Over the past forty-eight hours I have heard the world ‘reconciliation’ so many times that it’s beginning to feel empty to me; it has become a word without definition. All day at the TRC National Event, I heard we must heal “together” and “move-on”. I can’t. I feel infinitely blessed with the love and support that has been organically created within the Indigenous student community at my school, from which I felt more healed from than the TRC event. Perhaps my experience at the TRC event was marred by a phone call from my nohkum on the bus ride over. Perhaps this is too personal to share, as I have yet to share it with anyone else, it still feels raw.
As I have mentioned before, the Government of Canada nor the TRC recognize the Residential School my nohkum (and family and friends) attended in Ile-a-la-Crosse. To them, it simply does not exist (even though some survivors have been compensated and some have not, politics are a messy business). To the government, my nohkum attended a figment of her imagination (but her scars say something else). She called me while I was on the bus to the event, and asked me to find her answers. To ask someone there why she was not allowed to heal in this grand gesture of reconciliation. She asked me to speak for her to find her some closure, to maybe heal the wounds that have been left open for so long. I told her I would, I would try and find her the justice she was looking for… but I couldn’t. None of the official maps of schools included hers, the lady I talked to at the official booth had no answers for my grandmother nor I (but hey, she had a 1-800 number).
In this grand event to tell truths, I was trying to uncover a lie.
It weighs heavy on your heart to carry something like this, for a woman on the other end of the phone who has faced so many atrocities in her life, who has loved my brother and I unconditionally all our lives, who would give you the shirt off her back if you needed it, who calls me once a week to make sure I’m OK, who cries when I leave for university every September. It’s hard to call her and tell her that I have no answers for her, that I could not get a straight answer, that the 1-800 number put me on hold for forty-five minutes only to inform me that there is no proof of this school existing. That it was “only” a day school.
I’m sad, I’m heartbroken, and I’m really fucking angry.
It’s because of this, I do not understand reconciliation. It’s because the Government of Canada prioritizes healing and puts money signs on wounds that I cannot begin to not feel hallow when someone tells me that it’s time we ‘reconcile’ our histories: our histories haven’t even been told. I do not understand reconciliation because we are told we are all supposed to heal together, yet our Government refuses to acknowledge the systemic violence perpetuated against Indigenous women (my sisters, my cousins, my family).
I do not know what I’m supposed to reconcile, because I’m so angry that an apology does nothing to quell my anger, to comfort my sadness, or heal the pain. Reconciliation has not found my nohkum the answers she wants.
Never would I wish to take away from the healing for survivors that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has provided. Never would I wish for a survivor to be denied their form of healing, whatever it may be.
I just wish I had answers.