Charlie Max Lincoln lives in the Nass Valley village of Gingolx and was a member of a group told to stop drumming while at an April 6 All Native Basketball Tournament game held at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre in Prince Rupert.
Here is his story.
I’m a survivor of the Port Alberni Indian Residential School. They took my childhood from me, the language of the land. We were punished every day for speaking our language. We even went to the hills to speak and sing our songs along with our brothers from the Gitxsan Nation. We were punished for that.
I’m that age now, the last leg. My friends have taken their journey. I’m here on guard for what we have left.
The chiefs attended the game having no knowledge of the restrictions of the all native tournament.
We instructed everyone that there was to be no singing or drumming during the game. Before the game, half time and the end of the game was the only time we sang or drummed.
I asked an official if we were interfering and she said no.
“Not in any way and we thank you for stopping as the game started. I kind of like and enjoy it. It pulls people together,” she said.
But then we were told the all native committee has forbidden all drumming and singing and they approached us and said that if we did not stop, we would be escorted out.
Are we victims again of discrimination and have we lost the concept of our renaissance — our culture, our language, our lifestyle, our way of life?
My message to the all native committee members is that your syndrome is exactly like the residential school syndrome. I don’t need it in my life again.
My encouragement to you is to focus on clearing your generational trauma. You are family to us. Please do not divide us.
But these are your games and your rules. I am not going to challenge it in any way but you are misrepresenting the traditions and values you work for.
I encourage you to honour our traditional way. We tell our youth if you don’t fight for what you want, then don’t cry for what you’ve lost.
We’re in 2022. Not the 1800s.
We were restricted from potlatches, totem poles, regalia, drums, masks, canoes — burned for the sake of Christianity.
For the people that put the restrictions on singing and drumming at the tournament, they have lost the concept of aboriginal value. The residential school syndrome is back in our lives.
I don’t think it is very hard to tell groups not to drum during a game.
History is not there for us to like or dislike. It’s there for us to learn from. If it offends you, even better because you are less likely to repeat it. It is not yours to erase. It belongs to all of us.
I grew up with the strength that I know of being a residential school survivor.
I didn’t want my brothers to know I broke down singing one song. I even lied to them. I tried to sing, but I lost it.
Emotional memories were very strong. I don’t want that feeling of the residential school syndrome in my life again. Not in this life time.
Editor’s note: Tournament organizers have said there is a rule prohibiting singing and drumming but have declined further comment.