As the lead proponent of the Shuswap Inclusion Project organizing against racism and hate, we have grave concerns over what is happening between the Canadian government and our First Nations people.
We are concerned that these events will serve to unravel the good will between the aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities that we have both worked so hard to build over the last three years. We are concerned that whenever there is conflict, individuals feel compelled to choose sides. We are concerned that when faced with complex issues, like those concerning our First Nations people, the tendency is to simplify the issue in a way that distorts the reality and makes reaching agreement more difficult to achieve.
We would encourage our Shuswap neighbours to avoid all three by: not stereotyping aboriginals, respecting their right to work towards improving the conditions of their people, and upholding their right to differ with each other as well as with non-aboriginals. This is an opportunity to become informed about the issues involved, and to come to your own conclusions without choosing sides. Respecting the opinion of others does not require you to agree, but rather, that you acknowledge human fallible and that there is as much a chance the other is right as there is that you are right.
Aboriginals and non-aboriginal have shared the Shuswap for generations with varying degrees of enmity.
It is important you don’t remain idle while your country is being pulled apart.
If you have aboriginal friends, now is the time to reach out to them. (If you don’t have, you might ask yourself why not.)
Ask your aboriginal friends to help you understand their perspective.
While listening isn’t the same as agreeing, in some ways, it demonstrates more respect.
Furthermore, listening is the best means of prompting others to listen in turn.
If we both block out the noise and sincerely listen to each other, solutions will soon start to emerge.
Shuswap Settlement Services