This post is a response to my last post. I am writing to say that I am neither anti-Canada nor am I racist. I can see that my last statement “you are to blame” could also cause anger within non-Aboriginals who do show compassion towards Aboriginals. It could also be a step backwards by that statement. I guess my real purpose of writing that last post is just to give a glimpse of everyday conversation that I encounter as an aboriginal living in Canadian society, and it makes me angry. It makes me wonder what other young Aboriginal people encounter.
I believe the issue facing young Aboriginals (not all but some), are anger issues. I have been told or taught that depression is unresolved anger. That some people who are caught in the grieving cycle get caught in between anger and guilt. I remember the research for one essay I was writing it was read that Aboriginals are at the end of the grieving cycle stage and heading into the recovery stage. I shook my head.
A lot of young aboriginals today are still angry. I can say this because I hear this being said “it makes me angry that people don’t know” almost every other week. Or this anger is visible when you see aboriginal youth in gangs, committing acts of violence, being arrested (Note: Not all aboriginal youth are doing this).
From my own example, after I first tried to commit suicide, I kept telling doctors that “I am angry.” Doctors said “Angry people don’t do what you did.” I was even more angry. I didn’t know what to do with this anger. I didn’t know how to handle it. Nobody told me, it is okay to be angry and it is okay to be upset but what matters is how you handle that anger.
I think that’s what’s wrong with Aboriginal people. They are not telling their young, what happened or is happening to them is not their fault. The abuse. Suicide of family or friends. The current condition of your community (no clean running water/high crime rates/etc). It is not young Aboriginal people’s fault. The healing of Aboriginal people must not forget about their young people.
Some of Aboriginal youth are angry and were angry and do not know how to handle this anger. Some don’t realize that what happened or is happening to them is not their fault. What they need to be told is, what you can change is the future. The future is in our hands. We are allowed to he angry and upset but what matters is how we handle or channel that strong emotions.
Young people must also hold their own leaders accountable. Chief and council not fulfilling their roles adequately? Tell them. Be involved. Educate them, because those leaders are sometimes so removed from their own community that they forget about their community and its needs. Those in power of our own communities need to be held accountable (it is not just about Canada versus Aboriginals; it is sometimes Aboriginals forgetting about Aboriginals and their communities themselves). Go out and pressure your leaders to follow through with their roles as a leader and pressure them to be effective leaders. Pressure them for change. Be pro-active not reactive.
I think what also needs to be shared with Aboriginal youth is that sometimes it is okay to be upset or angry with an elder in your community. (**GASP** Did I just say that?) Many people might be angry with me for saying that, but let me tell you…Not all Aboriginal elders are necessarily doing the “right thing” or doing “good things.” What if an elder does something wrong or doesn’t react the right way to a youth? Who is the youth going to be mad at? Themselves, probably because that elder is considered to be respectful and respected in the community by others. If the youth becomes angry with the elder, then the youth may be considered an outcast. Where does that leave the youth? No where, except with a whole lot of anger inside. This probably sounds confusing to someone outside reading this because it was confusing when I spoke about this to another student at school. He asked me what I meant by it’s okay to be anger. I continued on with explaining to him the grieving cycle, as it was explained to me.
I said to him that I don’t know the grieving cycle off by heart but I was told that sometimes some people get caught in the grieving cycle in between anger and guilt. They are angry for what happened to them. Then they feel guilty for feeling angry. Then they may feel angry for feeling guilty realizing that what happened to them is out of their control or angry that they didn’t handle the situation better. Then they feel guilty again… and so on and so on. This cycle, I was told, can go on for 7-9 years. This is what I believe is happening to our youth. The communities hold their leaders in high priority and their elders are treated with much respect. The communities are sometimes not in the best living conditions (whether in the private or public sphere). The youth are angry. That is what I believe.
Nobody listens to what youth say. They talk about them. They always say, “They are our future…” Yes, we know that. People have been saying that 5 years ago, 10 years ago, and even 15 years ago. I am almost 25 and people are still saying the same thing. I don’t consider myself old, but if I can say that 15 years ago, people are saying the same thing… then clearly nothing has changed.
Someone needs to tell Aboriginal youth: It is not your fault. It is okay to be angry. It is not your duty to educate non-Aboriginals. It is not your duty to defend an entire nation. What matters is how you handle situations that come across your path. It is okay to be angry and upset and frustrated… even if that means being upset at your leaders or your elders because they are not living up to what is expected of them. What matters is how you handle that anger and frustration. What matters is that you take your situation and you work hard to change it, even if someone says “No, you can never have that happen” or “No, nobody will ever listen to you”… It is okay to be angry. The most important thing that youth must learn that it is okay to be angry but what really matters is how you handle that anger.
That is all….
This post was in response to my last post titled Conversations: Aboriginals & Canada.