An Immigrant’s reflection on the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation 2021

I did not come here to conquer or subjugate
I came seeking refuge and asylum
All I sought was sanctuary
A chance to be “Canadian”

But what of those who came before
Who came to colonize and occupy
Should I be grateful to them for creating
A place where I could find safety?

And what of those who
Walked these lands before us all?
Who loved these lands before we did?
Creating the paths that we now tread?

Can I ignore the mournful cries?
Of the First Peoples who walked this land
If the violence visited upon their lives
Wasn’t done by my ancestors hand

Can I enjoy the benefits of colonization?
Without the brutal violence of its birth
Is my own hand not equally stained?
From the theft of life, of land and hearth

Why should I care to fight for this?
For something I did not even cause
Can I not just simply live my life?
And on special days reflect and pause?

In truth I am also a settler
And I benefit from that past trauma
Its fabric interwoven in my own life
A part of the Indigenous diorama

If I don’t try to build relationships
Address the wrongs that they were dealt
Am I not just as complicit?
In violating the treaty of the two row wampum belt?

There is no doubt upon my mind
I owe a debt to my Indigenous family
As surely as I sit upon this land
I cannot adopt a stance of neutrality

Each day I must do my part to make amends
If our collective lives are to be worthwhile
Acknowledge the past and change the future
Is one way for me to reconcile

To continue living on Turtle Island
I must pledge to challenge my worldview
To explore, appreciate and understand
The true meaning of two canoes

Brian Sankarsingh is an accidental poet who, for many years, was standoffishly embroiled in social and political commentary; and who has now decided to maddeningly scream his message from whatever rooftop he can find. Sankarsingh is the author of two books A Sliver of a Chance, Insights and Observations of a Canadian Immigrant and The Human Condition, The Poet’s Perspective. You can reach him at Read other articles by Brian.