Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Canada's National Shame and Penance

"It is a sin and redemption narrative, plain and simple [reason for Canada's and Australia's pained  narrative mea culpa as ferociously heartless colonizers of Canada and Australia]."
"A literary trope has thus been co-opted for Aboriginal history."
"Surely we need to be objective and dispassionate about our past -- recognizing in a rational way both our errors as well as our accomplishments."
"Anything else is just self-indulgent moralizing and fanciful garbage."
"Australians have a totally incorrect view of their own country because of a campaign meant to convince everyone that our treatment of Aboriginals has amounted to genocide."
Keith Windschuttle, Australian historian, author of The Fabrication of Aboriginal History

"Such a process runs parallel to the political need or constant and abject apologies from Ottawa. This is why the objectively sad tale of Chanie Wenjack has been made worse through the imaginative addition of Roman Catholic pedophiles, in the same way the remarkable experience of Molly and her sisters has been made more horrible by the creation of a monstrous genetic conspiracy. And while Australia had a head start in this imaginative shame fest, we're rapidly gaining ground."
"Much of what is said and done in the name of native reconciliation in Canada today amounts to a troubling misrepresentation of historical facts -- from last year's scrubbing of Sir Hector-Louis Langevin's name from a prominent building in Ottawa because he was 'an architect of Canada's residential school system' [he was the minister of Public Works responsible for constructing the necessary buildings, he did not create the policy], to the recent removal of Edward Cornwallis' statue in Halifax because the first governor of Nova Scotia once offered a cash bounty for Mi'kmaq scalps [in response to Mi'kmaq warriors scalping English settlers, paid for by the government of New France]."
"History is no longer the collection of facts bequeathed to us by those who went before. Today it is whatever story satisfies current sensitivities, regardless of what actually happened."
Peter Shawn Taylor, editor-at-large, Maclean's magazine 
Yukon Indigenous leaders went to Ottawa in February 1973, to convince the federal government to begin land claim negotiations. The delegation was led by Chief Elijah Smith, seen here standing in front, wearing a trench coat.
Yukon Indigenous leaders went to Ottawa in February 1973, to convince the federal government to begin land claim negotiations. The delegation was led by Chief Elijah Smith, seen here standing in front, wearing a trench coat. (Council of Yukon First Nations)

From the charges of 'genocide' against white European colonialists in Canada resulting from the 19th Century institution of Residential Schools in a social compact between the federal government in Canada and religious groups engaged in humanitarian work among First Nations tribes, where Aboriginal children were taken from their parents living on reserves and sent to schools set up by Anglican, Presbyterian and Roman Catholic bodies to give these children a practical education and teach them how to merge into mainstream society and be accountable for their personal interests, Canada has accepted its guilt and prostrated itself before its accusers.

Initially, many Aboriginals who had gone through that educational system had come forward to describe their personal experiences as invaluable to the advancement of their futures, in teaching them skills to look after themselves. Their perceptions were swiftly over ruled by many more coming forward claiming to have been oppressed and subjected to shaming, threats and violence, including sexual violence. Bringing to mind the cultural practise in Great Britain at a matching time in history when wealthy families sent their children to boarding schools to be taught and schooled in British traditions. Young men taken from their families from age 5 to young adulthood often spoke of being bullied and sexually maltreated, usually at the hands of older students.

In Canada, the Residential Schools were accused of cultural genocide, of depriving Indian children of their heritage, of alienating them from their history, their culture, the traditions and languages. Most of the modern ills of the current generation of Aboriginal children are laid at the feet of the larger earlier generations' experience of the Residential Schools, said to have traumatized those who attended, so that they had no idea how to raise children of their own and therefore neglected and abused them. When in point of fact many of the children who were taken to the residential school projects had been neglected and abused.

Now, when alcoholism, drug addiction, violence and crime occurs within Aboriginal communities it is largely attributed to the wholesale trauma experienced through the residential schools, communicated throughout the entire community in the creation of mass dysfunction. So a disinterest in guiding children and endowing them with values, encouraging their educations, is missing. The high suicide rate among young Aboriginals resulting from the general anomie and dysfunction of families and tribes in isolated traditional communities, all attributed to the generational effects of the residential schools.

The Assembly of First Nations' chiefs along with regional chiefs resists any initiative that would replace the Indian Act and allow First Nations like any other citizens of the country to be responsible for themselves, to integrate into the larger Canadian community, to be independent instead of relying on government financing of reserves, housing and a total way of life pretending to be traditional, in isolated areas of the country where the AFN insists that education and medical services should be equal to those found in any large  urban area making a mockery of the traditions, heritage and nationhood of First Nations.

Accusing white society of abusing and violating First Nations people rather than recognizing that among First Nations people themselves a dreadful situation exists of self-harm, of violence perpetrated one upon the other, of neglect of children's needs producing a cohort of children taken into public custodial protection far disproportionate to their numbers in society, equalling the disproportionate number of Aboriginals in prisons as a product of the incapacity of First Nations to govern themselves, socially, culturally and politically, but all is blamed on the white colonialist majority.

When Aboriginal youth commit crimes there is a certain degree of impunity where police hesitate to look too deeply into the proliferation of petty crimes knowing that charges of racism will rain down on their heads. When justice is meted out, consideration must be given to the deprivated backgrounds of First Nations perpetrators. Whenever white farmers in rural areas deplore the prevalence of thievery and damage to private property they too are charged with racism. And those charges stick. For to criticize First Nations is to court disparaging condemnation as a racist, effectively silencing those who would like to help effect a conciliatory agreement between the two solitudes.

Until First Nations groups decide to take responsibility for themselves and stop blaming everyone else for their misfortunes they will not face their own shortcomings. And it is long past time that they do so, for the furtherance of their own futures and those of their children.

Labels: , ,

Follow @rheytah Tweet