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B. Lorraine Smith
4 min readJun 4, 2021

The information below discusses residential schools and survivors, and may be triggering to some readers. Support is made available to survivors and their families 24 hours a day at the Indian Residential School Survivors Society’s crisis line at 1–866–925–4419.

There are resources after the letter about what Non-Indigenous people can do.

A few days ago I published a version of this letter on my personal facebook page and received a lot of positive feedback from friends, both Native and non-Native. I share it here in the spirit of making positive change, sooner.

Dear Canadian tax payers (and anyone clinging to the fantasy of Canada as a vast wilderness and solid democracy built on human rights),

The sadness you feel in your heart when the media serves up a couple days’ worth of news about the tragic loss of life of 215 First Nations children in a residential school is part of something much bigger that is still active today.

This is not “history” and it is not “other people” who did these things. It is us. We are the barely sighted benefactors of the sadness you feel. I say this not to make you feel guilty but to help you recognize what is happening because without recognition there can be no change.

We have these little peaks and valleys of sorrow. Gord Downie releases The Secret Path and we clap at the recognition of our breaking hearts. Wet’suwet’en protests emerge and we feel sympathy, although the disruption in transit routes seems worrying. Yet days later the disruption of everything (ironically *except* oil and gas production…) is acceptable and we forget all about the incursions on people’s land and the threats to their basic rights and safety.

[Pause to imagine for just one moment an armed tax payer-funded force barging into your living room, taking your stuff and threatening you and your family’s lives. Repeatedly.]

Please do not rely on news channels to be aware of the world you live in. The truth is all around us, in the hearts and stories of humans, the lands and the waters. If you need to get it from books and documentaries and reams of government recommendations and reports, there is no shortage of those things*, too.

The effects of ignorance, colonialism and a worldview that believes in domination…

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B. Lorraine Smith

Former sustainability consultant replacing ESG with reality-based insights about corporate purpose and impact. https://www.blorrainesmith.com/