On July 1, 2015, a tragedy struck the world – the internet forgot that human beings are worth more than animals. Cecil, a famous lion, was killed in Africa and outrage ensued, leading to the online and real-life lynching of the man who killed him. Literally, the hunter became the huntee. And while the fallout of those actions lead to ‘justice’, the tragedy wasn’t in the death of a protected lion. The tragedy lies in the lack of reaction to other more horrific human deaths that were overlooked without a thought or care.
I appreciate animals. I understand that they have the power to heal, to help, to create meaning in people’s lives. I get it. But their lives should not be the only ones we think about, defend, and fight for. They are not the only ones we should be angry about when they’re cut short. They are not the only ones we should weep over and grieve. We should be angry and grieving over other human lives more than we grieve animals we hear about on the news.
At the beginning of June, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its report on the cultural genocide wrought by the Canadian government, people, and churches against our indigenous people. From 1883 to 1996 (yes, as recently as 19 years ago), over 150,000 aboriginal children were ripped from their families and placed in residential schools, resulting in the documented deaths of 6,000, with the understanding that there is a high probability of more children who died at the hands of officials. This means that the children in the schools had around the same chance of dying as a soldier in World War II.
Languages were wiped out by the schools, forcing the children to learn English and leave behind their cultures, their history, and their homes. People were destroyed by the abuse and ‘teachings’ administered by school officials. Families were ripped apart when children were taken from their homes, away from their parents and everything that they had known. And these actions were taking place in force until the 1980s. THE 1980s. Think about that. Only 30 years ago, the Canadian government was involved in a genocide of our most vulnerable people.
The horrific implications of these actions will last generations and will take generations to repair. For the families that were affected by this, for the children who survived this, for the cultures that were destroyed by this, this horror will be felt for all time.
It’s unconscionable. It’s disgusting. It’s unbelievable. And it’s true. It happened. The active residential school program has been officially over for 20 years, but the effect is still here and will be here forever.
Did you know about this? Did you tweet about this? Did you make your outrage known? Did you track down the politicians, the teachers, the church officials who did these horrific things or allowed this horrific things or put these horrific things in motion and set up protests outside of their offices or their homes? Did you lynch them online and demand justice? Did you talk about it endlessly, worried over it and felt grief over it? Did you feel guilt? Did you feel enraged? Did you feel anything?
Did you even know?
This is my problem with Cecil. I personally believe that trophy hunting is disgusting and harmful – that it’s simply a power trip whereby humans get to murder and then gloat about it. It’s gross. If you hunt to eat, fine. If you hunt to adorn your wall, you’re scum. But to freak out about one lion, then go after all the trophy hunters who boast online, and spend energy and emotion on an animal on the other side of the world and have no idea what is happening here is disgusting and makes you scum.
I am a privileged white woman. I may not have been party or integral to the residential school system, but my people were. My people killed other people because they didn’t agree with their culture. Their centuries old, were here before we were, rooted in all the good things like respecting and honouring our natural earth, culture. My people did that. They are scum. I am scum by proxy.
I am tired of hearing about Cecil. I’m sick of hearing about all the animals in the world that are being abused at the hands of horrible humans.
I want to hear about the human beings that my government killed. I want to know about the children that survived and who they are now. I want to know how to help the people whose lives were destroyed by my people. I want to help with the reconciliation piece. I want to be part of the path to healing.