By: Madison Joe
When I woke up, I did my typical routine: shower, brush my teeth and all that stuff you do in the morning. I sat down at my computer, which eventually led to me opening Facebook. I fully expected the typical: Good morning Facebook peeps, a baby picture and maybe even news of a newly engaged couple. I wasn’t fully prepared for what Facebook had in store for me today—pride.
The protesting in Elsipogtog First Nation has hit the tipping point. I’ve been fully aware of the protesting going on there and had a friend tell me that eventually this would happen, that the Mi’kmaq of Elsipogtog would reach this point. Peaceful protests have been ongoing for months and now they are getting public attention, but the way the Mi’kmaq are being portrayed does not paint a true picture. One day the protest gets out of hand, and many people label the Mi’kmaq as “typical Indians.” What does that even mean? Am I a typical Indian? I believe in the rights that were given to our people, and I believe in clean water for the public. I guess this means I’m a typical Indian, who knew?
Police cruisers have been set ablaze, and many people were shot with rubber bullets. The people who set the cruisers on fire are just a few of the thousands protesting. Why should all the Mi’kmaq protesters be described as “unruly Indians?” It has gotten to a point where I don’t read comments; all they do is highlight that some people shouldn’t be allowed on a computer. The comments had never gotten to me before, just uneducated people, I always thought, until today.
Today, I read a comment that made me sick. “Seems as though the aboriginals are really living up to their nickname…#wagonburners #askedforit.”
What exactly have Aboriginals asked for? Clean water? A stop to fracking (the process of extracting natural gas from shale rock layers deep within the earth)? This type of labeling is sickening, and it is not right. Keep in mind that team names are being changed because “Red Skins” and “Indians” are offensive and insensitive towards Aboriginals, but people think it’s still okay to use terms such as wagon burner and squaw to describe Aboriginal people. Up until today, I thought I had a thick skin, but eventually something will pierce it.
Today is a day that I am filled with pride for those who stand in solidarity, those who refuse to be idle. Along with pride, I am also filled with shame for those uneducated people who think that it’s okay to use derogatory terms.
The protests have been, for the most part, peaceful. Protesters have been respectful and only wanting to keep the land unharmed, because long after this company is gone, it is the people living in the area that will have to live from that land. It is hard to believe that adults have to be reminded to be respectful towards one another like daycare children, so please be respectful.