Archive for February, 2012

TRC Interim Report

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Residential Schools released its interim report on February 24, entitled They Came for the Children. The basic conclusions were that the residential school system had been an assault on aboriginal children, culture, families and that the impact of the system was immediate and ongoing. Lastly, the commission concluded that Canadians have been denied full and proper education about this sad chapter in our history.

Even though the Canadian government and the various religious denominations who were involved in operating the system have apologized for the assaults on the aboriginal community and are providing monetary compensation to the survivors, it will never be enough.

However when it comes to the the Canadian public being denied full and proper education on the matter, there is a degree of self serving rhetoric on the part of the TRC, the AFN and other First Nations Organizations who seem to more interested in perpetuating their own beaurocratic agendas for continued funding by acting as gatekeepers regarding just what information will be provided to the public,  particularly young Canadians of high school age who have so many other media distractions vying for their attention.

A journalistic report like this is really just another expensive example of the many that have preceeded it, pretty well saying all the same things. It will be read only by a few academics and maybe by some high school students who will cough back a few answers to pass their exams. The Canadian public will not be any the wiser and it will shortly end up in the dustbin of history.

Yet when given the opportunity to lever a story like Blue Saltwater to engage Canadians on an emotional level and thereby raise awareness about the schools and the sytemic dysfunction they generated within the aboriginal community, the gatekeepers inexplicably remain silent and unsupportive. Why is that?

Similar Problems Suggest Similar Solutions

A deadly crime spree on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming, highlights the similarities of crime and drug abuse which also plague reservations in the United States just as they do here in Canada. Williams, Indian Reservation&st=cse&scp=1&pagewanted=print.

Average life spans on American reservations are 49 years, twenty fewer than in Iraq. Unemployment hovers around 80 percent whereas the rate for all Wyoming is 6 percent. Teenagers are twice as likely to kill themselves as their peers elsewhere in Wyoming. The high school drop-out rate is twice the state average. Child abuse, teen pregnancy, sexual assault are endemic. Alcoholism and drug abuse are so prevalent that positive results on drug tests prevent aboriginals from getting jobs on Wyoming’s booming oil fields.

What the hell is wrong with this picture? Why do aboriginals in North America continue to spiral into this endless vortex of hopelessness? What prevents them from thriving like immigrants from war torn countries such as the Vietnamese who faced circumstances that were in many cases far worse than what was ever experienced in residential schools and who find a way to shake off the tragedies of the past and move on.

Are these the same sorry circumstances that resulted in governments setting up the residential schools in the first place? As a way to help  aboriginal kids to escape a culture that does not provide the framework to enable them to earn their place in mainstream society. I pity the kids borne into this cultural prison since there appears to be no way out, except by slitting your own throat or losing your mind in a bag of gas fumes.