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john@deaconinsurance.ca

Thomas Merton's essay 'Letters to a White Liberal' is really hitting home. It is particularly apt in a Canadian context when applied to the relationship between white people like me and First Nations people. Writing in 1963, Merton observed: "For some unknown reasons, the white man (especially the southern white) does not seem to realize that he has been rather closely observed, for the last two centuries, by his Negro slaves, servants, share-croppers, mistresses and bastards. He does not seem to be aware of the fact that they know a great deal about him, and in fact, understand him in some ways better than he understands himself." Translated into a Canadian context it could read: "For some unknown reason, non-native Canadians do not seem to realize that we have been rather closely observed for over 4 centuries by First Nations people, who have experienced our betrayal of the treaties we've made, the theft and decimation of their land, the abuse of their children, the excruciating loss of their missing and murdered women, and the destruction of their culture. We whites don't seem to be aware of the fact that they know a great deal about us and in fact understand us in some ways better than we understand ourselves."