Canada | Education | Opinion

Thomas King: No justice for Native people with residential schools

Thomas King. Photo by Themightyquill / Wikipedia

Author Thomas King doesn't see Canada taking serious action to address the recommendations made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission:
On June 2, the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its executive summary on the ill-advised system of government-mandated, church-run residential schools that sanctioned the kidnapping for over a century of native children from their families and communities.

All under the guise of education.

The full report, a result of six years of research and public meetings across the country, along with the testimony of some 6,000 residential-school survivors, will be released later this year.

The 130-plus residential schools that operated in Canada were a product of the mid-19th century’s love affair with Christianity and the ideology of assimilation, and they persisted until 1996. In the 120 years that these institutions were in existence, more than 150,000 Aboriginal children were dragged, kicking and screaming – literally – into the waiting arms of Canadian paternalism.

One hundred and twenty years of neglect and malnutrition. One hundred and twenty years of physical, mental and sexual abuse. One hundred and twenty years of cultural genocide.

With mortality rates at some schools that reached 50 percent.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission came into being as a requirement of the 2006 Indian Residential Schools Settlement agreement, itself a product of the largest successful class-action suit in Canadian history, and was not created out of any largess on the government’s part. Perhaps that’s why, when the commission’s summary and its 94 recommendations came to the floor of Parliament, the prime minister thanked the commission for its work, noting simply that it “has spent a long time on this report” and that “it has issued a large number of recommendations.”

Which is the political equivalent of “so long and thanks for all the fish.”

Get the Story:
Thomas King: No Justice for Canada’s First Peoples (The New York Times 6/12)

Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report:
Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future (June 2015)

Related Stories:
Mary Pember: A long journey to healing from residential schools (6/9)
Pamela Palmater: Genocide was outcome of residential schools (6/9)
Opinion: US and Canada hope Native people forget about genocide (6/8)
Mary Annette Pember: 'Cultural genocide' at residential schools (06/03)
Mary Annette Pember: Finding truth and reconciliation in Canada (6/2)
Michael Champagne: We are all victims of residential school era (6/2)

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