repay their bad experiences.” While an apology and compensation packages are a nice gesture of reconciling, where is the truth? Who knows it? New Zealand faces the truth of their past head on, making it much easier for the Maori people to even agree to reconcile. Why reconcile without the truth?
While we cannot exactly know how including the Aboriginal communities in confederation would effect our country presently, by taking a look at a country that has demonstrated how to be inclusive of Indigenous peoples, we can at least predict what our country could have been. The quick and effective actions to fix disputes involving the Maori peoples in New Zealand have resulted in better relationships between people in the country today. Not only does having a bicultural nation make the place more inclusive, but it also helps to create a more unique cultural identity. If Canada were to follow New Zealand’s path early on (which we totally could have because New Zealand has always been a couple steps ahead), we could see our country living up to its “kind, polite, wonderful” name today. Although it is unfortunate that we have not reached this point yet, it’s not too late. Canada should take the time to look into the practices New Zealand has put forward to reconcile with its Indigenous peoples. By learning from our friends down under, maybe we can be better friends up north.
My time is coming to a close. In the life I have lived, I have seen and been through a lot. From the days of the Act of “Union” (questionable title) forbidding every language except English, to my participation in the fur trade, to the later acceptance of the French culture. I have seen so many things go downhill and come back up again. But why do things never improve with the Aboriginal community?
Through the process of Confederation, it appears to me that the opinions of Upper Canada, Lower Canada, and the Maritimes have all been included. But the Aboriginals? We have never been asked for our input. How can we progress with Canada if we have not even been acknowledged? My understanding of Confederation is that it is supposed to unite us all as one. “Uniting our country” includes everybody, not just an exclusive group of people. The Indigenous communities are just as important as any other community part of the process of confederation. Why can’t we be included along with them?
I don’t think I’ll be around long enough to see the ending of this story. I do, however, hope that my people will soon be included in the uniting of our country. The Aboriginals deserve to be included in the planning of Confederation as much as anybody else. Confederation effects us all. Whether or not those in power will understand this and grant our wishes is a different story. At this point, I can only hope for the best. The best for my daughter and future generations of Cree, Metis, and all other Aboriginal peoples.
*Rosalie L’Hirondelle died on August 2, 1861.
Dating the Iroquois Confederacy (Bruce E. Johansen) was an article on the Confederacy that I found to be quite interesting. The piece discusses how researchers Barbara Mann and Jerry Fields came to the conclusion that the Confederacy took place in 1142 AD. They used a set of different perspectives and facts to oppose the common belief that said the Iroquois Confederacy came to be in 1451. Unlike most other scholars, Mann and Fields took into consideration documents, eclipse data, and Iroquois oral accounts.
“Mann and Fields believe that scholars who argue the later dates dismiss the Iroquois oral history as well as solar-eclipse of data. Since such scholars use only documentary sources with dates on them, and since such documents have been left to use only by non-Indians, the Native American perspective is screened out of history, they argue. “It is capricious, and most probably racial, of scholars to continue dismissing the [Iroquois] Keepers [oral historians] as incompetent witnesses on their own behalf,” Mann and Fields argue in their paper.”
I was quite satisfied to know that the dating of the confederacy was eventually determined using a variety of sources that included the Iroquois oral history. Now, I only wish that more researchers of history topics did the same with other Aboriginal accounts.
Somehow we are back in Social Studies, and honestly, it felt like we just finished Socials 9 yesterday. I am particularly excited to begin Socials this year because we are taking the time to learn all about Canada. Yes, learning about history in Europe can be interesting and is definitely important, but it doesn’t really hit close to home. Whereas, learning about Canada, the place I actually live, feels very personally relevant.
While quite a heavy topic, residential schools and reconciliation are definitely an interesting way to start off this year’s Social Studies journey. The topics line up very well with our interest in learning about the “dark side” of Canada.
Myself, Olivia, Rachael, and Weijin are covering the broad question “What are the key components of reconciliation?”. Be sure to check out their blogs to read about other topics regarding the process.
Personally, I have decided to look into the following specific question in regards to the reconciliation process:
I was really interested in this question as I think it is one of the biggest components in the reconciliation process. After willingness and trust is made between groups, the actual process of reconciliation begins. The question is, what exactly needs to happen during this time? Sure, an apology feels good, but does it really fix anything? And yeah, it might be nice to be given some extra cash as a way to say “sorry”, but how does that help the emotional trauma? Through my research, I want to get more insight into which apologies and actions need to take place for reconciliation to be successful.
All of the above CBC articles address the point of apologies. Specifically, Stephen Harper’s official 2008 apology to former students of residential schools.
“The treatment of children in Indian residential schools is a sad chapter in our history.
“Today, we recognize that this policy of assimilation was wrong, has caused great harm, and has no place in our country,”
Harper’s apology came after many people demanded a sincere, heartfelt apology by a prime minister. Although Harper and many other officials’ apologies included depth on the issue, it’s hard not to wonder “did they just do this because they had to?” Controversy and questions like this have come up in regards to apologies with the church. While some churches, such as the Anglican Church of Canada, provided heartfelt apologies, others did not satisfy the Aboriginal community. For example, CBC reported that “Pope Benedict XVI expressed his “sorrow” to a delegation from Canada’s Assembly of First Nations for the abuse and “deplorable” treatment that aboriginal students suffered at Roman Catholic Church-run residential schools.” At the time of this statement, Phil Fontaine of the Assembly of First Nations did not accept the words as an apology. They were more of way to just “close the book”.
This all makes me wonder “how much does an apology really mean?”. If the Aboriginal people have been pushing for an apology for years and they finally receive one years later, how do we know if the words spoken are truly sincere? In the Herald News’ “A Selection Of Quotes From Aboriginal Leaders, Residential School Survivors”, Helen Cromarty, a survivor, says
“There are many missing things that I can never ever get back, but having the government apologize and acknowledge the damage that has been done, I feel a little reprieve. I can live with it and I think that’s another step forward. Why not keep going? The path is there now, follow it.”
I really like this quote because it brings up a good point. When the government and church apologize for what they have done, there is a slight chance that they may make those who they have hurt feel a little bit better. Although mostly, it just makes themselves feel better. I think apologizing is more of a way to take the weight off your own shoulders, thinking that the word “sorry” is going to fix everything. However, this is untrue. You need to prove your apology by demonstrating the proper actions to make your apology real.
But which actions are the right actions? I found the first two CBC articles quite interesting as they address past attempts of “reconciliation”. A couple years back, the way that the government and church chose to show apologies was through compensation packages. These packages provided residential school survivors money in order to repay their bad experiences. Former students were to receive $10,000 for their first year at school and an additional $3,000 for all the further years they attended. According to CBC News, “as of Sept. 30, 2013, $1.6 billion had been paid, representing 105,548 cases.” This compensation package also included a promise for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which was officially established in 2008.
Here’s the thing; money is great. I’m not going to deny that. However, for the government to use money as their first big attempt to reconcile is ridiculous. Money is not a real apology for all that Indigenous people have endured. Money is not going to simply fix the trauma residential school students face. Money is not going to bring back the childhood of Aboriginal kids who were taken away. Why could the government and church not have gotten together to initially discuss the mental well-being of former students? Why go straight to money? Is it because it’s the easy choice? What was the point of wasting time distributing cash as a first action when really, it does not help fix the problem?
In the residential school situation, we really need to look to the Aboriginal people to understand what they see as reasonable actions to prove apologies. It is their values that we need to accommodate. The TRC Mandate goals include:
(a) Acknowledge Residential School experiences, impacts and consequences;
(b) Provide a holistic, culturally appropriate and safe setting for former students, their families and communities as they come forward to the Commission;
(c) Witness, support, promote and facilitate truth and reconciliation events at both the national and community levels;
(d) Promote awareness and public education of Canadians about the IRS system and its impacts;
(e) Identify sources and create as complete an historical record as possible of the IRS system and legacy. The record shall be preserved and made accessible to the public for future study and use;
Now, these goals are all good and swell, but how much do they mean if not everyone is partaking? Just one person refusing to demonstrate these respectful practices will stunt the whole reconciliation process. What the mandate is asking for is reasonable for Canadians to participate in, so why don’t we? It is important that Canadians work together as a collective to truly make a big impact and fix all the damage done.
Through my findings, I believe that apologies and actions are both necessary in the process of reconciliation between groups. While we can never really know the level of sincerity of one’s apology, from the perspective of a survivor, it is still nice to hear. For those who have harmed, it allows them to remove a weight off their shoulders and to forgive themselves. However, we can forgive, but we should never forget. An apology is not the end of the issue. We cannot let ourselves ignore the rest of a situation after a simple “sorry” is said. We need to prove our apologies by acting on what the TRC mandate asks for.
The one big question I am still asking myself is “How do we secure mutual trust and respect between groups?” This question is important because in order for reconciliation to initially occur, a trust has to be created between those involved. If trust isn’t present, then nothing can begin.
So why is any of this important? I think we need to understand the difference between apologies and actions, and we need to do each of these things appropriately and actively. When I say “we”, I truly mean “we”. Progress is a collective process. As Canadians, we all need to take part in following and respecting the TRC mandate in order to reach true reconciliation.
Eminent 2016 has officially concluded along with my eminent journey in general. It’s so weird to think that I’ll never have to do an eminent project again, nor do I have to stress about who to do next year. I’ve been thinking about eminent so much lately that not thinking about it makes me feel like I’m missing a limb or something – Eminent was a part of me!
Night of the Notables on Wednesday was extravagant. My speech, learning center, and collaboration videos all went well! The following video includes all of these aspects, so be sure to check it out. (If you did film a collab with me, check the description of the video to find where you appear!)
For the last time, be sure to like the video, subscribe, and leave a comment down below telling me your favourite memory from Night of the Notables. Thank you so much for watching. Bye friends!
Tomorrow!!! *Breathe in, and breathe out*
As eminent is wrapping up, I thought now would be a great time to post my bibliography/ biBLOGraphy/ bibVLOGraphy. Here are the links to the resources I discussed in my video. If you’re interested in Tyler, be sure to check them out!
Bonus Videos: http://youtube.com/extratyler
Interview complete! So happy to have done this interview with Ricky Ficarelli. All of his answers have been really helpful in my eminent project, specifically in terms of getting into a YouTuber’s mindset for my speech. Check out the video below and be sure to leave a comment if you have anything to add on to our responses.
Two days until Night of the Notables! Good luck everyone!
This blog post is brought to you by your SpongeBob meme of the day. Stay tuned for more spongealicious memes.
Although I already completed my Document of Learning in the form of a library post as well as stated I would only be doing my eminent posts in the form of video, I felt it would be beneficial to post my speech here for feedback. Feel free to comment any kind of feedback so I can finish up my speech and get practicing!
The Idea: I, Tyler, just hit 10 million subscribers on YouTube and am making a video to thank my supporters. In this video I want to emphasize the importance of this community (#TeamInternet) in getting me to where I am today. I also want to prove to them that they can go places from where they are right now and create positive change in the world.
Hey everyone! My name is Tyler Oakley and today we hit a pretty big milestone. If you follow me on Twitter (which you should by the way – @tyleroakley), you’re probably already aware but… we just hit TEN MILLION SUBSCRIBERS. That’s right, this community right here on YouTube has grown to be a family of ten million people and I want you to know that I am incredibly thankful for every single one of you.
WE have done this together because WE have been through it all. We created. Created a book, a documentary, a podcast, a tour. We raised. Raised awareness and money for the causes we care about such as the Trevor Project. We reached. Reached goals both in your life and my life, in numbers like the 10 million today, but also in our personal achievements. Whether you have been watching since my very first video, or this is the first video of mine you have seen, WE, Team Internet, are what has made this possible.
If you went back in time and told seven year old poor, fat, closeted Tyler that in twenty years he would be standing in front of a camera talking to 10 million people across the world, he would just laugh. And yet, here I am today. That’s why I want you to know that whatever struggles you are going through, you can overcome. Dysfunctional family, eating disorder, not being accepted for being LGBT, or something else, WE can all grow and go places from there.
This all starts by making a difference. Whether it be as small as taking care of yourself and bringing a smile to someone’s face or as big as advocating for a cause you care about. No matter who you are and what you do, all of us can positively affect this world.
Anyways, those were my words of wisdom for today. I want to thank you, my people, again for helping me hit 10 million subscribers here on YouTube. If you liked this video you can give it a thumbs up and make sure to subscribe if you aren’t already. Also, leave a comment down below telling me how you plan to grow, make a change, and be your own eminent person. Okay, that’s all! Bye friends!!
If it’s easier for you, here is the Google Doc link as well: https://docs.google.com/document/d/13tExqRBrVbgbq-rHXqYVAQ1F_tgVQMTbIZJcUTA-d4M/edit?usp=sharing