My Canada includes rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Love it or leave it! Peace.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Healing Canada? ... Gardens? For whom? This CNN piece below has me thinking about 'healing'. What does it take to heal a nation from its own crimes of genocide? Certainly reminders ... public acknowledgment, commemoration ... Public gardens are appropriate for reflection ... but ... for whom?

Cathedral offers garden to sex abuse victims From Peter Ornstein CNN OAKLAND, California (CNN) -- Terrie Light stands outside Oakland's stunning new modern cathedral in a first-of-its-kind garden that honors victims of clergy sexual abuse. She was abused by a priest at age 7.
For the first time, the Catholic Church has offered a garden that honors victims of clergy sex abuse.For the first time, the Catholic Church has offered a garden that honors victims of clergy sex abuse.
"It's a really small, important physical representation of a horrific thing that happened in many places," she told CNN.She says the garden's centerpiece, a symbolic low stone sculpture that's broken, is fitting for those whose lives were shattered by priests. "The energy that the artist put was this circular stone trying to pull itself to become unbroken. That is our journey. That is what we try to do every day -- is to try to be unbroken."The garden is placed near a wall of the Cathedral of Christ the Light, which was consecrated September 25.Two low-curved benches bracket the sculpture, one facing toward the cathedral, the other facing away. The benches are surrounded by hedges. Video Watch the bishop of Oakland apologize to victims »The bench placement is deliberate and takes into account the feelings and needs of abuse victims.Those who choose not to face the cathedral end up facing a small lake across the street.Father Paul Minnihan, the provost of the cathedral, says it was important to have the garden -- for the victims, and for the church to atone for the sins of its past."Part of the church's mission is to make sure we bring healing to people who are in need of it, even if we were the cause of it," he says. "Having this garden on the campus says we are serious about our desire to help in your healing process on whatever level. As this cathedral will be around for 500 years, so will that garden as a place of healing and hope."
Nowhere is it even suggested that the guilty church institutions and the church members who sustain them without proper oversight would also benefit from the reminder, from use of the garden to humbly reflect on the misdeeds of the church. Perhaps a noble gesture ... or perhaps just more patronization? Isn't the church the broken one in need of healing? Back to Canada ... 'Indian' Residential Schools ... Children who suffered ... Children who died ...

While many community leaders, including elders and a former United Church minister, have spoken of unmarked graves on the sites of residential schools before, this is the first time federal researchers have attempted to compile documentary evidence as to the extent of these discoveries.

The material obtained by The Globe and Mail was completed by two researchers at Indian Residential Schools Resolutions Canada.

Their findings, submitted in an April, 2008, report, reveal several schools had cemeteries on school grounds.

The reason for the placement of cemeteries on the school grounds is not given in the research documents. But in the case of two schools in particular, the researchers found detailed documents describing graves without markings.

Graves without markings, at the residential schools ... How many died? ... Why? Why were their families never informed? Children who escaped ... Did they survive? Some did ...

2003 Grassy Narrows ON: CLEARCUT DEFIANCE

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 [1966], 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.

And some did not survive the escape ...

But I wonder: How much will Canada pay for Joey Commanda, walking in fear along an isolated stretch of train tracks, shuffling his way homewards hundreds of miles in the distance, wishing his Akwesasne pals were there to show him the way. Maybe the lawyers can chip in and buy him a decent memorial. Or perhaps, they can stop the rumbling train in my mind before it hits Joey and drives his nearby brother Rocky insane.

And some are still finding ways to survive ... For the participants of today's rally, just confronting the church without fear was enough of a victory. "It made me happy for the first time in a long time, you know?" said an older survivor from the downtown eastside. "Did you see the way even the cops stood back and didn't stop us? I didn't get scared when I saw them show up. Not even that f ... ing priest scared me. I guess being here all together like this was like, the start of our healing."
I believe in public gardens to commemorate the children who suffered and the children who died in, or because of, Canada's 'Indian' Residential Schools. I believe it would help to inform Canadians, because we cannot begin to heal until we know the truth, a place to pause and reflect on our responsibility to oversee the work of our governments and institutions, to be sure that in working in our interests they are never again infringing on the rights and lives of others ... never again taking children from their parents and their ways, only to abandon them to unmarked graves ... thousands of graves ... all across Canada.
All that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing.
- attributed to Edmund Burke
So far, this is the history of Canada ... evil flourishing against Aboriginal People ... children ... while we Canadians did nothing to stop it. A garden ? ... well ... it's a small beginning.

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My Canada includes rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Two Row Wampum Treaty

Two Row Wampum Treaty
"It is said that, each nation shall stay in their own vessels, and travel the river side by side. Further, it is said, that neither nation will try to steer the vessel of the other." This is a treaty among Indigenous Nations, and with Canada. This is the true nature of our relationships with Indigenous Nations of 'Kanata'.