My personal cosmology is one filled with holes due to the assimilation of my people. Once I begin to analyze the history of my ancestors, the generational impact present in my life today will be evident. My mother was born and raised in Campbellton, New Brunswick. I ‘am of Mi’kmaq descent indigenous to Canada on my mother’s side and am unaware of my background on my father side. I was raised by my mother and maternal grandparents originally from New Brunswick as well.
I will attempt to shed light on the history and trauma of the First Nation’s people in Canada and make connections on how it continues to affect us as a people today from my perspective and experiences.
For hundreds of years the First nation’s people in Canada have been forced into an apartheid system and cultural assimilation. Aboriginal people in Canada were stripped of their traditional culture through historical policies such as the Indian Act, which essentially controlled their lives and deemed their way of life unacceptable.
First Nations children, my grandmother and her mother included, were forced to attend residential schools where the goal was to assimilate them. These children were forcibly removed them from their homes, away from their families and brought to place where the practice of their culture was forbidden. The goal was to civilize them by forcibly converting them into Christianity and teaching them English or French so they can one day be apart of mainstream Canadian society. This system was fueled by the belief that the settlers were superior to the First nations.
The children attending these school would be severely punished if caught Practicing their language or traditions. Many children, now adults who were forced to attend these school have opened up and reported experiencing emotional, physical and sexual abuse. The children who returned to their families once released from the residential school were no longer able to communicate with them and immediately struggled with their sense of belonging and identity causing generations after them to lose touch with our cultural background. Unable to fit into both worlds, many found it difficult to function and this lead to isolation and a great negative impact on the mental and emotional well-being for the individual and future generations to come. Depression, addiction and suicidal behavior are common in the history and present day lives of my people. The historical trauma endured by our ancestors has influenced generations and continues to negatively affect the well-being of First Nations people in Canada. Consequently, I don’t know much about my people other than the history designed to destroy us and the evidence that is has. However, I know our deepest connection to our culture is still present. They can never take away our higher power which is centered around nature this land, our lakes and trees etc. is our way to feel a connection to our ancestors. I feel as long as we have this connection we still have hope.