I had the opportunity to visit Ottawa recently. I am always happy to spend a little time in the nation’s capital. It is a beautiful city and our Parliament Buildings are an awesome sight to say the least.
During this visit I took a tour through the Parliament buildings. I was very disappointed at the exclusion of First Nations people in our national government buildings. Other peoples are featured in the Parliament buildings in name, image, sculpture and painting. Our tour guide pointed out all of the different provinces and territories represented. She also provided a history of the formation of Canada with the focus on lumber, mines, fishing and farming.
Just about everybody you could think of is cast in stone and etched into the history of Canada on the walls of these buildings. Amazingly, there is almost no mention of the First Nations peoples that were here long before Canada became a nation.
When I asked the young tour guide why there was such an obvious exclusion of Native people, she blushed and told me she did not know how this had come to be. Well, the truth of the matter is that when all the different business and governmental people decided to carve up this enormous land and establish it as Canada, First Nations people were ignored. The terrible fact is that these people did not consider First Nations people as human beings.
We were considered less than human.
The crazy thing is that without us Canada would never have been developed. If any people in this country should be recognized it should be First Nations people. For God’s sake, Canada is a First Nation, word, as is Ottawa.
I can’t believe that Members of Parliament have not decided to act and make some room in these buildings for major representation for First Nations people. For example, in the Senate Chamber on the ceiling there is representation of the so-called original cultures that created Canada. It would be easy to find room for some symbolic representation of First Nation people.
There are also dozens of images and paintings of all kinds of dignitaries that in some way or another contributed to, the development of the country. I did not see one painting, photo or any type of image of First Nations people.
With a visit to the Parliament buildings you would conclude that First Nations people never existed. Yet, all of the fancy craft stores in downtown Ottawa are filled with First Nations arts and crafts. Canada promotes the image of First Nations people to attract tourism. It is shameful that no one has stepped forward to lobby for greater recognition of. First Nations people in the nation’s most revered and prestigious collection of buildings.
I wonder how serious the government of Canada really is when politicians talk about including First Nations people in the country, when we have never been recognized as part of Canada in the country’s historical showcase. I left my tour of the Parliament buildings with a bad feeling. I hope that the government of Canada will acknowledge its responsibility and provide a major representation of First Nations people in our Parliament buildings. First Nations people have a place in Canada.