On April 29th Pope Benedict said he was sorry for the physical and sexual abuse and deplorable conduct at Catholic Church run residential schools. My first reaction to this was that it’s about bloody time maybe now some of the priests that have been saying that crimes that happened in residential schools were exaggerated will change their tune! I guess the question is what happens now, the Pope has admitted that there were crimes committed by the clergy in the church run schools.
AFN Chief Phil Fontaine at the Vatican (photo CBC)
Now I know that Canada will probably never admit that previous government policies regarding The First Nations were in fact acts of Genocide! The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 1948 clearly states that Canada is guilty! I am currently trying to get an interview with Phil Fontaine Chief the Assembly of First Nations to find out why he has decided to close the door on this sad chapter in Canadian history.
I understand closure for the victims is necessary but why now? Have we gotten all that we are going to get from the people and Governments that wronged us and is the truth ever really going to get out? Because let’s face it, the severity of those crimes has not been fully examined! According to the Rev Kevin Annett a former United Church Minister there were an estimated 50, 000 children who died in the schools from various ailments.
Dr Peter Bryce who wrote The Story of a National Crime: Being a Record of the Health Conditions of the Indians of Canada from 1904 to 1921, which exposed Genocide of the Aboriginals in Canada? Dr Bryce talked about the 50% death rate in the schools and how that Canadian government ignored warnings of Tuberculosis which was rampant in many of the schools! It seems to me that this issue should remain out there for public debate just because the real truth has not fully revealed. If it were my family that was exposed to such crimes I know that I would not rest until the complete truth was revealed!
When it comes to the crimes of Genocide everyone not just the undesirables should be held accountable, they should be brought to justice wherever they may hide and if you want an example just look at Nazi war criminals. Just because it’s been over 60 years since the holocaust does not mean that you stop hunting them. The last residential school closed in 1996 that was 13 years ago, don’t you think we owe those who survived a little more respect!