When Loretta Ross was a young girl growing up in Manitoba, her school had a career day. The place was full of professionals from all sorts of fields. Yet there was only one Indigenous person. Ross was therefore drawn to him, and it was he who put the idea in her head that was to shape her future. “He said [Indigenous people] need lawyers. He talked a little bit about why we need lawyers—and I said that’s it! I’m going to do that. That’s what I want to be.” After the session, students returned to their classrooms, and their teacher asked them what careers they had decided they wanted to pursue. “I put up my hand, and she said: ‘What do you want to be?’ I said ‘I want to be a lawyer. I’m going to be a lawyer!’ And she squished her nose at me, and she said ‘Don’t…
“We can take a stand — in our presence, in our words, in our willingness to unite, in our willingness to understand why we are like we are and in the effort to decolonize and take our rightful place on and for our land.”
Stephen Augustine, a Hereditary Chief on the Mi’kmaq Grand Council, says a new free online course he is teaching from Cape Breton University about Mi’kmaq history and culture presents an important opportunity for those exploring their Mi’kmaq heritage and identity.
The end of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission marks no conclusion, but calls all Canadians to accept the challenge of confronting cultural difference and relearning their histories.