I tuned in to the 8th Fire last night on CBC TV.
So, what did I think of the first installment of a series? I liked it. There wasn't much I really did not already know. Not that I am a know it all. But I have Aboriginal friends, have for years. I have a degree in Native Studies. I have an Aboriginal name, and have attended many a ceremony. And I live in the North End. So, it was more of a refresher for me. It was also a documentary from the eyes of the Aboriginal Peoples.
As one of the White Folk watching the show, I found a few things disturbing, or off. First, it was mentioned that very few people ever come across Aboriginal people in a positive way. Most interactions are negative. Come on. Have you never gone to the forks to watch the Grass Dancers? Have you not had a good conversation with Kevin Chief? Take a closer look at some of your friends, they may be Aboriginal. Did you not have a teacher or professor who was Aboriginal? Maybe you were introduced to a friend of a friend when out on the town, and they were Aboriginal. I have had positive experiences with Aboriginal people since I was a small child. Aboriginal people are so intertwined in our communities and our lives, I am sure you know someone, and just don't know it.
Another issue I have with the show was when the Police pulled up to talk to three guys, dressed like 'gangstas'. It seemed to be a friendly enough conversation, but Brooklyn took offence because the Police are always stopping them and 'harrassing' them. But, wasn't one of the guys picked up on an outstanding warrant? Maybe the Police were just doing their jobs. Maybe the issue there is not with the Police harrassing people dressed like gangsters, maybe the issue is more with people not assisting the Police in the reporting of crimes. Instead of looking at the Police as the 'bad guys', maybe help them remove dangerous criminals from the street.
The last item I would like to bring up is education. The show mentioned a program in Quebec, where Non-Aboriginal people learned about Aboriginal culture. It was at some sort of community center. I thought back to Thunderbird House. You know the place. That wonderful building at Main and Higgins. It was built when I was still in University studying Anthropology and Native Studies. I was so excited about that building. I hoped it would become a place where the Non-Aboriginal could go to learn about Aboriginal people and culture. I thought it could be a very positive move toward bridging the gap. But alas, that did not happen. Instead the area is strewn with negative images instead of positive.
We need to bridge the gap between Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal people. We need to do that, especially in Winnipeg, where we have the largest urban population of Aboriginal people. Start by looking around you. Start by finding the positive. I am sure there are far more positive Aboriginal connections than this program mentioned. And on the Aboriginal side, look for the positive in us as well. We are not all that bad either.