Letter written and sent today to Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism, following the announcement this past week that The Indigenous Theatre section of The National Arts Centre of Canada would be denied funding in the Federal Government’s 2019 Budget. (Full announcement details can be found here: https://bit.ly/2CPEmc9)
It is with immense sadness and shame that I read the publicized announcement this week that Heritage Canada has denied funding to one of the most crucial bastions of growth, harmony and healing for a community already historically accustomed to being marginalized, ignored and abused by our own federal government. The Indigenous Theatre section of The National Arts Centre is an undeniable balm towards allowing, igniting and sharing the hopes and dreams of our aboriginal artists, young and old. How can this aberrant act, this utter lack of support for a crucial and struggling part of our nation’s storytelling heritage not be interpreted as a continuation of what has already come to pass: the systematic abuse and silencing of indigenous voices.
Economic, corporate, religious and political campaigns have been mounted time and time again throughout most of the 17th, 18th, 19th 20th and 21st centuries in order to continuously deny the First Nations their inherent right to their own land, their own water, their own agricultural, hunting and fishing grounds, their own freedom, their own safety… and in this day and age, that thousands of aboriginal women go missing all across Canada every year without the help and proper investigation of our nation’s top law enforcement organizations, speaks volumes about our government’s continuing complicity in the legalized dissemination of our country’s First People.
How can our government now commit this latest blasphemy? How can our own Canadian Government cut funding to an organisation whose precise goal is to allow these struggling Aboriginal Artists to grow, flourish and share their stories? The continual attempts to silence and discourage this marginalized group is quite simply shameful and frankly reminiscent of humanity’s worst uses of propaganda and intimidation to allow racism, genocide, fascism and/or colonial imperialism to flourish.
Might I remind you now, Pablo, that aboriginal people arrived here on this continent over 12 000 years ago. My own father’s ancestors (French) arrived here in Quebec just over 300 years ago. My own mother’s family (Vietnamese) arrived here just over 45 years ago. I would like my children to learn about Indigenous Stories, Art and History. I personally would like to find solace and growth in the Aboriginal understanding and teaching of our natural connection to Nature and this Earth. Please, for the love of this multicultural and beautiful country of ours: stop robbing us of our Indigenous Voices.
The Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism responsible for the budget is Pablo Rodriguez and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Artwork above: Indigenized Janus Masks by artist Rhonda Lucy.