Canada 150, Kanata 14,000


Melaney Gleeson-Lyall -Kanata14000-5By Melaney Gleeson-Lyall | Twitter: @melaneyglyall

Happy Canada Day 150!

The host people of this land have welcomed immigrants, refugees and visitors ever since the first ships arrived on these shores, now known as Canada. The word “Canada” comes from indigenous origins, from the Iroquois word kanata meaning land or village.

While we celebrate 150 years of the Confederation today, we, the First Nations, Metis, and Inuit have been here since the first sunrise. Currently, there are 634 tribal nations and 3,100 reserves (reservations) in Canada as appointed by the federal government.

Our oral histories say the Creator had placed us on the land since time immemorial. With carbon dating going back 14,000 years in BC, it matches the Heiltsuk First Nations oral history.

Today, Canada 150 is celebrating the Confederation years from 1867 to 2017. The Father of Confederation, John A. MacDonald was the first Prime Minister of Canada and his legacy to the indigenous peoples is the Indian Act formed in 1876. The Indian Act is the written documentation of the forced assimilation, as well as directives to eliminate the indigenous peoples, which is genocide. This colonization actually made every indigenous person a ward of the crown and these leaders responsible for every indigenous person in the land. The purpose of the Indian Act, and the residential schools it established, were to absorb the Indians by colonial indoctrination, therefore, getting rid of “the Indian problem.” Unfortunately for the governing bodies we are still here.

My very existence is political.

I am a second generation residential school survivor as well as a Sixties Scoop foster child, later adopted into a non-native family. By law, I have been registered and carry a card that says I am a “status Indian.” Because of documentation on deals made on land and resources, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada was formed and has to manage us, the host people of the lands, to this day. The point of the assimilation tactics was to get rid of their financial and land and resource-sharing responsibilities. These are covenants that were signed by the indigenous leaders called treaties–but these treaties were never signed in good faith by the colonial governing bodies. They were, and are, broken promises.

This systematic injustice continues to hold us captive on the lands of our ancestors. I believe the blood of the land is crying out. As our elders have shared their stories through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, our voices are being heard, and people are rising to attention with these truths being told.

The question emerging is, “Now, what can we do?” Firstly, understand that if you are not Indigenous to Kanata, you benefit from the 500-plus years of colonization and oppression of the First Peoples. The freedoms of Canada came at a cost to my people, and the generational trauma still torments us.

I am not here to pour shame or guilt on anyone’s heads. I simply desire to stand in the gap for my First Nation families, communities and nations. And that means telling our shared history that’s been hidden from political, educational, and faith institutions.

As we celebrate Canada 150 today, I ask that you also consider the history and stories of the indigenous peoples on this land.

My hopes and prayers are to see conciliation, reconciliation and restoration for the indigenous peoples across this nation.

If you’d like to join me in this journey of discovering the story of the indigenous peoples of this land, here are a few resources I recommend:

The 1763 Royal Proclamation
The Indian Act
The Doctrine of Discovery
The Truth and Reconciliation 94 Calls to Action (PDF)
U.N.D.R.I.P—United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

I also recommend the Kairos Blanket Exercise which tells the history of the 500 years of colonization in Canada. It is a profound learning experience and is used in schools, churches, government and corporate offices across Canada.

Since the first sunrise.

Questions to consider:

Which First Peoples tribal nation do you work, live and play on?
What does solidarity look like for you?
What does covenant relationship mean to you?


melaney-picMy name is Melaney. I was born on the unceded, ancestral lands of my ancestors, the Musqueam people in Vancouver, B.C.  Between my adopted family and First Nations bio families I have 17 siblings.  My grade one report card read “Melaney is justice-oriented.” I love Dr. Seuss and Henri Nouwen. I am an introverted contemplative and lifelong learner. Ever mindful, I stand in the strength of those who have gone before me and walked the earth before me. I am learning to live between cultures; between worlds—yesterday, today and forever.



  1. Andrea Christiansen says:

    Melaney, as I read your words I’m saddened by the reminder that there always will be those of us who take because they can, and those who don’t defend, although they could. I stand here wanting to give you something back but I have that feeble feeling of empty handed-ness. Yet I thank you for what you have given me, your words are gracious and reflect the value of reconciliation that is precious to me and my journey. I offer what I can in this moment; a prayer that we will embrace the values of freedom, equality, and inclusion as we celebrate our countries. These values often touted and seldom upheld, may we revisit and strive for them for our day and for all peoples. Thank you for sharing your voice.

    • Melaney says:

      Andrea, sorry I missed responding… I may have been a bit overwhelmed when this post came out. Thank you… my hope is that as I share that one heart at a time changes towards indigenous peoples around the world. That actions and behaviours also change because of profound relationships.

  2. Lovely conversation here! Living in Washington State, I am grateful that my sons have grown up learning about the local First Nation cultures. Thank you for walking the path of cHesed — covenant keeping — which sees affection, favor and kindness mutually owed as the way to reconciliation. It is a path which requires courage and love of truth. Grateful for your voice.

  3. Daniela says:

    So thankful for your voice in our community Melaney. This piece is powerful and I am so glad you wrote it. xoxo

    • Melaney G Lyall says:

      Thank you Daniela. I am thankful for the SheLoves community and the wilingness to walk this out with me!!

  4. Arwen Faulkner says:

    I live on the unceded, ancestral lands of the Algonquin peoples in Ottawa, and I won’t be partaking in the 150 celebrations today, because it feels like a painful lie. I’m grateful to have been born here, but I can’t unknow what I know, which is that my birth and very existence in Canada (Kanata) has come at a great cost- and immense loss- to the Indigenous peoples of this country, who continue to be treated as “second-class citizens ” on their own homelands. It just doesn’t feel right to celebrate colonization and what that has meant for the indigenous cultures who were here and thriving for thousands of years before I, or my ancestors, came to be here. Thank you for your words. May they be read by the thousands upon thousands of Canadians who still don’t understand… Many blessings to you and yours.

  5. pastordt says:

    Thank you. Bless you. May your voice be heard and heeded.

  6. Heather Pollock says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I value your perspective.

  7. Saskia Wishart says:

    YES. Thank you Melaney. Your voice and wisdom is so powerful and valued here.
    Thank you for this gentle but important reminder today.

    • Melaney G Lyall says:

      Thank you Saskia – thankful for the SheLoves community and the rising in this world.

  8. Thank you for this, Melaney. What grace you’ve given to us who are still learning on the journey. In honor of July 4, I’m going to spend some time learning about the indigenous people of Colorado. Who were they? What did they endure so that I could live in this home?

    • Melaney G Lyall says:

      Thank you Annie for being present! I know it’s a big learning curve. 2 sides to the narrative… thank you!

  9. Sandy Hay says:

    Like you, I am a lifelong learner. God has been introducing me to women of many nations and tongues and has pierced my heart. My heart cried for your people Melanie. Thank you for your voice that rings in my head and your music that I can hear.

    • Melaney G Lyall says:

      Thank you Sandy! We all have so much to learn…every day an opportunity to make changes in this world xo

  10. Honoring your courage today, Melaney, and thankful for this rich background, but saddened that we also share a history of treachery and broken promises with our northern neighbors.

    • Melaney G Lyall says:

      Yes, a history that spans both sides of the border. I saw what restitution and solidarity looks like with those standing together at Standing Rock. All tongues, tribes and nations xo

  11. Ganise C. says:

    Thank you for this. I discovered the Kairos Blanket Exercise earlier this year as I learn(ed) more and more about this country’s dark side. We (I) have a lot of reflecting, repenting and changing to do. I honour the resilience of your peoples. Happy Kanata Day.

    • Melaney G Lyall says:

      Thank you Ganise! I have been a ‘witness’ at the KBE a few times. I’ll be facilitating in the fall. education is an amazing tool of change. Thank you

  12. I was hoping we would hear your voice today Melaney, and was so happy to see that we are. Thank you for sharing this story and for your heart. As someone soon moving to Canada I am listening hard to voices like yours and am grateful for you. Happy Kanata Day 14,000+!


  1. […] felt pulled toward the stories of those who have been here “since the first sunrise’” as Melaney and her people often say. I began to learn some beautiful things and some terrible, weighty ones […]

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