Final event of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission this week

Seriously? How is that even possible? That this weekend could be the “final” event of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission just boggles my mind.

I have watched The Apology repeatedly. I have read the text. I have followed the work of the Commission.

According to the TRC website

it is time for healing

it is time for hope

it is time for respect

it is time for reconciliation

I agree. Apparently, my understanding of those words is not the same as other people’s.

I actually do understand that the scope of the TRC and therefore of this event and the report which is to be released is limited to the topic of residential schools. But pretty much all the pure and utter *&*@#$&%**%  that continues to occur around Canadian and Aboriginal issues in Canada is also related to residential schools – so how is anything reconciled?

It is time for healing.

Are we healing Aboriginal people by tossing them into jails (provincial) and prisons (federal) at every opportunity? Allowing them to die there?

giovanni xavierBy refusing their infants medical care for the lack of $40 or a health card? Yes, he died. Over $40 or a piece of plastic.

By accepting that Aboriginal people are more likely to suffer and/or die in our health care system because of ‘pervasive’ racism?

 

it is time for hope

About 36% of Aboriginal people graduate secondary school compared to about 72% among nonAboriginal Canadians.

Suicide rates?  Many times as likely as among nonAboriginal Canadians.  Up to eleven times as likely among the Inuit.

Missing and murdered women (and men)? Many times as likely as among nonAboriginal Canadians.

The Harper cons have systematically removed funding for culturally sensitive programs to help Aboriginal people over the past year or so. They say they are concerned about violence against Indigenous women (when they’re not busy telling us it is, actually, not really on their radar) – but the programs run by Aboriginal people to help those who are or were or might be homeless? Nope, can’t have those any more.

An estimated 20,000 First Nations people living on reserves across Canada have no access to running water or sewage. In addition, at any one time 110 to 130 First Nations are under boil water advisories because their municipal water is not safe to drink.

There’s a massive shortage of housing on reserves as well; so the Harper government came up with this brilliant new program that next to no one can qualify for or use. Can’t be bothered doing anything to keep the ones there are from burning to the ground though.

it is time for respect

The National Parole Board decided that a 22 year old young man dying of cancer could bloody well die without an opportunity to see his mom because while she was in prison for a murder that there is little/no proof she committed she made the ‘mistake’ of working out and now is in sufficiently good state of fitness that she could potentially outrun corrections officials if she were able to get away from them. She wasn’t permitted to travel to his funeral either, of course.    You know what? Even if she had committed that murder or some other crime, that young man did nothing wrong and he did not deserve to go through his illness without at least seeing his mom once.

button - witnessThe Canadian government continues to provide Aboriginal children with significantly less funding for services than any other Canadian child receives – and rather than doing anything to actually acknowledge or try to solve the problem, thought it would be a good idea to hire lots and lots of lawyers to repeatedly attempt to derail the work of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal Hearing.

Aboriginal children are more likely to be removed from their families than are non-Aboriginal children. They are over-represented here as well.  So, yay, no more residential schools – we just take them from their families when they’re young, or wait until they get older and then jail them. ~brilliant~

Read a comment section on an Aboriginal issue lately? Unless heavily moderated, comments on articles that have anything to do with Aboriginal Canadians are filled with racism, discrimination, and just plain old hate. Far, FAR too many Canadians don’t know the first thing about anything – but they think they know it all and they don’t hesitate to spew their filth and rage. Because, you see, it is still perfectly acceptable, in Canada, to be racist and discriminatory and hateful – as long as it is directed toward Aboriginal peoples. Hell, even our Minister for Aboriginal Affairs can’t be bothered to hide his contempt; why should Joe Blow Canadian?

it is time for reconciliation

But apparently Harper can’t be bothered to commit to attending the final event of the TRC this weekend. Silly of Canadians to expect him – after all, you never know when there might be pandas.

There are so many other stories, statistics, people we have lost… killed… thrown away…. abandoned… I could go on and on. It …disgusts? horrifies? saddens? appalls? sickens? embarrasses? … all of the above and more… me.

In the Apology, Mr. Harper said

The burden of this experience has been on your shoulders for far too long.  The burden is properly ours as a Government, and as a country.  There is no place in Canada for the attitudes that inspired the Indian Residential Schools system to ever prevail again. You have been working on recovering from this experience for a long time and in a very real sense, we are now joining you on this journey. The Government of Canada sincerely apologizes and asks the forgiveness of the Aboriginal peoples of this country for failing them so profoundly.

I agree. The burden of colonialism, of discrimination, of a lack of healing, hope, respect and reconciliation has indeed been on the shoulders of Aboriginal people and communities in Canada for far too long.

But I’m so very sorry to say that I honestly think we are a very, very long way away from healing, hope, respect, and reconciliation yet.

As all of the issues above – and so very many more – heartbreakingly show, we are SO not yet at a place where we can say that there is no place in Canada for the attitudes that inspired the Indian Residential Schools system to ever prevail again. Those attitudes remain. They are pervasive. There is so much work yet to do.

So hey…. have a “final event” of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission; I wish I could be there.

But don’t kid yourself. The work is nowhere near finished.

In fact, I  think it would be a far more accurate assessment to say that it has barely begun.

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