Spirited Reflection: Poem by Albert Dumont on Orange Shirt Day

Albert Dumont
Orange Shirt Day - every child matters

Sir John A. Macdonald by Albert Dumont ©

We, the Anishinabe, search the lifeless eyes 
Of the many portraits proudly painted for Canada 
To honour a man Canadians believe 
Was an emblem for ‘decency, righteousness and vision’ 
“A hero” they say, “a Nation Builder” 
But the First Peoples look upon the face 
Of Sir John A. Macdonald 
And see the curse, responsible 
For the deaths of thousands of our children 
We see in Macdonald, a man, who saw 
In the whiteness of his skin, a human being equal to God 
Who believed his soul 
Would never be in need of cleansing 
And that the goodness offered daily on Turtle Island 
By the ever-present Good Spirit, who teaches us 
That no human being is greater than any other 
Were teachings Macdonald accepted as only created for people 
Lesser than men such as himself 
We look at the evil Macdonald placed into ‘The Indian Act’ 
And other oppressive actions perpetrated by him, against us 
And ask ourselves when in meditation, if the wailing spirits 
Of the thousands of Indigenous children 
Who died in Macdonald’s Residential Schools 
Held sacred council with him in the eternal sky 
Where true justice sears the soul of the guilty 
After the scalding breath of death stopped forevermore 
The beating of Macdonald’s spiritually hollow heart 
With ceremonial tobacco by our side, we ask 
Did Macdonald’s tears flow like the spring waters of the ‘Ottawa’ 
When the children who died in his Residential Schools 
Recounted to him the last torturous hours of their lives 
Away from culture, family and the unconditional love 
Of a caring human being who could hold their hand 
At the moment their last breath silently took them 
Back to the peaceful waters of their ancestral lands 
For thousands of years 
Since our creation story was first told 
We called ourselves ‘The First People’ 
‘The People’ and ‘The Human Beings’ 
But to Macdonald’s parliament we were only savages 
Not worthy of receiving their respect and honour 
Sir John A. Macdonald, a hero to the royals of Britain 
Sir John A. Macdonald, who sacrificed his soul 
So that the people of Canada 
Would see him always as the greatest of all men 
Where does he find himself today 
What words of contrition does he relay 
In that empty place, where for him 
The darkness of a stormy night 
Will never yield to a calm and re-assuring dawn 
Oh but what if it had been you 
The peoples of European ancestry 
Who were the first human beings of Turtle Island 
And here, you lived and thrived for thousands of years 
Until one day, bronze-skinned people 
Arrived on your welcoming and generous shores 
Oh but what if the newcomers brought with them 
To your tranquil and sacred lands 
Ancient wars from their former homeland 
And laid before you, countless pandemics of vile disease 
And through the power of generations of your oppression 
Could control even your very thoughts making you believe 
That the light of God was for them, always present 
Even guiding their cruel deeds against you 
Imagine now that today, a dark-skinned man 
Was being praised for destroying all that Creator gave to you 
With bronze-skinned people believing he was a noble leader 
Who built a great and fair nation where yours once stood 
Would you join in singing an honour song in his memory 
Or would you fight with all the strength of the sun 
To pull his portraits and statues down 

Albert Dumont, Algonquin, Kitigan Zibi 

Albert Dumont has served his community on the Grandparents Counsel for Well Living House, St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto since September 2017. He was one of 13 Elders on the Elders Advisory Committee of the Ministry of the Attorney General from October 2016 to 2020. He worked as Elder for the Parole Board of Canada at Elder Assisted Hearings from November 2013 to March 2017. He was employed by Correctional Services Canada for three years as a spiritual advisor for the Aboriginal men incarcerated at Millhaven Institution’s J Unit located near Kingston, ON.  

He is an activist, a volunteer and a poet who has published 5 books of poetry and short stories. In recognition for his work as an activist and volunteer on his ancestral lands (Ottawa and Region) Albert was presented with a Human Rights Award by the Public Service Alliance of Canada in 2010. In January 2017, he received the DreamKEEPERS Citation for Outstanding Leadership. Albert has dedicated his life to promoting Aboriginal spirituality and healing and to protecting the rights of Aboriginal Peoples particularly those as they affect the young.

Filed in: Indigenous Rights


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