Daniel was a good boy. Having just turned 12, he looked forward to spending time with his grandparents.
Daniel’s parents moved to the city when he was a baby. Even though he was growing up in the city, his young heart was with the land where his grandparents trapped, hunted and fished.
He never actually lived in an isolated community — he simply visited. However, every time he was at his grandparents’ place he felt free. He felt he could run through the forest with only the company of his dog, and everything would be all right.
Daniel was also a strong boy. That’s the way his parents raised him. He was taught the language of the Cree. He could sing and dance to the beat of the drum.
His upbringing taught him to see the best in people and to do his best to help his fellow humans, and to be an example to his community. His wore his hair in two long braids. He was at an age where image is important, or least so he thought.
Every morning Daniel would carefully braid his hair. He was taught his hair was an extension of himself and the hair was a living entity and should be treated with respect.
“Respect your hair and you will respect yourself,” was advice that stood out.
One day, Daniel’s grandparents were planning a trip into the small town which was closest to the area where his grandparents homesteaded.
When they reached the small town, Daniel decided he would check out the community. He spotted other First Nations youth hanging around the local convenience store.
“Hey, check out Pippy Longstocking,” remarked one of the boys, referring to Daniel’s braids.
Daniel looked around and saw none of the other boys had braids. In fact, some had blue and pink hair.
After a few more remarks, Daniel decided to head back to his grandparents’ vehicle.
He sat silently all the way back to the homestead. After supper his grandfather asked him if he wanted to go for a walk. He always enjoyed private time with his grandfather, but this time he didn’t feel like going for a walk.
Finally, after a little persuading, he put on his light jacket and headed for the door. “What’s on your mind?” his grandfather asked as they slowly walked by the river.
Daniel explained he was hurt by the comments that were made by the other young people.
“Maybe if I cut my hair and coloured it orange, I would fit in,” he said.
He could see a smile form on his grandfather’s face.
“Do you see that eagle up there?” his grandfather asked.
He looked to the sky, but couldn’t see the eagle. He then looked at his grandfather’s finger, to see where he was pointing, but still couldn’t see anything.
“You see, Daniel,” his grandfather said, “you are like those who look at the pointing finger and not opening your heart to the beauty of the eagle.”
Once again, without looking at the pointing finger, Daniel looked to the sky and there he saw the eagle.
Since March 21 is the International Day to Eliminate Racism, I thought the story of Daniel was appropriate. Racism is there, even in our own ranks.
The United Nations declared March 21 as the day to eliminate racism after 69 people were killed in a 1960 peaceful demonstration protesting South Africa’s apartheid laws. I realize it’s only one day, but it could be the day when someone will stop looking at the finger that points.