Opinion: U.S. and Canada hope Native people forget about genocide

Residential school survivors gathered for the release of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Ottawa. Photo from Twitter

Looking at the legacy of genocide in the United States and Canada on the heels of a final report from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission:
Cultural genocide.

That is what the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada called the government-backed, church-run residential schools for more than 150,000 Indian children.

“Consider what it means, what we’re talking about today,” said Justice Murray Sinclair, chair of the commission. “The enormity of it. Parents who had their children ripped out of their arms, taken to a distant and unknown place, never to be seen again, buried in an unmarked grave long ago forgotten and overgrown.

“Think of that. Bear that. Imagine that.”

Yes, imagine that.

You see, the United States does not have the patent on genocide.

We know what we have done: slavery, systematic genocide of Indians, Trail of Tears.

Mary Annette Pember: Truth and Reconciliation Closing Event
Sinclair estimated more than 6,000 children died, though only 3,201 were officially documented, with half that number detailing a cause of death.

In other words, children were murdered.

Sinclair said it may take “generations to reverse the ongoing effects of cultural genocide.”

Unfortunately he is wrong.

We will never be able to reverse our wrongs. The only hope is that we forget, that they forget.

Get the Story:
Scott DeSmit: Proud heritage, troubling history (The Batavia Daily News 6/6)

Another Opinion:
Nathan Tidridge: Once a weapon, education is now key to reconciliation (CBC 6/7)

Also Today:
Kathleen Wynne calls federal response to TRC study 'disappointing' (CP 6/6)
Truth and reconciliation: Looking back on a landmark week for Canada (CBC 6/6)
Did Canada commit a ‘cultural genocide’? (The Washington Post 6/5)

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

Related Stories
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)

Join the Conversation