My community has endured a great deal of many atrocities since Simon Fraser first plied the waters in our unceded territories in what is now called the Fraser River: colonialism, smallpox epidemics, abject racism, abject poverty, residential schools, segregation, cultural genocide, loss of land, loss of language, and many years of adverse phenomena that have always stacked the odds against us in becoming an equitable and strong entity in the growing communities in which our lands have been enveloped, including the self-determination vision we carry and assert for ourselves.
Despite these adversities, and ingrained within that rubric we must contend with our adversaries as well: ignorant media, an uncooperative government structure, misinformation about who we are that has been given to society by our education systems inter-generationally, and then deal with everyday ignorance on top of all that.
We, as a community, have made great strides in the past 217 years. We have overcome a great deal of external environmental impacts and are doing a fair amount of work in our local schools at the forefront of education, in the arts, and in the environment, and we have made impacts as a sustainable economic model and have formed good governance and pride ourselves on how good our working relationships with community partners have become over the years.
Believe me when I tell you that it hasnâ€™t been given to us. We have worked hard for every ounce of respect that we carry with us, and we will never again let external influences take us down a notch ever again.
The article written about our dearly departed member of our family and the circumstances leading up to his death [Family feels manslaughter sentence too light, April 9, Langley Advance] do not iterate that strength and resilience in any way. The articles written by our local newspapers will only serve as a refuge for further ignorance and misunderstanding of the beauty and marvel that is the Kwantlen family.
Addictions affect all levels of society and are by no means relegated to the time and place depicted in the article. Itâ€™s a problem everywhere. Our challenge is to face it and make a better tomorrow for our youth, so we may never have to endure a tragedy like this ever again.
I am standing strong with my Kwantlen family and will encourage every single person in my community to see ourselves as nothing less then as exemplars of fortitude and resilience.
We will continue to thrive and overcome the onslaught of violence in our homes â€“ here and anywhere else in this ever growing and changing place we call home.
Brandon Gabriel, Kwantlen First Nation