In ‘92 Angee Pell didn’t register her son with the Indian Act due to residential schools

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Angee Pell

I don't know about you, but I am feeling pretty RAW these days.  Six months into 2020 and amongst everything else, we are now in a new civil rights movement. These are serious days and times for serious discussions to be had, about the especially sensitive issues, such as racism and how certain individuals are being targeted specifically because of the colour of the skin they were born with.  I am literally becoming disgusted with the number of times I have had to attempt to educate white people this week for countering "BLACK LIVES MATTER" with the statement of "ALL LIVES MATTER".  As a white privileged woman, I am guilty of having an advantage in life due to the colour of my skin.  As a matter of fact, I am guilty of worse.  I am guilty of staying silent in the face of racism.  I have witnessed situations in my past where I should have intervened, but instead remained silent.  For the first time in my life I am really examining the ways that I contribute to racism, even by staying silent.  Through a lens of white privilege I can see so many ways in which I have not done enough, and how I can do better. When it comes to those who choose to say the offensive words "ALL LIVES MATTER", I searched the interwebs for a meme that I think explains it in a gentle and kind manner - which at this point might in fact be beyond my ability to find kind words to use. 

I need to get this off my chest....     

                            I am a white privileged woman. 

*   I have white privilege because I have never feared for my safety at any time while dealing with law enforcement.

**  I have white privilege because I had to LEARN about racism, but have never personally EXPERIENCED it.

***  I have white privilege because I can go out alone and not be watched or followed based on the colour of my skin.

****  I have white privilege because I can freely choose to do many things that others can't, only based on skin colour.

I know I could go on, but think you get the point.  This is not to say that I have ever had it easy in life, because I haven't.  I've faced trauma, challenges and stigma in many areas of my own life.  None of those challenges had anything to do with my skin colour.  I am not completely free from racism in my life though.  Those of you who know me personally will know my son and that he is mixed race.  He has the dark skin, dark hair and dark eyes of his Indigenous ancestors.  For the 28 years of my son's life I have stood beside him and supported him through his own experiences with racism within his hometown of Huntsville, ON.  He was born here, and has lived here for his entire life, but he has always had to face the additional challenges of racism in his daily life.  He has been bullied, abused, taunted, ridiculed, ostracized, judged and blamed unfairly.  He has lost friends, jobs, missed out on school trips "in case of any potential issue", and he even had to change schools once.  In that particular situation he was abused by other students, in a long term situation.  I was personally told by that school principal that it was my son's own fault, and that he wouldn't be bullied or beat up if he wasn't "flaunting his heritage."  For the record - my son was 8 at the time.  He was beaten and had his medicine bag ripped from his neck.  A medicine bag is a small pouch worn around the neck to keep sacred items in.  It is commonly worn under the clothes and next to the skin.  Regardless, my son changed school within weeks.  Now as an adult he will still tell you that racism is alive and very active in Muskoka.  Something that I have not shared with many, perhaps no one other than my immediate family.  Although I was a mother at a very young age, I was always well aware of the Indian Act that exists in Canada and the registry that the Canadian government put in place.  I knew from the very beginning that there was no way I was going to add my son's name to any government registry just based on his ancestry.  Instead, I filed the important information he would need to make his own choice as an adult.  Do you know why the Canadian government created the Indian Act?  Yes, the term is still active and used to this day, and in fact as an adult, my son is now registered with the Indian Act.  Do you know I wouldn't register him as an infant because there were still active residential schools still running.  Do you know that the last residential school in Canada closed in 1996?  My son was 4 years old at that time - school aged.  It honestly sickens me when I think about it.  I am so grateful that I was born questioning EVERYTHING.  It got me in a lot of trouble when I was young but it sure has payed off as an adult. 

I don't know if anyone will get anything out of this post, but for me it has been incredibly eye opening to challenge myself,  to challenge my views, and to challenge my own actions.  If any of my readers out there feel inspired to take a good hard look at themselves and grow from it, then it wasn't just for me.  I think no matter what colour our skin is, we all can find ways to make ourselves better people moving forward.  Let's embrace our fellow humans and stand in solidarity with each other.  Our exterior is not what makes us, anymore than the clothing we choose to cover our bodies with.  It is our hearts and souls that determine our individuality that really matters.  Don't mind me while I burn with determination to make this world  a more loving and more accepting place.  So many bright lights are dimmed due to ignorance and hate.  It is time to embrace and support each other for the amazing beings of creativity we all are.  What if we all tried to spark a light in someone else for a change?  Create a positive movement through love?  My mantra for the last month has been to "plant a seed to inspire" and I think it is more relevant now than a month ago. So for the time being try to be kind to each other.  If you can, love each other.  There is so much hate in the world right now.  Let's spread as much love, acceptance and positivity as we each can.  Challenge yourself to choose love instead of judgement and see what difference it can make in your own communities.  I know I am judged for always choosing the path of love.  I honestly don't care and welcome the judgement.  

Please stay well and be kind to one another. 

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