First Nations received more than benefits from colonizers

NANAIMO – Re: First Nations have benefitted, Letters, Jan. 26.

To the Editor,

Re: First Nations have benefitted, Letters, Jan. 26.

I read with interest the letter from Ralph Forshaw saying our First Nations are better off than those in Third World countries and what we, the settlers, gave them.

The problem is we are not in a Third World country and that is not an appropriate comparison. The comparison needs to be with our people here in Canada as equals.

In his list of things our First Nations got as a result of the settlers, there are a few things left out. These include:

* Moving our First Nations people to marginal lands called reserves.

* In the early years, bringing blankets deliberately infected with small pox in order to kill them. Fortunately this did not work, but it was devastating.

* Yes, we gave them schools … residential schools which required separating children from families for often years at a time, potential and documented abuse of children and destruction of families.

* Outlawed their language and cultural activities.

* Denied them ability to own property, have pride in what they do and build equity plus community for their lives ahead.

We spent decades destroying the fabric of families, languages and cultures. Today, we wonder why there are so many social issues. Likely because we, the settlers, spent decades creating them.

I’ve learned so much about our First Nations in B.C. and their delightful culture, art, history and sense of community.

There is a lot we all can learn if we will just listen. I am not at all proud of the decisions made by prior governments and, consequently, parts of my heritage that created much of the situation we have today.

I am proud to have some very talented First Nations friends and associates. I apologized one day to a First Nation elder for what my ‘elders’ did. It was a humbling experience.

It is not, in my opinion, something to be proud of.

Wally Wells