The 215 and Medicine Hat - We Can Do Better
This has been a watershed moment in our history, the discovery of an unmarked mass grave with 215 First Nations children. I attended the memorial held at the Saamis Tepee in Medicine Hat last Thursday night. I tried to buy a t-shirt but they had sold out. No big deal, I was sure I could find one at a later date. Instead I bought stickers for my kids and grandkids.
I walked over to the shoes and the tears just started flowing. I could not stop crying so I moved to the outside of the tepee and continued to weep hoping to fade in the background and avoid notice. (None of my family went to residential schools.)
I was approached by a man named Mike who could see how upset I was. I said as a mother and grandmother that it breaks my heart. He comforted me and showed me his picture on the display as well as the picture of his grandfather doing the blessing.
I told him that I did not own an orange shirt and about my futile attempt to buy one but I had the little pin so it was all good. He offered me his. I said, no, I can buy one later. Mike insisted, saying he could see how upset I was and how much it meant to me. I offered to pay for it but he would not take anything for it. We walked over to the tents where he got another shirt out of his backpack and then literally gave me the shirt off his back. I felt very honoured by his generosity.
What does this have to do with Medicine Hat? We had no residential schools here, why should we care?
We should care because our very name came from our First Nations history.
We should care because it affects many of our residents.
We should care because it is an atrocity that should be remembered.
We should care because it is the human thing to do.
What can, what should the City do?
I don't have all the answers. We must ask those who can advise us.
We can start with creating better recognition of our Metis settlement, the one called Saratoga.
I walked that trail about 2 weeks ago. There is a large wayfinding map at the trail head.
The Metis Settlement is NOT on it.
The Saratoga Dog Park is better marked. That in itself is insulting.
This is the only recognition that there was ever a Metis settlement there. You have to walk quite a ways before you see it, right next to a trash receptacle. I thought "How insulting, how disrespectful!"
We can do better as a city, we must do better!