I write with a sadness that passes understanding. It is big. It has been with me all my life.
I grew up in Regina and came to know the aboriginal people well. My father was a friend to many of them and he frequently took me downtown with him on Saturdays, so that he could meet his friends and catch up with the happenings of the past week. I was in awe of the horses some of them rode and with the beautiful clothing they wore.
When I was old enough to attend school, there were aboriginals, of course, in many classes. We mixed well together. And I never sensed anywhere as a youngster that these people of the land were looked down upon.
And then things began to change. More reserves were “created” and thus fewer kids came to my school. Alcohol got a grip on these souls. And it made me sad with the sadness that afflicts many white people in relation to brown.
By high school, we carried on and barely saw an indigenous student once we got to high school. As I continued to walk to school along an old buffalo trail, I frequently wondered about and missed my once-up-a-time friends.
My absolutely befuddling question of today concerns the residential schools. How could I have grown up in Saskatchewan until I was eighteen and not have heard a word about residential schools? How could I have moved to Ontario and again not have heard about these schools for many years.
What does one do?