“vast swathes of the public education system are uncritically regurgitating the genocide story as if it were fact“
That is an actual quote from a senior Tory. In fact, the person who said that was once head speechwriter for Stephen Harper. But before you break out the pitchforks, don’t worry, he wasn’t talking about the Shoah or Jewish people, he was just talking about “Indians” and residential schools, in which case it’s totally OK. I mean apparently it’s OK, because he said that in 2013, and in 2014 he was being praised by one MP, and as of September of last year was still listed as working as a media contact for another Conservative EDA. This person in question is Paul Bunner, editor of the C2C Journal.
A few more quotes from this fellow – also from 2013, from an article titled ‘The “genocide” that failed‘:
The primary author of the modern Canadian Aboriginal grievance and entitlement narrative was Harold Cardinal, the Alberta Cree “boy genius from Sucker Creek.”
It made the case for Indians as “Citizens Plus,” a separate, distinct caste of Canadians who, by virtue of their status as the country’s original inhabitants and singular victims of European colonization, had a moral and legal right to pursue their own cultural destiny independent of Canadian society, except that it [Canada] would provide the land and pay the bills.
Fontaine, who presented himself as a victim of sexual and physical abuse in a Manitoba residential school, had adroitly leveraged the 1996 findings and recommendations of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples into a political and financial gold mine.
The best that can be said of Harper’s apology is that it was a strategic attempt to kill the story and move on to a better relationship between Natives and non-Natives.
Already, vast swathes of the public education system are uncritically regurgitating the genocide story as if it were fact, thereby adding to the legions of Canadian voters who will be suckers for future Phil Fontaines and Harold Cardinals and their never-ending demands for more tax dollars and greater political autonomy. It will slow any progress on integration, democratic reform and financial transparency on reserves and do nothing to reduce the terrible social pathologies afflicting Indians on and off the reserves.
Context is also needed to refute the “intergenerational legacy” of residential schools. The idea that victimization of one generation automatically passes to their descendants defies human experience. If it were true, the survivors and descendants of the Nazi Holocaust would be humanity’s basket cases instead of a people who have prospered like few others.
The British treated Natives in this country more benevolently than they did any other indigenous peoples within their empire.
A couple points. Re: mention of the survivors and descendants of the Nazi Holocaust. The reality is far different from what Bunner writes:
As of 2005, 40% of the 400,000 Holocaust survivors living in Israel live below the poverty line, resulting in heated and dramatic protests on the part of survivors against the Israeli government and related agencies. The average rate of cancer among survivors is nearly two and a half times that of the national average, while the average rate of colon cancer, attributed to the victims’ experience of starvation and extreme stress, is nine times higher.
There is a whole literature dealing with the psychological challenges that survivors and their children face – including mention of rates of PTSD above 90% in one study. I don’t know why he would disregard the suffering and poverty of holocaust survivors, except that they’re a useful symbol to beat “Indians” over the head with.
Not to diminish what happened to us natives in the 20th century, but I recognize that the holocaust and the residential schools are vastly different things. The holocaust was one of the greatest crimes of the 20th century. The residential schools were horrible, were a crime, but of a different scale. 1.5 million children died in the holocaust, 4,000+ native children died in the residential schools.
While the scale is different, it’s still a big number, about 1 in 40 – or in more familiar terms, the residential schools produced a death toll equal to a Columbine School Massacre once every 4 months for the full 100 years of their operation. Historically, they were only on the scale of the Nazi domestic euthanasia program, in which 5,000 German children were experimented on and killed. Granted, we put the civilians responsible for euthanizing those children on trial and then executed them… But the Germans were killed quickly, with gassing, the natives on the other hand were killed slowly, through neglect, abuse, and cruel experiments.
The point though is that all of these are crimes and you have to wonder about someone who casts doubt on that. Now to emphasize, I’m not saying that Paul Bunner is a holocaust denier, he obviously is not, and anyone who could read the above and think he is, is wrong and an idiot. But, is he saying that the crimes uncovered by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission are not fact? Read it again:
… vast swathes of the public education system are uncritically regurgitating the genocide story as if it were fact, thereby adding to the legions of Canadian voters who will be suckers for future [Native leaders] and their never-ending demands for more tax dollars…
If I found a Canadian politician who said he doubted the scale of the holocaust – I guarantee you that would be his last day in public life. But it is not hard at all to find establishment conservatives who deny the reality of what happened at the residential schools, who say that claims of abuse are being fabricated for money, or who just generally seem to be opposed to the concept of native rights. Here’s one. And another. And another.
I believe in free speech, and I support a person’s right to call us mercenary liars – but I also would like to see some god-damned social consequences for this stuff. Saying things like: “vast swathes of the public education system are uncritically regurgitating the genocide story as if it were fact” shouldn’t get you a round the world trip on the Prime Minister’s plane, it should get you branded for life as a political untouchable.
One very last point – when Stephen Harper gave the apology for the Residential Schools in 2008, Paul Bunner was working for him as a speechwriter. The same month Harper appointed the head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, he took Bunner with him on his government jet, on a tour of NATO capitals. When Bunner says the apology “was a strategic attempt to kill the story” I’m inclined to believe him, after all, he was there.