Opinion: Remembering the forgotten warriors during war-time: our women
- Alyson Bear | December 03, 2018
Last year for the November issue I wrote about my great-grandpa George Badger from Cote First Nation who was taken as a prisoner of war and passed away due to brutal captivity in WWII. I wrote about the treatment of our Indigenous veterans while they were in the war and what happened when they came back. This year I want to discuss the warriors who were forgotten and the women who were left at home to fend for their families and face harsh racism in this Canadian society during that time.
It has never been easy to be an Indigenous woman in this world, even to just get a job there are still many establishments today that will not hire you due to your skin color or last name. That is all starting to change but it is not happening fast enough and I cannot imagine what it would have been like for Indigenous women on their own trying to provide and take care of their families back in those days.
Our Indigenous women have been targeted since day one, sexualized and dehumanized by this colonial settler society, because our Indigenous women have always threatened the social hierarchy and entirety of the colonial settler system and how it works and what it stands for, patriarchy, misogyny, capitalism, dictatorship. My great grandma Sarah raised my mother and took care of me when was I was young so my mom could go to school and get her education. My great-grandmother was the widow of my great-grandpa George Badger. My grandma worked extremely hard on her own as a nurse assistant, ward aid to provide for my mom and my auntie and in a world that could not tolerate Indigenous presence.
The colonial system created reservations to impose and build their systems and institutions and put down roots and flourish while attempting to rid this country of its original peoples. Reservations was an attempt to divide our people, to try and conquer and to keep our people out of sight and out of mind. Indigenous peoples and especially our women never felt safe in settler colonial communities because there was so much outright hate and discrimination just for being an Indigenous person.
When thinking about our veteran warriors it also makes me think of my great-grandma Sarah and all the Indigenous women warriors without both we would not be here today. Without the love and support my great-grandma Sarah gave so generously our family would not be the people we are today.
I know a lot of people can resonate with that and just how much our grandmothers have sacrificed and the hard work they put in trying to protect us and show us love from a dark, greedy, and hateful world that they experienced and did not want their babies to experience. That is what Remembrance Day is about is remembering those who endured unimaginable traumas in battle and sacrificed for their families so that their families would not have to and could live peaceful in their nations on their home and native land.
When we think of veterans and those who sacrificed and endured we should also remember our warriors who fought and died for us so that we can be here today and that includes the warriors like Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Big Bear, Poundmaker. Those stories, those truths need to be told and remembered as well. The truth of what happened to our people so that we can remember and never forget what it was our people endured and went through for us for the generations to come and give us a purpose to not let those down who came before us.
Lest we forget and remember that our Indigenous nations were allies with Canada in the war of 1812 that helped create Canada. These are the stories that need to be shared, that ally-ship and how many times we came together despite our differences or how our peoples were and are being treated and treaties never honoured. Our Indigenous nations voluntarily and courageously stood beside Canada in many wars and yet our Indigenous peoples continue to be oppressed by the Canadian system, the colonial system. Many have forgotten this, and this is crucial to be remembered.
Our peoples are battling every day and are not being treated with the same amount of dignity and respect as the rest of society. Indigenous peoples continue to be targeted and killed not only by the colonial institutions and systems targeting Indigenous peoples but the rest of society mimicking these systems. We need to remember all our warriors in our hearts and remind everyone of these truths to make a better future for the children of tomorrow to not make the same mistakes over and over again.