Canada Day this year will be different for just about all Canadians.
At its most basic, with pandemic restrictions being loosened in Alberta and eventually in Sask., celebrations are undoubtedly effected from previous years: either not as bad as last year, but still with restrictions from previous years.
However, Canada Day should be about something far deeper than that. Instead of trying to imitate the over the top American 4th of July hoopla or have an understanding of what Canada means to them with more depth than a More than hockey, Tim Horton’s or Molson Canadian commercial, Canadians mark Canada Day differently, all things considered.
If we really want to “be Canadian” we should do as a seemingly developed, first and foremost the first class country profess ourself to be, is at least mourn the discovery of all these children found buried at these “residential schools.” If you do not feel any sort of emotion for these young lives lost, then you are either racist or have no soul.
These institutions which were operated by mostly the Roman Catholic Church but still pushed forth and financed by the federal government’s Department of Indian Affairs.
The whole idea behind the “residential schools” were to eliminate the indigenous culture and indoctrinate them into the predominately European one. In one news report, a survivor of the institutions described it as “We learned how to not like who we were”.
We haven’t done that yet. Sure the emotions and reactions from some have ranged from sadness, shock, rage, and maybe some remorse from many and while there is some on a grassroots level expressing deep sadness and outrage, many are not.
It has been pathetic. What is disturbing is all the calls from many people for those affected to “just get over it.” Think about that for a second. The government/institutions come to your door or send you correspondence telling you, you had to give up your children to a place where they learned to dislike their heritage. While there, threatened these youngsters and the parents and told them they had to be obedient or else they would lose privileges like coming home. In many cases (as of June 26, over 1,000 by local counts so far) these innocent children never did.
And it was generations of this… those who did come home would pass this information on down, but they were still forced to go, suffering physical and mental atrocities over decades — up until 1997. And our response for those of us who have never had to face this government and religiously imposed criminal tyranny is, “get over it?”
It’s not the fault of this current generation, but it is how we as citizens, as government and as organized religions react to it.
“We all inherited this, nobody today created residential schools, nobody today created the Indian Act, nobody today created the 60’s Scoop, we all inherited it and have to acknowledge that people are healing and people are hurting. Let’s do something about it.” explained Chief Cadmus Delorme, Cowessess First Nation.
This is the issue: there isn’t a lot of direct action, yet.
As of time of writing, there is no national day of mourning, and other than some hollow words, nothing substantial from those federally who can do something. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed an almost obligatory sounding political sorrow.
There is no example being set by the leadership of Canada, government or religious. The Roman Catholic Church (nor has the Anglican or United Churches which also had control of some of these schools) has not been forthcoming and the leader of the largest Christian-based religion in the world refuses to apologize.
The Pope hasn’t, nor does it sound like he will apologize.
To ease political pressure, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defected the blame away from he Canadian government and said the Roman Catholic Church as an entity needs to apologize. Trudeau is Roman Catholic.
While this deflection of blame goes on, it shouldn’t comes as too much of a surprise the attitude of federal politicians. It is long standing obviously with the policies which were developed.
Earlier last week, Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett had to apologize to independent MP Jody Wilson-Raybould. Wilson-Raybould who was Canada’s first Indigenous attorney general wrote to Bennett “With the horrific news out of Saskatchewan, our collective call, again, is for concrete transformative action. @JustinTrudeau, if you care enough to make things right, stop your selfish jockeying for an election — which no one really wants — and do what you promised in 2018.”
In response, the Liberal Indigenous Relations Minister wrote back the word “Pension?” with a screenshot of the tweet. That is your federal governing Indigenous Relations Minister and the media treats it like an "oops" story.
Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre, Conservative MP and Parliamentary Secretary in 2008 was quoted as saying “Canada’s Aboriginals need to learn the value of hard work more than they need compensation for abuse suffered in residential schools.”
The prevailing 'privledge" attitude of the "Euros know best" slides into the current religious leadership.
On June 20, Scarborough priest (in the ironicly named) Merciful Redeemer Parish Pastor Owen Keenan had his sermon posted on social media in which he stated: “Two-thirds of the country is blaming the church, which we love, for the tragedies that occurred there… Now I presume that the same number would thank the church for the good that was done in those schools, but of course, that question was never asked and in fact, we are not allowed to even say that good was done in those schools.”
Haven't seen a lot of huge lists describing the benefits to these institutions.
Now before people get indignant and say that anyone who doesn’t like it here can just move or should consider ourselves lucky to live here, no one is saying that. We as a nation, just have to do what is right.
It all starts with getting and investigating the truth, the acceptance of the facts and then the reconciliation.
Why is there (at least) 751 young people buried in unmarked graves at the school? Who developed the rules, the specific mandate and who allowed it to go on?
Then we have to add to the education and history of this country… this is what happened in these assimilation institutions and quit glossing it over calling it residential school or at least understand what it means.
Next, find out what the indigenous community wants. What do they want moving forward? The indigenous community has been telling Canadians what happened for decades and were ignored. This taking seriously of what they have to say can no longer be ignored. Give these families help with however they need to to bring all these children home.
A criminal investigation by an independent body should be done which includes an opening of all the books of the federal government and in all of the provinces church-wise to find out who knew and who did what and when during this horrible time.
But first, we need to show some solidarity or compassion for everyone in the indigenous community. Remember these poor children and their families and think about and find how and why this (cultural) genocide happened in the first place.
Pressure politicians and religious leaders; raise your voice on social media, with those in your realm.
If we truly are “true, north, strong and free,” then we need to get the collective heads of the political sand and do what’s right. It applies to all, not just a select group.
Ryan Dahlman, editorial of Prairie Post West and Prairie Post East