Blog for Patricia and Janice Makokis
The Spring 2017 issue of the University of Alberta’s Alumni Magazine, New Trail, features contributing editors, Dr. Patricia Makokis and her daughter and lawyer, Janice Makokis on the subject of The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
Together they ask readers to face the Truth. More than 150,000 Indigenous children were forcibly removed from their families commencing at the tender age of five or six from 1860 to 1960. Many children suffered through physical, sexual and mental abuse. They were stripped of their parents, culture and way of life. God knows how many children died in these schools. At least 3,200 deaths were recorded but many more were never reported dead. The bodies of dead children were not returned to their parents because it was deemed “too expensive”.
Children were forced to eat rancid food, scraps left over from the meals of priests and nuns and then sometimes forced to eat the vomit from having to choke down that food.
The Government wanted to “civilize” them and religious groups wanted to “save” them. It is Canada’s gravest injustice. It was a process of systematic domination and rehumanization of the Indigenous population of Canada.
The matriarchs of the Makokis family, Dr. Patricia Makokis and sister to the Amazing Two-Spirit Couple, Dr. James Makokis & Anthony Johnson, winners of the Amazing Race Canada Season 7. The family blends the Truth of the past with stories of their elders, ancestors and community members related to colonialism, residential schools and the ongoing lack of access, support and discrimination in place through systematic oppression. These allyship speakers share personal stories of the past, blended with lived experience to bring unity and action to the forefront of the conversation, (Link to James, Anthony and amazing couple profiles.
Indigenous Rights speakers and Truth and Reconciliation speakers, the family is well known for their inclusive advocacy for human rights, equality, policy and unity. Their message brings awareness to individuals to learn and understand the truth in the history, the current state of how we arrived to the 94 TRC Calls to Action, and the role each individual and organization can take on the path of reconciliation. As grassroots leaders and Indigenous heritage speakers, the family has become some of the most popular and creditable top Indigenous speakers in Canada and speakers for TRC on September 21.
To the Makokis’, the key answer to Reconciliation lies in education. White people need to change their attitudes about colonialism and become partners with Indigenous people. They also need to make amends and to progress from there. Remnants of colonial attitudes still exist today. Boil-water advisories on many reserves, inferior education and health care systems, high suicide rates and diseases still plague Indigenous people in Canada today.
Indigenous people must learn too. They must become re-acquainted with their beliefs, their traditions, their language and ceremonies. They need to know what happened, so they can understand why they are the way they are today. They need to comprehend that to an Indigenous person, land, language, culture and identify are inseparable from spirituality.
Canadians everywhere need to work together to learn more about each other and move on.