Working It Out Together: Wayne Rabbitskin–The Long Road Home

Prior to colonization, Indigenous men and women treated each other as equals. They had different roles to fulfill but they still regarded each other with equal respect. But at the time of colonization, governmental policies created social dysfunction, essentially crippling the role of the men within traditional communities, even criminalizing their role as warrior within their families.  This has left men without a role to fill and has ultimately disconnected them from the land and their culture.

Throughout this episode we accompany Wayne Rabbitskin, Chisasibi, QC, as he travels his own journey of reconciliation. Wayne suffers from multi-generational trauma as a result of his parents’ experiences at Residential School. Included in footage are his heart felt words of apology for the pain he caused. He admits to alcohol and drug abuse. He also admits to abusing his former wife and destroying his marriage. This form of dysfunctional behaviour is commonly  referred to as lateral violence. Lateral violence refers to acts of destructive aggression against one’s peers rather than bullying to establish a sense of superiority. It is a means to share pain in order to alleviate pain rather than exerting force to create a social hierarchy.

Wayne is now working to end lateral violence in communities. Following his stay in a treatment centre, where he re-learned his role as a man and came to understand that women are sacred, Wayne committed himself to a 1000 mile walk, visiting other communities like his own to share his testimony. His own admissions are acting to expose lateral violence and inter-generational trauma, and allowing others to heal, while hecontinues to make amends for his own actions.

Traditional Story-teller Isaac Murdoch explains that prior to colonization, ” Women were literally a walking ceremony. They were the water carriers.  And because water is our first teacher, our first medicine, it’s the very thing that gives us life there was a high respect of women because of their strong connection of the land.” Because of this there was a balance in order to preserve life for the generations to come. However, with the arrival of the settlers came the arrival of both sickness and alcohol. Since the men were the ones who traded goods, it was the men who fell prey to the effects of alcohol, destroying the accord between men and women. Isaac believes that men must look back to the days before the settlers arrived and reconnect to the traditional ways in order to heal.

Shawn Iserhoff, Mistissini Youth Chief, also shares his experiences on the land and describes how this connection brings humility and harmony to his life, contrary to his experiences in the city.

Having participated in healing circles myself, witnessing the bravery of Mr. Rabbitskin admissions in order to make amends was particularly moving.


One thought on “Working It Out Together: Wayne Rabbitskin–The Long Road Home”

  1. Up front I’m white Canadian, full believer in the Multicultural Mosaic of Canada, that we should all believe all peoples from everywhere around the world are all Canadians, who should share that common set of values and mutual respect. And I fully support 1st Nations as fellow Canadians who need and deserving of Reconcilliation from all the terrible things done to them by many bad Canadians, and not Canadians, i.e. mostly Americans in Canada – etc etc

    But for true and complete Reconcilliation to be achieved, everybody including 1st Nations have to sooner or later learn and reconcile also their own past and origins.

    1stly, 1st Nations are not aboriginal, not indigenous, both of which mean – originating. 1st Nations are immigrants to Canada just like the rest of us. A lot longer ago than us, although there is increasing evidence that Europeans crossed the Atlantic a lot sooner than the official version.

    Indeed as genetic analysis is proving, there probably are no aboriginals on this planet anymore, not for a very very long time. Even the aboriginals of Australia and Africa and China and other places got there from somewhere else.

    2ndly, all the talk about pre-colonization 1st Nations living in harmony with nature, and with each other, and men and women treating each other as equals and respect –

    is bullshit.

    Those who actually do believe that propaganda have to accept that 1st Nations of North America were and are not that different from the rest of the human race.

    Pre-colonization 1st Nations were just as murderous and slaughterous of each other as the rest of us. Males took female slaves from other tribes all the time. They mostly migrated around a lot because they had to because they consumed all the local resources from place to place and left big garbage dumps behind. They lied, they cheated, they gambled.

    Just like the rest of us.

    If not for colonization, they’d still be doing all that to this day, if they managed to survive this long.

    Post colonization, well, suffice to say, they’ve been harder on each other than the colonizers have been. What we are taught happened, is half truths and lies, and not knowing the real complete story, by all sides.

    Do 1st Nations deserve their 1st Nations territories they still have, the assistance of tax payers, and all that ?


    Should we be joining them in their quest to change the way things are, to save the planet and ourselves ?

    You betcha.

    Are they mostly great people all things considered ?

    We all are.

    But please, for all our sakes, everybody please stop with all the noble indian crapola.

    We can’t build a better future together based on those fictions.


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