The Prime Minister is afraid to speak the words: Cultural Genocide. But it is true.
7 generations lost; 150,000 children stolen; 6,000 dead under the care of the Canadian government.
Any apology on the part of “Our Government™” is too little and far too late. I entered my teaching profession in 1968,; two years later a wise elder suggested to me that I read “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” before I began teaching any more history of the Americas.
The book broke my heart. I felt ashamed to be of European origins – the endless betrayals and lies and hypocrisy of treaties broken were shameful in the extreme. When I later taught Grade 7, the novel of the time was “Copper Sunrise” by Paul Buchan, a Canadian author and teacher, and neither I nor my students could complete a reading without crying.
The first major extinction of a a native species in North America by the English fishermen in Newfoundland was not the Great Auk – it was the deliberate extermination of the Beothuk native peoples. This attitude survived and extended into the British colonial policies that would govern a new nation.
This patriachal attitude is still alive and sickly in our governance to this day, Canada became a nation in 1867. The Indian Act came into effect in 1876. Yet the shame continues with “Our Government™” still unwilling to sign the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
I now insist that all student teachers read four books before they graduate: “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” by Dee Brown, “Stolen Continents” by the exceptional Canadian author Ronald Wright, “Germs, Guns, and Steel” by Jared Diamond, and “The Inconvenient Indian” by Thomas King. Their world view, and that of their future students, will never be the same. And hopefully, never will we repeat the shame of the past.
Until then, until full compensation is made, until the Declaration is signed, we are all shamed. I bow my head and ask for your forgiveness.
This Friday, I am going north to Lake Temiskaming to participate in a Pow-Wow and a Social Justice meetiing with the students at a local school – I will pray for full and honest truth and reconciliation. Never again!
Skid Crease, teacher