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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  1. e.a.f.2:54 PM

    If anyone expects the Canadian Government to "admit" to something like genocide, they will wait a very long time. We are "celebrating" the countries' 150 yr anniversary. Nothing has gotten various governments to admit to genocide, but that is mostly, in my opinion, because the Canadian government continues to practice it or permits the practise of it. For those who disagree, just ask: How do you spell National Enquiry into missing/murdered First Nation women.

    Now it is up to First Nations to decide what they want to do in the upcoming federal election, continue to support a con government which clearly isn't in favour of an investigation or start running as candidates themselves, as independent candidates. Some may say a one issue party isn't going to go anywhere, but then that is what they said about Green and we now have Elizabeth May in the House of Commons. It may not be much, but its a start.

    My suggestion is, a First Nation candidate, campaigning on the issue of a National inquiry, might just get themselves elected. There is a lot of support for a national inquiry. I for one would forgo my "traditional" party.

    1. hi know I can't think of a better occasion to recognize that yes genocide did happen in this country than Canada's 150th anniversary. Because when people say to me but it was sooooo long ago. I say how long does it take to acknowledge such an obvious historical reality. And as I said in my post it's only by acknowledging the past, that we can move on to a better future...

  2. It makes me a little sick when I try to imagine the thought patterns of a piece of scum like stephen harper.

    1. hi thwap....I don't blame you, he really is a low creature. I try not to think about the voices in his head screaming at each other, or I might have nightmares. And I honestly believe that the only way to try to recreate his thought patterns is to take LSD and have a REALLY bad trip... ;)

  3. e.a.f., yes! I would too! But sadly, racism is thriving in Harper's Canada. There are many First Nations people I think are well qualified to represent us. Chelsea Vowel, Pam Palmater. Wab Kinew and many others. Parliament could only be improved by better representation. Thank you Simon, for your tireless work, I read you every day, but rarely comment.

    1. hi Kim...thanks a lot. As I said in the post I simply can't understand why we can't come to terms with our past. If a historical wrong is not acknowledged it will fester forever. It seems to me that you have to acknowledge the pain of our First Nations if we are ever to have a chance for a new beginning...

  4. Anonymous5:07 PM

    Not only that? Canada didn't even have the decency, to recognize the F.N. that served in WW2 for this country. Over there they were hero's. When the F.N. returned home, they were back to being dirty Indians. One of my brothers best army buddies, was a F.N. boy. They both played guitars and sang, they were appreciated equally. They remained buddies, until the day they died.

    Many of us in this neck of the woods, support the F.N. in their non stop battles to save their lands, waterways, food sources and the sea, from government greed. We all fight to save, BC's wild Salmon with the F.N. people.

    After the catastrophic Imperial Metals dam burst, at Mount Polley Mine in BC? The F.N. were trying to guard their head waters from, Imperial Metals other mine site. The RCMP trained sniper rifles on the F.N. RCMP said, the F.N. had a rifle. Well doh, the F.N. were in Bear country. Good grief they also had Bear spray, imagine that in Bear country? The RCMP are very stupid about Bears. Resource workers have been attacked and killed by Bears. However, the RCMP are Harper's police state.

    There is the highway of tears. Many F.N. walk that highway still searching for, their dead daughters, sisters, cousins, aunts and nieces. Their grief will go on forever, with no closure. However, Harper is a sociopath, that only cares about Harper and his power and glory, of selling Canada to Communist China.

    I don't think there is a F.N. petition, I haven't signed. Many, many Canadians are supporting the F.N. in their quest to find their loved ones.

    I can't imagine Harper wanting to admit to Canada's inhumane treachery, towards our F.N. people.

    1. hi anon...thank you for that nice story about your brother and the First Nations story. It is of course similar to the fate the black soldiers of America experienced when they returned home after the Second World War. And just as disgraceful. The struggle to improve the lives or our indigenous people may seem overwhelming and at times hopeless. But we won't ever be a great country until we succeed...

  5. Great post Simon and great response from this article. Keep up the great work.

    1. hi Marie...thank you I'm glad you like it. As I've mentioned before, I have a very big place in my heart for our First Nations. I think they make us a far more interesting country than we would be without them. And it drives me absolutely bonkers to see how bad they are treated. They deserve so much better, and we could do so much better...

  6. It is indeed sad - and the heights of hypocricy - how many soldiers of colours other than "white" fought bravely in a war that was supposedly against Nazi racist and fascist evil. Indigenous people from here and other British and French colonies, not only Amerindians but also Black, Brown and Asian French and British colonials, as well as the African Americans who liberated some of the Nazi death camps - because it wasn't seen as important enough back then for white Americans to be involved.

    In the Resistance itself, Jews, Armenians and Roma who had already experienced pogroms and genocide were involved - see "L'Affiche Rouge" about some of these brave young fighters who were all shot.

    A very high percentage of the Free French were "colonials" who had experienced enough of racism to see how shitty it was. It was unacceptable for the Americans to have Paris be liberated by "coloured" troops. I guess the colour bar was somewhat different in nature there, though the old imperialists were no less discriminatory in other ways to the peoples they colonised. "White" troops were brought in for the Liberation.

    And of course we remember that a gay man played a decisive role in breaking the Nazis' code.

    And that Navajo US troops were "code talkers" in a codified version of their own tongue...

  7. hi're right, so many soldiers of all races and creeds fought the Nazi bastards only to be treated so shabbily when they returned home. One of the stories I've always loved is the story of the black so-called Tuskegee Airmen, who had to prove that they could fly planes, did an amazing job of escorting bombers to Germany, only to return to their country and be treated as second class citizens again. I've seen a few documentaries on them and they are a fantastic group of men. And of course as you point out, there is the example of Alan Turing, the brilliant computer scientist who did more than most to defeat the Nazis, only to be driven to his death because he was gay. It's so unfair and so disgusting...

  8. Anonymous2:38 AM

    The terminology is all wrong. It's a CHRISTIAN residential school. The Vatican is still trying to hold out on a court ordered settlement. Instead wanting to pay its lawers. It's now more obvious than ever. Religion is the scum of the earth.