From 1958 until her passing in 1976, my mother was involved with Indigenous issues. She helped Aboriginal people to market their crafts and supported many of their other endeavours. Some people encouraged me to carry on with her interest, but since the mid-2000s, I have mostly been on the outside looking in.
From the 1950s to the 1960s, my mother was involved with many projects at First-St Andrew’s United Church in London, Ontario. For instance, she helped organize religious art and artifact exhibitions. The Very Reverend Angus J MacQueen (1912-2006) gave my mother’s 1976 eulogy at the church. He described her as “very special kind of person.”
My father Charles T Peterson loved to tell the story of his great-grandfather Michael Sullivan. Michael changed his name from O’Sullivan to Sullivan after he got on the wrong side of the Roman Catholic Church. My cousin, Ken Whiteley’s song “That Other Shore” tells Michael’s story. Whiteley played it at Home County in July 2016.
More Canadians need to be involved with Indigenous policy decision making, including Indigenous people who believe a “two-way street” approach is needed to rectify problem areas. Decisions should not be left in the hands of those who are only supporting selective policy initiatives which do not benefit all Indigenous people.
Many Indigenous people have no trouble maintaining their identity, while at the same time participating in Canadian society. There are definitely problems with mainstream Canadian society, but I think it would be better to try to change the mainstream for the better, rather than attempt to dismantle it.