Wednesday, June 3, 2015
"Cultural Genocide": Landmark Report Decries Canada’s Forced Schooling of Indigenous Children
Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzales, with Pamela Palmater
June 3, 2015
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Canada has concluded the country’s decades-long policy of forcibly removing indigenous children from their families and placing them in state-funded residential Christian schools amounted to "cultural genocide." After a six-year investigation, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report concluded: "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 lands and resources. If every aboriginal person had been 'absorbed into the body politic,' there would be no reserves, no treaties and no aboriginal rights." The first schools opened in 1883. The last one closed in 1998. During that time over 150,000 indigenous children were sent away to rid them of their native cultures and languages and integrate them into mainstream Canadian society. Many students recall being beaten for speaking their native languages and losing touch with their parents and customs. The report also documents widespread physical, cultural and sexual abuse. We are joined by Pamela Palmater, associate professor and chair of the Centre for Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University, an Idle No More activist and author of "Beyond Blood: Rethinking Indigenous Identity and Belonging."