Truth and Reconciliation Commission Final Report


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[Why is Healing being Delayed?]

Every young Catholic boy or girl learns about confession and its redemptive forces.

The Act of Confession is an act of healing.  Not so much healing the victims of one’s actions or thoughts.  For forgive from society, from the victims, form one’s self to happen, true, genuine and sincere regret of personal wrong doing must be evidenced by the wrong doer.

Over 7,000 witnesses have testified and provided evidence to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.   The final Commission report and a collection of recommendations were published. Even if all the recommendations contained in the report were put into tangible actions, the healing of the victims of this national act of genocide may never heal the harm that has been done.  And then there is the trans-generational harm that has become part of Canada’s legacy.

Healing however must extend itself beyond the perspective of the victims.  What is curiously missing is the fact that not one single criminal charge has followed.  Typically one or two witnesses would be sufficient to have warrants issued and arrests made.  In any other part of Canadian society, the accused perpetrator would have had his/her names splashed across the headlines – long ago.

It is not enough to have the various churches designated as the wrong-doers.  That would be the equivalent of accepting that each and every Nazi was “only obeying orders”.   We know better than that. At least we ought to.  Individuals such as Lipschis, Otto Abetz, Klaus Barbie, Carl Clauberg, Adolf Eichmann, Dr. Joseph Mengela and the several hundred other known participants in the Jewish holocaust were each singularly identified, charged and convicted of crimes against humanity.

A part of the healing process may never be achieved by the various churches and government bodies simply saying, “Sorry” and then sealing away the names of the perpetrators.  The victims deserve much better than that.  Society deserves much better than that.  One or two witnesses would be more than enough to have justice serve its course.

For these crimes against humanity to have a long term redemptive purpose, it is not enough that the worst of the worst remain anonymous.   For the sake of the victims, for the sake of society and for the genuine healing of the bad guys (and women) need to be made public.

Every young Catholic learns this in catechism classes:

“O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell. But most of all because I have offended you, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve with the help of your grace, to confess my sins, to do penance and to amend my life. Amen.” 

It is called the Act of Contrition and is an acknowledgment of genuine regret.  I think that the perpetrators need this opportunity and that such ongoing genocidal act as spanned 180 years needs to have closure in the form of criminal charges.

We are beginning to see  a tragic pattern play itself out in Canadian society.  One hundred and fifty thousand victims suffered genocidal harm.  The perpetrators ought not to walk away scot-free.  A pattern is emerging here. Things involving crimes against Aboriginal victims are no less egregious than crimes against any other part of Canadian society.  I raise a Spokian eyebrow when I think of the uncanny parallels between the crimes against humanity conducted at Residential Schools and the constantly growing list of “missing sisters” (missing Aboriginal women).  Why are the Courts, the Crown Attorneys, the police and the authorities so silent? Why are the guilty being protected? 

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