This cannot happen again. We need to do more than a walk, more than a rally, and a lot more than just demand changes. We need to make the changes ourselves. We need to stop asking permission and start asserting the care of our communities.
We need security. Not tribal police or Indigenous officers, or more of the same, whatever the flavour. I do not mean replacing cops with cops. I do not mean allowing some of us a well-paid opportunity to bully the rest of us. We need personal security, which means not only is everyone safe, but that everyone feels safe; that everyone is healthy or working toward health; that everyone is honest and responded to on the basis of honesty. We are more than capable of doing that ourselves; we always have been.
And by “we,” “ourselves,” and “us,” I absolutely do not mean everyone with a status card and appropriate “official” blood quantum. I mean everyone we will welcome into our communities based on that understanding. I mean everyone we already have welcomed into our communities on that basis — our friends, our immediate families, our extended families, and our created families. I mean everyone who has shared a history and culture with us, and wants to share our future. And not anyone who has harmed us or brought pain and suffering to our communities.
Lives are being wrenched away from us as we stand and watch it happen. And I mean not just the lives taken at the point of a gun by the juries, judges, and executioners they call their “police.” I mean also the lives of desperation, the lives of shattered dreams, the lives of tedious emptiness that are imposed upon us by those destroying our communities.
This is not a call to action . . . that time passed a long time ago . . . but rather a call to commune, to settle ourselves on community, to bring about the change that will free our children from our fears and make all of us whole.
Each of us knows what should have been done instead of pulling out a gun and taking life. We know the right thing to do now.
Shaunessy McKay is a Mi’kmaw woman from Eel Ground First Nation and co-author with Roland Chrisjohn of Dying to Please You: Indigenous Suicide in Contemporary Canada.