Sunday, March 30, 2014

Truth and Reconciliation Commission

   The last Truth and Reconciliation session is being held in Edmonton , Alberta this week.

    Canada has a long history of an  Indian Residential School system. There were many very negative practices that went on in this system. The government set up a system that let churches set up residential schools. The government was happy with this system as they didn't want to organize it themselves. Churches received some government grants.

    First, the Indian children for the most part were taken away from their parents without permission. Worse than that many of the children were taken from their families by force...force of law. Families were split and isolated. Some kids didn't get back to their parents for years. They would be taken back to where they were picked up and the parents had moved on. Children missed their parents terribly and parents missed their kids.

   When the children were away they did not use their own language and did not learn their culture. Stress? You better believe it.

    Second, the education system was designed to strip the Indians of their language and culture. Students were not allowed to use their own language. They didn't know English so it was traumatizing as little communication could take place.. They were told that their traditions were evil. 

    Third, churches ran the residential schools. The government more or less farmed out the education system. They were very happy to have the churches  take on educational  responsibility. What was in it for the churches? Souls! The churches wanted members.

     Fourth , physical and sexual abuse was rampant in these institutions. Kids were horribly scarred from these experiences.

    As a result of the Residential school system, a culture and several generations of Indians were horribly scarred and has resulted in major social problems today.

    To be fair there were schools that were better than average and there were some kids who received a good education and were proud of it.

   Now Prime minister Steven Harper, made an apology on behalf of the government for the wrongs of the Indian Residential School system and then set up the truth and reconciliation commission. The idea was that people would tell their stories and a healing process would begin.

    Much good has come of the truth and reconciliation commission , but their is a glaring omission. The Canadian government has thousands of documents related to Indian Residential schools. The government would not release the documents. So 50% of the truth has not been  told. This is sad and the commission will be only partly successful. It's sad that our government made a apology that has been weakened because they would not release documents and tell their part of the truth.

    It was important that we get these things right and we didn't. So, much more work will have to be done.

    I taught in a government residential school. I was in the residence many times. I will never forget going into a room where 80 little boys were sleeping on cots. It was dreadful to think that these kids were on their own and far from home and family.

    I am somewhat happy for the good that has come out of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission but far more disappointed for what it didn't do.

26 comments:

  1. How awful, Red. I am glad that the Canadian government is taking some steps toward righting those wrongs. I always wonder what the reason was for all that disruption back then. So very sad.

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    1. The reason was that the Indians were in the way and the government wanted them out of the way so they could settle the country and make lots of money.

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  2. We did the same in Africa and called our mistake a third world

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    1. It was colonialism in both places.

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  3. religion can do such wonderful things - and such terribly cruel things. heartbreaking to think what we humans inflicted on this wonderful culture of souls.

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    1. Great comment on the religions.

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  4. We did the same here in some parts of our country, the USA. Christian churches worldwide were notorious for stomping on the cultures and rights of what they considered to be "heathens". And it was convenient for governments to let them do it, to keep those "others' under control.
    Let the truth be told.

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    1. You have hit the nail on the head here. We still use the same methods when we want something.

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  5. This is interesting and sad, but we in the States can't hold our heads high when it comes to our treatment of native citizens.

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    1. We wee both in the same game .

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  6. This is a terrible, terrible part of our country's history. Those documents should be released...100%. They belong to the people.

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    1. Release them and them and it's part of the truth on the part of the government.

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  7. So very sad that churches were part of such acts.

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  8. How sad that the people in charge of our Country, the people making the decisions made some really bad ones and those reflect on all Canadians. Shouldn't someone else be in charge that is more like the true nature of each and every Canadian - I cannot ever see the "government" opening up and telling the truth or jeopardizing themselves over anything. Sad how our Native Peoples have suffered so badly.

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    1. Voting is the only thing that will cure the mess we're in right now.

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  9. You really nailed it, Red. Excellent summary. When we do wrong, we do right when we know better.
    There is no comfort in the knowledge that colonisation did this to native peoples all around the world.

    PM Harper isn't interested in truth. He only barrels forward hoping to be perceived to be doing right. It is with much shame that I recognize this terrible wrong.

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    1. This post was for me. I had to say these things for myself.

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  10. I have seen some of the squallor and filth that some of native children live in today just a few miles from our home. Which is the worst of the evils letting them be with their parents or in a school where they have a chance at an education, get health care and a warm dry place to sleep. I don't like either of those choices, the Natives here live and think only for today...do I have enough food liquor and drugs for today? They have no want to think about tomorrow. Sad. :(

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    1. What you're describing is an altogether too common sight. We have to look at some of the causes and then maybe there will be a solution. There are many examples of aboriginal people around the world who are not doing well as their land was taken from them.

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  11. Red it's sad to hear the stories of not only those who attended the RSS but from those who are the offspring of those who were in attendance. Historical and intergenerational trauma has caused astronomical premature deaths, addiction, jail sentences, and the list goes on. I believe the govt. should be held totally accountable and ALL documents must be released. It's only recently we've leaned of the electric chair which was used to amuse those who worked at the schools, young children, some as young as 6 and possibly younger, were strapped into the electric chair and zapped for no reason other than entertainment purposes. My heart goes out to each and everyone who has had to, and continues, to suffer due to the atrocities the Canadian government has inflicted upon my peoples, a Nation I was once ashamed to admit I was a part of. Today I take pride in my ancestry, I walk with my head proud and my heart pure and I'm doing everything I possibly can to support and advocate for all my relations.

    Thank you for sharing your insightful thoughts, experience and wisdom.

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    1. Red here's a link which may interest you. It's titled Massive Deaths of Aboriginal Children in Canada is Finally Admitted.

      http://truthcdm.com/archives/465

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    2. What I would hope it that many more people become s proud as you are.

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  12. I had to go back and verify that it was the Canadian government you were writing about, not the US. As everyone knows, we have a long and sad history ourselves of how we treated Native Americans.

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    1. Marty there are immense parallels between the US, Canada and Australian govts. and the assimilation procedures which were carried out. I read somewhere that the residential schools in Canada were designed after the boarding schools in the States and it's sad to even think the government could commit genocidal acts against Indigenous peoples but it's all coming out now and it's horrific and appalling.

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  13. I am hoping at some point the people of this land will be able to move on from the wrongdoings of the past, but I don't think it will happen without everyone in our country working together to right the wrongs and find solutions. The apologies were necessary, but now the real work must begin on both sides. This is probably the most important issue in our country today.

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  14. I am saddened. I didn't realise that was the situation in Canada although I'm aware of it being the situation in many other countries.

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