I am a Algonquin Anishinaabe-kwe from the Ottawa River Valley. I am now a member of Pikwàkanagàn First Nation and a member of the larger Anishinabek Nation.
I grew up poor and lived off of welfare in urban Toronto. For me there was no privilege there. None. My mom had eight kids to take care of. She was a single mother. It was completely miserable life for me.
Many settler Canadians think, and some actually say, my parents were ‘sucking off the teat’ of Canada, and they also argued that my father's Algonquin Anishisinabe ancestors’ culture and knowledge system was disorganized, primitive, ignorant, stupid, and we were lazy.
These same settler Canadians then blame us for our poor place in society, when in fact Canada: Seized our ancestral land and resources; Granted our land to settler people; Refused to grant us our own land because we made the adjacent land undesirable for settler people; Taxed our trap lines when we were not in the wage economy and so we lost them; Took away our fishing and hunting rights allocating them to settler people and tourists; Refused us employment in our own territories reserving it for settler people; Refused us the right to sell our vegetables when our gardens were more productive because the settler people were upset; Criminalized our culture and knowledge system; Made it illegal for us to hire advisers and lawyers in our efforts to retain our rights; Imposed a pass system on us where we could not leave reserve communities without permission from Indian Agents; Exploited our land and resources selling for profits overseas; And destroyed our most sacred sites such as the land and waterscape where the Great Sacred Pipe is located.
While this was happening industries such as E.B. Eddy and Domtar polluted our land and waterscapes. What is most disturbing is that today a new industry was recently awarded a $60 million tax break to clean up the land that E.B. Eddy and Domtar polluted in exchange for building a condominium and retail complex on sacred Algonquin Anishinaabe land.
While I grew up on welfare, settler people and their descendants now called Canadians and powerful industries and corporations reaped the resources and medicines off Indigenous land. While I grew up on welfare, settler people made me feel embarrassed and less than because, according to them, I was sucking off the teat of Canada. Let’s be clear about who has been sucking off of whose teat. The truth is, Canada and all Canadians have been sucking off the teat of Indigenous Nations. This is your truth Canada.
Scheer, you need to check your privilege and the ignorance it embodies within you.