|Autobiography, Canada, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Statements on 2017-01-19 00:25Z by Steven|
CNW: A Cision Company
TORONTO, Jan. 11, 2017 /CNW/ – A few weeks ago, I found out that my 85-year-old mom had been contacted by a journalist who prodded her with pointed and personal questions about her heritage. Specifically, he asked her to prove how Indigenous she is.
My family’s heritage is rooted in our stories. I’ve listened to them, both the European and the Indigenous ones, all my life. My older sisters told me since childhood about my white-looking father helping his Indian-looking brother hide their blood in order to survive in the early 1900’s. My mother’s family history is certainly not laid out neatly in the official records, or on ancestry.ca either. From the age of nine or ten, the woman I knew as my grandmother told me stories about my mother that, until recently, my mother preferred not to share with anyone. The details are private and painful, yet my mother has been forced to revisit aspects of her past she believed were closed away forever.
Children don’t go about consciously presenting identities; they just are who they are. And that’s how I was: a white kid from Willowdale with native roots. The Ojibwe family I grew-up with in summers on Christian Island still call me cousin or uncle. The bad poetry I first scribbled as a troubled teen was about searching for my mother’s clan. For the last 22 years I’ve been a member of a Moose Cree First Nation family, active in their community and doing everything we can to get youth out onto the land at Camp Onakawana on the Abitibi River. This is my life. And I’ve always said pretty much the same thing: “a small part of me is Indigenous, but it’s a big part of who I am.”…
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