Thursday, June 05, 2008

Truth? and Reconciliation?

Canada has launched a so called 'truth and reconciliation' committee into Canada's residential schools. I'm a little apprehensive. The last time I heard about the issue several years ago, Canadian government lawyers had agreed to pay natives compensation for 'cultural genocide' and stuck churches with half the bill. Many Anglican, United, and Catholic churches were closed outright to pay for the bill. Now that the settlements are being paid out, alcohol and drug abuse has spiked again on reservations.

Don't get me wrong, there were documented cases of abuse, and those people should be pitied, apologized to and compensated. But, let's set the record straight, the teachers and religious that relocated to the remote reservations left everything out of an act of love and service to the native people. They sacrificed themselves to give the natives a better life. The only reason churches were likely involved is that nobody else would go and make that sacrifice.

Lorne Gunter, says give the commission a chance, I guess we don't have a choice. But I sincerely hope that five years from now we will see a balanced report that recognizes the selfless acts of service and doesn't simply create another opportunity to reinforce the native sense of victimhood.

1 comment:

g said...

Chiefs, Elders, Clan Mothers, Warrior Societies and all Original People of Turtle Island,

Sago, Aaniin, Kii-te-daas a, Asujutidli, Tán’si, Kwé,

We, the Friends & Relatives of the Disappeared Children – Vancouver, Winnipeg & Toronto, have come together to address the Chiefs, the Elders, the Clan Mothers, the Warrior Societies, and all the First Peoples from across this great land of Turtle Island.

It is our hope to continue to raise awareness of the tens of thousands of Native children who died or who disappeared from the Canadian Indian Residential School system and never came home. We have been organizing co-ordinated events across Canada at the doors of the United, Anglican, and Catholic churches, including at their head offices, for several months now.

As many of you may know, we have been speaking to, and gathering the stories from many survivors of the Indian Residential Schools. We are not the first nor will we be the last to do this. There are currently, approximately 80 000 living survivors of Residential Schools. Eighty thousand stories that may be told to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, however, there are approximately another 50 000 stories that are still hidden from history.

It is primarily these remaining hidden stories that we are interested in. These are the stories belonging to the children that never returned home. Who were these children? What happened to these children? Did they die on the site of the school or at the school’s hospital? Did they run away? Were they successful in running away? Did they only get so far in their attempt to escape? We know that the death rate at these institutions was approximately 50% for about 40 years, due in a large part to the neglect of disease, but also to other horrendous forms of abuse. So, we are going to continue to ask the question … “What happened to the bodies of these children?” until we get answers and the full truth is known. Were they cremated or were they buried? Were they all buried on the site of the schools or the hospitals? We know from the stories of some survivors that burials did take place on site. Some children were sent home to die. Stories continue to pour in daily from across the country and are being documented by the FRD. If you have a story to tell or know of anyone who does, or if you know of other burial locations please call 1-888-265-1007.

What we are asking for now is help in protecting the sites that have already been identified. It has been suggested that we protect these sites with “Keepers of The Spirits” – Warrior Societies and others who may be able to take up that vigil – a vigil which some may wish to tie into National Action events. Recently we issued a press release (see attachment) identifying 28 possible burial locations of these children. That number has now grown to 35 locations, due to new eye-witness accounts. We would like to open a network of communication amongst all who are interested in pursuing truth and justice, and so we are willing to share this information. Together, we need to decide what should be done about any evidence that is forthcoming, as well as what should happen to the remains of the children.

Nya’:weh, Chii Miigwetch, Háw’aa, Quajanaq, Mikwec, Welálin,

Friends & Relatives of the Disappeared Children

-Vancouver – Winnipeg – Toronto -

1-888-265-1007 (toll-free in Canada)