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Words from Chief Wayne Christian

Honourable senators, I recently had the privilege of hearing Chief Wayne Christian speak at a conference on Indigenous matters. He is chief of the Splatsin First Nation in B.C. and a tribal chief of the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council. These are excerpts from his speech:

Those little ones . . . . They whispered ‘They found us.’ Those 3 words echoed around the world. . . . The discovery has opened up all that we know as Indigenous People of how this country has treated us. How their laws — the legislative genocide — is perpetrated against our People. . . . Our People were not treated as human. They were treated as pagan and savages based on the Doctrine of Discovery. [It was] decreed also that the land was empty – terra nullius. Consequently, what these little ones show is this is the result of Canada’s policy: to kill the Indian in the child, and to kill the child.

For those of you that are non-indigenous but are allies . . . it hit your heart because they are children. You have to remember that the survivors were children. They were like those little ones. They got out. They lived. And so remember that when you see a survivor; see them as that little child that was sent to this place by the law of this country. And how important it is that you hold them up. And don’t place a lot of burden on them to educate you, because that’s not their job – they have enough going on. Your job is to find out for yourself the true history of this country and to do something about it. . . . because that’s what’s going to make a difference.

It is important when we honour [these children], we think forward: what next – what do we do as individuals, what do we do as families, what do we do as communities, what do we do as a nation?

It is a time when we need to be one. There is only one earth. And truly there is only one human species. We may have different colour skin, we may have different cultures, but all of us are human. We are one in that way, so we need to come together as one. And change the narrative for Canada, and change the narrative around the world.

The time of the lone wolf is over. We are the ones we have been waiting for.

Thank you.

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