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.