A week ago we were remembering the horrors of war. Isn’t it time to try something else, like honouring the sentiments inscribed on the Marine Park sign on the waterfront? It was placed there by the City of Salmon Arm, Rotary and Canadian Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. It reads, “Dedicated to International Peace and Understanding.”
Seems to me there is a new spirit blowing in the wind. Our prime minister, Justin Trudeau, has selected a cabinet which reflects ethnic diversity, gender balance and belief in our youth. He also believes there is no peace without justice; note the selection of Jody Wilson Raybould as our new justice minister.
The indigenous people of Canada have been waiting 400-plus years for justice to visit them. We at the MacQuarrie Institute believe now is the time to step up to the plate, to ask ourselves, “what is the whole truth about how Canada came into being?” In 1764, the Treaty of Niagara, and accompanying wampum belts, set forth a plan which could have resulted in peace and understanding for both settlers and indigenous people. It was never honoured .
Well, let’s honour it, let’s begin to practice peace and understanding. Let’s become familiar with the whole truth about our history: residential schools, where children were taken from parents, the hundreds of treaties that were seldom honoured, and the disrespect and racism which still pervades our culture.
There are three reserves in Salmon Arm. We could start by getting to know one another, listen to each other’s stories, be the good neighbour. Just imagine what could happen if we were to invite a whole family for lunch or supper? Stranger things are possible!