It’s going to be a lot, lot, more. In case you’re unfamiliar with what I’m refering to, its this:
Remains of 215 children found buried at former B.C. residential school, First Nation says
I highly doubt this is isolated. In the Truth and Reconciliation commission on residential schools in Canada, it was brought to light that 4,100 children died or went missing. It was estimated that thousands more were unaccounted for. It is more than likely that an examination of other residential schools across the country, you’ll find more unmarked mass graves.
This is staggering to wrap our heads around. This is a massive piece of modern history for many Canadians to wrap their heads around. And this is modern history. The last residential school closed in 1996. For the majority of Canadians alive, this system was alive and functioning in our life time. Organized by our government. In our name. We cannot ignore or explain away what happened here.
Mass graves of children, some as young as three are going to be discovered. Mass graves are dug to cover up the truth. To hide from the public what you don’t want to see. Mass graves were typical in the Rwandan genocide in the 1990’s, the Killing Fields of Cambodia in the 1970’s and 80’s, the POW camps of Imperial Japan, and of course the Holocaust of Nazi Germany during World War 2. This isn’t hyperbole, or rhetoric this is fact. Mass graves are the signs of some one doing something unthinkably wrong and then literally trying to cover it up.
We can now add ourselves to that list. For over 150 years the residential school system was in place in this country. Organized by our government in our name, for our own good. Already, I have seen the calls for moving on. That the residential schools were well intentioned, but perverted by a ‘few bad apples’. It was an isolated case. This is the apologist movement. The denialist movement. The moderate movement.
In post world war 2, Germany, as the true nature and scale of the atrocities committed by the German government in the Holocaust came to light, the same denialism emerged from the moderates. Those who weren’t Nazis on paper, the ones just living their lives day to day: “We had no idea, we thought we were helping them, it was the government’s fault not ours.” Those excuses didn’t hold then, and they don’t now. Ignoring something horrific because it’s convenient is tantamount to complicity.
In typical Canadian fashion, we are already seeing the whitewashing of the news by saying, it was the government and the Catholic Church who did this and that they must be accountable. This is true. They should be. However, where is our accountability? No one in Canada, wrote to their MP demanding an inquiry to close these schools down, or to their MPP or MLA demanding that a true account of the schools be taught to students. It was more convenient to keep our head in the sand. The truth was there all along for us to look at it. We deliberately chose not to:
Even now, the burying of the truth is happening to this story:
All of it is for a very good reason. We are not the heroes here. We are not even bystanders. We are the villains. We let our government commit this atrocity in our name. There is no whataboutism here. There is no quid pro quo. White Canadian governments of all political persuasions are complicit in what has happened here. We cannot wipe the blood from our hands and move on.
A wound was inflicted upon this country in the form of residential schools. The scope of that wound is finally coming to light. However, despite what the moderates and the deniers wish to say, that wound is not healed. White Canada must come to terms with it’s racist past and take actual steps on the First Nations terms to heal this wound. We must do this, because this wound harms us as well. It undermines us and perverts us. It distorts us and makes us ugly. We are hypocrites if we allow this wound to fester. It is our burden to make right, the wrong we allowed to happen for so long. The walk forward is long, unclear and painful. However, it must be made by all of us. I will not lie to you though, in the end we may be able to forgive each other, but none of us will forget. We will be left with a scar that will forever mark generations of Canadians and First Nations. We must reconcile together. Whatever comes out of that process in the end remains to be seen. I hope its a Canada we can all be proud of.