Many hundreds of unmarked graves of Indigenous children discovered at Canadian residential schools

Yes, I’m aware. I wouldn’t be surprised if unmarked graves aren’t found. One of many dark chapters in our history.

Denmark experimented with Inuit children from Greenland too. In 1951 22 children was taken away from their parents and brought to Denmark to be educated.
When they were send back, they didn’t remember their language and didn’t fit in, neither in Greenland or Denmark. It was a tragedy, not as big as the American ones, but in the same spirit.
Our prime minister did, a bit late, apologize to the survivors back in 2020.

There was plenty of outrage about residential schools over the last decades, which led, in fact to a very important commission that operated from 2008 - 2015 and led to many recommendations (which were then largely ignored but government and church.

The Commission officially concluded in December 2015 with the publication of a multi-volume final report that concluded the school system amounted to cultural genocide. This is not just the opinion of some here on the SDMB.

And this was not the only school. We have no idea how many other unmarked graves there are yet to be found, and how many records are still being hidden by the church.

Of the living survivors of these schools, approximately ONE HALF gave testimony of sexual or other serious assaults.

I should be shocked that someone would proffer an opinion on Canada’s residential schools tragedy without ONE TINY IOTA of knowledge about it, but I’m not. It seems common for some to blurt out foolish opinions based on no research, no reading, no knowledge whatsoever.

No, you are incorrect. Completely. Totally. Your knowledge of this subject could fit in a thimble.

I can admit that I was ignorant of what seems to have happened at residential schools. I was aware that conditions were difficult. This did not seem unusual for the time. There seemed to be a degree of abuse commensurate with other ecclesiastic programming. Of course, it wasn’t. The degree and numbers of abused were much higher than what we were taught.

There was an attempt to end the cultures and languages of minority groups which, though offensive, is hardly unique to this country. A desire to educate sounds positive; assimilation is negative, but might theoretically have some benefits. I felt calling it genocidal was not wrong, but was melodramatic - and that this did not help the debate.

But I was not aware of unrecorded deaths. That these exceeded other schools by up to 500 pct. That employees and good people did complain and were fired. That these were all found at a single school, and the actual number of overall deaths is unknown. It needs to be investigated immediately. It seems genocide is indeed the correct word for what happened.

I do not buy the term “cultural genocide”. That word “genocide” needs to be reserved for the mass deaths of millions, not just denying people their cultural heritage. The term “cultural genocide” minimizes the very real act of death genocide perpetrated upon the Jews, slavs, gays, gypsies and others during the Holocaust- causing the deaths of some 12 millions. Or Stalins genocide which killed maybe 20 million. Pol Pots genocide which killed 2 million, the Armenian genocide which killed about a million, etc.

Sure shutting down some peoples culture is pretty damn bad. But killing them all is worse. I don’t buy the term 'cultural" genocide" at all, because it weakens real genocide.

So yeah, I deny “cultural genocide” as it is in a way Holocaust denial. By using that same word to refer to both actions, it minimizes the horrors of real genocide.

Do not get me wrong- trying to destroy a culture is of course horrible and a crime. But once we start throwing around the word too lightly it weakens it.

You’re a bit late there.

I disagree with that.

And I disagree with the trivializing implications in the wording (my bolding) “just denying people their cultural heritage.”

The underlying problem in genocide in the sense of trying to kill all the individuals in a given ethnic group, and in cultural genocide in which the attempt is to kill the culture even at the cost of seriously damaging and in some cases killing its individual members, is the same: it’s the desire to prevent the Other from existing, and to allow people to live in only one way: combined with the willingness to take this to the point of physical force up to and including the deaths of children.

I will grant that the version in which all the individuals are to be killed even if they’re willing to convert has an additional layer of evil. But if we allow the general principle, we greatly increase the danger of that version coming into play; whether later on about the same group, or about some other group. We need to recognize that it’s the same underlying problem.

ETA: @Dr_Paprika, thank you for publicly acknowledging changing your mind based on acquiring further knowledge. That shouldn’t be rare, but it is.

This doesn’t make any sense.

You’ve been complaining that the residential school system was not genocide because it did not constitute an attempt to physically exterminate a population. Alright, fine; that’s semantic quibbling but fair enough. Then there exists a term for that; “cultural genocide.”

But now you’re saying you… don’t buy that? You don’t buy a different term to describe the other phenomenon? Uhhhh, why? What’s wrong with it? If you object to the the fact it’s a compound term, are you not aware of how English works?

Would it make you happier if we just invented a new word? Until then, can we just use the terms everyone’s been using for 70-od years so we can get back to a discussion of the real issues?

Well the term “Cultural genocide” is both fairly new, and rather disputed. I am not the only one that does not like it. The UN has not yet accepted it, for example:

Proposed inclusion in the UN’s DRIP[edit source]

See also: United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Those who drafted the 1948 Genocide Convention initially considered using of the term, but later dropped it from inclusion.[8][9][10]

Was the school system “real” genocide, not 'cultural"? Maybe. That did seem to be its end result in many cases, but it does not appear that was the aim. The aim seemed to be not evil in any way. Was it “organized” and “deliberate”? However, the way it was carried out and the end result is very problematic. That can be argued.

I just do not like words like “genocide” and “rape” bandied about lightly. If someone said "man that price was really high, they really raped me there." I would say something or report it on a MB.

This is not to say what happened there wasn’t horrific. It was. I do not think it quite rose to “genocide”, however, but that is just one persons opinion.

To be fair, a couple of Canadian leaders have used the term to refer to the situation: * In 2007, a Canadian Member of Parliament criticized the [Ministry of Indian Affairs](Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations - Wikipedia)’ destruction of documents that were evidence to the “cultural genocide” imposed on Indigenous peoples within Canada.[36]
** The Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada concluded that the Canadian Indian residential school system “can best be described as ‘cultural genocide.’”[37]*
** In 2015, Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin, of the Supreme Court of Canada, stated in a speech to the Global Centre for Pluralism that Canada’s historical treatment of Indigenous peoples was an attempt at cultural genocide, and “the worst stain on Canada’s human-rights record.”[38]*

Yes, and sociologists have other terms for it. Ethnocide is a much better term. "Cultural Cleansing" is another. We don’t have to invent a new word, they have been around for sometime.

No doubt Ethnocide or Cultural Cleansing is a really bad thing, a crime. Does it get up there with sending people off the the gas chambers? I do not think so. Others might.

My final point here is that some of the Ire here is not suited for general light heartedness of “Mundane Pointless Stuff…” and of course the issue is neither “mundane” nor “pointless”. And it is one of those issues that if you do not agree 100% with the ire, you become the enemy, and people start describing your posts are saying that it was a good thing and wonderful, whereas I have said just the opposite.

Paying attention to that Wikipedia article when it suits you, huh?

The concept has still been around since 1944 and here’s why – other than a mention in Article 2(e) – it’s not in the UN Genocide Convention: they couldn’t reach a consensus.

Did I ignore your post or something?

Or something…

Okay, would you like to propose a word for “the deliberate elimination, using the power of the state, to cause the forced end of a culture”?

I did, and two that are commonly used-



It was a bad idea by the Government, they should not have done it. It was often handled poorly, with terrible, horrible results. A travesty that should be looked into fully.

So, where do we disagree?

You think it was a good idea, perhaps? Not horrible? What? I do not understand the ire.

Is the only possible post here “we are the chorus and we agree, we agree?”. Should we dig up the various Popes, have a trial, cut off their fingers and throw their bodies in the Tiber? I hope not, but then what? What post would make you happy?

So I think maybe the term “genocide” is overused and may not fit this incidence. Sure, that is something we can disagree on like sensible adults without namecalling. We are in 99% agreement, does it have to be 100% or else you get into a frothing rage?

Article 2 of the Genocide Convention defines genocide as (bolding mine)

any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

You’re saying none of that happened in Canada?

And this Canadian atrocity has been defined as Cultural Genocide by the Canadian government and our leaders.

So, sorry if anyone else does not like the term, but that’s the way it is. Time to move on from the semantic quibbling.