Letter to the Editor: You are not alone in your pain
- Brian Gardiner | November 02, 2016
It was with the deepest regret that we learned of the recent suicide of 4 youth in the North of Saskatchewan and also learned of the numerous attempted suicides. That these are from Saskatchewan's first nations peoples is a clear indication that all is not well there. Many of us are " Southerners" and outsiders and as such are clearly not knowledgeable of the situations and conditions that surround these events but that does not mean that we are unsympathetic or unaffected. We are certainly ignorant of the causes and incapable of even suggesting solutions. We only know that the solutions will be long term and must be rooted in aboriginal culture.
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In the means of speaking to aboriginal people in general: I was fortunate enough to have met and spoken with Henry Beaudry, the talented aboriginal artist during my time with the Royal Canadian Legion in North Battleford. Henry was the grandson of Chief Poundmaker and a veteran of WWII during which he was wounded and suffered in a German Prisoner of War camp. Henry recently passed on at the age of 94. I encourage the first nations peoples to honour and present heroes like Henry to their youth to emulate. To be aware of the humble roots and the tragic history of Henry ( and others like him); to be aware of the pains and agonies he had suffered and yet know the true gentle-man that he was is a true honour. He never once complained and even went so far as to see the positive where a great deal of negative prevailed. It was not his manner to attempt to find blame as he knew that such actions did nothing to change things. As quiet and humble as he was, Henry did much to educate Canadians.
Our challenge, aboriginal and non-aboriginal alike, is to acknowledge those negative conditions and feelings and to work to change the conditions which create pain. The message, I guess, is that while pain and suffering is tragic, no one is suffering alone. For every pain that you feel, know that others are feeling and have felt those same agonies. It is perhaps cliche to say that we must all work to leave the world a little better than we found it, but it is very true. If we examine suicide, there are two very clear messages: firstly, the act creates intense pain for families and friends and secondly, the condition that created the pain in the first place is left unchanged. To anyone contemplating suicide as a solution, think first of the pain that you would inflict upon so many innocent people and contemplate whether that is the result you wish to be remembered for. My suggestion is rather, acknowledge the pain and know that this pain makes you an expert and then your challenge is to commit your life to actions which will erase the conditions which you are so intimately familiar with, from the world so that no one else has to suffer like that. This is in no way an attempt to trivialize the pain that drives people to despair but rather to suggest that despair does not change things and social progress comes from those whose pain directs their efforts to improve conditions.