Thursday, June 12, 2008

Canada's Confession and Challenge

It would astonish no one if the public apology delivered by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to the aboriginal children was found unimpressive by his target recipients. For how can one relate to a confession when no recollection of the sin that deprived them the soul of their beings exists? What connection could the apology possibly make if the emotions that bind them to their past have been methodically and brutally erased? How can words, consoling as they may be, resurrect the death of an inner spirit of life long replaced by an overpowering emptiness?

In making the apology on behalf of his country, PM Harper acknowledges one of the most disgraceful periods in its history, where the policy of fostering aboriginal autonomy was replaced by aboriginal assimilation into mainstream Canadian society. By providing state funding
in 1874 to schools run by missionaries, the policy used the extension work of the Churches in education to carry out the assimilation program. It was an unfeeling policy wrapped in a convoluted sense of charity, founded on racial discrimination, social inferiority, and human inequality. Between the 19th century till the 1970's 150,000 aboriginal children were taken from their homes and forced into residential schools where they were treated to a daily dose of physical, verbal, psychological and sexual abuse; aside from starvation and cultural, spiritual, familial and community deprivation.

The goal was to Christianise the aboriginal children by erasing all traces of their aboriginal links, with the objective that in 2 generations, the system would end the Indian problem. There were boasts that the system "would kill the Indian in the child". The "child" after several years of "study," recognized a difference with the white teachers but could not express what it was, since the concepts that made the distinctions were obliterated. The aboriginal children knew the treatment they received was unacceptable but were powerless to oppose. They saw the anger, hatred, cruelty, disdain and malice their teachers had for them, and experienced all the violations towards their persons; and discerned that they could never be accepted as equals by these "mentors". They left the schools no longer Indians, but neither were they Canadians. They were unacceptable to the whites, yet unrecognizable to their tribes. They became displaced entities, with no past, no future, and no soul.

Their offspring as well as their grandchildren have not learned about their culture since they could not teach what they couldn't remember, even their own language. The apology comes with a package of settlements but the damage cannot be priced. The Churches have apologized for their role since the 1980's t
hrough the 1990's, and the government has admitted its profound failure in protecting them. But the challenge to Canada is to create a conscious awareness of the history of the aboriginal people among its citizens, and to reverse the general attitude of indifference regarding this event. More importantly, it should strengthen its relationship with the aborigines that is currently overwhelmed by mistrust and misunderstanding. The apology is an essential first step, but the long process of healing may take two generations to transpire.

The aboriginals have been in Canada for 30,000 years. With this first step and another 200 years, perhaps they can find their spirits and reunite with their souls.



Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

America has yet to apologize for their treatment of the Native Americans. Is there a chance in hell that George Bush will do this? Would Barack Obama or John McCain consider an apology to these people?

And they have the nerve to sing "land of the free and the home of the brave" when they are not even courageous enough to admit their horrendous policies against these people.

BillyWarhol said...

Awesome Post*

As the 1 Lady said no amount of $$$ will make up for what was taken away from her in those years*


Artbeat said...

Durano you certainly have a way with words. As a South African I can understand exactly where you are coming from.

Unfortunately our country became the "whipping boy" of the rest of the western world for decades due to our apartheid regimes evil policies.

The country has now changed and we whites are now the minority group. Whilst I firmly believe the change is for the good the new goverment has however implimented certain laws that clearly discriminate against the white minority.

And yes I agree many of the western countries who participated in enforcing sanctions on our country have never apologised for their own racial atrocities, let alone made reparation to those whose culture they tried to destroy because they did not fit the european image.

Whilst Canada cannot undo their past "acknowlegement" is the first step in the slow process of healing and reconcilliation.

Just maybe they will set an example to their big brother neighbour.

Kim said...

sounds just like the story of the plight of our aboriginals over here...
leaves me speechless Durano!!
and then there is the history in Ireland - young girls committed to convent asylums for life !!!
for "crimes" too ridiculous to mention..
religion has a lot to answer for !!
human kindness does not exist in these evil wrongdoers :(

Tapline said...

Brad, Boy, you sure know how to stir comments......Although, I cannot speak for Canada, I do know that many Native Americans fled to Canada from the United States. And I think later than the States Canada had areas or reservation as did we. The Native Americans became, as in the US Nations within Nations. I know that in the US individual States have paid both in land and monitarily to some individual nations and they still remain as Nations within Nations and as such have rights only they possess. Unless the laws have changed, If an Indian is arrested by the local police they should notify the individuals nation immediately. As I am of part Indian. I feel I have a right also to speak of the racial hatred and bigetry I witnessed in my youth against my mother bein young I didn't understand why some people were hurtful. Mic Mac's traveled to Maine from Canada every summer to harvest Blueberries, I don't know but they still do. My niece and her children still live on reservations first in Maine then to Florida, She likes it...I don't think I would, however isn't it time to let some of this go?...I ramble again....stay well

A. said...

I feel that religion based charities working in developing countries are doing much the same, forcing their views in return for the practical help needed.

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Anonymous,

I am currently unaware of any movement within Washington towards the direction you inquire about.

The presumptive nominees of the GOP and the DNC have not released specific policy statements on this concern either. :-) --Durano, done!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Billy,

What was lost cannot be compensated in monetary terms, I agree. The apology is a beginning, but the journey towards healing is a long, long, long way yet. :-) --Durano, done!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Caroline,

I am fully aware of what South Africa has undergone during Apartheid, together with the current situation of whites who now are the minority. A lot of South African whites have migrated to Europe because of the policies that have been put in place that is somehow skewed against them.

Recently, I wrote a post about the current wave of violence and crime not only against foreigners but within and among South Africans themselves.

The hope that Big Brother America will follow the lead of Canada is not yet visible within the radar of the next two years. The past can never be undone, but the act of healing and reconciliation is always a good first step. Racism alone has not really died, and I expect to see it in full bloom in this November election. :-) --Durano, done!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hello Kim,

Yes, this is very much like Australia's aboriginal situation. I think the English Commonwealth countries adopted this policy throughout their realm. I wrote a post about Australia's apology by Kevin Rudd on the day he delivered it in Australia's parliament.

The impact of the policy on these "lost generations" is the same for both countries; as with the Native Americans.

That issue about asylums for young girls in Ireland I don't have much on yet. But perhaps I will write a post about it too. I don't know why human kindness seems to be absent in these implementors. Perhaps they believe they are so superior and favored by God that all the rest who do not reflect their image are demons that must be destroyed.

It may be parallel to the Crusades where the Christians sought out the heathens (Muslims and other tribes)to convert them or eliminate them. But it backfired and the Muslims regrouped and attacked Europe, and we see traces of their victorious occupation in the European continent by way of mosques and religious and political influences; even art and architecture.

By the way, you're certainly looking much younger and fleshier in your new avatar. LOL! :-) --Durano, done!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Tapline,

I cannot begin to imagine the the impact on you for seeing and hearing the the hatred and bigotry raised against your mother. Sorry to hear that Tap.

The choice is really up to the individual to stay away or return to the reservation, but I don't think it will sever the roots of their being. I now of several who returned and retired there.

I hope you have found peace Tap, and for you to suggest letting go is a positive sign of being healed. :-)--Durano, done!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi a,

I know what you refer to and I am actually against this. Some organizations foist their religious beliefs on the helpless poor in exchange for receiving assistance.

Others indoctrinate the poor for their political agenda. This is not assistance but exploitation. We have always exposed such types of activities. It is not correct. Aid and development must be given without strings. :-) --Durano, done!

Zhu said...

France still has to apologize for a lot of things...

Some may think it's too late and it's too easy to apologize after evil was done but I think it's good. Helps to move forward, even if I understand some anger.

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Zhu,

An Apology is the inevitable first step towards healing. It admits the sin and seeks to rebuild tattered relationships. And it comes with a package of goodwill.

The healing may take a long while and may even have several bumps along the way. Not all the anger and the hatred and the pain will be eliminated, but as you say, it is a move forward.

Until that time when they can look back to their past, and overlook the lost years, it's not going to be an easy build-up of trust and understanding. But it's a start. :-) --Durano, done!