Our children do not set out in life to fail

Our children are the ongoing prize in the cultural war that Canada declared against us over 150 years ago. Canada may believe that the war is over, but until the automatic weapons it created as part of that war, have been taken from their hands or altered in fundamental ways, or disabled totally, the war continues of its own momentum.

The Child Welfare System, the Youth Justice System and the Educational System all function from the inherent, fundamental, belief, that we as parents in our own communities do not have the right to birth, raise, educate, discipline and protect our children from Canada’s inherent racism.

Canada believes fervently in the benevolence of its policies and fails to accept its own failings, because we are the faces of those failings. They treat us poorly because we are not like them, and they ignore our wounds and the deaths that result from their actions – past and present -, because we are not like them.

We are asked to help Canada do better – to be better – and we willingly accept that challenge because Canada must change. But the struggle to create the change that Canada must undergo will be resisted and it will be a constant repetition of “two steps forward, one step back”, or sometimes three. It will not be easy.

What our leaders must realize is that we too must change. We must stop playing the victim’s role of looking to our abuser for the help we need. We must accept the challenge of standing up and walking on our own two feet. And we must walk to the beat of our own drum.

We must demand that our leaders show the leadership necessary to strengthen our communities.

We must demand that our leaders show the leadership necessary to strengthen our families.

We must demand that our leaders show the leadership necessary to strengthen our children.

We need leaders to fight that ongoing battle with the enemies on the outside of our walls, and we need leaders who will fight the enemies who are inside the walls. Our traditions have taught us that.

Our children do not set out in life to fail. They want to be someone. We have to be the someones they want to be.

We have to tell them about those of us who have come from the same ground they stand upon, who have the same kinds of community, parents and history that they have, and who look just like them, who are someone.

We have to make them believe in us and we have to train them how to become someone and we have to let them try.

…then we have to create the blankets with which we can wrap them when they stumble and fall, and we have to love them enough to help them get up and walk again.

No one escapes this world unhurt and unharmed. We will all be bruised at some point. But our traditions have sustained the warrior spirit inside us for thousands of years and they hold the key to our future. We will not survive by being better at the whiteman’s game than the white man. We will survive by being the best Anishinaabe we can be.

Tell them I said this.

About Senator Murray Sinclair (retired)

Ojibway Anishinaabe Inini Mizhanagheezhik (n’dizhinikaaz) Namiigoonse (n’dodem) Lawyer, Mediator, Public Speaker Currently Canadian Senator for Manitoba Justice of the Court of Queen's Bench of Manitoba (2001-2016) Associate Chief Judge off the Manitoba Provincial Court) (1988-2001) Co-Commissioner of the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry of Manitoba) (1988-91) Paediatric Cardiac Surgery Inquiry Judge (1997-2000) Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (2009-2015) Thinker, poet, writer, philosopher, speaker.
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11 Responses to Our children do not set out in life to fail

  1. Marcia says:

    A beautiful piece. The truths touched my heart. Migweetch.


  2. Gregg Hanson says:

    I always appreciate your thoughtful compositions giving us all food for our souls. I usually have to read it over two or three times to glean the full meaning of what you are saying and the message you want to be taken from your words. I have a deep hunger and yearning for a true reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous people. I am inspired by you to do my part in making this a reality.
    May the Creator bless you for all that you do.

    Gregg Hanson
    Proud Manitoban and Canadian


  3. Pingback: Indigenous Wisdom for 2018…

  4. Nathan Pasap says:

    Absolutely love it and it inspires me as a Chief to lead by example and have patience going forward in my role as Chief. Thank you Senator Sinclair.


  5. Laura Arndt says:

    All of these things are why Feathers of Hope Exists. Our children need us to the leaders that inspire hope and give them strength. We need to link our arms across our nations to ensure our children see us come together to protect them from further hurt, stand strong together so that they see we have survived for a reason, we have survived for them.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Alan Howard says:

    And what when our leaders themselves stumble and fall? Who can demand of their pain? We must stand for them and be the blanket together.


  7. Pingback: Sen. Murray Sinclair: Our children do not set out in life to fail - Macleans.ca

  8. I wish all people took these words heart. When I was little my father said that the greatest sin of humanity was to hurt children, in particular to rob them of hope. To have a good life we need hope, a sense of belonging in the context of caring community and a sense of purpose. My father only went to school for three years from the ages of six to nine and at that, only in the winter time when there was less heavy manual labour he had to do. He remembered the harshness of the nuns and being among children hurt and humiliated in front of other children. Those were the days in Canadian society where one often heard the words “Spare the rod and spoil the child.” People often whipped their animals. I was born Roman Catholic into a Church that slowly evolved from a God of punishment towards a God of love, despite the fact that Jesus was all about mercy. What children always need is loving guidance . There are gentle ways to guide children to understand the rules of proper social behaviour. Fear should never be used as a learning whip. The Creator is loving. I love the song “On Eagle’s wings”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvpjxfWrjzY Mitakuyé oyásin.


  9. Darryl m says:

    Powerful words and much truth .. our people have to heal soon and will be a stronger nation, we are all equal


  10. Time To Heal says:

    Beautifully said.


  11. Alan Howard says:

    How long must suffering in justice continue? Healing becomes real when we find it in truth and build it together. .



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