The seventh (and final) national meeting wrapped up this week. That phase of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is complete and the larger task remains.
The travelling series of seven national meetings were, in essence the “truth” part of the commission’s mandate. What remains is “reconciliation”. My estimation is that actual reconciliation is a task equally daunting as was unearthing truths about the sordid history of Canada’s Dirty Little Secret. The murky past of those institutions was painfully revealed in the course of the seven national public meetings entailing testimony from victims. Not heard, unfortunately are the transgenerational victims who inherited a legacy of dysfunctional family, destroyed society under pinning and lost cultures.
While the last Residential School has now been closed, there is no argument that the concept continues until this day. Children are still being forcibly being taken from families, tribes and clans and placed into institutional hands by children’s aid societies. All of those removals are under guise of being “for the child’s betterment. ‘ The stark truth is that too many of those removals result in catastrophic consequence for the children themselves.
It is said that for regret to be taken as sincere, there must be contrition that extends past simply acknowledging that a wrong has taken place. My own personal experience is that, too often I have heard the words, “get over it”. I suppose, conceptually, that is/was the role of the Residential Schools themselves, wasn’t it?
On its surface, I suppose that many would accept that compensation is in order and that, once payments have been handed out, that healing would have taken place. I suggest that the greatest part of reconciliation and true healing falls onto mainstream Canadians and that it is not singularly the Aboriginal folks that need healing. What took place at the Residential Schools for over 100 years and what continues to occur each day (even, until today) amounts to genocide. The collateral damage, among mainstream and immigrant portions of the Canadian mosaic has become a callous indifference to social injustices. Canada has lost its way. For it to become acceptable sentiment for a German citizen to tell a Jew to, “Get Over It” would be unconscionable. Until each and every Canadian grasps the concept that human rights are equal rights for all and that social justice knows no colour, there can be no such thing as reconciliation.
Compensation alone is not about to heal the wounds inflicted on an entire race (First Nations, Metis and Inuit). I say, yes to compensation but also yes to creating equal access to decent housing, equal education and accessible health care. While it is entirely correct that education, housing and health care may well be more costly in remote regions; there are also foreign corporations exploiting timber and mineral resources in those sites. The pittance paid by those corporations in the form of Royalties is presently paid to the various provinces. Kind of contrary isn’t it? While the Provinces derive huge revenues as a result of these mineral and timber operations, we (as Canadians) are likely to hold the Federal Government solely responsible for the neglect and abject poverty in native communities abutting the mines and timber falls.
Lastly, the message that social injustice is unacceptable in this land can only occur when the perpetrators each have been publicly “outed “and those still surviving are brought before our courts. The appropriate charge (I would suggest) is one of “Crimes Against Humanity”. When those things happen, perhaps we will never again hear the words, “Get Over It”.
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Have a pleasant Easter everyone.