Sunday, September 21, 2014
The Human Rights Museum and the Aboriginal Genocide
I see that the Canadian Human Rights Museum has finally opened its doors in Winnipeg.
Which as someone who has fought all his life for human rights, is something I would normally celebrate.
Except for the ghastly almost unbelievable fact that it doesn't recognize Canada's aboriginal genocide.
Because Stephen Harper and his disgusting Con regime won't acknowledge what was done to our precious native people.
Likely because of concerns about legal liability, Ottawa does not want the human rights museum to acknowledge that what happened to aboriginals in this country was a genocide. It seems clear that it was, but so far the debate has consisted of aboriginals, historians and human rights activists making the case for genocide while Ottawa says nothing.
Even though our history is all too clear in that regard...
To build the Canadian Pacific railway in western Canada, it was necessary to move the aboriginals off the land that settlers needed. Since the bison herds on which the aboriginals had always relied had been hunted to the point of extinction, and other game and fish was depleted by settlers, the aboriginals were starving.
Ottawa offered food, but only if aboriginals settled on reserves. It was never enough food, and so they died in droves, often while food rotted in government warehouses.
Even though one of the so-called Fathers of Confederation was a genocidal racist as bad as any other...
In the House of Commons, Sir John A Macdonald, under pressure for spending too much money on food aid, promised that they would be “rigid, even stingy” with food, “until the Indians were on the verge of starvation, to reduce the expense.”
Who would starve them at a time when new diseases brought in by the settlers were mowing them down.
And while the Human Rights Museum rightly honours the precious legacy of Nelson Mandela.
It apparently fails to recognize that the founders of the disgusting apartheid system in South Africa got their ideas from our very own reserve system.
Which for many were nothing less than death camps.
Once on reserves, aboriginals were subject to the Indian Act, which prevented them from voting, travelling off reserve without special apartheid-style passes, or organizing politically. Malnutrition and disease — especially tuberculosis — reduced formerly healthy populations to the point of collapse.
What was done to native children in our residential schools was a crime against humanity.
The government took aboriginal children away from their parents, sent them to residential schools, where they were abused, deprived of their language and culture, and died in large numbers of malnutrition and disease, the result of a deliberate policy of neglect that was only exposed by Peter Bryce, a crusading medical inspector at the turn of the last century.
And these monstrous experiments were as bad as some of the monstrous acts of callous cruelty in Dr Mengele's House of Nazi Horrors...
Historian Ian Mosby revealed last year that in the 1940s and 1950s, federal researchers conducted nutritional experiments on malnourished aboriginal children rather than feeding them.
Crimes so evil they should shock us and shame us forever.
Huu-ay-aht First Nation elder Benson Nookemus, 77, was already losing his teeth when he left Alberni residential school in 1947, after spending five years there. “A lot of us were always sick,” he said. “We were always hungry. We used to dig up raw potatoes and carrots from the school garden and eat them.”
In Alberni, children were refused dental care because government employees wanted to see the effect of an improper diet on children’s health, and received eight ounces of milk a day, instead of the recommended 24 ounces.
Blood samples were taken from children — who ranged in age from five to 16 — and letters written by the children show they were given unidentified injections.
But crimes which far too many Canadians seem all too content to ignore.
You know in a post I wrote yesterday, I quoted what Romeo Saganash had to say about the need for an inquiry into Canada's missing and murdered aboriginal women.
And our First Nation's need for closure.
This is what indigenous families in this country need. That is what they want. That is why they are calling for this national inquiry.
And the same thing goes for the rest of us. We will never escape from the shadow of shame. We will never have closure. We will never be a truly great country.
Until we recognize our history of colonialism, and what was done to our native people.
Or recognize that what's happening to them now is a direct result of what was done to them in the past.
The ongoing suffering in aboriginal communities is a direct result of centuries of dislocation, starvation and powerlessness, of governments that veered between criminal neglect and willful ethnic cleansing. We haven’t begun to absorb it, in part because the government doesn’t like the implications of acknowledging the simple facts of the genocide.
So let's make this latest outrage yet another reason to hold that inquiry.
Let's make it yet another reason to defeat Stephen Harper and foul un-Canadian regime who would recognize the genocide of others but not our own.
Let's embrace our precious native people.
And move forward together towards a better future...
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