By Xavier Kataquapit, The Daily Press-freelance
TIMMINS – I don’t understand why so many people get upset about immigrants coming to this country. Of course you have to remember I have a special view considering my people are the original inhabitants of this land, so everybody else who came after us I view as immigrants.
The Europeans were the first big wave of immigrants to land on the shores of the Americas for all the same old reasons such as the quest for wealth, resources and domination.
Considering all of the terrible things that happened to the Native people of the Americas you would think we Aboriginals would be very upset. After all these new immigrants stepped in uninvited and took over our lands, sent in their missionaries to destroy our culture, traditions and spirituality, moved us from our nomadic hunting and gathering lands to small reserves and more or less did their best to try to eliminate us.
Still, somehow we do not hold a huge grudge with these first immigrants and as survivors we are doing our best to deal with their ongoing quest for riches.
So, you can imagine how confused I get when I hear some English, Polish, Russian, Italian, Ukrainian, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Swiss, Swedish, German or other European people complain about any new immigrants coming to this land.
I just find that really weird. Don’t they know where they came from and why they came here? Don’t they remember they were immigrants either coming to Canada to seek their riches, better their lives or escape terrible conditions in their own countries?
They all seem to be suffering from amnesia when it comes to this question of immigration. They seem to be a little slow also because they keep falling for right wing governments fanning the flames of racism and bigotry by bringing the immigration issue to the surface again and again.
I have been to some third world countries so I understand very well why people want to come to our beautiful country to enjoy the opportunity to work and have a better life. This reminds me of why the Europeans came here actually.
If we, as first world countries, did a better job of making things more fair and equitable on this planet then people would have no need to immigrate as life would be as good for them in their own country as it is here in Canada.
The problem is that most of our interest in third world countries has to do with trying to grab their resources, topple their governments so that we can put someone in place that will do our bidding and more or less keep people down.
Until we really see that we are all just one big family on this tiny, lucky little planet Earth then we will keep taking advantage of others and they will arrive at our doors in the same way the Europeans were looking for a new and better place to call home.
I really think the average person is good enough and aware to the point where they understand that if we don’t want to flood our country with new immigrants then we have to work very hard to make life better for the less fortunate in this world.
We also have to realize that most of us came to this country as immigrants.
I love reading anything I can get my hands on regarding the history of this world. One of my favourite quotes is that “the only thing we learn from history is that we don’t learn anything from history.”
However, one thing is for sure if you study human beings and their historical actions it soon becomes clear that patterns of war, greed and domination prevail.
What has to happen for us to realize there are better ways? It could start with simply not being sucked in by nasty people in power trying to keep us all fighting with each other and believing it is OK to hate others.
It could start there.
— Xavier Kataquapit grew up in Attawapiskat First Nation on the James Bay Coast. Readers are invited to visit his website: www.underthenorthernsky.com.