If in the course of this article you find that some of the words or names that I use are politically incorrect, I apologize.
I flunked out of that course in school, but I pray that you will accept these words in the spirit that they were presented and that they are definitely not meant as a put-down or a slur.
I really still don’t know which name is correct; Natives, Indians, or First Nations Peoples, so without further adieu, I will use the term Native. This article is about them, particularly the ones that frequent our facilities at Potters Hands.
In the past, I have written articles where I have referred to them as Nomadic, extremely social, spiritual, and fun-loving, and I still find them to be the same. There is though, one characteristic that I don’t think I mentioned in reference to them, and that is pride. Not the “Look at me, I’m somebody” type of pride,(of which there is some), but one that provides them with an inner strength and resilience.
On January 29 The Advocate printed a letter to the editor by Anthony Sowan called “No free ride for anyone: proud native man.” What an incredible article! The title says it all; it is all about Native Pride! I don’t agree with everything in his article, but there is enough there for his pride to show through.
In my previous career as a locksmith, I spent time working in Hobbema, and Sunchild O’Chiese, working with and for these people, and as well, through church association. A native pastor in Rocky Mtn. House introduced me to their social and spiritual nature, and an association leader in Hobbema showed me their resilience and strength.
Of the one hundred and fifty or so people who eat at the kitchen, about twenty-five to thirty are native, and regrettably of that number, a little more than half are chronic alcoholics. A few drink occasionally, and some don’t drink at all. But just about all of them are proud of their heritage; some are confused to be sure, while others avoid their heritage because of the discrimination they receive from society, partly because they are alcoholic. Alcoholism does not respect racial borders.
One of the items in that letter that I did not agree with, was the opening quote that he used, even though it makes a statement that may be true. Instead I choose to believe we are each created to be a unique and beautiful snowflake, but one that is totally dependent on the other snowflakes around us to produce a carpet that only many altogether can make.
To be called decaying matter and part of a compost pile is in my opinion a destructively negative view of the potential of each and every man or woman ever created. I say destructive, because when we use a negative to describe each other, I believe we open an avenue to criticize, demean and otherwise lower the value of any other person or even a race of people.
The beauty of snowflakes is this; not one is the same as the other, so that makes each one unique, plus, there are many different types of snow and snowflakes, all dependant on the conditions that produced it. But if you look at the picture of a winter landscape, you do not see individual or different snowflakes, you see only that many altogether have produced a beautiful landscape.
That is how I chose to look at each individual around me; in spite of all of our differences, together we make a beautiful mosaic in which each one can be proud of their uniqueness; whether Native, Caucasian, Oriental, or Black.
As for me, I am proud to be part of this unique part of creation.