The time is long overdue for Canadians to stand against the history of colonialism and genocide which has marked the relationship of First Nations with the European settler population. The Truth and Reconciliation commission has released a damning report of our history, which requires us to demand that our government implement all 94 recommendations of the Commission.
The racist first prime minister of Canada, Sir John A. Macdonald, authorized the creation of Residential Schools. He is quoted as saying: “When the school is on the reserve the child lives with its parents, who are savages…..[so] the Indian children should be withdrawn as much as possible from the parental influence, and the only way to do that would be to put them in central training industrial schools where they will acquire the habits and modes of thought of white men.” *
All Canadians need to challenge this appalling history with action, solidarity and the utmost pressure on our governments to make the changes called for in this Commission’s report.
This is not the first time the issues have been laid bare. The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (1996) and many other provincial reports have put forward initiatives to right the oppressive and colonial injustices experienced by native peoples across the country – yet there has been no implementation, and racist and genocidal policies continue.
The report of this most current examination of the Canadian state’s policies states: “The Canadian government pursued this policy of cultural genocide because it wished to divest itself of its legal and financial obligations to Aboriginal people and gain control over their land and resources.”
The wealth of this country was, and continues to be, based on the exploitation of Aboriginal peoples and their land, and the violation of treaty rights. While all workers across this country are exploited in thousands of ways by the economic elite (the 1%), we have to acknowledge that even what wealth they have has been built on the backs of the Aboriginal peoples.
The extraction of resources that causes climate change and destroys the environment is the direct descendant of the policies of the last 400 years. Saving the environment, the fighting against austerity and capitalism, and defending the rights of Indigenous peoples are the connected threads of our struggle.
* All quotes taken for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report, June, 2015.
What you can do now:
-Participate in calls for solidarity with the Mi’kmaq people in Nova Scotia.
-Support the struggle against fracking in Elsipogtog. Raise money for legal battles stemming from demonstrations; for example, the fund to support Annie Clair. (For information contact firstname.lastname@example.org)
-Write to the Harper government and your local MP to demand the implementation of all 94 recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission; the active recognition of the United Nations Declarations on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and the establishment of a Royal Inquiry into the matter of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.
-Raise these issues in your local community, union, school, place of worship and build support for solidarity action. Some ideas: begin meetings by acknowledging unceded Mi’kmaq territory; strike a committee to work on Aboriginal issues; educate other non-Aboriginal people on the need for reconciliation.
Read and share with family, friends and co-workers.