What is Canada For you?
First of all...
The decision to spend my semester abroad in Canada was decided in advance of the first semester.
Although I had never been there before, I had a great fascination for the country and its social and legal system, the modern metropolises, the snowy north, the numerous mountains, the unique waterfalls, the wild animals, the long distances, the friendly inhabitants, the diversity of people, cultures, and languages, the history of the indigenous people and the breath-taking nature.
It is a great honour and privilege for me to be able to experience all of this, creating these memories, making new friends, and even finding a new home.
The First Nations of "Kanata"
"Thank you to the First Nations, on who's land we live, laugh, love, learn and play."
- With these words, the introduction of the Spring Semester 2022 at Vancouver Island University began. I was speechless, deeply moved, my thoughts stood still and an indescribable feeling filled me - a feeling I had never consciously experienced before.
The history of First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples of Canada. I was speechless and deeply moved, my thou is often neglected in Europe. Upon arriving in Canada, particularly coastal British Columbia, Indigenous culture is visible and immediately inspired me to learn more about the indigenous peoples of Canada. I began to attend educational and cultural events at museums and sought out conversations with the Elders (teachers from the Indigenous community) at the university. I sought to educate myself about the culture, way of life and lands of different Indigenous peoples in Canada.
Terms like: cultural genocides, residential school, murders, sexual assaults, and reconciliation still shape the history of the Indigenous people, yet this is only one side of the story/medals. The recent history is lifting up a new generation of First Nations that is taking a strong stand in politics and fighting for their rights, climate justice, and more.
I am very happy to share with you a self-conducted interview with Indigenous Support Teacher and Counsellor at the Vancouver Island University Naomi Bailey, an educative Podcast of Indigenous stories and history, and some original anecdotes from the indigenous people.
Interview with Naomi Bailey of Cree/Métis descent:
MATTHEW MUKASH, Cree of Eeyou Istchee, Whapmagoostui - RECONCILIATION
“So, for me, reconciliation is a one-sided thing. You know, it’s the oppressor that is defining what reconciliation is. We don’t have a word. You know why? Because we don’t do that to people.”
MICHAL RICE; Kanien’kehá:Ka, Kahnawake - OBEY
“For Native people, “obey” is not a word. And I don’t think there’s any word you want to replace it with because it always reveals a power, a system of inequalities. So, there’s no word to replace “obey” because in the first place you shouldn’t be obeying people. And even when the early Europeans would use the word, the interpreters had a hard time to convey it to the people. They said we obey who? What do – how do – we obey what? The whole concept of European sovereignty and kingdoms completely baffled them.”
Over 6000 km from home
Indeed, there is no place like home
But how do you define home?
Sometimes a different place feels more than home
A place where you feel right
A place where you feel loved
A place where you feel whole and free
Sometimes a place can give you all that you want
In that moment, you forget about your worries
The struggle and stress
The push from outside
– You are pure with yourself
A place where you can be your authentic self
A place where your being isn’t questioned
A place where everything allies with your thoughts
A place where you close your eyes and feel
– The past, present, and future
Home is here
Home is there
Home is anywhere
Home is everywhere
Where you don’t compare or compete
Where diversity, inclusion, respect, and tolerant reigns
Where you set your feet at
– And you feel the blessing of God.
So, what is Canada for you?
© Khris Atobrah