Move forward together

Dear editor,

I want to take some time to shed some light on a major issue in Fort Frances regarding Colonization road. It’s the fact people do not know why it should be changed. See, I grew up in systemic racism here in Fort Frances. Without realizing it, I was exposed to bigotry and hatred until it was engrained in my thoughts, like a parasite in my psyche. Yet, I wasn’t racist. I had First Nations friends, would celebrate powwows at my elementary school, learned to say “miigwech”. I also remember playing Cowboys and Indians, learning the positives of colonialism and watching movies with red faced, white actors wearing feathers. This is systemic racism and colonization caused it. Only when we know the truth of colonization, can we see the racism that is prevalent and preventable.

Colonization is the action or process of settling among and establishing control over indigenous populations. Similar to an invasive plant that enters an ecosystem, the only way for its growth is to steal land and resources for itself. This disrupts the rest of the ecosystem, causing lasting effects that alter the landscape. Suddenly the native plants must adapt or die to this new environment, and even with adaptation comes extreme sacrifice.

Colonization was systemic. The early Canadian government forced assimilation, displacement, enfranchisement and the destruction of culture through various means onto unwilling people. Untold numbers suffered fatal consequences at the hands of a colonial government. Treaties were forced, children were taken, land was stolen and control was imposed.

The effects are ever present today, like ripples drifting out from the source but still disrupting the water as they move along.

For Canada to move forward, all Canadians must move forward together. And just like the adaptations that were forced by colonization we must choose to sacrifice in the name of reconciliation. And if your sacrifice is to change the name of a road, I think you’re going to be alright.

Thomas LePine.