Everything I have done in life pales in comparison to becoming a father.
My parents split up when I was a kid. My mother primarily raised me. From her, I received an eternal commitment and everlasting love I carry into today.
From my dad, I got the same — but in a different way.
When I was growing up, my father was off doing really important things for the country. It’s a role you get when you’re the first Indigenous judge in Manitoba, a senator, and a great speaker and educator.
(Murray Sinclair was co-commissioner of Manitoba’s Aboriginal Justice Inquiry, the judge who oversaw the inquest into pediatric cardiac surgery deaths at Health Sciences Centre, and the chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that examined the genocidal legacy of Canada’s Indian Residential School system. His life’s work was again in the spotlight following the discovery of 215 Indigenous children buried in an unmarked grave in Kamloops. As TRC chair, he has called for an independent investigation into other unmarked burial sites of children who attended residential schools.)
Frankly, he’s been an “uncle” to Canada when I wished he would just be at home.
It wasn’t that he was absent — I could always phone him, for example — but he was constantly being called upon to help this and negotiate that. Frankly, I didn’t care and was quite resentful these “issues” took my dad away all the time.
I don’t say this to complain, but it’s damn unfair that residential schools, land theft, violence and injustice have divided my father and me.
As a result, I’ve often had to grow up alone, the son of a dad helping the country come of age. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I wish we had had more time together.
But I also understand: lives were at stake.
It’s taken me a long time to realize that this is how Canada’s violence against Indigenous peoples operates: disrupting families, separating parents and children, and creating a sense of animosity and resentment that endures for a long, long time.