Saturday, July 29, 2017

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls - Part 2

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls – Part Two
            I guess one of the reasons Mennonites empathize with Indigenous people to the degree they do is the similarities of their respective situations from the past. Me an’ the Missus visited the Mennonite Heritage Center a while back an’ on the way home she says to me, “Holy crackers, there’s Mennonites everywhere!” She was talkin’ about the Mennonite Central Committee and all its involvements in every corner of society.
            Well, it’s true. Them buggers are everywhere. They’re in government, in industry, in agriculture – you name it an’ you’ll find ‘em. The reason I bring this up is that given their treatment in the old South Russia, they should have pretty well been wiped out – but they weren’t. There are many parallels in the story of the Mennonites and the Indigenous nations, the difference being that it was the men and older boys who were taken away instead of the children. That left the women and younger children to look after the farms and businesses.
            What would happen was that in the evening or at night several armed authorities would show up at a given house and demand entry. Using their authority they would search through the house, looking for letters or papers jewelry or wealth of some sort to incriminate the resident. They would then give the head of the house about five minutes to pack a few clothes, a little food to eat and pack him off to a courthouse in another town, promising the mother and the children that he would return in a day or two. That of course was a lie since many of them never returned. It got to the point where every household had a package prepared to give to the head of the family for his journey to court.
            Well that’s a bit of an over simplification, but generally pretty close to what happened. There is a book with lists of people who were shot, or deported to northern Siberia or imprisoned for long terms, some of my own relatives among them. It’s a gruesome record.
            Now this is the point I’m trying to make. One of the women waiting to tell her story to the commission for Missing and Murdered Women and Girls is extremely frustrated with the commission and its activities. The hoops these people have to jump through to get at the commission overwhelms her and she is afraid she’ll never get to tell her tale. That is what confuses me. I totally agree with her in that every time you get to tell your story, you heal a little bit. So the stories must be told – all of them!
            The question is, must they be told to the commission being run by the government? No, they must be told to someone who will listen. To my way of thinking, the system is entirely backwards. Indigenous peoples have been telling stories for ever. They have good memories and a penchant for the truth. We see that over and over.
            So now we have a group of white people who were and are the enemy setting the terms of when and how the affected people can speak, subordinating the indigenous people once again.
            And who are these people setting the agenda? Oh yeah, they’re government people and bureaucrats who have no experience in being bullied by their own kind. They have no idea of what goes on in the minds of the people affected by these losses.

            Just sayin’.

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