For the last few months Canada has been discussed all over the world. This time not because of its beautiful nature, openness to immigrants, progressive law or polite people. Unfortunately, the uncovering of hundreds of unmarked graves on several residential school grounds brought back horrid stories of the infamous forced assimilation system organized by the government and run by churches – residential schools for indigenous children, which existed for 150 years. We, Canadians, have known – or at least should have known – about it since at least 2015, when the Truth and Reconciliation Commission finished its 6 years of meticulous work – collecting reports of 7000 indigenous residential school survivors, and filed its chilling report with 94 recommendations, calling the system “cultural genocide”. Well, somehow, many Canadians knew very little.
I have written a lot about the residential schools in “Gazeta”, of which I”m the editor in chief as well as talked about it to many television and media outlets in Poland, where there is a lot of interest in this matter, especially after Joanna Gierak Onoszko published her award winning book “27 deaths of Toby Obed” (my interview with her is in Episode 71 and the story is here: Canada’s dark past resonates with Poles in Poland.
Here in Canada we have a historian and educator who has been involved in work with indigenous people for over half a century – Zig Misiak, whom I interviewed for Polcast 5 years ago. Few people have such deep knowledge of the history and present situation of First Nations peoples. Zig Misiak arrived in Canada as a three year old World War Two baby refugee. Since then he has devoted his life to studying and promoting g the history of First Nations.
He has been awarded many recognitions, including two medals from the Governor General and is an award winning author of many books and the only curriculum guide on First Nations history and culture used in hundreds of schools.
Zig often talks about his Polish heritage and has supported Polish War Veterans on many levels. Over the years he has found amazing relationships between Poles and First Nations people.
Zig is also a highly regarded historic re-enactor portraying the Butler’s Rangers of the American Revolution and Caldwell’s Ranger during the War of 1812.
POLcast first interview with Zig Misiak – Episode 5
POLcast story of Zig Misiak “Zig Misiak – Polish roots and First Nations passion”