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Lessons From Saskatchewan

It’s been 72 hours since news of the horrific tragedy on a reservation in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan made the news. Like all similar incidents, I wait 72 hours to comment on the event, because the first information we receive after it happens  is almost always wrong.

A little background. I grew up in Canada, in the province of Alberta. However, I spent two years in Saskatchewan, and have friends within an hour’s drive of this incident. In western Canadian terms, that’s right next door. Canada is… big.  As i write this, 11 people are dead and 18 injured due to the actions of two brothers on a Native American reservation north of Saskatoon 10 people are dead and 18 injured due to the actions of two brothers on a Native American reservation north of Saskatoon.

Americans just don’t understand how big Canada really is. Saskatchewan is pretty much the same size as Texas, and it’s just one of four western provinces that are more or less the same size.

With all this empty space, you’d think that western Canadians would understand that all that empty space means that law enforcement just ain’t gonna be around when something bad happens, and in truth, there are some Canadians who understand this simple truth about living in today’s world.

However, this attitude is, by far, the exception and not the rule. Even though I learned to shoot by popping gophers on my uncle’s farm out on the prairie, the idea that the individual him or herself is the first responder to any incident is, for the most part, alien and strange to the people of Canada. Canadians TRUST the RCMP, even though, time and time again, the RCMP has proven themselves to be unworthy of that trust.

I was a bit of a gun nut when I lived up in Canada, and even though enjoyed shooting, I never saw a firearm as a means for personal defense. This continued for my forest few years living in America, but it ended when the potential for violence affecting my life became real and proximate.

Call it my wake up call or whatever you like, but I consider it my initiation into adulthood. I realized that it wasn’t the state who was there going to take care of me as a surrogate mother and make the bad men go away. Rather, it was my job to perform that (potentially) really unpleasant task. I was in charge of my safety, not someone else. That is both liberating and scary. It’s liberating because I gained the confidence to deal with whatever life could throw at me. It was scary in that I now understood just how much was actually (potentially) headed my way.

Let me say one thing right up front. I am not “victim blaming” here. My comments are directed at the politicians in Canada who have cultivated a culture of “We’re the government, and we’re here to protect you” rather than a culture of self-reliance and independence.

Maybe this incident will serve as a wake up call to the citizen of Canada. The government simply CANNOT be there all the time to keep you safe. It’s physically impossible. At some point, you‘re on your own.

That reality just made itself known to the residents of western Canada. Hopefully they will learn from this incident, and be a little more safe in the future.

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