TW: MENTIONS OF GENOCIDE AND DEATH
Since the discovery of the mass grave in Kamloops, B.C., with the remains of 215 children, there has been discussion about compensation for those who have been affected by the residential school system and those who attended the schools directly, also referred to as day scholars. While Prime Minister Trudeau has sympathized with Canada’s First Nations communities, he is simultaneously fighting against survivors in Ottawa, arguing about how much residential school survivors are entitled to. The government has continued to ignore the cultural genocide that they inflicted upon Indigenous people, and the harm they cause Indigenous people today as they refuse to take responsibility for their actions. Rather than acknowledge that they have harmed the public, the government is passing the blame to the Catholic church, which has also refused to accept responsibility.
Did what took place in residential schools amount to genocide?
For an act to qualify as genocide, both a mental (intent) and a physical element must be present. There was an undeniable presence of both in Canada’s Residential School System. It is no secret that these schools existed to “kill the Indian in the child” and to assimilate Indigenous children into Euro-Canadian ways of life. These “schools” were places of constant harm against Indigenous children, they were the place where the culture and language they grew up with was snatched from them.
To say that the residential schools in Canada, created and regulated by the Catholic church and Canadian government did not inflict genocide against First Nations people is to deny the facts that stand. It is also denying the statement and intent to “kill the Indian in the child”.
Listening to the stories of those who have survived the residential school system is crucial in this time, you can read a few stories at Legacy of Hope:
What are Canadian leaders doing about all of this?
My responsibility as a Canadian is to look at the actions our members of parliament take to better this country and contribute to ending global conflicts. Justin Trudeau’s actions, not only during the past week but throughout his time as Prime Minister, have left me and many others deeply disappointed. The promises that Trudeau made during his campaign to right the wrongs of the past, to guarantee clean drinking water on all reserves, have not been fulfilled, not even in the slightest. While he may say he is sorry, his actions clearly indicate he has no interest in helping the Indigenous community. It is not only cowardly but also not what Canadians expect from their Prime Minister to pass the blame.
“How do you gauge trauma?” Jagmeet Singh asked, clearly opposing the current litigation. On Monday the NDP passed a motion calling the federal government to drop several cases they are currently fighting against.
Jagmeet Singh has been very outspoken about Indigenous issues, calling out Trudeau for his lack of action, and rather his empty words, half-mast flags, and taking a knee at a memorial site. His announcement for concrete actions is still being waited upon, and truly contradicts the way he has done nothing for First Nations, Metis, and Inuit people in Canada.
Did you hear about the motion passed on Monday?
A powerful start on a path to a better future, the motion passed by the NDP on Monday called for the government to end all litigation against residential school survivors, including those who attended St. Anne’s residential school, as well as the two appeal cases, one from 2018 and another from 2020.
The motion also called on the government to investigate the unmarked graves at all residential school sites, in accordance with the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
The vote passed 271-0 with an alarming number of Liberal members abstaining from the vote, Justin Trudeau included. This is deeply concerning in a time when action is needed, our MP’s refusing to vote on a motion shows their lack of responsibility and especially after Ottawa refused to take accountability for the residential school system at all.
Let’s do what we can to treat each other with respect and responsibility.