Idle No More: It’s not easy to “forgive and forget” without justice
Hundreds of people attended the Idle No More march in Vancouver on Friday (January 11). One of them was Lorelei Williams.
A 32-year-old member of the Skatin Nation who lives in the city, Williams was holding up a sign stating, “When sleeping women wake, mountains move! Support Chief Theresa Spence.” The words “and the Idle No More movement” were to be next, but she ran out of room.
As she walked down West Broadway, Williams told me that she believes the public is hearing the message of the indigenous-sovereignty movement. But she took issue with the many people who have responded to it in a racist manner, as well as those who are saying First Nations people should “forgive and forget”.
“How do you forgive and forget?” Williams said. “Some people think this happened a long time ago—all this residential school stuff and trying to take over our lands. You know, you can’t forget or forgive being taken away from your families.”
Some facts: More than 150,000 First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children attended Indian residential schools. Many students were forced to live far away from their families and subjected to horrendous physical, sexual, and mental abuse. The last federally-run residential school closed in 1996.
Williams has a four-year-old son and a seven-year-old daughter. She noted that she and other First Nations people are speaking out about past and present injustices and for the environment in order to give their children a better future.
“We’ve been silent for so long,” Williams said.