Tanya Talaga, the author of Seven Fallen Feathers, which tells the story of seven Indigenous youth who died in Thunder Bay, is presenting the 2018 CBC Massey Lectures. The first of these was delivered at the Community Auditorium in Thunder Bay. Her theme is suicide among Indigenous youth in Canada, the United States, Norway, Brazil, Australia and the Torres Straits. She demonstrates how settler colonialism has devastated Indigenous communities around the world, from first contact right up to the present day. This trauma is intergenerational and ongoing. Many communities lack access to the basic determinants of health – income, employment, education, health services and a safe environment. Indigenous culture and language has been impacted by broken treaties, residential schools and the Sixties Scoop. Indigenous youth, in particular, have been damaged by the lack of opportunities that others take for granted. Fewer Indigenous youth finish high school or go onto college or university. More Indigenous youth end up in child welfare or the criminal justice system. The cycles of oppression and repression have been repeated again and again. The people have been separated from the land, from each other, and from their traditional ways of life. This has led to a spiritual separation which in turn has led to a mental health and youth suicide crisis on a global scale. Indigenous people also share a history of resistance, resilience, and civil rights activism. The common link is a shared belief that ‘This is where we are from, We have always been here.’ The author makes a powerful call for action, justice and a better more equitable world for all Indigenous Peoples. The same arguments can be applied to the Maori in New Zealand and the Romany Gypsies in Britain.
John Pateman – http://www.tbpl.ca