We are fast approaching the 150 anniversary of confederation. There have been many celebrations already through music, art and television and there are more coming. However, Canada 150 is not a celebration for all.
The history of this land is far older than 150 years. Indigenous peoples have lived on this land since time immemorial. Confederation is also an effect of colonization. The last 150 years include residential schools, the Sixties Scoop, the ongoing Millennial scoop, murdered and missing women, unfair policing, unequal health care, education and child-welfare systems and exploitation of resources.
Over the next couple of months, as we build up to July 1, Teen Talk will be posting a series of Canada 150 posts of Indigenous art, poetry, blogs and videos that explore the other side of Canada’s birthday. Our goal is to share Indigenous peoples perspectives, experiences and history. Education is the first step towards decolonization and reconciliation for all the people who live on this land that we now call Canada.
We are starting things off by exploring how this conversation on Canada’s confederation is not new by looking at the poem Lament for Confederation by Chief Dan George about Canada’s 100 in 1967.
But first, a bit about the artist. Chief Dan George was from the Tsleil-Waututh. He was a residential school survivor where his original name Dan Slaholt was changed to Dan George. Chief Dan George was chief of Tsleil-Waututh Nation from 1951 to 1963 and is most remembered for his poetry book My Heart Soars and his role as Old Lodge Skins playing opposite Dustin Hoffman in the movie Little Big Man, which earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor in 1970.