Owning our common history

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission produced the final report on the most shameful part of our common, Canadian history. Our treatment of the first, original people of what we call now Canada. On six generations of cultural genocide committed by our governments, our Churches – in our name. Six generation of people being kidnapped from their parents, their homes. And placed in camps called “Schools” where they were beaten, maltreated, often to the point of death and forced to remember that they amount to nothing. This criminal treatment was done by criminal priests, teachers, nuns and administrators. It was done not only with the approval of our governments – it was handsomely paid by the government. We must, as nation, face it. Own it. Not only trough lofty statements (and often not followed by concrete actions) but through ourselves. Regardless if you are first generation Canadian or eight generation Canadian. This is the price of being a citizen. You take not only the good and the glorious but also the ugly, the criminal, the shameful. And shameful it was. Still is in many cases. I am profoundly sorry to all Canadian aboriginal people. Sorry as a Canadian, as a Canadian of European roots, as a Canadian with Christian roots, as a human being.
A lot of people, although not being apologetic to the crimes done by Residential Schools, do not want to feel any responsibility of it. Their moral self-defence is apprehensive toward that idea, assuming that by accepting the guilt – they somehow become the perpetrator, the partner in crime. That’s wrong. Helping to commit an offence is a crime, not doing anything to stop it or pretending that one does not see it is a crime at least in a moral sense. But not accepting responsibility for our own history is very wrong. It is callous, it is sign of fear or perhaps even sign of hidden racist attitude. Perhaps down deep you still cling to that disgusting adage: a good Indian is a dead Indian. In that case I pity you. Pity your stupidity. A lot of nations had to come to terms with not so glorious past, with hidden truths. With skeletons in the family closet. If you don’t – you are well on the way to repeat similar mistakes and crimes in the future.
The Americans never fully and with conviction rejected slavery and notion of Black people as being equal to them. Hey keep repeating their grandfathers mistake, they reap the seed of their hatred and small mindedness with every riot which shakes the country regularly in nowadays. Is Canada going to follow in their footsteps? Given the enormous legal rights that aboriginal people posses in Canada (they have sovereign Treaties with the Crown) it would be a fatal mistake. That it would be a moral failure of unforgivable magnitude – is beyond doubt.

About Bogumil P-G

publisher, essayist, poet lived (and born) in Poland, later England, Italy, presently in Canada
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