Advice From Non Participants: Part Two (motherhood mondays came late again this week)

May 11, 2015


If you are a friend of mine on facebook, you may have noticed that I posted a question about the origin story of the Hudson's Bay Blanket.  Specifically, with regards to it being used as a to spread a disease like smallpox or cholera for biological weaponry against the First Nations.  The reason I was so interested in this particular bit of information is unfortunately not my insatiable craving for historical knowledge.  You see, I had an encounter with a stranger that left me perplexed, to say the least. An older woman who stopped me in front of a local grocery store where I was pushing my daughter in her stroller.  The blanket I use to cover her feet and insulate her from the chilly winds that still blow in the spring here in Victoria, is one that my mom spent hours and hours knitting just for her.  I picked out the pattern myself in the Hudson Bay colors.  Because I can't afford the 125$ for a an actual HBC blanket and family made items carry significance and warmth beyond just the fibres that make up the piece, this blanket is dear to me.  
So the woman who looked to be in her 60's driving her electric scooter,
wheeled up to me, pointing at my daughter.  I thought perhaps she was going to ask for money or tell me that a shoe had fallen onto the ground; instead she launched into a story of how 'that blanket' was used 100 years ago by europeans to spread cholera to the First Nations.  That it was a "genocide blanket" which is why we "don't use it anymore".  My thoughts immediately went to the upscale shop downtown that is literally filled, top to bottom, with blankets, bags, socks and t shirts all branded with these iconic stripes.  They represent what I was taught to be a proud part of our heritage as Canadians.  The traders building creating a blanket so warm and valuable because it could weather even the harshest of northern winters, making it a trademark.  Genocide blanket?  How could this be a thing that no one talks about?  Surely people wouldn't be advertising something that was so blatantly offensive.  There aren't mainstream stores selling swastika t shirts, socks and stroller blankets are there?
Long story short: I politely thanked the woman, who had clearly become upset toward the end of her spiel, and said I would look into it.  But inside, I felt a little sick.
Even though I took great care to make sure I wasn't a terrible person in my choice of blanket design and that, in fact, the diseases were spread completely by accident and not as a war tactic as far as we know for sure.  My feelings for my blanket remain the same.  I love it.  But I am disappointed that false information has led to me feeling a small pang of guilt and weirdness every time I look at it.
My question at the end of this is that, even though this isn't a parenting intervention, why do complete strangers criticize the choices of others, taking them off guard and making them feel small?

Feel absolutely free to die of the cuteness.  I miss my teeny baby so much it hurts.

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2 comments

  1. I am sorry that lady spoiled any good feelings toward your blanket. She was a jerk. I love your blanket. I was jealous of it from the moment I heard your mom was making it. It's lovely. Don't let anyone let you think otherwise.

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  2. It almost makes me love it more, just because she was a weirdo. But I am still freaked out taking my stroller to Fairway... How awkward if I run into her again?

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