Taken from my Facebook posted Sept.3rd, 2018
I woke with this on my heart this morning… I know it will shock and even upset some people, but I feel I need to speak out – it’s time.
***The Bare Branch***
Genealogy for me, has been a wonderful pastime, one that I have loved and greatly enjoyed.
Finding out about my heritage, my parentage, some 2, 4, 26, 145 generations going backwards in time and finding the people in this great family tree, researching their lives, their hopes and their dreams has brought me great joy.
Knowing the names of those who have gone before me and the times in which they loved and lived is something wonderful I love to discover. Finding a diary or journal was like finding buried treasure and pure gold. To know my ancestors thoughts, their hopes and dreams, the issues of their days, what they felt strongly about, even to the point of fighting for through personal sacrifice, their powerful spiritual lives of worshipping the creator through personal sacrifice, to leave all they held dear to find a place to have the freedom to worship in spirit and truth without judgement or condemnation, those things are precious to me.
Each of their lives make up who I am as a person, their values, their hopes and dreams, their strengths and weaknesses, their victories and yes, even their sickness and some illnesses are all passed down through their DNA to create who I am today.
Knowing who and where you come from gives a person such depth and contentment, and not knowing leads to a lifetime of misery and discontentment. Something that led those like Alex Haley to go on a life time quest to find out who they were because they “had to know”. Alex Haley through his quest and research inspired and changed a generation to find their own roots.
When any culture is robbed of their past, their heritage, their language, their stories, the damage is lasting and horrific.
I have been blessed to know most of my heritage.
On one side of my family tree, I can trace my heritage back through my father to Adam and Eve, it makes the historical Biblical accounts come alive because now these people have a double meaning they show up in my family tree.
The tree is truly lush, full of branches and off shoots with a deep and powerful root system, beautiful, majestic and somewhat imposing. I can see the characteristics of determination, honesty, integrity, leadership going back some 145 generations,
I can see the struggles they endured to find a place to worship freely from the time of Christ until today, I can see the spirit to rule and conquer through ancestors like King David, Constantine, Charlemagne, William the Conqueror, for good or for bad this DNA flows.
I can see the absolute hatred for and their struggles against, the spirit of death, subjugation and abuse as they fought for a life of freedom, peace and equality for all people and nations.
Abolitionists, educators, judges and nation builders, as well as the true feminists who saw their equality and freedom as given to them through Christ. True women of God who when freed, helped bring about the true Biblical equality of woman through support, and help for the abused, downtrodden and sexually exploited. Protecting the lives of their unborn children and those abused through horrific poor houses, jails and workhouses… knowing that the absolute uniqueness of every life from conception to the grave was precious and to be valued and protected.
Their lives tell of stories of adventure, sickness, struggles and pain, always fighting for and warring against those who would seek to kill their hopes, dreams and take from them their very lives and all they held dear.
Still, woven throughout the branches of this beautiful and power tree there is one branch of the family that stands in stark contrast to the rest, it is completely bare, barren in fact.
It remains on the tree in silence, silent in its stories, silent in its language, silent in its history and in it’s people.
It is the branch of a grandmother, four generations before me. I know little of who she was as a person, what her hopes and dream were, the only thing that has come through is her blessings that she prayed upon the seventh generation of her children. I don’t know her name, I don’t know her place of birth, I don’t know her language, her people, or her tribe, or her stories, some say she was Ojibway, some say Mi’kmaq but I don’t know. (See below for a follow up)
I was never allowed to know or to celebrate her or who she was.
My mother tried, and within our home prejudge was just never allowed, no one spoke evil of a person based on the color of their skin or their heritage or their origins.
I was greatly blessed.
There were clues as we were growing up – I remember my Mother creating the most beautiful orange jump suit, it was 1970’s and the “in” look was headbands, bell bottoms and fringes and beads. She made the clothes and dressed me for school, lovingly referring to me as her little “papoose”.
I was a throwback, long, straight, deep rich brown-black hair, high cheek bones and deep dark brown eyes, I looked the part. For me I just felt very special, loved and cherished. My Mother sent me off to school with a smile, when I entered my classroom, my teacher laughed when she saw me and rejoiced in my looking so ‘native”, the children at school loved it as well and made a fuss over how beautiful it was, I just felt cherished and blessed.
A slight shadow passed over my childhood just two years later after my beautiful orange clothing was given to me; we were studying Native culture in Canada and I raised my hand to say that I had native heritage, for my mother had finally told me and I was so proud of that fact, but strangely my teacher blushed, whether for me or for herself I never knew, she didn’t seem to celebrate my heritage like I did as an innocent child.
My native heritage, though very quietly acknowledged at home, was a deeply held family secret, always hidden, never talked openly about and a topic that the adults seemingly were ashamed of, except for my Mother. (The Cornwallis Solution to the Mi’kmaq)
Thankfully, today this rich heritage is being talked about now, openly, but again we are not considered native, or Metis, we don’t have any true heritage to celebrate because the knowledge, the culture and the language has been lost, buried, quenched by the mood and spirit of the age.
Only the bare branches of my family tree are a reminder of a lost heritage, a part of my families story gone and ultimately apart of myself missing.
Within Canada there is another story of little girl who was going off to school who had also been given an orange shirt by a loving mother. A mother who had high hopes and dreams for her little girl as well. Hopes that she would have a wonderful experience in school and become educated. Her daughter’s story though was to be vastly different from mine. Her teacher didn’t celebrate who she was or her heritage, or her language or her customs when she entered the classroom.
On the contrary, she was sent out into a foreign world, where those who received her we unworthy of the precious life entrusted to them by her mother. She and all the children of her age were stripped of their clothing in the same way the Jews were stripped when entering the Nazi concentration camp. The parallels are staggering and equal – the assault, the abuse, the loss of hope and life was horrific – a true northern holocaust – gone was the beautiful orange shirt.
Two children both with pure Indigenous roots, both given beautiful orange clothing, one like the Biblical Queen Esther whose identity was hidden by her family for generations for her protection, (there was a bounty on her head) and the other a scapegoat, sacrificed on the altar of prejudice and abuse given to a system where the spirit of death reigned supreme.
Canada has had many holocausts and abuses since it’s beginnings, Mount Cashel Orphanage, the Residential School System, the missing Indigenous women, the multiple suicides of our Northern children or the ongoing abuse and exploitation of vulnerable woman through the abortion of their children whether Indigenous or otherwise. With over a million Canadian woman and children abused, exploited or murdered, these grave atrocities need to be repented of, mourned and most importantly stopped!
Fall represents a time for mourning and repentance for the Jews, it also represents a time of healing, forgiveness and a new year of beginnings. Why can’t we adopt this season of the fall to represent for us a time set aside for mourning and repentance. joining with those around the globe who have also been affected by the spirit of abuse and death?
Let it be a reminder to Never let the abuse happen again!
May we never again have within our collective native genealogical tree a “bare branch”.
As of 2021 I have learned the identity of my Indigenous 4th generation great grandparents, they were Mi’kmaq – Thomas Joe (K’Taqmkuk) and Mary Frances Cabish , their daughter Elizabeth Joe married my English 3rd great grandfather, it is known they came from the Mi’kmaq Nation in Indian Brook 14 Hants Nova Scotia, Canada from there they then fled to Newfoundland, it is thought today the reason may have been because a bounty was issued for the Mi’kmaq
During the residential schools their language, their history and all the stories of the elders, and all information of this branch of my family tree was systematically destroyed and lost.