The Canvas Man

Imagine a blank canvas.

Skillfully, or clumsily, as you will, cut out the frame of a man. Now, pull him free from the canvas.This man now exists in the world, much like you or anyone else really. He has plans and goals, hopes and dreams, triumphs and failures. He has to provide for himself and for those he loves.

This blank canvas man has no history. No backstory. No origin. He has had no previous consideration for those aspects of life. They have never been important.

As he travels through his life, he encounters people who have history. These people have tales they can recount of their ancestors, of their family exploits, where they came from and notable family members.

The blank canvas man begins to ponder where he comes from.He looks at himself. He notices that he is native. An aboriginal. An Indian. He is proud of this.

He wonders, where is he from? He talks to some who might know. They tell him of the place he was born, the house he lived in, the school he was educated in. He goes to those places, to try and remember.The hospital he was born in is gone. The house he was raised in is gone. The school he was educated is gone. Everything gone. Did the blank canvas man spring into this world fully grown? He cannot answer that, but it seems unlikely. Where was his past?

He goes to places of higher learning. He leans academically that once, a long time ago, strangers came to the land of his ancestors and took that land, by force.Divine Right, the strangers called it. He also learned, to his horror, that the strangers overpowered his ancestors, and forced them to leave their land. They were then forced to live on different land, with different rules.They were no longer allowed to practice their traditions. They were no longer allowed to leave the land they were given. They were no longer allowed to speak their own language. Then, the strangers came for the children. So many children were taken. Not nearly as many returned. The parents wept. The man’s heart broke from the sorrow.

The children who returned were changed. Different. Broken. They could no longer speak the language of their parents. They no longer knew the ways of their ancestors. They only knew the ways of the strangers, and then, only by rote.He learns that the broken children grew up to be broken adults. Some were able to recover, and heal. Others were not. The man learns that this is where he comes from. He learns that his parents were taken from their family and subjected to all manner of “education”. When they returned, they simply had nothing in them to teach. He was essentially starting off anew.

The blank canvas man learns all of this and more. He learns that, despite the tragedy, or perhaps because of it, his people, all of the people involved really, have struggled to recover the identity stolen from them. Some have been very successful. He finds this inspiring. The blank canvas man determines to learn, and cover his own canvas with the knowledge he has discovered. Each fact splashes across his canvas, giving him color. Giving him life. The no longer blank canvas man discovers his greatest joy: that the colors on his canvas can be read by those around him. The readings give thought and happiness to others. He has, through his struggles, and the struggles of others like him, found a way in the world.

It was a beginning.

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