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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin dares to be honest about First Nations.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin says Canada attempted to commit “cultural genocide” against aboriginal peoples, in what she calls the worst stain on Canada’s human-rights record.
(I don't think any of us would use the word "attempted" She souls have gone directly to "committed".)

Genocide – an attempt to destroy a people, in whole or part – is a crime under international law. The United Nations’ Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, adopted in 1948, does not use the phrase “cultural genocide,” but says genocide may include causing serious mental harm to a group.

Chief Justice McLachlin appears to be the highest-ranking Canadian official to use the phrase. Former Liberal prime minister Paul Martin used it two years ago in describing residential schools for aboriginal children when he testified before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up by the Conservative government. That commission is to make its report public next week.

“The most glaring blemish on the Canadian historic record relates to our treatment of the First Nations that lived here at the time of colonization,” Chief Justice McLachlin said.

After an initial period of inter-reliance and equality, she said Canada developed an “ethos of exclusion and cultural annihilation.”

“The objective – I quote from Sir John A. Macdonald, our revered forefather – was to ‘take the Indian out of the child,’ and thus solve what was referred to as the Indian problem. ‘Indianness’ was not to be tolerated; rather it must be eliminated. In the buzz-word of the day, assimilation; in the language of the 21st century, cultural genocide.” She made clear that this treatment extended well into the 20th century.
(We are in the 21st century and nothing has changed)
Recent picture of an Elder's up North looking for food in a "dump".

John Borrows, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law at the University of Victoria, called the Chief Justice’s use of the term “unparalleled” in Canadian history.

He said the term is unlikely to have legal consequences, but carries symbolic importance coming from the Chief Justice. “A lot of indigenous people and other people have been asking for that word to be part of our vocabulary because it does more fully communicate the weight of what happened.”

She also pointed to the outlawing of aboriginal religious and social traditions, such as the potlatch and the sun dance, and to residential schools, in which children who had been taken from their parents “were forbidden to speak their native languages, forced to wear white man’s clothing, forced to observe Christian religious practices and sometimes subjected to sexual abuse.

The objective was to ‘take the Indian out of the child,’ and thus to solve what John A. Macdonald referred to as the ‘Indian problem.’”

What she and other said here is not something we don't already know, but to say it out loud is a beginning. (And only a beginning)
The problem is, demonizing first nations people is so entrenched that it will take generations to undo the damages done. 
Take layton and the ndp in the last election, Martin had as good policy, with financial help for the nations, but because layton defeated the liberal minority government of the time, harper and the conservative got in, and eliminated the policies. Layton and his ndp showed, opportunity and power been more important than helping and undoing the damages done.

Then there's the recent story about 300 million for First nations housing yet out of that money only 99 houses where built. Not exactly a great success, considering how these houses are in dire need...one would think they would have hustle their asses a bit faster.
None of this is of any surprise to any of us, we have been there for the past 500 years.
The other problem is First Nations, leaders and people have become so dependent, the policy of the past so successful, that they talk and promise but nothing is ever done...
The only thing we can really do is start behaving in an independent fashion if we are to survive and thrive. We tried to work with them and it got us in deeper sh*t than before...

We have to look at what worked in the past, Chiefs, Council of Elders, Clan Mothers, Warriors as a role model to the young, basic tradition, make those work with the present, so we, especially our children, can have a future...We should not be afraid of the past, it was more respectful of life and nature than what the european's history books implies.
The poor, the single mothers, those who did not have a Warrior to provide for them were cared for, "no one was thrown out into the rain", as some movies implies, we had respect for others way of life and spirituality, "we did not go around burning priest", because it was against our beliefs, we had cities and capitols, health care and architecture rivaling any other race, so on...

They know they owe us big time because of what they've done and are responsible for, that's why their policies are still alive and well in their mindset, (whether it's shame or greed, that's something "they" have to figure out for themselves), sure we need the housing but throwing money is not the only thing we need or want.
What we really need is to separate ourselves from them in some way and become more dependent on who we are, to have faith in our way of looking at things, because we do things differently and assimilation has proven to be disastrous...especially for the young.
We don't want or do this for ourselves, but for our children's future.

So, will the chief justice's words change anything? Don't hold your breath.
We thank her for her honesty, but unless we do it for ourselves and stop been dependent on those who caused the problem in the first place, nothing will change anytime soon.


RunningWolf said...

Good one,to the point and honest.

Attakullakulla said...

"unless we do it for ourselves and stop been dependent on those who caused the problem in the first place, nothing will change anytime soon."
My thought exactly

Nikyon the clan mother said...

Couldnt have said it better.

Allison said...

To admit ones mistakes,Its a start,lets see where it goes.

Nizhoni said...

Love this site

Nubian Queen said...

It all starts with the family,you have a strong one, you have a strong nation.

Karen said...

@Allison,remember the big were sorry" by harper,
Whats changed since?

Anonymous said...

To many nameless grave stones.