Tuesday, May 01, 2007

First Nations Apologies

From Globe and Mail:
The House of Commons apologized unanimously yesterday to former students of Canada's Indian Residential Schools, but the federal government wants at least five more years before issuing its own apology.
Residential Schools is a long sad history of the Canadian experience with the First Nations (in America, Native Americans, aboriginal peoples).

The Canadian government forced aboriginal children off their native lands and forced them to adopt European culture. They were beaten for speaking their own languages, their hair cut. There were untold numbers of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse.

Worse, my own church, the Anglican Church of Canada, as well as other denominations, did the outsourcing of this horror for the government. The Churches ran in many cases these government schools and were the government's agents.

Reading into this history will break your heart and soul.

For Americans, our history is that of ethnic cleansing and leaving the native peoples to die and be completely separated from our experience of life. The only way I can describe, from what I understand, the Canadian experience is a much more colonial (British influence) mindset. That is, the white man's burden and the sense of patriarchal duty to take care of "the children" as these colonialists saw the native peoples. Paternalistic to the core.

In that way, the history is more of connection than the American, but sadly that relation was often one of real horror.

This is a very small step in the right direction. But sadly not much has substantially changed in the present. Apologies are a good start but only if action is taken. The schools were de-institutionalized and dismantled (thank God) but very little/nothing has come to replace it seems to me.
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