Aboriginal youth

Intergenerational Problems: where is the solution?

It can be agreed upon by many people that the problems for Aboriginal people in Canada are considered “intergenerational.”

That means these problems have been passed down to present generation by the one preceding it, and that that current generation will pass it on to the generation succeeding it.

A lot of people say that change is going to happen because of the present generation (I am pretty sure they said this with the last generation…)

My experiences today I am finding other young people saying the same thing: I am angry. They are angry that other people don’t understand. They are angry because of the uneducated comments some people make regarding Aboriginal people.

I had a relative tell me during a hard time in my life about the grieving cycle, and it was my first suicide attempt. I don’t know why she told me this, but I have remembered it ever since (approximately 12 years ago).

She told me: lot of people get caught in the grieving cycle, in between anger and guilt. People caught in between anger and guilt in the grieving cycle are angry with what happened to them (and what ever it is they are grieving for) and then they start to feel guilty for being angry. Then they feel angry because they felt guilty, and so on. Some people are angry at themselves or are angry with others, when they are caught in this stage. This can go on for years.

In the most recent essay I handed in on Globalization (and how it has not benefited Aboriginal women), one of my sources said that Aboriginal people are on the road to recovery (after being caught in the grieving cycle for years/generations). I beg to differ. If there are current young people, including myself, still saying that they are “angry” with some of the things that are going on around them and some of the things that other people are saying in relation to Aboriginal people, then the only people on the road to recovery is the older generation–the ones who are part of our past. But what about the young people?

When will people realize that young Aboriginal are still angry! They are angry. Some of these young people don’t know why or how they got to be in certain situations that they are in–it’s a part of their past. They are angry and they eventually feel guilty blaming either themselves or other people. Just look around young Aboriginal people (not all, but some–a greater number than the general population), are as Phil Fontaine said, involved with gangs, violence, drugs, risky behaviors, and suicide/self-harming behaviors. These young people need to know that what is happening or has happened to them is not their fault! IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT! They need to know that it’s okay to be angry, but they need to know that they should not feel guilty for feeling angry–It’s okay to feel angry and be angry but how you deal with the anger and how you react in response to your anger matters the most.

This is how we show concern for the next generation. We need to tell them: it is not your fault. But we also need to tell them: it’s up to you to choose how you react and it’s up to you to change the future.

When Aboriginal people show a concern for their past, they must not forget about their future.

I guess that is where history comes in: we learn about it, and we can relate it to our problems today–the intergenerational problems. Hmmmm… So is the solution to our problems in the past and healing the older generation, or showing concern for the young and telling them “It’s not your fault”? If it’s both, we must attempt to tackle them at the same time. That is the solution.

This post is in reply to my previous post titled, Past versus present.

Past versus Present

Today, I had the opportunity to sit in on a meet and greet with Phil Fontaine here at my university. Unfortunately, I walked in only half way. I regret missing the beginning of his talk.

I did walk in on something interest. He stated just minutes after I walked in relating to Canadian Aboriginal people’s past saying that we need to fill in the “missing chapters.” In question and answer period with the students, questions were asked. I asked a question relating to one of my essays I am working on pertaining to education and Aboriginal children. My essay’s hypothesis is: Aboriginal students’ confidence levels may increase if Aboriginal history and culture is taught. What I mean by Aboriginal history, is not just the horrible things that happened in the past but also the positive history stories.

Recently, I came up with the idea to put to use my talent of writing and drawing. I love to write and draw, and it’s always been a dream of mine to write a book–whether black and white print or a child’s book. I would really like to write a child’s book, and illustrate it as well. That would be my ultimate dream.

I presented to Phil Fontaine my idea and how I would like to write about the good things that Aboriginal people have done. After saying all this, I kind of felt frustrated because 1) I could not get my actual point across because of my emotions 2) He grew up in a different era than I. I know, not his fault.

I could not get my point across that yes. I acknowledge the past and I would like to write about the past, but what also needs to happen is the positive stories. Growing up, I had my family as my positive support and motivation. I was fortunate growing up because not all Aboriginal youth have this basic structure in their life: family. I looked up to my sisters, my mom and my dad. I remember watching my dad doing his essays for his university degree. I remember watching my mom as well. When I needed help with my school papers, my mom would always say, “Get your dad to edit your papers, he was really good at that.” I remember thinking that I wanted to be just like my dad and be good at writing. I wanted to be like my mom, in all her hard work she done as a student, a mother, a wife, and a community member. My mom and dad were great motivation because they gave us the freedom to pursue what we wanted, and together my parents, would provide the guidance and care as needed. My sisters were motivators because well, they were my first best friends and will always be my best friends.

However, I felt that I was most frustrated in that I could not say that when I was growing up and going to school, there was no motivation outside of school. I am thankful for my family for all the motivation they did provide, because where would I be without them? Phil Fontaine made a point that we need to acknowledge our history, and I acknowledge and appreciate where he is coming from as he is a residential school survivor. However, I wanted to make a point that we need to start young, and motivate young Aboriginal people to stay in school. I believe in my point, just as much as I appreciate his point and background. I believe in my point because if young Aboriginal people do not have the motivation or confidence to stay in school, where will the future of Aboriginal people’s be heading to (I say this as a frustrated young person: History doesn’t matter if you have no future).

The issue with Aboriginal young people is drugs, alcohol, suicide, gangs, violence, criminal activity, as Phil Fontaine presented. The bigger issue is not having the motivation or confidence to avoid those experiences. The issue is not being able to have outside motivators other than one’s own family. This is an issue because sometimes their family is not even a “family.”

If the education of Aboriginal history, both positive and negative experiences, begins at a younger age to both Aboriginals and non-Aboriginals, it will bring about a greater awareness to the situation of Aboriginals in Canada. That is my idea, a concern for the future. As these young people grow older, they will be more aware of what happened, and what is happening today (and maybe what the causes are of the present situation of Aboriginals). They will be better able to apply their knowledge to help provide for or at least attempt to provide for solutions to the Aboriginal people’s problems. They may know why there is a lot of substance abuse, and gangs, and violence, and why Aboriginal people are over-represented in the prison system. They may know what causes these multigenerational problems, like those of physical abuse, sexual abuse, or emotional abuse, and why these problems still persist today.

After hearing his response to my question and my idea, I felt that there is still the issue of young versus old, past versus present. We need to bring those two together to realize that one without the other cannot exist: Aboriginal people need their history as much as they need their young, and their young need to know their history to help them realize that the issues in their hometown or community are not their fault–that is the issue today. Most importantly, the rest of Canada needs to know this history in order to help their young, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, to grow and understand each other. That is the solution, in my opinion. Getting rid of the “versus.”

Why I hang my high school diploma on my wall.

On my wall there are few things. Pictures a friend who recently passed away had taken for me. Pictures of my family. Pictures of an artistic nature. I even have some of my awards that I won hanging on my wall. Two of the items hanging on my wall that I am most proud of though are my college school diploma and my high school diploma.

Someone once laughed and asked me, “Why the hell do you have your high school diploma on your wall?”

My reply to them was this, “I am proud to have my high school diploma. As an Aboriginal youth, this is a great accomplishment–I know some Aboriginal youth who don’t even have their grade 10. I am proud to have it.”

It sort of represents how much I value education and how much I want to see other Aboriginal youth earn their high school diploma. I am a huge supporter of making education available for anyone. What is sad is that even though there are initiatives out there to support Aboriginal youth to continue with their high school education, some of them never do. I want to see that trend change… one day.

Dear Company

Dear company,

I appreciate your attempts at Aboriginal Recruitment.

Yes the Aboriginal Youth Population is the fastest growing population in Canada right now, yet it is also the population that has a suicide rate six times higher than that of the rest population in same age group, and also holds the highest incarceration rates across Canada.

Your recruitment efforts look great for your company image, but nothing will change unless the other numbers change.

Just thought I would make a point

Kwe Today