Today is an emotional day, remembrance day. For many, this day is to grieve and honor relatives, and friends. But for me its about respecting that place of remembrance but at the same time acknowledging the great in-balance that this day uplifts.
My grandfather or Mooshim on my dadís side of the family was a veteran. My Mooshim, for my uncles and aunties is someone who they remember on this day. Which comes with a sort of reverence for those who served in the world wars. That reverence was instilled in them by my Mooshim. My Mooshim is not the only person that is a veteran in my life. Many friends are young veterans who have gone to serve and returned.
My biggest challenge with remembrance day is what it tells us, makes us feel and the myths or beliefs we have about remembrance day. Its challenging too because many of us have relatives, and friends who have served, and died. Its a time of remembrance for many things.
For some reason today made me feel emotional. One I am remembering my friend Tammy and her deceased daughter. Her daughter was one of the most fiery young woman Iíve ever met. She had a zest for life and brought everyone around her good memories. She was the wife of an Iraqi veteran on the US side. He is a tribal member from northern Minnesota. He was one of the many that came back with grief, and scars. Its not a talked about thing in the mainstream, the coming back of those have served and what they brought back with them. She was the victim of abuse by her husband many times over. She reached a point were she was ready to leave then found out she was pregnant. To make a long story short, she took her life; what she left behind was a beautiful baby girl. But her story is not about blame its about the sad reality of many who come back with scars and the non-treatment available. This shouldnít have happened. She should still be alive and fiery, bringing laughter and joy to all those around her. Her life and many woman like her matter.
I think about those of my friends who have served and are now indoctrinated by the state. Their minds affected with government brainwash. Those who have survived while their close friends didnít. Those who are permanently disabled whether physically, mentally, or spiritually. It's unfair and wrong.
I think back to the young Native woman from the southwest who was the first causality of the Iraq war. How sad that was for Indian country. It just brings back the questions behind the wars. Why are brown people so targeted for recruiting? Why are our people even fighting for the countries that still oppress our people so violently?
I think about the rhetoric of the day. About the idea of freedom. At what cost? Of young people ďserving their country.Ē But I just canít wrap my mind around that. I wish many times I could ask my Mooshim why he went. Heís not with us anymore, stolen by a weak heart. Going back to that question though, freedom. Are we really free?
Another big question remembrance day brings is the wars we donít remember. The Rwandan genocide, that Canada was responsible for. We never talk about the damage weíve done, the crimes of war. The fact some of those disabled veterans were a part of some of the states genocidal acts, imagine having to live with that. Or the guilt of surviving when your comrades didnít. Or the many veterans that live on the streets. Its disgusting the way the military has treated its own. How the they were indoctrinated, and used for agendas that those participating might not have even supported had they been able to question, criticize and object openly. Please donít get it twisted, Iím not blaming them, those soldiers; but I have to question the ďwarsĒ and ďwar agendasĒ of the state. Especially when the banner is freedom but the winnings are in the form of fossil fuels.
Or the genocide of our people here in Canada. I canít forget and it makes me emotional, sad, and angry. Since our story and history are not even a part of the days remembrance. Our veterans get a mention in the national dialogue for their participation now after many years of pushing the agenda that First Nation Veterans matter.
We gave up a lot for this country to be build, extracted and resourced. Many lives weíve lost and are still lost- but now its to cancer. Its a strange place to be in. Watching fires lit across the country challenging the state to uphold our right to be who we are, and to protect the land.
I think of the many front-line struggles from coast to coast. I think of our not so distant history. About the meaning of being a warrior, in its entirety; which is a big thought. So I want to remember the past, those people that fought hard to keep the language, the ceremonies and some semblance of who we are alive-living and breathing among us. I want to remember those that went to battle not to return in wars for a country that is not our own, regardless of their reasons. To respect and honor their choices. Honor my ancestors.
Mainly, I want to give thanks for the hard working land defenders out there. From Elsipogtog to the Unistoten Clan. To KI, Aamjiwnaang, Grassy Narrows, Barrier Lake, Fort Chipewyan, Beaver Lake, Bloods, Secwempec, and so so many more. To Gustofsen, Oka, Old Man River and so many historic struggles. I think of them today as the future face of our veterans in this country- our homelands. Good thoughts, of strength, endurance and beauty for them.
Which makes me remember this past year, I am remembering all those that stood up across this country, under whatever banner- Idle No More, Treaties, Indigenous Nationhood Movement, Inherent Rights, Land struggles, Urban struggles- there really doesnít need to be a name. Those new young people that have risen up. Thats what shadows out the sadness and anger is hope. The hope that a new generation is rising.