Canada’s indigenous schools policy was ‘cultural genocide’, says report

Truth commission delivers verdict on church-run residential institutions – Schools were one of Canadian history’s ‘darkest and most troubling chapters’

The Guardian, By John Barber, June 2

Canadian governments and churches pursued a policy of “cultural genocide” against the country’s aboriginal people throughout the 20th century, according to an investigation into a long-suppressed history that saw 150,000 Native, or First Nations, children forcibly removed from their families and incarcerated in residential schools rife with abuse.

After seven years of hearings, and testimony from thousands of witnesses, the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission called on Tuesday for a new era of forgiveness and understanding even as it exposed the cultural and personal devastation inflicted by the residential schools policy in excruciating detail.

“These measures were part of a coherent policy to eliminate Aboriginal people as distinct peoples and to assimilate them into the Canadian mainstream against their will,” the commission’s final report declares.

“The Canadian government pursued this policy of cultural genocide because it wished to divest itself of its legal and financial obligations to Aboriginal people and gain control over their land and resources.”

388-page Commission Report Executive Summary:Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future
Truth and Reconciliation Commission: Findings

The Toronto Star: Canada’s residential schools cultural genocide, Truth and Reconciliation commission says
New York Times: Canada’s Forced Schooling of Aboriginal Children Was ‘Cultural Genocide,’ Report Finds
Al Jazeera: Canada accused of ‘cultural genocide’
BBC: The schools that had cemeteries instead of playgrounds, By Sian Griffiths BBC News, Ottawa, June 13

Thus far, the government has agreed to just one. However, in a sure sign that an election is looming, opposition parties agreed, if elected, to implement all the recommendations.

One of those key demands is that this shameful chapter of Canadian history be taught as a mandatory subject in all Canadian schools. No doubt one key date students will never forget will be the day Judge Sinclair made Canadians face up to their past.


Canada commission issues details abuse of native children
Canada’s native people get a formal apology
RCMP ‘herded’ native kids to residential schools
Canada reopens its “most disgraceful” act
Well! It’s not just the Catholic Church…

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  • Maine’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission finds ‘evidence of cultural genocide’

    As Manitoba apologizes for the Sixties Scoop, a look at how Maine approached a similar problem.

    CBC News, By Tim Fontaine, June 19

    On Thursday, the Manitoba government apologized for the Sixties Scoop – the forced adoption and relocation of thousands of indigenous children.

    But in Maine, where indigenous peoples faced a similar problem with child welfare agencies – a different approach has been taken to facing a dark history.

    In 2013, the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission was launched, tasked with investigating why so many Wabanaki children ended up in child welfare.

    Although the Wabanaki are just four tribes with around 8,000 members, it was found that Wabanaki children are five times more likely to be apprehended by child welfare agencies than other children in the state.

    “At one point in the ’80s, Maine had the second highest rate of removal for native children in the United States,” said Charlotte Bacon, executive director of the Wabanaki TRC.

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