Dear Kanata

Kanata, you’re very young.

In terms of nations, you are still in the first breaths of your existence and you are much too young to know yourself well. The nations upon which you feed have existed for over 10,000 years — over 40,000 seasons — the wisdom from which you cannot yet fathom. You have been misled. You see, we are not your children nor your siblings. We are your elders. And we are here to council you.

Your birthday is a work of fiction. A tale to hide the truth of your conception. A bedtime story to soothe your gnawing instincts that all is not well. You are taught to marvel at your self-actualization, as if your creation were a beautiful and thoughtful process in which you brought your own self into being, in a vast empty space. Do not continue to believe this, for it will only harm you and that which you care for.

In truth, you are the legacy of rape and pillage. You are the offspring of broken treaties, smallpox and residential school. You are the spoils of an ongoing attempted genocide. You are the seed of fragile western colonial egos, who worship power and violence.

It may be hard to accept this.

Your paternal colonial ancestors have claimed you as their manifest destiny, but there is more to your heritage than they tell you.

So now you must learn what it means to take responsibility. To acknowledge what you have done, apologize and change the behaviour. To take responsibility means that you recognize what you have taken that is not yours. You must learn to apologize and return it to its rightful owner. Then you must no longer steal. You are young and no one has taught you that your actions must match your words, or that you will be without honour. Without honour, your power can only be found in violence and manipulation.

My gift to you, on this twisted occasion that is masked as a celebration of your violent conception, and the attempted genocide of us; is the invitation to know the truth of your being, come to terms with it, and to take responsibility for stopping your continued occupation of that which is not yours.

This is a heavy burden to bear for one so young. But nevertheless it is yours. Rise to it.

Image courtesy of Jessica Wood — © Jessica Wood 2017 for Nasty Women's Press

Jessica Wood (Si sityaawks – Woman who creates change)

Jessica Wood is a Gitxan/Tsimshian multi-disciplinary photojournalist whose background in traditional northwest coast art is the foundation for her contemporary work as a photographer, filmmaker and activist. Her work focuses on topics related to Indigenous women, gendered violence, queer identity and sex work. A main contributor to the blog Tea & Bannock, her work explores often-overlooked dimensions of contemporary Indigenous life. Jessica is also a member of the Canadian Freelance Union.

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