Authentic Contact

I know growing up in New Brunswick as a child I had very little contact with Indigenous people other than what the media presented, which was very stereotypical and tended to present Indigenous people as others. And then, in my own personal life I didn’t have any direct contact with Indigenous people. So it’s easy, consciously or unconsciously, to buy into that idea that Indigenous people are somehow other than the rest of Canadian civilization. But as an academic, I’ve had great opportunities to work with Indigenous students and Indigenous faculty and to have real meaningful contact. And it just totally changed my perspective of the situation of Indigenous people. I have much greater appreciation for them and understanding of their experience and how, if Canada is really going to be the nation that we like to brag about and be proud of in the international context, we can never really do that sincerely until we deal with the Indigenous question in our country in a meaningful way. And truly try to fully integrate and recognize Indigenous people as who they are, the founders of this nation and possessors of values and ideas that would truly do a lot to make Canada the great nation we try for it to be. But again I think ultimately it comes down to this: if real progress is to be made, if real reconciliation is to be made, it takes real authentic contact between peoples instead of thinking of each other as different or being separate. I think a lot of the barriers, a lot of the problems, a lot of the issues would fall apart if people just sat down and got to know each other in a more meaningful way.