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To the Editor,

Last week, we all learned that for over 100 years, our religious and political leaders, with good intentions or otherwise, systematically starved, abused, and literally killed over 6,000 of our First Nations children. As though anything could be worse, they somehow decided that eradicating the culture, languages, and traditions of our First Peoples was perfectly acceptable, even laudable. After all, it would undoubtedly be better for them to become more like us!

Now that I've put down my tissues and dried my eyes, it is time to think about what actions can be taken.

First- the abject apologies, and the acceptance of deep, deep shame. But it must never stop there. It is only action that spells a real apology.

Second (and please take note members of the Bluewater Board of Education)

As Justice Murray Sinclair has said in the Truth And Reconciliation Commission report, education is key. We need new school books- books that tell the real story, books geared to every age level, elementary through high school. The province needs to commission First Nations authors to write them.(MPP Bill Walker, please take note.)

We need huge assemblies in every school, at least once a year, honouring our First Nations neighbours, and stressing what happens when we misguidedly try to eradicate a culture.

Third, we need new and better Professional Development workshops for teachers, correcting the misinformation (ie: "People on reserve get tons of money, free education, etc...."), and helping the teachers relearn the history themselves, so they can teach the truth.

Next, an election is coming up. Another way to take action is to question your candidates:

-What will you do to address the Truth and Reconciliation Report?

-What will your party do to address the report?

And then VOTE--vote for candidates who care about these issues and have real plans to address them.

Most important, let us honour and respect a people who have survived in spite of systematic horrors perpetrated upon them. When we hear someone tell a racist joke, or spew racist untruths, let us step up and say "Stop' Please do not spread that poison around me."

Although there is much to mourn, 'feeling sorry' for Aboriginal people will not help. Instead, each one of us has to take positive steps to actively undo the harm, so we can all move forward.

Terri Hope

Owen Sound



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