Canada, Reparations Don’t End at Apologies – Just Ask Germany

Revised August 30, 2017

Canadians must work to heal a major historical point of contention for Canada and the Indigenous, and that point does not focus on “apologies and acknowledgements of territories.”

Canada’s government already knows what needs to be done. It has received why and how details for decades, most recently from the 1996 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP), the 2011 Canadian Auditor General’s Report, the 2015 Truth & Reconciliation Report (TRC), and perhaps most unexpectedly, from Germany.

Canada’s apologies—for forcing Indigenous children to attend Residential schools, only one step of genocidal policies in the Indian Act; for sexual & physical abuses and death; for medical and nutritional experimentation; for starvation and medical sterilizations; for the missing and murdered; and other horrors —have become almost glib.

They’re cheap makeup to cover the scars of racist policies past and the continuing eruptions today. They’re feel-good measures that gloss over the lack of amendments leading to genuine restorative healing. In some cases, official apologies have been done literally to death.

“These things take time,” we’re told; an egregious, time-wasting cop-out. The amount of money and assistance announced to the country as given to the reserves is often exaggerated greatly.  Indigenous kids continue to die by Canadian policy.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigned on earnest promises to the Indigenous that included ratification of the United Nation’s policy rights for Indigenous peoples. Not only has he not lived up to that pledge, but he is actually suing to retain the ability to discriminate against Indigenous children, even as they die from lack of resources afforded to all Canadian children. For Canadians, these rights are called services, but for the Indigenous, they’re regularly viewed and stated as “handouts”.

Why this belief is so widely held and accepted as truth is not because Canada ‘provides the Indigenous handouts whenever possible’ – aka charity. That view is the original 1876 talking point of the Canadian government and its partner-in-crime, the media. Despite well-known travesties, the pair have left out other important historical nuggets such as the laws that made it illegal for the Indigenous to operate any kind of business; laws that were in place for well over a century.

Too few know the real Canadian foundation. So, the focus has to turn Canadians back to acknowledging their history and their much defined hand in creating the situation that has lasted for 150 years and counting.

Cda Nazi Flag

Colonialism is based in racism. Supremacy is its heart. Symbolic irony – the Swastika symbol was used by the ancient Native Americans of the Mississippian culture. Indigenous genocide, millions on their homeland. Who remembers?

It’s commonly said the German genocide of Europe’s Jewish population must be “never forgotten.” And yet, Canadians will routinely tell the Indigenous to “stop living in the past.”

But the past isn’t over. Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) isn’t over. The Canadian Government’s effort to manage Indigenous lives, lands and take resources isn’t over. Your “past” continues to be Indigenous present.

“What’s the answer?” – is a huge yet simple question. Aside from the answers already provided by commissions, Germany—which took a page from Canada’s Indian Act to create its own terror camps— returned with a blueprint to decency that Canada should take to heart.

Canadians must listen to what the Indigenous have been saying for nearly two centuries, and stop believing another popular myth that the Indigenous don’t know what they want. While there may be myriad ideas, the fundamental demand has remained true: genuine equal standing in their homelands with equal access to all services, already paid for in perpetuity with their resources and land.

The “nice Canada” face the world sees is false. Although Canada is populated with many lovely people, most live in ignorance while continuing to benefit richly from the livelihoods taken from the Indigenous, who are left on their own to overcome the horrors they’ve suffered.

Canadians must clearly and fearlessly look at their history, and teach it, fully and honestly.

Germany didn’t create monuments to their monsters, but rather to the people who suffered under those monsters and those who stood to help the suffering. They teach their history unabashedly from kindergarten to university, and they make immigrants to their country learn those same lessons. Germany made financial reparations to its victims, and does not hide its shame.

In the process, they have grown a greater sense of understanding and humanity across their country and have flourished to become a respected, successful world leader today.

Canada cannot and will not move into a new future of genuine honour and peace until it has truly examined and amended its dark past. Just ask Germany.


With great gratitude to Randall Willis, So What’s Your Story

14 thoughts on “Canada, Reparations Don’t End at Apologies – Just Ask Germany

      • I am very sad and ashamed of the injustice and evil that is part of Canadian history. I am just a Canadian citizen who used to be proud of her country. I may not have much power in our country’s decisions or actions but I’m asking you for forgiveness. I want to do my part and will teach my children about this. I was in the process of making a T-shirt to wear on Canada day in my own yard ( due to covid) but I started asking myself questions…. Do I have the right to create a t-shirt with symbols without even knowing if what is on the internet is the truth or what they want us to believe.
        So I’m asking you…. what would be appropriate to have on my shirt? Is the symbol of a hearth with feathers hanging appropriate? Should I have something more symbolic like your dead girl/boy in a heart? Could you guide me to the right person who might help? I don’t want to purchase a t-shirt without knowing if it’s insulting or not well interpreted…. I certainly don’t want to offend. I just want to share my shame, and message of forgiveness , peace and love .


        • Hello Melanie,

          Firstly, thank you for your voice. I want people to understand that accepting the truth and acting in good faith to enact reparations is the ultimate goal here. None of us can live on guilt and the Indigenous peoples haven’t asked for that. As it is for healthy individuals to own up to the truths and the benefits given within acts of bad faith, so it is with nations. Which we’ve learned is a rather difficult task for colonizers. Many would like to remind there is a fear of retribution that is larger than the task of hard work of reparations. The Indigenous remind that is was not they who reneged on the treaties – that are still in place and as valid today as they were meant to be then.

          A suggestion for Canada Day that’s gathering momentum is wearing an orange shirt.

          Thanks again, for your thoughts.


  1. wow it deeply sadden me that the harsh realities of all our countries, mine especially, are guilty of such inhumane treatment yet the bigotry continues and the real history of the atrocities are never circulated … I do what I can but that blindness seems impossible to surmount … each of our nations are only as good as how we protect our indigenous, women and children 😦


    • Thanks, ck. I’d say the colonialist countries are only as good as they are at keeping their word. Canada has nation to nation treaty agreements with the Indigenous that they continue to renege on, which is the crux of all issues. They forget, Indigenous peoples have lived on these lands in successful, complex, economic trading, societies for thousands of years and in a mere few hundred years are expected to behave as ‘grateful wards of the colonialist state’. That is what has to change, the perspectives and the policies.

      Liked by 1 person

      • agree attitudes make huge impacts .. our people are currently seeking treaties, never had one but from what you are saying they don’t make a difference if the white invaders refuse to enforce them .. 😦

        Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I have a fairly good idea of what the Aboriginals/Indigenous have been through and continue to in Australia. The Indigenous across the board of these colonialists are long overdue for healing and reparations, especially in receiving land back.


  2. Very well written Robyn! Canada needs to learn From Germany. Canadians have been fed so much Propaganda over the years in regards to First Nations People, we need to start to re-educate now about the True history of this Country. It might not be popular, but then the TRUTH never is. I like to think I am making a small difference by using Social Media and speaking out about injustice, especially when it comes to First Nations People of this land!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Steven – thanks for your comment. Yes, I see you doing your part and very importantly – without the often unintended, but mistaken nonetheless, sense of ‘white saviour’ to aid the lesser beings.I see you raising the issues to your own community to do better and elevating the work and words of Indigenous people. That is precious assistance on this continent. Hiy hiy.


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