So if I can, just two or three real quick messages. Students, these messages are for you.
You are the best generation the world has ever seen, whether or not you know it. If you google it, which is where we get most of our information, death by war, terrorism, and violence.
When you look at TV and you see all of the destruction and some of the horrific things happening, especially if you think of Basel's home state of Syria, just outside of Damascus if you, if you google it Basel, since the inception of our species, death by war, violence and terrorism has always always been on the decline.
And do you want to know why? It's because every generation we get better.
Kids you're better than your teachers generation, they are better than mine, and I'm better than my parents. Every year we're getting better because we're getting smarter.
And students, to give you a real quick example, when I was your age I would roll down the window of my dad's car in Saskatchewan, take an empty coke bottle, fling it over the roof into the ditch.
We all did it. Everybody did. Just fling it into the ditch.
If I did that today my 20-year-old daughter would amputate my arm at the elbow and feed it to my dogs. I'm not kidding. You don't do that.
I would sit in the parking lot of London Drugs and I would see somebody take an ashtray full of butts and empty it right out in the middle of the parking lot. Everybody did it.
If somebody did that today a grade eight girl would walk by and say, "You, sir, are a pig." You wouldn't accept that because this is your environment.
If I'm brushing my teeth too long my daughter turns off the tap and she says, "Papa, do you know how many people could use the water you're wasting?" I say sorry.
If I'm in the shower too long, she opens the door and she says "water waster" and I say shut up. I am so sick of her being good.
But kids it's not just the environment. Can I tell you a real quick thing that happened to me a few months ago.
I went to a school in Toronto where I was supposed to speak to the kids about the sacred teachings and when I got there, there were four students on stage representing the LGBTQ community. And they sat there and they talked about the challenges they faced in their school. And there were about 200 students in the middle school audience.
And I watched and I didn't listen to what they said. You know what I did? I looked at you the audience and what I saw were 200 kids that weren't judging these students based on their sexual orientation or the colour of their skin or how much money their mom or dad had or their academic standing. They were completely open to who these children were and I thought, "Come on Lord, let me be more like these kids."
Students, you rock! When I grow up I want to be just like you.
That's the first thing. Part two to this. Which is why you all deserve to hear this.
Students I'm a Metis. When I was a little boy I had a grandma, my great grandma was a nun and she used to touch my cheeks, and she'd say "Mon beau petit Métis, mon beau petit Métis." And I only said with my mom once because she gave me a shot. You didn't want to be Metis.
And, oh you didn't see the history, but the history of being Metis wasn't. So I've done some research and I've found that I'm Metis and I've gone back to my Indigenous roots because I want to know where I come from so I know where I'm going.
Kids, let me share this with you and then I'll be able to give you a book that's very appropriate.
Nobody ever told me. Kids, you've got a special gift. Every one of you is a special gift. And in North American society we teach you that you’re—Bill are you there? Of course, you said that Bill. You said that you can't know, you can't know where you're going if you don't know where you come from. It's so true.
And so I went looking and it turns out that my grandpa was an Ojibwe from Wisconsin and the reason I'm 6 foot 2 is because his wife was Osage. It's just so right.
Alright kids, go back a bit. Where was I? Bill threw me off. I think I was going to say there's a message you should know.
In our society we teach you that if you're gonna succeed you have to have this academic standing and ideally you'll have a BA, a master's degree, a doctoral degree. We say to you, "work really hard and if you do you can have this academic position and you can get these jobs. You can live in Rosemont, you can drive a Mercedes Benz."
And I want all of you to know, kids, that's not the way you should live your life. Don't build your life on ego, never build your life on money, but rather build your life on the gift God gave you because every one of you has something special.
And kids, nobody told me what my gift was. You know what I got in trouble for in school? Talking.
I remember my kindergarten teacher looking at me, my kindergarten teacher. Rémi, toi aussi? Okay, okay here we go. All six kids are raising their arms saying "yeah, yeah, me."
Kids, my kindergarten teacher looked at me and she said, "Bouchard, veux-tu te taire!" Bouchard, do you want to stop talking! I was four years old. I remember looking her saying "non ma soeur."
And I got a shot and then when I got home, she had telephoned my papa and has told on me. And he was waiting for me to give me another lickin'. I'm not kidding.
Grade 4, the nun looked at me and she said "Bouchard, ta yeule." Oh non, pardon "Bouchard, tais-toi." And that's the equivalent of shut up or you shut your mouth. And I remember saying fine.
In grade nine a priest looked at me and said "Bouchard, ta yeule." Ok, ça, c’est pas beau. Ta yeule is your mouth but it's not the mouth of a human being, it's a mouth of an animal. And I remember looking at that priest saying. "aren't you a nice role model?"
Not one person ever told me what my gift was.
Kids, you know how old I was when I figured out? I was 45 years old.
I was a school principal in West Vancouver and I went home for dinner with Vicky and I said, "Vicky, I'm doing the wrong job. God, my Creator, gave me the gift of Raven." A family of crows is called a murder, a family of Ravens is called a storytelling.
All I've ever wanted to do was tell stories, and kids, my wife said, "David you're an awesome principal." I said, "but God didn't make me a principal, honey. God made me a storyteller."
And she said, "honey, you're gonna retire in five years and you can tell all the stories you want." And I said, "I just left the school board office, honey. I quit my job." Kids, I know what I am.
Very quickly because shortly, when you're presented with your awards, you're gonna be given one of my books. I want you to know it's called "The Seven Sacred Teachings." It's in English. Il est en français évidemment, ma langue maternelle, et c’est moi qui l’ai écrit. And it's in Ojibwe, it's Slavey, Swampy Cree.
Download it and you can come to learn very quickly that if you go outside, as I do as a Metis men, and you look at the Sun, do you know what you learn? It's big and we're small. It's powerful and we're weak.
And the first of the seven teachings, not only here in Canada, but also in China and in Africa, is humility. Like wolf, you'll bow your head. You'll bow your head because you were born humble. Not one of you came out of your mother's womb and looked at the world and said, "I'm gonna rock this place."
Like me, you came out of your mama and you looked around and you said, "woaaahhh."
You are born under the sun. You're born in humility. And for us as Indigenous people there's one plant that we associate with humility and it's sweet grass.
And why do we associate with humility? Because it's the hair of Mother Earth. We call her Mother Earth because, kids, we come from her and when we die, we go back to her. Maman puis papa sont retournés à elle. My little girl will go back to her.
She gives us life. But it's not just us people, she gives life to the tree and to the bear and to the wolf. That's why we're all related. That's why we have to treat each other as one family.
Okay, students, you're born there. When the Sun is at its zenith, then you have to be like Raven, you have to be honest with yourself. What gift did God give you?
Build your life on your gift. And already, the fact that you're here, you've got a pretty good idea what your gift is. And there's no hiding. You have to use those talents you have and build your life around it.
Whether or not you make a fortune matters not because someday you'll be facing creator eye to eye and he'll throw his arm over your shoulder and he'll say, as he will to me, "David, did you use the gift I gave you?"
And I'm gonna say, "Creator, I did and I wanted to thank you for making me a storyteller, but you also gave me a learning disability, I'm Dyslexic, and I was always in trouble at school. Did you ever think about making me a hockey player? They make a ton of money, I loved hockey."
And you know what Creator is gonna say to me he's gonna say, "Bouchard, shut up.
Why do I say that? I was created in his likeness and for that I will be eternally grateful.
Colleagues, thank you for sharing this time with the kids and with me. You six, un grand bravo, Félicitations!
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