Usually, I am very glad that I am from Canada. My mother and father were from Europe, but I was born in Canada. My home in Canada is the city of Vancouver. It’s a beautiful place. Students from Otemae have visited my hometown. I am always so happy when I hear from Otemae students that they had a wonderful time in my country. I am very proud that they have met good Canadian people, had different food, had new experiences, and had many chances to use and to speak English.
But today I am not so proud to be a Canadian.
I don’t know if you read the news very much but there is a very dark story about Canada in the media today. This week there was a very sad discovery. The dead bodies of 215 children who were all Native Indians to Canada were found behind a church school. The dead children are from many years ago and they were all students at a church school that was a Canadian government school too. It is a deeply shocking thing.
When European people came to Canada about one hundred years ago they made schools for Native Indian children. The children were pulled from their mothers and stayed only at the schools. The teachers of the school were from the church. The teachers were supposed to teach and take care of these children, but they did not. Many children had terrible experiences of violence and abuse. Many children did not have proper food or medical care. Now we know that many children died or killed at these schools.
I am so shocked about this news I think that I cannot explain my thinking very well. This terrible thing is very hard to understand. Small children were taken from their mothers and fathers, and then they die alone in these schools. How can this happen? How can this happen in Canada?
This is not the Canada that I know. This is not the Canada that I love.
It is a very dark part of the history of my country. I cannot say that I am proud of the history of Canada. I cannot say that everything in Canada is great.
But there are still some things about my country that are good. There are many good people in my country. There are many beautiful places in Canada. The air is clean. The water is clean. There is music and there is food and there are so many good things today in my country.
I have to try to have two very different ideas in my mind together. I must understand that the history of Canada has very dark and terrible parts. I must also understand that there are many good people and beautiful places too. These two things are opposite, but it is possible to keep two opposite ideas in the human mind at the same time.
The study of history is very important for everyone. Dark parts of our history do not give us identity today. The past is the past. Today is today. We must learn about the mistakes and crimes of the past. We learn about the dark so that we can move our country to the light.
If we pretend or believe that a dark history is not real we will make a big mistake. If we say things like, “Oh, that was so long ago. It is not important”, or, “That is some kind of fake news, some kind of fake history”, we will make some new trouble. If we try to forget or ignore the dark part of the past, we will make the same mistakes again in the future.
In Canada I believe that many people are very angry and very shocked about these terrible crimes against children. I am a Canadian and I am deeply unhappy about this. As a Canadian I must do whatever I can to help make my county better, and stronger, and more intelligent. I think that one of the best things I can do for the future of my country is to promote and to teach about history. We must remember our mistakes of the past. We must make a good lesson from the dark so that we can communicate better, understand other people better, and to learn about peace and cooperation.
Education and reading history will make our world better, and make us smarter for the future.