Written in response to the 215 unmarked graves discovered in BC in May 2021.
"This poem is an expression of individual reconciliation of a non-Indigenous person reaching out, and hitting the nail on the head." - Bob Joseph
Message written during a vigil for the 215 children | Photo courtesy Bob Joseph
Atrocities are not erased by gestures
By lowering flags, or stopping subway trains.
Unacknowledged evil slowly, slowly festers
Corrupting minds and hearts; denying pain.
Now is the time that all the white Canadians
Must acknowledge and atone the shame we share.
We can no longer wash the guilt from off our hands
By insisting it occurred when we weren’t there.
The colonials who plundered this un-Christian land
Were white-supremacists, by fear enchained.
They lied and feigned accord with every tribe and band
To wheedle calm whilst planning how to gain.
The treaties promised peace and sharing land
But were soon betrayed and roughly shoved aside.
Whole villages, whole nations were uprooted and
No longer free to choose where to abide.
Assimilation and absorption were employed
To destroy the culture, language and traditions
The indigenous populations had enjoyed
And the children were removed for “education.”
Only arrogance can plan to kill a culture.
Only passion can excuse extreme abuse.
The obscenely biased Indian Act and mores were
Instrumental of the genocidal curse.
Residential schooling was adopted
By conscientious persons doing “right.”
It is only now we see they were co-opted;
Their dedication to a lie turned to a blight.
How else can killing children be forgiven?
How now can whites assuage their awful shame?
Those Christians trying to pave a path to heaven,
Blind by passion, doing wrong that has no name.
To be silent now is to be all-complicit
Taking benefits - denying all along
That Justice now commands – Fairness solicits
Redemption for the centuries of wrong.
The two-fifteen are just the opening statement
Of the soul-destroying evidence to come
As the unmarked graves disgorge their shameful content
And belated funeral rites and grief rain down.
Can reconciliation live without the truth?
Now the evidence of genocide is plain
Can our nation finally accept the proof
So our hosts may take their share of this domain?
"I have been disturbed by my failure to arouse any support or even sympathy from my friends and relations when I raise the topic. If taken seriously - [this poem] just might encourage a few open-minded persons to exchange their worn-out biases for a new set of beliefs and acceptance of what is now required of them to redress the horribly inhumane injustices of their forefathers, and the residue of them that continues to distort our public debates." - Bradley Crawford