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Napish offers message of unity at DAARN Living Library

Chris Marchand

Chris Marchand served as editor of the Dryden Observer from August 2009 to April 2018.
Former Treaty 3 Tribal Chief and Residential School Survivor Roy Napish offered his perspective on breaking down barriers between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Northwestern Ontario.     Photo by Michael Christianson

By Michael Christianson

Former Treaty 3 Tribal Chief and residential school survivor Roy Napish brought his insight and wisdom to last week’s Dryden Area Anti Racism Network (DAARN) Living Library talk.

Napish delivered teachings as well as memories from his own experiences during the hour-long program.

He recalled visiting Dryden when he was young and being embarrassed of his mother, he would walk ahead of her or try not to be seen with her. All children go through a similar part of their life but Napish recalled it was due to the racism and stigma he felt being native in the city that he wanted to distance himself from her to appear less indigenous.

Napish went into many teachings from Anishinaabe culture that connected a thread through all his stories and experiences.

He laughed when he recalled a former mayor of Dryden who still calls Napish his ‘favourite Indian’ sometimes rather vocally in public. Napish’s reply, ‘How is my favourite white man?’ He says that it is better when we can joke about these contentious issues and not take the divides that exist too seriously.

“Us native people we can be approached. We feel honoured when non-native people approach us and want to know more about who we are and our culture,” said Napish. “I feel right now, on both sides, we don’t talk to each other or say hello even if we don’t know each other, or as I said here a smile, a smile goes a long ways. To learn from each other and learn to live side by side to create a better society for future generations.”

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