Dear First Nation Indian Band,
I saw you the other day, and I can’t tell you how good it made me feel. I miss you a lot, and I think about you everyday. It can get lonely out here in the world, but it always helps to think about our times together, and the thought of seeing you again usually makes me feel better when times are tough.
But lately these feelings are soon tempered by the realization that things between us aren’t what they used to be. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but you’ve been slowly drifting away from me. And in the process, you’ve been making me feel bad about myself, insecure about my foundations, and worried that you’re leaving me for ever. I’m sad that you’ve put me in the position to have to explain this to you, but I feel that I must. I want you to know that what I have to say is being said with our relationship’s best interest in mind.
Do you remember when we met? It was more than 30 years ago. You took me in, you gave me shelter, you gave me love. You cared for me, and I cared for you back. Do you remember it? I was only a baby, and I had nowhere else to go. You brought me into your family, and we lived in the bay together. I remember those winters when we had to chop holes through the ice to get water for tea and oatmeal.
You raised me up and taught me how to give back to you. And I always took that responsibility seriously. We shared with each other like any good family members should. When I was 10, you needed a goalie for the rez team. I was in my glory. I played for you with all my heart. I was proud to be a part of you. I was proud to fight when those white kids would attack us in parking lots because they didn’t like losing hockey games to Indians. Later on, I would continue to fight for you, against them big industries across the river that saw you as a dumping ground for their toxic waste. Day and night I fought with them, and I did it because our relationship was important to me. In many ways I continue to fight for us, only these days its mainly with words; but though the Canadian government is a lot bigger than anyone I fought in the past, its still mostly just a bunch of white people who don’t like Indians.
But you seem to be forgetting about me and our relationship. Instead of welcoming me in when I knock on your door, you look at me with distrust. You stand there in the light, confused about how to treat me. The last time I looked you in the eyes, the look you gave me back was similar to that of a carny who is protecting the little bits of change falling out of the fair rides: threatened, territorial and dispossessed all at the same time. What has happened? When did I ever take anything from you to deserve this look? I’ve always brought you my best gifts. I need you to know that I’ve never been interested in stealing from you.
What caused this change? I first noticed it when I was about 20, when I went off to college. Over the next decade, I noticed that you would recoil from me every time I asked you for help. Has someone been whispering into your ear? Whatever they’re saying, its not true! I bet INAC’s been whispering, eh? Saying things like “He doesn’t have status, so don’t open the door.” I hate that I have to tell you this, but INAC is not your friend, he is hurting you from the inside out. He keeps you confused and bleary eyed. He makes you mistake me for a thief. Through seducing you with little bits of money, he is making you forget everything we’ve done together.
Ok, look… I need you to get this: I am not going away. I will always give my gifts to you. And, like everyone else in this world, I am constantly growing and learning. So when I ask you for support from time to time, you need to understand that what I’m really asking for is the opportunity to contribute. Yes, it seems like its the opposite, but its not. When you support me, you’re really just helping me become stronger so I can carry my end of our relationship. So take that distrust out of your eyes, and push that INAC away from your ears.
We belong together; and I need you to say it back to me someday.