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.

RL

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

So, The Right Honorable Paul Martin Called Me Up On Calling Him Out On CDA’s Racism

Revised June 8, 2018

2016 AvatarFormer Prime Minister, the Right Honorable Paul Martin called me in response to an email I sent him in reply to his comments made in a May 12th CBC story headlined: “Canadians not racist but Aboriginal issue ‘invisible’ to many, says Paul Martin”. While I’d assumed he was calling in some effort of support, I was disheartened at the realization he actually wanted to correct me on what Canadian racism is, or rather, isn’t.

While Mr. Martin did strongly point out in that and subsequent stories, the various awful inequities thrown at the Indigenous that cause significant and terrible consequences, I could not let that one sentence go.

“Racism isn’t the culprit, but that doesn’t change the fact that the challenges faced by Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples have long remained out of sight and mind to many”, says former Liberal prime minister Paul Martin.

I was stunned. Not only because the very fact that we still have an active piece of legislation called the Indian Act, which is all about the business of managing the Indigenous, but every day we read stories of the examples of racism in action.

Every day I see other examples such as a recently posted widely-watched video put out by a very stridently racist Vancouver woman that compared AFN National Chief, Perry Bellegarde to Hitler, demanding that the AFN members be arrested for treason, and complaining that all “natives are obsessed with white people”.

This is all enough to question just the idea that Canada is not racist, a country built upon the lies of trade and/or conquering as most Canadians believe, but to have had that statement come from a high profile public servant widely seen as a friend to the Indigenous?

It was incredible to me.

So, I wrote Mr. Martin.  I noted the points above, of others and attached the link to the despicable video.  I wrote to say I was disheartened along with outraged because his background as friend to the Indigenous was precisely why it was especially important to not let stand yet another whitewash of history to make Canadians feel better, despite the fact they have all benefited from taking the lion’s share of Indigenous resources.

I admit I had no expectation of a response as I’d yet to get one from any of the fine members of Canada’s upper echelon in all my years of writing to them about Indigenous issues. However, 24 hours later I received an email asking if I would like to speak with Mr. Martin.

Stunned for a second time in 24 hours! Of course I said, yes, and within minutes my phone rang.

I was a little surprised by the opening of the conversation.  I found Mr. Martin to initially be quite defensive, not quite ready to recognize why I could be upset. He said it was hard to accept that people wouldn’t be able to see his message’s point, especially given his personal record of working to undo the wrongs against the Indigenous over all these years of service. This ignores the point that it was he who implemented the annual 2% funding spending cap for INAC in 1996 that imposed harsh consequences on the ability of Indigenous communities to thrive since.

He asked if I watched the actual interview, and I admitted I did not, however there was no video linked to the story. He specifically mentioned crafting the Kelowna Accord with Indigenous leaders that former Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, crushed the minute he came into office.

Of course I am aware of Mr. Martin’s efforts; I absolutely acknowledge Mr. Martin’s role in that Accord and I would note I have used that Accord as an example in several conversations on the potential for moving forward (and it’s the third reason I came to despise Harper as PM). But, again, that’s precisely why I took especial exception to his words.

To get to his point, he said the Indigenous problem with Canadians is based in ignorance, a lack of history knowledge moreso than racism.  I said I do understand that as in large part, I believe racism is ignorance, however we have to be careful of how we state things too. I sensed this thought wasn’t particularly appreciated.

It was at this point he had to go and his final comment was that he feels that calling Canadians racist will not help in the work to help the Indigenous.

After we hung up, I thought about all the people my friends, acquaintances, and anti-racism workers encounter on that daily basis.  I thought about all of those who, like that racist video creator, remain fully and willfully ‘ignorant’ of facts, I wondered about the rest of the Canadians who actually are aware of the inequities, the injustices, the utter horrors of their country’s history.

I wonder what Mr. Martin would say about them, and how would he’d reply to questions such as:

What happens once the ignorance is dispelled, are these same Canadians then standing up for us?  Do they protest the inequities?  Do they even just move out of the way of progressing forward?  How many of these same good people are still exercising their right to indifference?

How is inaction or indifference not complicit racism then? Isn’t that what Edmund Burke was speaking to when he said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”?

I mulled the conversation around with my aunt, Elder Maureen Kennedy.  She said, “Yes, we have our own hard work to do to get over and through everything, but they have their own hard work to do too”. I agree with my aunt, except I’d say I don’t agree that they should be expecting our comfort for them on top of it all.

Mr. Martin also sits as board member for the *Canadians For a A New Partnership (CFNP) – a group of prominent leaders from both sides of the equation to “build a new partnership between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada”. I envision the Indigenous partners having to dance around the elephant in the room while seeking justice.

…And do Canadians really need to ‘feel better about themselves’ before they do the right thing?

RL

*In early January 2018, Paul Martin quietly closed the doors of the CFNP, the only announcement appearing to be an email to their website subscribers. Shortly after that, he created his own private charity foundation, ostensibly in support of Indigenous education. He requested funding from the Canadian government. They responded with a $30 million cheque for him.

June 8, 2016 – 87% of Canadians believe aboriginal people experience discrimination: survey

An Indigenous perspective on the realities of racism:

Wab Kinew On Canadian Racism, Relocating Attawapiskat, And The ‘Criminal’ State Of Aboriginal Education

Martin email exchange

 Paul Martin reply May 16, 2016Email 1 to Paul Martin May 15, 2016 Email 2 to Paul Martin May 16, 2016

Own Your Past Canada – A Simple Guide How To

There were a lot of opinions flying after the recent release of the TRC summary of the Truth and Reconciliation report, but sadly, it was hard to discern which one was the majority – acknowledgement or denial.

The Past Shows Us the Way

————————–The Past Shows Us the Way————————— aaronpaquette.net

This report was several years in the making and outlines the history and consequences of the genocide effort Canada inflicted upon its Indigenous peoples from 1876 until presently.

The opinions that followed seemed to hold mostly two views – one that included a good deal of understanding, and support for the recommendations for Canada to acknowledge and manage the issues related to the Indigenous communities.

The other was this example, written by a Sudbury, Ont resident. I felt it encapsulated some very common views about Canada’s Indigenous history. He began his piece by asserting that, yes, Canada did bad things:

“However, the inflammatory statements made are just a little over the top. ‘Cultural genocide’ sounds much worst (sic) than what really happened”.

He goes on to assert that the First Nations people chose to live on reserves and the …“ills that come with that”.  Continuing on, he states what many of us hear daily:

…“a lot of negative assertions and accusations thrown at the government of the day, as well as the churches involved”.  After all  …“Let’s give credit to our leaders of a hundred years ago for realizing native people were living in a perpetually unsustainable cycle of poverty and violence, and at least tried to do something about it”.

Then he concluded his thoughts with this statement:

“Many other cultures have been assimilated without being so accused. These cultures have melded into our own, yet retained some identifying remnants that we share, enriching the culture of Canada. We are all better for it”

I’m at a loss to understand why a newspaper would publish such an opinion when the full summary outlining the facts of history and the point(s) of the TRC is readily available to the public, and certainly for this paper’s editors.  Unless, this was a lesson to show how much ignorance must still be countered within the country.

I won’t bother going over every detail of his inaccuracies because frankly, it was entirely inaccurate and again, the facts in point are readily available from simple internet searches, university resources, libraries and even the actual government department that oversees the affairs of the Indigenous.

What I prefer to highlight is this ongoing effort to continue to publicly obscure historical fact, which is really current, as the Indian Act of 1876 is in fact, still in effect.

The idea that assimilation is an effort that must still be completed underscores the need to realize that not all cultures adopt the European model of success adapted to the North American version, and indeed, why should they?

What this continent needs to do is stop attempting to tell other cultures, and in particular the actual original inhabitants of these lands, how they need to be living. What this country needs to do is really quite simple and that is live up to the agreements in the treaties.

The sad history, and the reason genocide came into being was, simply put, for the stealing of the land and resources that were negotiated for in the treaties — still in effect today, much to the chagrin of many an assimilation apologist.  In fact, treaties are still being negotiated even now.

Then there is the other side of the equation, which is written within the very Indian Act created for the genocide efforts.  It states very clearly, promises to the Indigenous for coercing them onto those reserves. Those promises have yet to be half-way lived up to.

If Canada wants to truly end this travesty, living up to the honour it brags about around the world is the start. Too many people think that becoming “equal” means becoming the same. There is a difference between equal rights, the rights for all people, and the Indigenous rights bargained for on their homelands since the beginning.

RL

http://www.thesudburystar.com/2015/06/21/sudbury-letter-report-unfair-to-canada

What? Me Blog? Thanks WordPress, and Maybe Ellen

Blogger Kendall F. Person isn’t kidding, in my opinion, when he says:  “Writing is a performance art and every post is a show”.  When the notion of blogging first came up via the semi-gentle prodding of blogger Lois, I thought, really?  Would my personal musings, normally put down on paper in a private journal, have a place in the public realm?  Not that the public realm is necessarily a bastion of expert, or even semi-good, public offerings. Was it possible I could land somewhere in the semi-middle?

I looked over some of my musings to see what might be interesting and I thought, n.o. w.a.y! Well, maybe?  I eventually settled into the idea that maybe there is someone out there that I’m meant to share some thoughts with.  I have to confess, I also wrestled with the idea that any non-fans might have a heyday with my inner vulnerabilities.

Eye of the TigerCue up ‘Eye of the Tiger’.  This is my tap dance; any naysayers would be braying whether I wrote or not.

So, I searched up how to start a blog and looked at a couple of websites that offered pre-set web pages.  Novice that I am, I wanted cool, but needed easy.  I chose the WordPress offerings and I was off to the keyboard – which actually, wasn’t that far off.

For my first publication, I settled on a note written for my son after I was hospitalized with a condition that made me wish I had already condensed all my learned life shortcuts for him.  It wasn’t Aurelius, but perhaps enough for a decent start.

I followed the directions to send this out to the cyber-world with the expectation that maybe ten of my closest friends and family would bother to have a look. I was content with that idea, and that my son might get a kick out of the latest item added to my first-time-to-do list.  I intended to share the post on Facebook with some of my friends, so I also anticipated a like or comment about it on my Facebook wall in the same way I get for status updates.

Despite my low-key expectations, I still held my breath a little when I clicked that ‘publish’ button.  Regardless of how well you think you know your audience, putting yourself out onto the ledge of public judgment gives you some degree of heart palpitations that feels a lot different from the quaint idea of butterflies.

Regardless, shortly after, my tried and true came through with their likes, comments, and support for the blog.  All was well; I could breathe easily within the cushioned approval of my pals.   I was also lucky enough to be unaware at that point, that our website host also supplies statistics on how many people read your posts and from which country they are reading them.

I discovered that statistic counter the next day.  I clicked on the link to my post from my Facebook wall.  I wanted to see what it looked like from that angle.  It brought up my blog website and unexpectedly I saw that it had a ‘Follow’ tab at the bottom.  I clicked on it and it said, “Join 235 other followers”.  Huh?  That was exactly my first thought.  Then I realized this was some kind of error, so I logged into my website and navigated around the site directions. This took me to that eye-popping statistical page.  It said 135 people read that first blog on that first night, followed by the rest the next day.   Now, maybe that’s not exactly The National Post’s readership numbers, but for this average mom in the sticks, it might as well have been The National Post and CNN!   Of course I was obligated to check this page every hour for the next few weeks.

I was astonished at the number of people who cared to have a look at my site, especially those who weren’t aware that I existed pre- blog.  It was also thrilling to see those geographical stats. First another country popped up, another, then another continent, and now only one more continent to go.  I couldn’t believe how fast and how far these words, my words, could travel – Belgium, Ethiopia, England, Qatar, Singapore, Australia and on and on and back to Canada.   It was a heady Sally Field moment for me, but you know, just not in front of millions.   Of course, that pride puffing up was deflated somewhat by a bit of a reality check.  Blog junk mail.  Who knew there was such a thing?   See blog no. 4 – “First Blog Results in 3 Unbelievable Opportunities”.

Despite blog no. 4, I showed my young son all of these details and he was as excited for me as if he was my agent about to get his 15% of… something.  He has big plans for me, as soon as he figures out what they are going to be, something about Ellen DeGeneres.

An unexpected bonus in all of this was that I landed in a new community of extremely interesting, uplifting, fantastically talented, writing thoughtfulness.  One as generous with information and tech support, as they are in raising spirits by being quick to like, share, and comment on your work!

I now find myself turning to our host reader page to view their posts as often as I do the newspaper.  I feel like I won the literary lottery and now have at hand the most engaging stories of every genre at the ready.  Who knew Lois’s kick in the pants would catapult me into writing and reading bliss?

Whatever the long-term purpose of this blog is to be, I am ever hopeful that it helps to serve as much as I get from it.  I might also hope that the next time I’m rear-ended by a foot, I may more quickly remember that, many times, if not most,  inspiration comes in the form of a good kick and some bruising.

And, I still have the excitement to come of that one last continent being added to my stats.

RL

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/daily-prompt-beginnings/

Daily Prompt: Origin Storyby michelle w. on August 2, 2013

Why did you start your blog? Is that still why you blog, or has your site gone in a different direction than you’d planned?Photographers, artists, poets: show us BEGINNINGS.