How do we make a difference when the problem feels so big?
Over the past few weeks, the very foundation of our country has rocked with the discovery of 1,323 bodies of First Nations children at various sites across Canada. It’s believed that there are many more yet to be found.
I’ve hesitated to write about this. It’s incredibly important and I don’t want to get it wrong. How do we possibly come to terms with this level of atrocity? The genocide of a generation of our First Nations children: are we glimpsing the ugliest part of humanity?
I’m reminded of a discussion I had many years ago following news of the tragic shooting at Montreal’s École Polytechnique where innocent lives were taken. During a National conference of 1000 psychologists, we sat in a room together and asked ourselves the question: How to we respond to such atrocity? How can we prevent such horrific acts of violence from reoccurring? There were no quick answers. We all felt powerless. Eventually one of the speakers stood and spoke in a tentative voice:
“I don’t have the power to change the world, but I certainly can have a significant impact on my immediate circle within my community.”
Others chimed in:
“If each of us has a voice and speaks out, we are 1000 strong in this room alone. If we all speak to 100 people that’s 100,000 minds that we have the power to change. We all have an immediate circle of influence. If we all commit to being part of the solution, demanding change, that has to have an impact”.
I don’t pretend to have the answers. Nothing can make this right. We can’t go back and undo the harm that has been done. I was taught that Canada is a mosaic woven of many different colours and fabrics. I believe the diversity is what provides richness to our Country.
We don’t heal from our past by looking away. If there is to be hope for a version of Canada where all are treated with dignity and respect, we need to witness even our nations darkest periods.
Ignoring pain does not allow for healing. It prolongs it. Let’s strengthen our circles, making sure the steps forward are meaningful and lasting.
This is news that needs to be felt. Only then can we ensure it never happens again.
Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Executive Director, Landing Strong