Growing up Without my Identity: We Need to be Heard

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My name is Damon Jones and I am a result of this whole residential school topic. I didn’t attend one of those torture chambers, I grew up with a loving family who truly cares about me but I also grew up without my identity.

I am born Hesquiaht First Nations but I was raised “white”, I know that sounds racist but it’s accurate. I’ve had friends tell me that they see me as white and I take offence to that. It just goes to show how far my identity has been stolen from me. I look in the mirror and there are times I don’t know who I’m looking at. There is something inside of me that is crying to get out and I don’t know how to release it.

When I was a young boy, I first got introduced to racism in elementary school. They called me “brown cow” and it affected me deeply. Colour of skin wasn’t an issue to me but it was to them. I often wondered why people had so much hate ingrained into them but I know now that it was taught and learned. No one is born with hate in their hearts.

I never really got accepted to any group once I got into high school. We lived in a small town with reserves all around us and I thought maybe after we moved that I could belong somewhere but the natives never accepted me into their culture because I was adopted and raised by white people. At least the young natives didn’t. I didn’t stick around long enough to know the elders. I just thought that’s how my life was. An outcast. So I developed substance abuse issues and I was angry all the time. Drugs didn’t care about the colour of my skin.

After a while, I just started accepting the racist comments and shrugged them off as ignorance. Which it truly was, I’m sure that most people didn’t even realize they were being racist but this is your wake up call. We are people too. We deserve to be heard and respected. The things I’ve went through, I’ve kept to myself and I know it’s poisoning me inside. So now I’m talking. I’m saying the things I thought I wasn’t allowed to say. I cry as I write this because I am still very very fucking angry and I don’t want to be angry anymore. It’s time for change. I love you all.

This is just a part of my story, thank you for listening.

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