Friday, June 11, 2021

215 Children's Bodies Dumped in an Unmarked Grave


I'm a little late commenting on the CBC report that with the use of ground-penetrating radar, the  Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation has found evidence of 215 children buried in a mass grave on the grounds of a former residential school. But here are my thoughts:

I studied Canadian History in university and while we did read honest historical accounts of the sordid history of Indigenous and Colonialist encounters, it wasn't until I was on the discussion boards rabble/ and that I heard about the mass graves; about Aboriginal children dying of abuse and neglect and the Canadian authorities not informing the parents, but simply burying the bodies in mass graves.

I remember at the time being staggered by the racist callousness of it. To not even want to bother telling the parents and knowing that the system was so racist that nothing would happen if they just "disappeared" the children as if they'd never existed. ("Disappeared" is --- I learned from political scientist Susan George --- a word, --- an intransitive verb, --- invented to describe the actions of right-wing Argentinian death squads against left-wing activists; to kill them and act as if they never existed. The word seems appropriate for describing the racist indifference of our Residential School authorities and the federal governments that were in charge of them.)

Imagine being a Residential School survivor! Imagine being a child in an environment where you were being abused, starved, sickened by diseases caused by malnutrition and filth, ... and knowing that your abusers routinely dumped your bodies in a pit on the school grounds if you succumbed! This is just another horror to add to those that produced all of the psychological problems of the First Nations victims of this horrible system!

Settler-society Canadians like to pretend that this is all in the past. Vermin such as the Globe & Mail's editorial board disgraced themselves by insisting that the cost-free words of stephen harper's apology have atoned for this atrocity.  More than that, they went on to say that harper's empty words excused his subsequent unilateral abrogation of our Treaties with the First Nations, as well as his arrogant, racist attempts to impose increased surveillance and control over their day-to-day lives!

When he stood in the House of Commons in 2008, and made an historic apology for Canada’s role in the Indian residential schools system, Mr. Harper asked for the forgiveness of the aboriginal peoples of this country for “failing them so profoundly.” His sincere words revealed a respect for aboriginal peoples and, in his words, “their rich and vibrant cultures and traditions.”

At the same time Mr. Harper tried to put the relationship between the federal government and First Nations on a new footing. His government has sought to bring about needed reform and transparency to First Nations governance. The respect and the reform go hand in hand, and they are equally welcome.

This is all of a piece with our media propaganda system: As they always do, our major newsmedia underplayed this latest evidence of the vile nature of Canadian society as it was reported. 

Although the world recoiled in disgust and amazement from what can only be seen as evidence of state-endorsed genocide, Canadian media at first treated this as a secondary story. The Toronto Star, as an example, chose to run its first story on the discovery of children's bodies on page 10 of its May 29 paper. The next day its follow-up story made page eight. The day after, the paper ran a picture of a shoe memorial at Ontario's legislature on page one but the story ran on page three -- and like the others made no mention of the role of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

The clear message: do we really need to care about this? It's an old, old story. People know there were abuses at residential schools. There was a full inquiry a few years ago. We'll quote the prime minister calling it "shameful" and report that flags were lowered for a day, but there are more important things to put on page one, like a hockey game or a sex scandal involving a retired Blue Jays baseball player.

Canada is Israel and the First Nations are our Palestinians. The difference is that Canada is a vast country and the settler population heavily outnumbers the Indigenous population. We are practising a more slow-motion genocide. We don't conduct mass-bombings of First Nations reserves because we don't have to. But notice how whenever the First Nations rise up (generally peacefully) to protest some particularly egregious racist insanity being inflicted on them (whether in Caledonia, Ipperwash, Oka, Gustafsen Lake, or Wet'suwet'en, or anywhere) propagandists for the Canadian state will start shrieking about terrorism and the "rule of law" and all sorts of hypocritical garbage.

Because they're racist idiots. Their racism and their stupidity and their greed and entitlement turn their brains to shit and they bray like idiots because they simply can't help themselves. 

The gatekeepers of Canadian mythology will continue to pretend that history didn't happen until the moment when it becomes impossible to deny it:

Credible stories have been circulating for many years about children who disappeared without a trace at Indian Residential (so-called) schools.

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller now says those horrific places were not educational institutions. They were, in reality, labour camps, the minister admitted in a press conference.

After last week's grisly discovery of 215 buried children in Kamloops, we have physical proof of what we as a society should have acknowledged decades ago.

Many have spoken about the thousands of Indigenous children who died from disease, abuse and mistreatment at the hands of the government and churches. Despite apologies and a commission of inquiry, their testimony somehow never got the full respect it deserved. 

But, obviously, the truth is important for the First Nations. They paid the money to get the ground-penetrating radar experts to search for the bodies of their families and ancestors. And they will continue to find these mass graves because, just as the hypocrites in charge of our colonialist project want to ignore the cries for justice as long as they can, the First Nations want to fight back against them as hard as they can. And the horrible fact is that there are many more of these mass graves to be found. The continued racist arrogance and complacency and denialism of Canadian society, that continues to inform our racist justice system and all of our other institutions, continues the policy of slow-motion genocide. Exposing Canada's racist past (in our racist present) helps to weaken the edifice of Canadian colonialism and to re-direct the system back to the trajectory of justice that some members of Canadian settler society began to pursue in the late-20th Century (along with one noteable exception from the early-20th Century), especially in the Courts, where principled justices began to respect at least the letter of Canadian law and were thereby forced to rule in favour of the First Nations.

The last thing that I want to say is that anyone who tries to argue that this happened a long time ago and that Canada is a different place now, is that (besides the fact that the Residential Schools persisted into the the 1990s and, also, that the abductions of that system were replaced by the "Sixties Scoop" which a tragedy in and of itself) is that we cannot simultaneously say that while also "never forgetting" Canada's role in World War I, or any other parts of our history that we claim make us who we are today. If Vimy Ridge is a part of Canada's culture, then so is the racist brutality of our Residential Schools.

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