Wednesday, June 11, 2008

oh hey guys, something important happened in canada, for once.

so, we have this awful history of running residential schools for inuit, first nations and metis peoples dating back to almost the birth of our nation with the goal of "getting the indian out of them". it's really fucked them up, and some pretty inexcusable things happened under the supervision of the church and state. today,

canada apologizes

i listened to it on the CBC (canadian NPR) and have to say i was very moved and even though i dislike our current PM, he gets huge points from me for doing this because it took a lot of guts to do it.

here is the speech


rufus said...

Okay, well admittedly, it pales in importance compared to the stories about the Hockey Night in Canada theme music getting changed.

However, I think he did a good job here too. I'm not sure the story makes clear just how dreadful those schools were. For example, the fellow who got the apology campaign started went to a school where sexual assault was common and frequent. He said that you knew when they told you that you had a phone call that they were likely luring you out to assault you.

Anyway, again, good for Harper. This is the second thing he's done that I liked (after closing the issue of gay marriage in a way that made everyone happy).

narrator said...

reconciliation can only really begin with a freely-given apology. I know that's a terribly Catholic thought, but I believe it is true. First Australia, now Canada. Could the US be next? I'm not holding my breath.

Hiromi said...

I saw this story last night (I was flipping through my channels and discovered I get Canadian TV!). The issue of apologies is a fascinating one. I don't truly understand the resistance many governments have to issuing apologies. I suppose they fear challenges to their legitimacy, the weakening of national myths, or the spectre of reparations, but I (perhaps naively) believe sincere apologies lend credibility.

clairev said...

r: the schools were truly awful places, many children died by suicide while attending them or by maltreatment. and then the aftermath of that has trickled down generationally...just a mess really. the fact that most of these were church-run just makes me more adamant that they are places to stay out of.

n: i believe the apology was freely given, the gov't has been working towards this for over a year now in conjunction with the ministry of indian affairs and has now set in place a commission to begin documenting what happened and (from my understanding) to put it in some form of memorial place to be able to be accessed by the public for research and education purposes. when it was described i thought about when i visited dachau, but with a different tone and intent. i'm not trying to equalize them, just draw some sort of simile.

h: completely agree with everything you said. i think past governments have shied away from this cause who wants to look "wrong"? i half wonder that saying 'we made a mistake' makes you look better. plus, this government has enough distance from the last schools that closed that they can say sorry without being directly implicated in running them. they just get the glory.


Rufus said...

I think it has to do with reparations- once you've admitted to doing wrong, the case is stronger for those who are claiming them.