I grew up alongside the Cree peoples. My fathers side of the family had a good relationship with the First Nations peoples and we visited them a lot as kids on their reserve. My Mothers side was not so much so as they tended to feel they were “dirty savages”.
I remember grade 1 distinctly as I was one of the smallest children in the class. I had an older brother and cousins who in our extended family would get into scraps with other boys and these other boys would track me down and take their frustrations out on me.
A Cree boy named Martin came in to the class one day and hauled this bully off me and laid a licking on him. He warned that bully if he ever bothered someone smaller then him again he would do the same to him. I was left alone after that.
I recall this kid distinctly. He was always in a crisp clean white shirt with a black bow tie and black pants. He was certainly cleaner and better dressed then I was yet was forced to sit in a row separate from “the white kids” because “indians have lice”.
When talking about those Residential schools and the impact it had on children , people of European Origin always say “That happened a long time ago. They just have to get over it”. I do not think they understand how LONG it takes to “get over” something like that. The culture was all but extinguished. The family structure was attacked and broken down. Peoples lost parenting skills and traditions that helped keep relationships healthy. I would not pretend to understand the full scope of what occurred or for that matter offer the First Nations peoples advice as to the best course forwards but it my personal feeling that the way out for them is to maintain and regain that Spiritual attraction to the land. The land will save them and as such they should act to preserve it.