With me, I was blessed and fortunate that I didn't have to go to residential school. I was surrounded by grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts and uncles. I became the surrogate child, grandchild and nephew of every member of my community. I have six children. I made sure that my children always sat at the dinner table and we would talk about who we are and where we came from, as my mother and elders had always described to me.
That was important in regard to who we are: to know who you are. That is the missing element. That is one of the residual effects of residential school. A lot of those current parents whom you're talking about never had that opportunity.
How we get it back is, again, to develop the curriculum, develop the history books of first nations. People call it stories. We don't call it stories. We're not telling a story. We're telling you our history. That's the important aspect: telling what's important in life. Five TVs and a Cadillac are not important things. At the end of the day, you can't take it with you when you're going to heaven or hell. The important thing is how rich you are, how many people you have touched in your lifetime, and how many of you have created a legacy that you left this place better than when you arrived.
That dinner table talk education becomes so, so important to recognize what a child is and what they can learn about how to take care of Mother Earth.
It sounds so simple, but those of us who live in cities take for granted that the beauty is going to remain there, that the gasoline is going to always be there for us. It's not.
That dinner table talk becomes an expensive exercise that doesn't need to be expensive. We just need to regain and have those, which are an investment into developing within the first nation itself it's curriculum to say our history, who we are. We have role models. We have idols. We don't recognize them, you know?
My kids go to school, and they have Tecumseh and Hiawatha. Our greatest warrior was Giyeplénexw. There's nothing about him in the curriculum in the school system. If you went and asked my community members who the most important person is in their community, they wouldn't know that.
There's a need for investment in that dinner table talk. That's the missing element—for those parents, as well. I agree with you. You have to create a healthy community before you can have a healthy government.