An open letter to the Right Honorable Jody Wilson-Raybold from a descendant of Sam Steele

Firstly Madame Wilson-Raybold, allow me to express my admiration and deep gratitude for the principled example you have given us all as a Member of Parliament.

My name is William Ray. I am the son of Joan (Steele) Ray. The first of our ancestors, Samuel Steele, arrived here in 1758 and defeated the French on the plains of Abraham. He did well in battle and was made a Colonel and military adjacent to the Lord Amherst first governor of Québec. His nephew Elm Steele arrived to occupy land granted him by the crown for his service as a ships surgeon aboard the HMS Victory, flagship of Lord Nelson when he sailed against the Spanish off the cape of Trafalgar. He had a family here and named his oldest son after his nephew Samuel. That man would become Sam Steele of the Northwest Mounted Police.

I write you to express my absolute and iron determination to abrogate section 91(24) of the Constitution Act of 1876 in my lifetime. In this odious colonial legislation a German woman gave my Nation in perpetuity, in effect me and my son after me, sovereignty over “Indians” and “Indian Lands”. I reject this sovereignty for myself my son and my Nation. I am one of the last living descendants of the Steele family and I have read the mans journals, and so have always known that it was our intent to “wipe their culture from the face of the earth.” I have felt the burden of this debt owed by my family to your Nations all my life.

We believed that the only way to inhabit this place was to dominate your people. We were wrong, this never had to be the way. We could have built instead something unique on this earth, and been a shining example to all the world of what can be. I believe this possibility is still worth reaching for, and because of the incredible patient wisdom of your people, reachable. I offer you my unconditional assistance in making this a reality. I believe I can use the truth of the actions of my iconic ancestor and my own status as a highly decorated peacekeeping veteran to convince my community that this is the only honourable way forward for all of us.

I am intent on doing this not to lessen the burden I feel, but so that my son and all the children of this nation, yours and ours, will never know it. When they learn of the sorrow of our shared history they will learn that it was ended. Because for one human to hold another in chains imprisons both. The human who holds the chain will forever be shackled by the moral rot of their action. And as we have seen, they will leave this dark inheritance for their children. It is I think fitting that I come with the hammer and the tongs and the fires of the forge to break the chains my ancestor helped forge, and that to this hour imprison us all.

With Respect,
William Ray

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