This post will not be easy to read. Hell, it wasn't even easy to write. It may not even be a popular opinion, but it needs to be said and I cannot keep my silence a moment longer.
This week, it was announced on numerous legitimate news outlets that we, as a Nation failed 215 children that we currently know of. It may have happened in the past. It may have been done by those who are long dead, or old, or any number of reasons we can slough off responsibility but this is not something we can say, "Oh, well... it's not like I did it... that happened long ago."
It didn't happen that long ago.
Not when we know living survivors who remember and still suffer trauma from their experiences.
We tried to kill a living culture all the while smiling and pretending like we had a leg to stand on at the UN as the pinnacle of human rights defenders, letting ourselves believe we had 'moved on' from our previous and barbaric practice. However, here we are in 2021 and the truth now sits and stares us plain in the face.
Justice, even post-humously, must prevail. Those responsible must be called out, and if that means tarnishing a formerly revered legacy as nation makers and leaders, so be it. Their legacy is tainted with cruelty, lies, and murder of as yet uncounted children.
There is no excuse here. There is no, "it was a result of how that person was raised" or a "result of the world they lived" for this monstrous failure to these children.
This is abuse, even in the early part of our nation, this was abuse. It continued to be abuse well into the 60s, 70s, 80s... and further as we attempted, as a nation, to sweep it under the rug and tell ourselves, "Oh, that was so long ago, though. That wasn't me. The people who did it died long ago. We should just move forward."
If there are people alive, here and now, who remember then it was not that long ago.
It isn't ancient history, nor should it be treated as such.
The steps to 'move forward' are no longer in our hands, nor should they ever have been. We lost that privilege if it was ours to ever begin with (and I doubt that severely).
The only way to move forward is to take a hard look at our past and accept we did this. Even if we didn't do it personally, it's the legacy of those who came before us who did. Our legacy will be to listen and act on what we have inherited. We need to take our cues from those who were affected and set aside our first instinct to jump in with our take on things because 'our take' doesn't matter here.
The only 'take' valid is from those who were here before our settler ancestors, and that will be our only option to pave the way for any chance of real reconciliation. We don't get to say how we will help. We need to listen first and then act based directly on what our Indigenous neighbours tell us.
And then, maybe, once we have earned that right, we can again call ourselves the defenders of human rights on the international stage.
The time to offer platitudes and empty apologies is over.