Like most of you, I sat back in stunned silence as our media made it explicitly clear that Canada (you and me and all Canadians) bear the guilt and shame of what in all honestly, we did not commit but must bear the shame of our forefathers, nope that’s wrong too, should I say your forefathers? Nope that is wrong as well, but someone is guilty, that is a fact we cannot escape.
I also want to make another point, one that the press, and mainstream media missed entirely. Until this incident, it has been a published fact that there were no children were killed and or died and were buried at residential schools. That has now changed, its now a fact bodies were found at at least one residential school, however let us not jump to the conclusion that they were murdered, we do not know that yet. The door is open for that possibility, and we must now determine cause of death.
Also we have to admit that people who attended those schools made claims about dead children being carried out were in fact telling the truth, and Canada owes them an apology for calling them liars. So with that, I want to start by saying I am truly sorry for what your ancestors went through, Canada owes you an official statement to recognize the error of previous governments in its false statements about our First Nations people.
I am sickened by the lack of response from Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Goverment in regards to this matter. I fully understand his need for more information, but he can apologize for Canada’s claim that no such burials ever occurred, that claim has now been proven to be a lie.
Now let me say I feel like a bullet went through my heart when I imagine that it was my children that I never got to see ever again, ended up dead at a school that was entrusted with their care. None of what I am about to say, takes away from the pain and horror First Nations must endure knowing what happened to their people. What I will say needs to be said as well, yes we hurt, anyone who cares hurt, but we need to know so much more, before we point any fingers at anyone alive today.
The church and the then existing Canadian Government were complicit in a hideous crime, or was it? If only we could go back in time and evaluate all of those who were part of this plan to assimilate aboriginals into what was then a predominately European society. To judge them by what is posted on Facebook, and or he said she said, is only going to create more hate and hurt than we as a society should allow. Yes people are expressing themselves, its a way to unload hurt, but it does not justify creating hurt against those people who care as much about this tragedy as aboriginals do. Likewise making this a white mans shame party is also not the answer.
I am not sure after days of reading both social media and or the uncivilized news media, what hurts more, the news of this horrific event, or the public and medias reaction to it? How much do you want non aboriginals to bleed before enough is enough? Are we guilty of the sins of our forefathers? If so then what if you immigrated here from another country since the 1980’s and you are not related to those who committed the so called atrocities?
Must new immigrants pay in blood, cash, or emotional ridicule for crimes they did not commit or even consent to? If you listen the Liberals or NDP, or all the mainstream press, then yes, you must humble yourselves for a crime you never committed. At the same time they hail themselves as the aboriginal saviours to buy votes.
I am not the only Canadian citizen who thinks the perpetrators of any crime against children should be strung up and executed, however, we all know that is not possible, we are pointing at people who are already dead, and are unable to speak in defence or denial of their actions. In the past few days, the best I could do was give all my close aboriginal friends a hug, and the look of sharing each others pain, and I know I will be accused of trying to give them COVID for doing so. I cared so much, I did it in spite of the risk of COVID, we did it trusting each other as we always have done.
I was not even going to write anything about this tragedy, and possible others that have yet to be uncovered, but how can we care about anything else, if we do not care enough to talk about this tragedy.
So let us do exactly that, what exactly do we know? And just what facts do we not know?
Here is an excerpt of what we do know.
“From the 1870s to the 1990s, residential schools were part of a systematic federal policy to assimilate Indigenous children into European culture, based on racist assumptions that their own cultures were inferior. Children were separated from their parents and lived in poorly funded schools where federal- or church-run staffs punished them for speaking their own languages. Physical and sexual abuse, malnutrition and disease were common. There were 138 residential schools reviewed by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the last of which closed in Saskatchewan in 1996.”
Another fact we also know is the influenza pandemic of 1918-19 is the “forgotten” epidemic in relationship to residential schools, and we also know the one in in Kamloops, B.C. where this tragedy occurred was running during the Spanish Flue pandemic, what we do not know is if the graves are related to the mass grave found in Kamloops.
After more digging I found this excerpt from this link from the UBC Library
The above are not excuses, they do not excuse what happened, however they do point out that we have no idea of why and how those children ended up dead and or why they are there and not returned to their families.
In regards to the comment “based on racist assumptions that their own cultures were inferior” is not a crime, its an opinion, its also how the world worked, be it right or wrong, its the way the world was for all nations who colonized others, Canada is not the only country in the world that was colonized, or that its culture was also imposed. Unless one did a side by side comparison of both nations could you come up with a conclusion, that others may or may not agree with. But the fact that they imposed culture on aboriginals was never an issue then, it was the right of the nation to do so, but modern apologists refuse to wrap their heads around the fact times were different back then. They only see the glamour and not the misery that also existed back then. They talk about how perfect the lives of aboriginals were before colonization, but have no clue in regards to suffering and brutality that also existed. But that’s another topic of debate that should not be part of this conversation.
What we need to do collectively as Canadians is to fund a full investigation into why they died, and when they died. If crimes were committed, be it church or state, deal with it so we can all move on. With the technology we have today, its inexcusable not to fully investigate this with as much tenacity as we do when an airline crashes, or when other tragedies occur. We need to get to the bottom of this, and in the meantime shoving guilt in people faces will result in more racism, so let us all make a concerted effort, to love your neighbour, regardless of nationality. And when COVID is gone, let us bring back the I care hug, and hug an aboriginal to show you care.
Addendum: It was correctly brought to my attention that the finding of the grave sites is still at a preliminary level, they have not even confirmed that the bodies they expect to find are children. It is an assumption that they are children based on the location, however until more evidence comes forward its all speculation. Even the number of bodies is an assumption at this point as the number was based on the number of holes that were dug, not radar images of bodies.