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Native mom bothered by racist comments

Blames divide on government

Deirdre Healey
The Hamilton Spectator
(Apr 25, 2006)

[SISIS note: The following mainstream news article is provided for reference only, as an example of how mainstream media treats indigenous resistance to genocide. Mainstream media often presents biased and distorted information, lacking pertinent facts and/or context. Inclusion of this article on our site should not be considered an endorsement by SISIS.]

Carrie Renn's blue eyes and dirty blond hair keep her suspended between two worlds.

The world on the Six Nations reserve where her mother lives and the white-dominated world of Caledonia where she lives with her husband and two teenaged children.

Renn, who splits her time between driving a school bus and caring for her family, has come to love Caledonia and the people who live there.

At the same time, she has witnessed those same community members make racist comments about her native people and those comments have escalated since the occupation began.

She has heard the name-calling and derogatory comments.

"I tell them it bothers me. I tell them I am native and they are shocked," she said.

At the same time, Renn understands why her neighbours believe these damaging stereotypes. She blames the government for promoting native stereotypes and creating a divide between natives and the rest of society.

That combined with a lack of knowledge about native history breeds frustration, she said.

"It's very confusing for non-natives to understand native issues because there is so much history," she said. "Canadians need a true history lesson. If only they could hear the stories my father told me about the residential schools and all the abuse that went on. It could tell you horror stories and that is something I carry."

Renn met her husband Dennis 28 years ago in Glanbrook Township.

She didn't think twice about marrying a white man even though it meant a life away from home because non-natives are not allowed to live on the reserve. But the family still makes weekly trips to Six Nations to visit Renn's 63-year-old mother. And she has registered both her children as natives.

"That way they can have a choice," she said. "I want them to learn about their heritage."

Both her children have asked questions about the occupation of the Douglas Creek Estates, which is now reaching its ninth week, and Renn tries to tell them everything she knows about her people's right to the land.

She understands why the natives have resorted to the occupation.

"But I just wish there was another way."

Jim Alton is another Caledonian who has his feet planted in two worlds.

His son is one of two white boys playing on the Six Nations lacrosse team. He said one of the reasons the family moved to the small town a year ago was so 13-year-old Don could play on the team known for its high-calibre athletes.

While Alton and his family live in Caledonia, he and his son visit the reserve three times a week for practices and games and have both made friends there.

Alton said he feels comfortable with the native people on the reserve and hates what is happening at the occupation just a block from his home.

He acknowledges there is a divide within the community when it comes to the native occupation and he points to a lack in "common vision."

"I have learned that one of the biggest problems is not having a common vision. The typical white culture doesn't pay much attention to history, but the native culture is entirely based on history. That is what keeps the average person from understanding."
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