751 More: Uncovering Canada’s History of Genocide

Confronting the dark reality of Canadian culture.


By Aishlin Armstrong | Canada

 

A photo shared on social media shows graffiti on a Saskatoon church. (Facebook/Donna Heimbecker)

 

751 remains of children were discovered at a former Residential School in Saskatchewan, the New York Times reported.


This recent discovery comes less than a month after 215 remains of children were uncovered in British Columbia, which undoubtedly prompted a ramping up of the search for remains.


It is believed that around 150,000 children attended residential schools in the approximately 100-year time frame they were open, but the number of those who never made it through still remains largely unknown.


Residential (IRS) schools in Canada flourished under the Indian Act, requiring Indigenous children to attend them. The principal goal was assimilation, and it was brought about by cutting Indigenous children off from their cultural, political, social, and educational ties. Essentially, cutting them off from their families, and in turn, their identity as Indigenous Canadians. Children were starved, beaten, sexually assaulted, forced to dress in “proper” attire, and so much more.


IRS was viewed as a solution to the “Indian problem.” Duncan Campbell Scott, a leader of the IRS system, used this term often. He stated that the goal of IRS was to “continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed into the body politic and there is no Indian question, and no Indian Department, that is the whole object of this Bill.”


Those who did not assimilate fully or fit into the mould of “civility” were killed and buried. With the goal to either, 1) assimilate Indigenous people and cut all ties to their homes, or 2) kill them. The leaders of the IRS system were not too worried about the repercussions of the latter. Unbeknownst to them, Indigeneity prevailed, endured, and survived to tell the tale. Indigenous people alive in Canada today are seeking justice, as they are all inter-generationally tied to this genocide. Crimes committed by past leaders can still be condemned by present leaders, and that is where a semblance of hope lies.


However, in the moments following this discovery, it seemed that top Canadian leaders had only thoughts and prayers to offer up.


Justin Trudeau tweeted: “We’ll continue to be there for the people of Cowessess First Nation and for Indigenous peoples across the country - and we’re committed to working together in true partnership to right these historic wrongs and advance reconciliation in concrete, meaningful, and lasting ways.”


In 2015, Trudeau established the 94 Calls to Action to "redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation." Six years later, and most have not yet been implemented.


His commitment to advancing reconciliation looks excellent on Twitter, but the absolute inaction speaks volumes.


Luckily, Kathleen Doxater, an Indigenous youth leader, has steps that ordinary people, like you and I, can take to accelerate the completion of the 94 Calls to Action in the presence of governmental inaction. She states that “Canadians can read up on the 94 calls to action. Send letters to your MP, send them to the prime minister, tell them that we want this done.

Make donations to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society.”


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