Primeminister Harper to Apologize to Canadian Natives regarding Canada's "Genocide"

Today Harper will offer an official apology on behalf of the Governement and people of Canada to the 1st Nations for its residental school policy

The backstory: the Governement of Canada once had a policy of dealing with the Native issue by forcibly taking children from their families removing them from their reserves and educating them to be… let’s face it, more white Anglo Canadian.

Native culture and language were stripped from 150 000 of these children and their eductaion under state funder church run supervision sometimes turned to horror stories of abuse and neglect.

After, the children were dumped back on their reserves where they neither fit with their traditional culture nor the cuture around them who would not accept them as anything but “Indians”.

I believe the last of these schools finally closed in 1980 and now after all this time the Government is offering an official apology.

I read some comments on this elsewhere and am saddened but not surprised at the attitude of “It wasn’t my fault why should they apologise” and the terse “Get over it, it is history” by many posters.

From what I have seen, the damage caused by this legislated attempt to strip a people of their identity is generational. I think its about time, but others seem to disagree.

What do you think?

I think it’s about time - Australia’s done it recently too. I mean, it doesn’t make up for what was done, but if people acknowledge that it happened and it was wrong, it makes it just a tiny bit harder to ever do again. I hope.

It’s good to apologize. It’s morally the right thing to do. The apology is owed.

My concern is that this will be media play for awhile and then people will figure everything’s fine and forget about the fact that the salient facts of the situation aren’t any better now. In the end, no matter how grovelling an apology it is, nobody will be satisfied, aboriginal Canadians will remain marginalized by a legal system of soft racism of which both aboriginals and non-aboriginals are willing architects, and Indian kids will be stuck on reserves with no jobs, hope, or future.

I wonder if the government is apologizing for the wrong thing. Putting aside for a moment the physical and sexual abuse that some of these students suffered (for which the churches should be apologizing), the schools were more of a symptom than the problem.

If Canadian government and society is set up so that the only way to succeed is by acting like a white Anglo-Canadian, then forcing non white, non Anglo-Canadians to adopt that culture is, within that system, a good thing, because it gives them opportunities. The real tragedy, and the real thing the Canadian government needs to apologize for is the fact that to succeed, you needed to act like a white Anglo-Canadian.

In other words, if there’s the following fact pattern:

  1. Society is set up so that people with Anglo-Canadian culture will succeed.
  2. Society is set up so that people with non-Anglo-Canadian culture will fail.
  3. The children of people with non-Anglo-Canadian culture will be made to go to schools to learn to act like Anglo-Canadians

then the real problem is number 2, not number 3.

The problem with apologizing for number 2, though, is that even today, I’m not convinced that number 2 is entirely false in Canadian society. There still is remarkable poverty, malnutrition, alcoholism, unemployment, and a host of other social problems among the First Nations. And that’s something this apology won’t cure.