The topic of division, especially in recent days, amid protests against racism and police brutality in the U.S. and Canada, is at the forefront of many discussions both in public and online.
However, for a Shuswap author racism and discrimination need to be explored more deeply, which is what lead to her latest work that looks into the discrimination, trauma, and healing within a B.C. First Nation —and has lessons for everyone.
Carolyn Parks Mintz wrote “Resolve: The Story of the Chelsea Family and A First Nation Community’s Will to Heal,” which was published in 2019. The book tells the story of Andy and Phyllis Chelsea from the Esk’etmc First Nation, the trauma they endured during their time in residential school, how that time affected their adult lives, and the discrimination Indigenous people continue to face daily.
The Chelseas struggled with alcoholism but were determined to heal from their experiences and choose sobriety after their daughter, Ivy, confronted them. The community followed suit and from there, the nation was able to move forward and prosper.
But as inspiring as their story is, Mintz said she realized what Canada’s First Nations endured was far worse than what she initially learned.
“What they went through was far worse than what I first perceived, and it continues today… and I can’t imagine having the wrong skin colour and being mistreated for it,” she said.
“I’m really hoping this book will enlighten people about this very dark secret in Canadian history. It is already coming to the forefront, whether it’s the First Nations or Black people, Jewish people or Muslims, racism and discrimination are hideous things.”
She said now more than ever, it’s important for us to call out racist or discriminatory actions. Mintz added the goal is to treat people as people.
“What’s going on with the RCMP and other policing forces, that has to stop. We have to push politicians and organizations to change, that this should not be allowed in this country. It truly is unjust to judge someone by how they look or how they speak.”
We need to listen to our Indigenous peoples, she said, as the solutions will come from them because they know what they need and they know what must change in our behaviours towards them.
“The answers will come from them. It won’t come from the government or non-Native people. They know what they need in order to have the same privileges that other Canadians are entitled to.”
“I hope the book will encourage other people to stand up for what’s right… we shape our children and we have to teach them to be kind, fair and just.”