It is really time. Time to stop hiding the history of our past–no matter what country we live in–and tell the truth.
I always call myself a flag-waving Canadian because of my pride in this country. I think we live in a fantastic country where most people support the idea of working together to build lives here for everyone.
Every so often, though, some big fat ugly snake pokes its head up out of the sand of our smushed down secret past and I despair.
A number of years ago that snake with a forked tongue was the uproar about the residential schools that were set up when our country was much younger in order to teach our native people’s children. Sounds good, right?
In essence those schools stripped all of the students of their native language and of their own indigenous history, and the stories of abuse of children ripped from their parents and their homes and forced to live among strangers, many of whom abused them horribly, have sickened me and millions like me. The repercussions will be felt for generations.
Recently news outlets in North America hissed out reports of police brutality towards Blacks. Yes, I know. This is a terribly painful subject. And I do need to escape the pain sometimes. One thing I’ve noticed, however, in the aftermath of these brutal stories is the number of people of colour finding a prominent place on my television screen as intelligent, worthy, insightful, moral and likeable human beings. Hurrah!
Coiled up with that fight against systemic racism is the fight of women around the world to end violence and unfair treatment against them simply because they are women. I have had my own share of those fights about unfair treatment over my lifetime, although, thankfully, not in any way showing itself in violent acts against my person.
I fought to be recognized in the church bulletin by my own name, not by my husband’s name (Mrs. R. Cougler) when I was our church choir leader. I spoke out loudly about my drug store taking my regular personal prescription and giving me the bill in the following manner: Mr. R. Cougler For Elaine. As though I was somehow my husband’s ward. I have stood up for my rights as a woman and as a person in my teaching career on many occasions, the details of which I will not mention in order to protect the guilty.
In my Loyalist novels my sentiments about the plight of the “Indians” and the slaves are clear. Particularly in The Loyalist Legacy, I address both of those systemic wrongs, I hope, in a compassionate and intelligent manner, showing the humanity of those involved. It is who I am.
Just this month, however, I read some horrifying accounts of free Blacks coming to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to escape the slave culture in the Thirteen Colonies which became the United States of America.
My Loyalist Background
Because of my own Loyalist background and several of the books I’ve written I have been the guest speaker at many UELAC branch meetings. That has led me to sign up for their weekly newsletter and learn more from the amazing historians who every week contribute knowledgeable and well-researched articles about various Loyalist histories.
One of those most interesting writers is Stephen Davidson UE. I have referenced his work before in my blog posts or newsletters. He is very generous with his well-documented research.
In a recent issue of the Loyalist Trails, Stephen’s article mentioned Black Loyalists who came to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and how they were forced to live. Blacks were not given the same treatment as white Loyalists. Stephen’s stories of them living in 5 foot by 5 foot holes dug into a hillside and topped with small peaked roofs one side of which had a trap door for entry got my attention.
The second book has not arrived yet but I have started the first one and it is full of historical information that the author has had to dig long and hard to find. This is partly because of fire and other disasters and also because of the will of historians to preserve facts as perceived through their own looking glass.
I look forward to finishing both of these books so that I can add to my knowledge of how Black Loyalists were treated as opposed to other Loyalists. I will definitely share what I find.