As I was sitting in class, we discussed what it meant to occupy a place throughout history and how this could result in certain individuals, such as Indigenous people, having more knowledge about the land than those who arrived later in the colonial context. During this discussion, it got me thinking how strange it is that I’m not native to this land. Of course, as someone who enjoys hunting and fishing, I feel very attached to this land in Ontario and I could never imagine myself being anywhere else. All of my ancestors left France and sailed to Canada in the 1600s. Would that make me native to France? I’m not sure, but it’s crazy to think that if my descendants hadn’t sailed to Canada, I would possibly be a proud French from France right now. This feeling of confusion also arises when I’m in the bush in the winter or gone ice fishing with my boyfriend, who is Anishinaabe/ First Nations, and I’m freezing my toes off while he’s perfectly fine. It gets me thinking how, realistically, my ancestors have only been in North America for about 350 years, which, on the scale of evolution, is nearly nothing! My body has not adapted fully to this climate, and I find that extremely humbling since it reminds me that we are all still visitors on Turtle Island, now known as Canada.
As a result, next summer, my sister and I will embark on a journey to France to trace back our lineage and origins. It will be interesting to explore what we possibly would have become if it wasn’t for Antoine Pépin dit Lachance, our great great great (I’m not even sure) grandfather who travelled across the Atlantic in 1652 to settle in Canada. As I will learn more about myself and my origins, I hope it will also serve as a reminder to others that we are all still visitors here, and need to respect the land and the people who identify their ancestry with the original inhabitants of Canada.