Mediate BC Blog

The Unheralded Ones and The Next Ones

Posted by Jereme.Brooks

It's Indigenous History Month in Canada, and it’s been difficult. So many stories of atrocities and other horrors have come into the light. It’s been more than a little tough for me. It’s just heavy, and it must be. Otherwise, it will serve no purpose. It needs to be felt, people need to understand that the Canada they show on billboards isn’t the one we all experience.  

A lot of us have been asked about our heroes and who we see as the champions of our cause. There isn’t a shortage of names, and they’re all great. Cindy Blackstock and Melanie Mark are both solid advocates and they’re doing a lot of good for their communities and Indigenous people generally.

The truth is that there’s a number of solid people doing good work. They are absolutely champions for their causes and fields, and the recognition they get is well deserved. Senator Murray Sinclair, Tanya Talaga, Mary-Ellen Turpel-Lafond, there’s a growing list – they’re just not the heroes I want to identify as we wrap up what has been a devastating Indigenous History Month.

I have two heroes I want to acknowledge.

First are the Unheralded. These are the people like my Mom (pictured above), who is Sylix, like Carmen Hance from Ulkatcho, and Benito Segura (Secwépemc). These are all flawed, lovely and caring people who chose to move forward from adversity, and actively work to help secure a better life for their children and communities. They gave, and give, of themselves to make sure that the people then encounter have a chance at a life that is better than what they had. They have worked diligently, and often to their own detriment, to make sure that their efforts gave their beneficiaries the chances that they didn’t have. They made the choice to break cycles of dysfunction, leading by example and providing hope, guidance and compassion to the people and communities they engaged with.

Then, there are the next ones. These are the leaders we see coming up today. Young leaders like Morgan Chawla, Kelsey Kilawna, and Sheldon Louis, who are up and coming and will help our people take their next steps. These are the ones that grew up in times where opportunities and expectations looked different, and a greater vision of life was possible. They will help shape and tell the stories of both our past and possible futures. I look forward to seeing what they do with great interest.

It’s also important to note all the Indigenous mediators and community builders that are working to make things better, but are rarely singled out or recognized for their efforts. 

What we must know is that, while there are a handful of us that receive awards, acknowledgement and name recognizable status, there are millions of us who are simply doing what we can so that tomorrow is better than today. It is that group who are clearing the paths they walk along so that the ones to come behind them will have an easier journey; and with less pain.

The truth is that my generation grew up in pain that we inherited. Our parents did their best, but most of them had their own pain and lots of it – so it’s only natural that some landed on us. My generation has similarly done what they could to make life better for our kids. That pattern of trying to make it that little bit better is something that I think will continue and increase in efficacy over time.

I cannot wait until I see a generation who hears the stories of where I and my Mom and her parents came from, and they think that we’re pulling their leg, that we’re exaggerating. I don’t know if I’ll see that in my lifetime, but if I do it will largely be due to the work of the Unheralded Ones and the Next Ones. And because of that, they are my heroes.

Until next time my friends, I wish you a better rest of 2021. Be safe and well.

Way’ Slugh – Way’ Limlimpt

(Goodbye Friends – Goodbye You’ve Done Me a Favour)

Jereme Brooks (Your Favourite Uncle Jer)

Manager – Child Protection Mediation Program