Stoneman’s Short Stories

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It’s Canada Day Eh 

It’s Canada Day weekend here, people celebrate their pride in the country they call home. I’m not going to bash Canada or Canadians, although I might take a swipe or two at your Crime Minister. Instead I will share a tale or two from my extensive travel across this land we call Turtle Island, you call Canada.
I’ve never identified myself, willingly, as a Canadian. I understand why Settlers look to this land with such pride though.
I was married into an Italian family when I was younger. In retrospect they were a lot like the Old Rez Indians. Family was paramount, they moved to the same towns, the same street. They never stopped talking, I mean that in a very respectful way, they were always talking to so and so, Aunties, Uncles, cousins, Grand Parents and friends. For my benefit they would speak in EngTalian, broken interwoven English and Italian. Anyway, they reminded me of Old Rez Indians because of this. They were either talking on the phone, writing a letter, reading a letter, hosting visitors or visiting. I tell you this because when her Mother and Father, Aunts and Uncles spoke of Italy they spoke of it in a way I’ve never heard a “Canadian” talk of Canada. Don’t get me wrong I am sure they loved Canada but Italia was and will forever be home. I’m going to assume all First Generation Settlers are like this.
I do have to insert this here, just as an FYI. To pack what few things you can carry and leave all you’ve known and all you love to go somewhere and try to make a better life, let alone those who did it with young families, takes a courage that is so lacking in the subsequent generations of those First Settlers.
I am not anti-Settler by no means. My mother and her entire line are/were of European descent, of one country or another. (Maybe my Great-Great-Great-Great Gramma was a Portuguese Princess)
I travel extensively and make a point of talking to most Taxi Drivers. Most are First Generation Settlers and I ask of their “Home”. They light up and with pride speak of it. I always ask, aknowledging the courage, why Canada? If you were going to choose anywhere in the world, why Canada? I get a variety of reasons back, all with regrets but none who would pack up and go back. There is something here on Turtle Island that all feel a need to be surrounded. Like a blanket maybe.
In my life I’ve had the privilege to have visited every province in Canada and every state in America. I’ve witnessed the beauty that is Turtle Island. I’ve travelled by thumb, by car, by camper, by rail and by air. I’ve visited some of the smallest towns, literally throw a stone from Welcome to Please Come Back. I’ve lived in remote northern communities and some of the largest cities on Turtle Island. Interacting with complete strangers is my hobby. I love their stories.
As I now think back I couldn’t think of a “Most Beautiful Spot”. The bush around the Eeyou community of Eastmain on the east coast of James Bay in the fall, when the blueberry bushes turn an indescribable red would be one. “Lexi’s Office” on Garden River territory near Sault Ste Marie Ontario would be another. Small town Saskatchewan right after harvest and before snow. The fields, the world can be seen in it’s true awe inspiring glory. The field and sky blend into each other. I can go on and one with images burned into my memory, my happy places, but suffice it to say I see the reasons for the pride in this place.
This is an excellent place to begin a partnership. First Nation People and First Generation Settlers. We, the First Nation People, have always known and had the blessing of being a resident of Turtle Island. The First Generation Settler stills sees what we see. They are losing more rights then gaining. The promises made by the State Department don’t quite prove to be good words. We, First Nation person and First Generation Settler, share a culture of family, community, simplicity of life that can and will bind us into a true people of a country I may one day be proud to say I am a duel citizen of Canada and Aamjiwnaang.
The Second and subsequent generation of Settlers will, hopefully, begin to hear of the old ways by the examples of living by the First Generation Settlers and First Nation People. And if they don’t, well we will say loud and clear, Love ya but move over we are working here.
Ron