Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Canada guilty of cultural genocide against Indigenous peoples (Truth and Reconciliation Commission)

Canada is guilty of committing cultural genocide against Indigenous people, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission said in a summary of its final report released Tuesday.

The TRC builds a case that leads it to conclude Canada committed cultural genocide against Indigenous peoples and used Indian residential schools used as its main weapon.

“These measures were part of a coherent policy to eliminate Aboriginal people as a distinct peoples and to assimilate them into the Canadian mainstream against their will,” said the TRC report. “Residential schooling quickly become a central element in the federal government’s Aboriginal policy.”

The TRC unveiled two volumes and a summary of its final report which is expected to be released later this year. One volume was titled, What We Have Learned, and the other was titled, The Survivors Speak.

The TRC was created as part of the multi-billion dollar settlement agreement between Ottawa, the churches and survivors. About 150,000 Indigenous children went through Indian residential schools throughout the systems over century-long existence.

The TRC’s report said cultural genocide is defined as the “destruction of those structures and practices that allow the group to continue as a group.”

States that engage in cultural genocide aim to destroy political and social institutions by seizing land, persecuting spiritual leaders, banning languages, outlawing cultural practices, restricting movement and disrupting families so cultural values can’t be passed on to successive generations, said the report.

“In its dealing with Aboriginal people, Canada did all these things,” said the report.

The TRC report said Canada’s negotiation of treaties with First Nations were “marked by fraud and coercion.” The report said the federal government continues to stall on the implementation of treaties to this day.

The TRC suggests the only reason Canada bothered to enter treaties was because it couldn’t afford to subdue the Indigenous population through war. In 1870, the total of Canada’s budget was about $19 million. Across the border during the same time period, the U.S. was spending $20 million just to fight its “Indian Wars,” said the report.

Early post-Confederacy Canada had one goal in mind when it began negotiating treaty, said the TRC.

“The intent of the government’s policy…was to assimilate Aboriginal people into broader Canadian society,” said the report. “At the end of this process, Aboriginal people were expected to have ceased to exist as a distinct people with their own governments, cultures and identities.”

Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald told the House of Commons in 1883 that residential schools would be one of the main weapons used to eliminate the “savage” before it grew to become incorrigible.

“When the school is on the reserve the child lives with its parents, who are savages, he is surrounded by savages, and though he may learn to read and write his habits and training and mode of thought are Indian,” said Macdonald, in a passage quoted by the report. “He is simply a savage that can read and write.”

The policy persisted into the 20th Century and was supported by Church leaders of all denominations running residential schools, the report said.

Supreme Court Justice Beverley McLachlin echoed the TRC’s findings in a speech delivered last Thursday when shed said Canada committed cultural genocide.

The Harper government, however, has stated it does not support the view.

Canada’s attempts to wipe out Indigenous culture failed, but not without leaving deep wounds, said the report.

“Despite coercive measures that the government adopted, it failed to achieve its policy goals. Although Aboriginal peoples and cultures have been badly damaged, they continue to exist,” said the report. “Aboriginal people have refused to surrender their identity.”

The TRC report said Canada is getting another chance at reconciliation. The report notes that the 1996 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples called on Canada to begin a process of reconciliation. That commission was triggered by the 1990 Oka crisis that saw armed Mohawks face down the Canadian military to protect a burial site from being turned into a golf course.

“In 2015, as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada wraps up its work, the country has a rare second chance to seize a lost opportunity for reconciliation,” said the report. “The urgent need for reconciliation runs deep in Canada. Expanding public dialogue and action on reconciliation beyond residential schools will be critical in the coming years.”

The TRC report said the relationship between Canada and Indigenous peoples is “deteriorating.” The report lists First Nations education, child welfare and justice as sources of “divisive conflicts” and “barriers” to reconciliation.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has failed to live up to the promise of the 2008 apology, the report said.

“The promise of reconciliation, which seemed so imminent back in 2008 when the prime minister, on behalf of all Canadians, apologized to survivors, has faded,” said the report.

The report said too many Canadians are still ignorant of First Nations, Inuit and Metis history and it bleeds into the government sphere.

“In the public realm, it reinforces racist attitudes and fuels civic distrust between Aboriginal peoples and other Canadians,” said the report. “Too many Canadians still do not know the history of Aboriginal peoples’ contributions to Canada, or understand that by virtues of the historical and modern Treaties negotiated by our government, we are all Treaty people.”

The TRC lays out 94 recommendations it believes help mark the path toward reconciliation. The recommendations include:

  •     Ottawa, the provinces and territories should fully adopt the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples.
  •     Ottawa, in conjunction with Indigenous peoples, should develop a new Royal Proclamation on Reconciliation.
  •     Ottawa should repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery and the concept of terra nullius.
  •     Ottawa and Treaty nations should renew the Treaty relationship.
  •     Ensure Indigenous peoples are full partners in Confederation by reconciling Crown and Indigenous legal orders.
  •     The parties to the Indian residential school settlement agreement should sign a Covenant of Reconciliation.
  •     A National Council for Reconciliation should be created.
  •     The Pope should issue an apology to survivors of Indian residential schools.
  •     Canada should mark the 150th anniversary of the country by creating a fund for reconciliation commemoration projects.
  •     Ottawa should commit $10 million for the funding the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation over the next seven years.
  •     The Oath of Citizenship should be changed to include the following passage, “I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada including Treaties with Indigenous peoples, and fulfill my duties as a Canadian citizen.



  1. Vatican embassy says TRC report will be sent to Rome...

    The Vatican embassy in Ottawa says it will send the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report to Rome.

    A spokesperson at the embassy did not have an immediate comment about the recommendations aimed at the Church including a call for Pope Francis to come to Canada to issue an apology to “survivors.”

    The TRC report said the apology should be “for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis children in Catholic-run residential schools.”

    The report is calling for the Pope to issue an apology “similar to the 2010 apology issued to Irish victims of abuse and to occur within one year of the issuing of this report.”

    In the report released Tuesday, the three TRC Commissioners aimed a number recommendations at churches in Canada that had ties to residential schools.

    The TRC is asking that churches that are party to the settlement agreement develop educational strategies to ensure their congregations understand the church’s role in residential schools and that churches change their curriculum for young clergy to be taught about the history of the schools.

  2. Residential schools amounted to 'cultural genocide,' TRC report says...

    The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has concluded that Canada's residential schools amounted to "cultural genocide" of aboriginal people.

    A summary of the report, released Tuesday, says that Canadian officials separated aboriginal children from their parents and sent them to residential schools not to educate them, "but primarily to break their link to their culture and identity."

    The report describes a "lonely and alien" life for children in residential schools, where aboriginal languages were suppressed, and neglect and abuse were common.........http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/residential-schools-amounted-to-cultural-genocide-trc-report-says-1.2402093

  3. PM Harper said he opposed UN declaration adoption during meeting with TRC commissioners...

    Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Chair Murray Sinclair said Prime Minister Stephen Harper remains unconvinced of the need for Canada to adopt the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

    In an interview with APTN host Cheryl McKenzie, Sinclair said he and the TRC’s other commissioners, Marie Wilson and Wilton Littlechild, met with Harper Tuesday afternoon.

    When McKenzie asked if the prime minister expressed any disagreement with the TRC’s recommendations contained in a report released earlier in the day, Sinclair said the prime minister maintained his opposition to adopting the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

    “Well obviously the adoption of UN declaration, which the government just voted down a few weeks ago in the House,” said Sinclair, referring to a private member’s bill from Cree NDP MP Romeo Saganash.

    Sinclair said the TRC isn’t necessarily calling for the declaration to be written into law because it would require a more complicated process involving the provinces........http://aptn.ca/news/2015/06/02/pm-harper-said-opposed-un-declaration-adoption-meeting-trc-commissioners/

  4. Vatican omits mention of residential schools in notes following meeting with PM...

    Notes released by the Vatican recounting a 10-minute meeting between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Pope Francis Thursday failed to mention the topic of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

    Harper said he reminded the Pope of the letter sent by his Aboriginal Affairs minister regarding the Truth and Reconciliation commission.

    The letter, sent last week, notifies the Holy See of the commission..........http://aptn.ca/news/2015/06/11/vatican-omits-mention-residential-schools-notes-following-meeting-pm/

  5. The schools that had cemeteries instead of playgrounds...

    Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission has released its findings into more than a century of abuse in Indian Residential Schools. Between the 1880s and 1990s 150,000 aboriginal children were sent to institutions where they were stripped of their language and culture. Many faced emotional, physical and sexual abuse.

    I wriggled my way through an expectant crowd in a ballroom of a downtown Ottawa hotel. It was standing room only. Several hundred people, among them former residential school students, known as "survivors" - many of them now elderly - stood shoulder to shoulder with camera crews.

    The event was going to be broadcast and streamed live across the country. Rarely had an aboriginal-led event attracted such national attention. Everyone was waiting eagerly for the long-awaited findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

    While this moment was the culmination of a seven-year inquiry, many survivors had waited several decades to share their stories. Many had felt such shame at the abuse they had endured, that they never told another living soul, not their families, not their friends - until the commission arrived in their corner of Canada. The commission would allow them to at least begin their healing journeys.........http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-33099511

  6. Pope Francis apologized Thursday for the sins, offences and crimes committed by the Catholic Church against indigenous peoples during the colonial-era conquest of the Americas, delivering a powerful mea culpa on the part of the church in the climactic highlight of his South American pilgrimage...

    History's first Latin American pope "humbly" begged forgiveness during an encounter in Bolivia with indigenous groups and other activists and in the presence of Bolivia's first-ever indigenous president, Evo Morales.

    Francis noted that Latin American church leaders in the past had acknowledged that "grave sins were committed against the native peoples of America in the name of God." St. John Paul II, for his part, apologized to the continent's indigenous for the "pain and suffering" caused during the 500 years of the church's presence in the Americas during a 1992 visit to the Dominican Republic.......AP.......ctvnews.ca

  7. Papst entschuldigt sich bei Indigenen für Sünden in Kolonialzeit...

    Papst Franziskus hat die indigenen Völker Amerikas für alle während der Kolonialzeit im Namen der Kirche begangenen Verbrechen um Vergebung gebeten. "Ich sage Ihnen mit Bedauern: Im Namen Gottes sind viele und schwere Sünden gegen die Ureinwohner Amerikas begangen worden", erklärte der Papst am Donnerstagabend (Ortszeit) beim zweiten Welttreffen der Volksbewegungen im bolivianischen Santa Cruz.

    Wie schon Johannes Paul II. bat er, "dass die Kirche vor Gott niederkniet und von ihm Vergebung für die Sünden ihrer Kinder aus Vergangenheit und Gegenwart erfleht." Der Jesuit aus Argentinien betonte, er bitte demütig um Vergebung für die von der katholischen Kirche begangenen Sünden, aber auch "für die Verbrechen gegen die Urbevölkerungen während der sogenannten Eroberung Amerikas"..................http://kurier.at/politik/weltchronik/papst-entschuldigt-sich-bei-indigenen-fuer-suenden-in-kolonialzeit/140.742.455


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