Moving out of denial... Do (Canadians) feel the need for reconciliation in their guts?(... YET?)
"Before reconciliation can occur," she says, "people have to know who we are and they have to understand what happened here." Canada passed the anti-potlatch law and the drumming, singing and winter dances that had ordered (Indigenous) cultural and spiritual life became illegal. The first person in Canada to go to jail under the new law was a man from Chilliwack and fear spread throughout the valley. Until the 1960s, those who continued to practice their traditions did so in the utmost secrecy. "The idea was to colonize," Gwen Point says. "We weren't supposed to survive.So ... all across the land ... all across our Canada ... Indigenous people were afraid of us, frightened of us for damned good reason, because if they were caught in ANY traditional spiritual ceremony, ANY traditional governance meeting, or ANY gathering deemed for ANY reason to be in ANY way 'suspicious', they were thrown in jail or worse, all over Canada, right up until the 1960's. 1960's man! Naahhh ... My dad was alive then ... It was all 'peace and love' in the 60's, dude. You musta meant the 1860's, man. Nope ... 'Potlatch' was against the law in Canada from early in the 1900's right up until the 1960's. The ... 1960's. You sure? Mhm. In Canada!? Mhm. They weren't supposed to survive, man? The Indians? Whadya mean they weren't supposed to survive, man, Indians are cool! Well, whadya think the Prime Minister was apologizing for?
Wary of a cultural understanding that sees reconciliation in terms of contrition and forgiveness, Sutherland prefers to use a broader definition that views reconciliation as a process by which systems of domination are transformed into relations of mutuality. She explains that reconciliation must come from political leaders and from ordinary people. Even those who have suffered or benefited little from the past absorb the beliefs and attitudes that underpin conflict, so while systemic restructuring is essential, the hearts and minds of the people must change too.Or in other words ... Apologizing and immediately asking for and expecting to quickly get forgiveness and then bing-bam-boom it's all over? Un-unh. That isn't what's in the cookie crumbs for Canada. Un-unh. We have a process to go through. We all have to learn the truth, and we have to reconcile that with our current rose-coloured vision of ourselves ... as Canadians ... and of Canada. We have to restructure our whole vision and reality of Canada.
"This history is so recent -- it happened yesterday. And it's so embarrassing." "How do we, as non-Aboriginal people, support others in moving out of denial about what happened here?" To sit through the film festival was to feel the need for reconciliation in your guts. And it wasn't comfortable.Not comfortable perhaps - human progress seldom is - but it is absolutely necessary IF: ... IF we Canadians aspire to someday truly be what we already claim we are - a decent country full of decent human beings. ... IF we Canadians truly believe in human rights, we must respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples to live free of oppression by Canada: We have to stop our governments from taking what doesn't belong to us ... Indigenous land and resources. ...IF we Canadians truly respect the laws of the land ... our land ... we must respect the legal rights of Indigenous Peoples, whom we live among, to retain their historical land and cultural and human rights. "ButButButBut ... ! We are all EQUAL as Canadians. Why should they be treated differently?" Canada exists ... and we live here as Canadians ... by agreement ... by treaty ... peace treaties with the Indigenous Nations who hold the 'original titles' to the land ... this land that we call Canada. And some of Canada's big media spin on "equality" is about denigrating the rights of Indigenous Peoples:
International Assimilation And GenocideThe government, media, business/commerce/industry/banker powerbroker folks in Canada like to pretend that Indigenous Peoples somehow 'lost' their land rights somewhere, but they didn't. "We are all equal" is just a way of setting Canadians against Indigenous Peoples who are promoted and perceived as having different/more rights. They have their own rights, it is true, the rights of Indigenous Peoples, rights that evolved to try to stop the worldwide genocides against Indigenous Peoples, in the all-consuming greed for resources. We never conquered, for example, the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) in Canada. Never had any reason to. They were always our allies and we depended on them - especially the Mohawks - to defend our borders. If it wasn't for them, Ontario would be in the US, and possibly the rest of Canada too. And the Haudenosaunee sure as hell never surrendered any of their rights to Canada. Sovereignty cannot be taken away from any Nation, even in defeat. It can only be surrendered by them alone. No Indigenous Nations were ever conquered in Canada, and Indigenous Nations of Kanata never surrendered, not to Britain, not to France and not to Canada ... never. They didn't have to. We didn't fight against them and they were never defeated. They were always our friends. So ... we have no claim to their land on the basis that they 'surrendered' it in defeat. But then it was us ... it was Canada ... that finally brought Indigenous Nations to their knees in the 20th century, by passing the law of compulsory attendance at the 'Indian' Residential Schools. You could call it kidnapping, torturing and brainwashing all of their children, generation after generation for over a hundred years, leaving their villages empty of joy, empty of life, and filled with despair, for six generations of families. Why?
The "One America" campaign, hatched during the US's Clinton administration, is very similar to other assimilationist movements worldwide, such as Australia's infamous "One Nation" Party (-ed- and Canada's 'multiculturalism'). Note the similarity of discourse revealed in the titles of these movements. This kind of "we are one" propaganda is very sneaky, as it hides genocidal aspirations behind protestations of love and brotherhood.http://aboriginalrights.suite101.com/article.cfm/aboriginal_holocaust
As a province, B.C. doesn't actually own the land and resources. That's what the courts say. That's what the constitution says.
"The first disruption of our people," says Bob Campbell, "came from disease. The early smallpox epidemics may have been accidental, but then Hudson Bay traders brought diseased blankets and our people died from typhoid and tuberculosis. Pure and simple, it was genocide. The trading companies paid a bounty for indigenous people's scalps and genitals." http://thetyee.ca/News/2008/06/30/BackFromExtinction/Note: In some communities the Indigenous oral history records that wagonloads or boatloads of blankets were also delivered by soldiers or missionaries, all across Canada. None of this was 'an accident'. Neither were the horrors of Canada's 'Indian' residential schools. Our government forced Indigenous children into 'mind control' schools run by 'Christians', where, frankly, the children either submitted or died (early 1800's to late 1900's). All were traumatized, most were abused and some were forced into becoming abusers ('the enforcers') to save themselves from the worst punishments. Some of the 'enforcer' families are still powerful in some of Canada's 'Indian' Band Councils today. They were all just children, abused by adults for the benefit of the greed for their land. Many victims of the residential schools continue to live half-lives of pain and punishment in Canada's city streets and alleys and on 'reserves' to this day. Those with families pass the pain on and intergenerational trauma is rampant in their communities today. Ya, but this was all a long long time ago! What does it matter now? Well, your perspective of a "long long time" depends on your age. The report below is from 2003, from a man younger than me:
Another warrior, Charlie, 48, has a soft and slow voice that can be difficult to follow, but his stories are worth the effort. He was put in residential school at the age of seven and escaped several times, each time getting sent to a school further from home. Four years and six escapes later, he was in a school near Sault Ste-Marie, where the nuns beat him unconscious with hockey sticks. He still has the scars. "I knew that if I stayed, they'd kill me, so I escaped again. I made it to Winnipeg [1,450 kilometres away] on foot through the bush, living off the land, fooling the police dogs in the woods. They didn't catch me that time until I was 21," he says. The other men his age have similar residential school stories. Nothing can happen to them in jail or in a gunfight that's worse than what already has.If Charlie had gone back to his home in Grassy, he would have been captured by the RCMP, who enforced attendance at the schools, and taken back to the residential school. When he escaped, a child of 11 outwitting police and their search dogs in the bush, he travelled hundreds of miles, to the city streets (of Winnipeg), as so many victims of the residential schools did. For 10 years, he evaded the police on the streets, until 1976. At some point Charlie finally made his way back home to Grassy Narrows, a community devastated by the schools, and by industrial contamination and clearcutting of their traditional fishing-hunting-gathering lands. Grassy Narrows is reviving its spirit after a century of onslaught, by taking back their land from the corporations. However, other residential school victims are there on the city streets still, permanently wounded. Have you seen them? In 1962, when Charlie was taken from his family in northern Ontario, I was 11 years old and skipping to public school in small-town central Ontario, likely worried only whether someone would beat me at high-jump. In 1966, when Charlie was being beaten nearly to death with hockey sticks by Catholic nuns in northern Ontario, I was 15, bopping to the Beatles, and sassily telling my minister I just didn't connect with his male "God". (He told me 'Satan' would fill the void in my heart, and I checked my temptation to laugh aloud at this archaic idea, and never went to church much at all after that. Hell, it WAS the 1960's, man!) Nobody ever beat me with hockey sticks and forced me to fend for myself on the streets at 11 years of age, without ever telling my Mom what happened to me. Nobody would dare. Nobody could get away with doing that to any kid in Canada in the 1960's ... could they? Yes, apparently somebody could ... somebody did ... the government and the churches that ran the schools could do just about anything they wanted to the children, whose parents were forced to sign them over into the 'care/guardianship' of the church or school principal. The parents were never even informed if their child died or disappeared. To this day, no one knows who all the children are who are buried in the unmarked graves at former residential schools. As a result of pressure from Kevin Annett and survivors and supporters, the TRC now includes a Task Force 'looking into the deaths of children in the residential schools', headed by John Milloy. At last report, Milloy has not been allocated any budget, other than perhaps his own fees, for manning the telephone and speaking slick and soothing words. (ie, Another pretense ... another coverup ... another person/agency/government department complicit in genocide in Canada.) WHY did we allow this to happen in Canada, in our lifetime, to Charlie and to countless other Indigenous children, many of whom did not escape, but died there? Why?
"There is a need to raise the Indian to the level of the whiteman, and to take the land out of Indian hands."
Egerton Ryerson, 1847, on why the government was considering establishing compulsory government-run residential schools to deprogram Indigenous children from their traditional ways.Now ... which one do you think was more important to the economy of the emerging country of Canada? "raise the 'Indian'" ... or "take the land"? Which one of these two purposes was the REAL reason for the residential schools? (Pretty obvious, isn't it?) The last government run 'Indian Residential School in Canada closed in 1996. In 2000 Canada finally passed a watered down domestic law against genocide. However, when Indigenous people tried to use the new law, their case was thrown out of court because ... 'Canada didn't have a law against genocide at the time the offenses occurred.' Deja vu ... And oddly enough, an Indigenous person recently (2008) laid charges against a perpetrator of abuse in a residential school, and his case was thrown out of court because ... "That's a matter for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission." Canada's five year, $60m hidetheTRUTH and pretendRECONCILIATION COMMISSION, then, appears to me to be a continuation of the campaign by the churches, corporations and the Government of Canada (OH! and did I forget to mention the collusion of the Canadian courts and the RCMP?) to keep Canada's hidden history hidden. Canada's 'good little 'Indians' (enforcers) will step up and tell their stories (again), get patted on the head, and bing-bam-boom and-Bob's-your-uncle, and rise my child for you are all healed!! Except, of course, for the thousands of children who died, and thousands more who 'disappeared', whose families were never told of their fate. Except for the ones who are still the walking wounded and the ones they are wounding now. What good will it do for them to tell their story to a tape recorder (but no names please! No names of perpetrators are even allowed! No no no!) to be filed in some musty archives, hunh? This is not justice, not even truth, and it is certainly no 'reconciliation' for them. Again WHY? whywhywhy all these terrible, terrible things ... Because Canada is still lying, and still trying to gain 'title' to Indigenous land, unimpeded (read unblockaded) free access to the wealth of resources, without sharing ANYTHING with the Indigenous title holders. No method was too cruel, and no child was too innocent. Canada did not wage war in the 'normal' open manner, but instead Canada waged a heinous, illegal 'war' against defenseless children. Canada took the lives and broke the spirits of thousands upon thousands upon thousands of children for over a hundred years, right up until the 21st century. And then the lawsuits began. Do you really think the corporate powers-that-be in Canada designed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission out of the 'goodness of their own hearts'? Do you really think they would have changed their tune that fast? Not likely, and the fact is, the powers that be in Canada have not changed at all. The T&R Commission is just another crime of genocide, in this case "complicity in genocide" ... a cover-up. (See UN Convention on Genocide.) Because of its ongoing genocide of Indigenous Peoples, of which the residential schools were but a part, Canada was forced by the courts to submit to the Truth and Reconciliation process under the supervision of the UN International Centre for Transitional Justice.
"It was basically saying we're a tax burden, that everything First Nations get is a handout and all we do is take, we don't pay taxes, all those old arguments. Well, our national chief had done some work and concluded that First Nations governments receive approximately half the funding that other local governments get."Note: This means half of the government-supplied funds. Canadian municipalities, in addition to what they are given, tax their people to raise a similar amount. Indigenous communities, today, are run on only one-quarter of the funds that our communities use. To this day, when Indigenous Peoples protest the violations of their land rights and human rights, the Government of Canada threatens or cuts their community funding, people are brutally attacked out of sight (and without report) of media and Canadians, and leaders are thrown in jail on very questionable charges that 'don't stick', until after the 'crisis' passes and people are again intimidated into silence. For the most recent examples of Canada's aggressive oppression of the rights of Indigenous Peoples, see Google news: Jim Prentice/Harper's threat of "audit" prior to the first Aboriginal Day of Action, 2007; Six Nations/OPP April 20, 2006 and September, 2007; Shawn Brant, Tyendinaga 2006-2008; KI & Ardoch Algonquin 2007-08 To this day, the Canadian 'Indian' Act defines Indigenous people as something less than Canadians, something less than adult human beings, in fact, little more than 'wards of the state' with 'human rights' that can be, and are manipulated at will, to serve Canada's corporate culture of greed. Their continuing legal status as sovereign Indigenous Peoples is denied, suppressed, hidden from Canadians by our governments. To this day, Canada's economy is entirely dependent on resource wealth taken from Indigenous lands with no share of revenues to them.
But Canada cannot fool the rest of the world as easily as we Canadians allow our governments to fool us. The UN is onto us. http://www.ictj.org/en/where/overview/ An example of Canada's 'respect' for the rights of Indigenous Peoples: Driven out at gunpoint by the RCMP in 1924, in 1959 the traditional Haudenosaunee Six Nations Confederacy (Iroquois) people took back control of their historic Council House from Canada's imposed 'Band Council'. Our schoolchildren are taught:"How smooth must be the language of the whites, when they can make right look like wrong, and wrong look like right." Black Hawk, Sauk
March 1959 : The government sends the RCMP to evict traditional Iroquois chiefs and clan mothers from their meeting place on the Six Nations Reserve in Ontario. Many people are hurt in this attempt to force the people from their traditional ways. http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/ks/4020_e.html(But in 2006, they did it again, with tasers, batons, fists, feet and elbows and five cops to every Six Nations person, whether Elder, man, woman, or youth.) The following year, in 1960, Canada 'enfranchised' Indigenous people - simply declared them all to be "Canadian" (sort of ... within the limitations of the 'Indian' Act which declared them 'wards under trusteeship of the Crown).
"I know it's been said a lot, but we need to educate the public. Unfortunately the loudest and most controversial people who speak about these initiatives are often the redneck component of our society, and the people who are probably in support of reconciliation stay quiet -- they don't want to run into their redneck neighbor and have to battle it out." http://thetyee.ca/News/2007/03/30/Stolo/I know exactly what this person is referring to, and the 'rednecks' are not all uneducated 'louts' either. Many are leaders in communities, commerce, industries, governments and media, and they tend to silence those around them, their employees for example. Such people, who are ignorant, or 'in denial' or are intentionally lying about the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (like Prime Minister Stephen Harper and most of his Caucus-of-De-Nile), must be overcome by the efforts of the silent majority of Canadians. We can no longer sit by and be bullied into silence. It happens all the time ... in bars, family gatherings, educational settings, discussion boards, workplaces, or even just on the street or in someone's backyard ... Some idiot (my term) in the middle of some discussion, throws in a reference to " 'Indians' who suck up our tax money and give nothing back", or some equally disgusting version of same. TRY THIS when faced with someone who denigrates Indigenous Peoples. Look them straight in the eye and say firmly:
"Where on earth did you ever hear that, and please don't ever repeat it! That kind of talk is just ignorance and racism and there is no place in Canada for that. If someone ever needs a reminder of what Indigenous Peoples 'contribute' to Canada, tell them to just look down, because we are all standing on it."Turn away from them immediately, change the subject, refuse to speak with them further and do not be drawn into discussion about it. Leave if you have to if they continue to speak that way, a statement in itself. (Some may even apologize.) Even in a business setting, perhaps delivered more mildly and humourously than in a full blown bar or online 'discussion', this approach can still work. It only takes one person per group to speak out ... one time. Word gets around, and taking a stand will encourage more of the 'silent majority' to speak up too. (Of course, you could just whip your half-full can of beer against the wall right beside their fucking ear, like I have. That works too as an appropriate parting statement in some circumstances - i.e., It's his wall, you don't want him anyway, and you do without that half a can of beer, and you can get yourself out of there quickly. ;) ... but I digress ...) The main thing is to publicly identify the behaviour as unacceptable and refuse to listen: Refuse to be drawn into argument, and refuse to be present while such offensive and 'unCanadian' behaviour continues.