Tag Archives: Indian residential schools

Canada’s media attacks Truth and Reconciliation report

By Carl Bronski
June 21, 2015
World Socialist Web Site


In the face of the evidence collected by Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), the mainstream, corporate-controlled media has had to acknowledge that the Canadian state’s Indian Residential School program subjected generations of Indian, Inuit and Metis children to horrific, systematic abuse.

But the Commission’s finding that the residential schools were a key element in a more than century-long government Aboriginal policy that aimed at “cultural genocide”—at destroying aboriginal society and the structures that supported it so as to “divest” Canada of its “legal and financial obligations to Aboriginal people and gain control over their land and resources”—has provoked a storm of protest.

An objective examination of the historical record shows that what was perpetrated by the Canadian state against the Aboriginal peoples was genocide plain and simple, not just “cultural genocide.” Moreover, this crime was not accidental or incidental to the consolidation of the Canadian nation state and Canadian “democracy”. On the contrary it arose from the very nature of Canadian capitalism, from the clash between capitalist private property and the communal social relations of indigenous society. (See Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Report and the crimes against the native people and Canada’s aboriginal Truth and Reconciliation Report—the class issues.)

Yet even the qualified claim of “cultural genocide” that the government-appointed TRC put forth with the aim of “reconciling” the indigenous population to Canadian capitalism has produced a backlash from columnists in the country’s newspapers. Taking their cue from Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s refusal to endorse the TRC’s conclusion, right-wing and liberal commentators alike have accused the TRC of rhetorical overkill and, horror of horrors, impugning Canada’s “good name.”

Leading the charge was a particularly odious op-ed piece in the neo-conservative National Post written by Rodney E. Clifton, professor emeritus of education at the University of Manitoba and retired anthropology professor Hymie Rubenstein from the same institution. In an article headlined “Debunking the half-truths and exaggerations in the TRC Report,” the authors argue that the Indian Residential Schools program was simply aimed at teaching “mainstream norms and practices” by providing a formal education in a “complex multi-ethnic society.” What the TRC characterizes as “cultural genocide” was in fact only the standard “acculturation” process “that has occurred around the world since the origins of human beings.”

Certainly, the authors concede, there was strict discipline, but strapping and caning (and even the “vile act of child abuse”) were the “order-of-the day” in parochial schools right up to the 1960s. Indeed, write Clifton and Rubenstein, similar traumas and indignities “have been reported by the children of wealthy parents forced to attend boarding schools throughout the former British Empire.”

One needs to rub one’s eyes, not once but twice, after reading such a statement. The Canadian state’s Residential School policy forced aboriginal parents, sometimes at the point of an RCMP gun, to surrender their children. They would then be taken to church-run schools hundreds and even thousands of miles away from their homes.

There they were subjected to humiliating and de-humanizing treatment so as to eradicate the influence of native culture and inculcate obedience. Children were routinely beaten for speaking their native language and berated for being “stupid Indians.”

The system was designed by the government to be self-sustaining, i.e., to cost it no money. While they were called schools, the church-run institutions that were attended by 150,000 native children functioned far more like prisons. Much of the “school day” was given over to backbreaking chores, including working in the fields. Yet food and schoolbooks were scarce and rationed. In addition to an official regime of harsh corporal punishment, the native children were the victims of wholesale sexual abuse.

As the WSWS reported in summarizing the findings of the TRC, between “5,000 and 7,000 children died whilst in the custody of these residential schools from disease, malnutrition, fires, suicide and physical abuse. Many were buried even without a name recorded. Parents were not notified as a matter of course. …. Healthy children were consciously placed in dormitories with children suffering from tuberculosis. Sick and dying children were forced to attend class and sit up in church. Malnutrition was rampant. Testimony from school survivors recounted how hungry children would raid the slop-buckets of livestock for additional sustenance.”

Government legislation in Alberta (1928) and British Columbia (1933) authorized the forcible sterilization of residential school children. In the 1940s and 1950s aboriginal children in some residential schools were deliberately kept malnourished at the government’s order so that researchers could “scientifically” measure the impact of a starvation diet.

Clifton and Rubenstein take particular umbrage with the TRC’s statement that the aboriginal population was treated as “sub-human.” There are numerous survivor accounts and historical documents that back the TRC’s assertion. The 1876 Indian Act—the framework for ongoing aboriginal policy in Canada which legalized the First Nations as an inferior group—stated the “aborigines must be kept in a state of tutelage and treated as wards or children of the state”. Well into the 20th century, speeches from the floors of parliament and the provincial legislatures referred to natives as an “inferior race.”

The residential school system was only a part of a broad-based policy to repress and dispossess the aboriginal peoples. An overt policy of starvation was used to drive First Nations from their ancestral lands on the Prairies. Treaty rights were unilaterally abrogated by the Canadian government. “Pass Laws” were enacted that made it illegal for First Nations people to leave the reserve without the approval of the government’s Indian agent. Authorities from South Africa tasked with framing their own system of apartheid were so impressed by Canadian policy towards the aboriginal peoples that they based elements of their own racist system on it. Only in 1960 were “status Indians” granted the right to vote and other basic citizenship rights.

But for our Manitoba college professors, this particular survivor testimony from Elder Irene Favel might be more directly edifying on the question of sub-human treatment in the residential schools:

“I went to residential school in Muscowequan from 1944 to 1949, and I had a rough life. I was mistreated in every way. There was a young girl, and she was pregnant from a priest there. And what they did, she had her baby, and they took the baby, and wrapped it up in a nice pink outfit, and they took it downstairs where I was cooking dinner with the nun. And they took the baby into the furnace room, and they threw that little baby in there and burned it alive. All you could hear was this little cry, like ‘Uuh!’ and that was it. You could smell that flesh cooking.”

Other prominent columnists in Canadian newspapers have also decried, with more circumspection than the National Post, the conclusion of the TRC’s report. Jeffrey Simpson of the Globe and Mail just wishes Canadians would simply move on from a “relentless fixation on the past”. “Cultural genocide … was practiced for a long time throughout much of the world, often more violently than in Canada, to the point where the word has lost much of its meaning except as a rhetorical debating point.” Richard Gwyn of the Toronto Star wonders, “Did Canada really commit cultural genocide?” For Gwyn the history detailed by the TRC report is incongruent with Canadians’ self-image and the world’s view of Canada as a land of democracy, tolerance and fair play. After all, he opines, in comparison to Australia and the United States, in the 19th century, “our native policies were widely praised.”

But this is not all “just history.”

The legacy from the genocidal policies of the Canadian state reverberates through native communities up to the present time. Life spans for native people fall far below the national average. More than half of all native children live in poverty. HIV and AIDS rates are higher on some western reserves than in the most vulnerable of African countries. In the far north, diseases such as tuberculosis are rampant in some communities. Overcrowding in dilapidated homes is endemic. Almost half of all residences on native reserves require urgent, major repairs.

Education opportunities are deplorable—fewer than 50 percent of students on reserves graduate from high school. The federally funded schools on native reserves receive on average 30 percent less funding than other Canadian schools. Numerous native communities don’t have access to potable water, with boil water advisories in effect, on average, at over a hundred of the 631 native reserves at any given time.

Incarceration rates for aboriginals are nine times the national average. A native youth is more likely to go to prison than get a high school diploma. Although they make up just 4 percent of Canada’s population, 25 percent of those held in federal prisons are aboriginal.

Poverty conditions are not restricted to those living on reserves. Natives in urban centres, which comprise about half of the rapidly growing 1.2 million native population, have the country’s highest unemployment rates, second only to the rates for native reserves. Nationwide, about 50 percent of First Nations people and Inuit are unemployed.

Canada’s aboriginal Truth and Reconciliation Report—the class issues

By Carl Bronski and Keith Jones
June 14, 2015
World Socialist Web Site


The report issued last week by the government-appointed Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Indian residential schools documents a horrific crime perpetrated by the Canadian capitalist ruling elite and its state—a crime whose impacts reverberate to this day.

For well over a century, beginning in the 1870s, Indian and Inuit children were systematically stolen from their parents and communities and placed in Church-run schools, generally hundreds, even thousands, of miles from their homes. There they endured prison-type conditions; were systematically denied proper medical treatment and nourishment, punished for speaking their native languages, and subject to physical and sexual abuse.

150,000 children—as many as one in every three aboriginal children in the first half of the 20th century—were captives of the government-enforced, Church-run residential school system. An estimated 6,000 died of disease, neglect, and abuse. Many were buried in unmarked graves with their parents not even informed of their deaths.

All with the aim, as the principal father of Confederation and Canada’s Prime Minister for two decades (1867–73 and 1878–91) Sir John A. Macdonald, put it, of killing the Indian in the child.

That Macdonald played a pivotal role in the development of the residential school system is not accidental. It was an integral part of the consolidation of the Canadian nation-state, which he spearheaded, acting in close concert with a cabal of bankers, railway-promoters, and industrialists.

In the more than 300-page “Executive Summary” of its final report, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission concludes that the Indian residential school system was a “central element” in a century-long Canadian state Aboriginal policy that aimed “to eliminate Aboriginal governments; ignore Aboriginal rights; terminate the Treaties; and through a process of assimilation, cause Aboriginal peoples to cease to exist as distinct legal, social, cultural, religious and racial entities.” Terming this policy “cultural genocide” (i.e., the destruction of those structures and practices that allow the group to continue as a group), the Commission found that the Canadian government pursued it, “because it wished to divest itself of” its “legal and financial obligations to Aboriginal people and gain control over their land and resources.” (For a more exhaustive discussion of the report’s finding see: “Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Report and the crimes against the native people”)

The report makes 94 recommendations. Many of these are for increased state expenditure on health-care, education, housing, and child welfare, so as to help lift Canada’s aboriginal people out of the Third World-type conditions that prevail on most native reserves and, increasingly, in the urban ghettos many now call home. A host of other recommendations revolve around commemorating the victims of the residential school system and making Canadians aware of this historic injustice. The Commissioners also reiterated longstanding demands of Canada’s aboriginal elite for increased legal-constitutional recognition of, and powers for, native self-governments, and for the speedy and equitable resolution of land claims.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report has undoubtedly shocked and disturbed working people. Not only has this monstrous crime been ignored and covered up, meaning that prior to last week most Canadians knew little if anything about the residential school system. The report flies in the face of the official Canadian nationalist narrative which portrays Canada as a “kinder, gentler,” and “more-caring” society—one fundamentally different from the rapacious dollar-republic to the south. This narrative, to be sure, has been increasingly exposed as a sham, as Canada’s ruling elite rallies behind one US-led war after another and guts public and social services. But it is sustained by powerful social interests and appetites.

The Harper government’s assault on native people

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative government are clearly intent on burying the TRC report and its finding that Canada committed “cultural genocide.” On the pretext that his government awaits publication later this fall of the remaining six volumes of the commission’s report, Harper has baldly refused to respond to the “Executive Summary” or its recommendations.

Harper could not entirely turn his back on the TRC last week. After all, his government had formed it, as part of a 2007 settlement of a class-action suit brought by residential-school survivors against Ottawa and its Church partners. But the prime minister sat stonily silent through the official proceedings marking the termination of the TRC’s work and when questioned about the report in parliament had the gall to say that Canada has one of the world’s best records on the treatment of indigenous peoples. Harper, whose general demeanor suggests nothing so much as a calculating, vindictive accountant, further claimed that his government has spent “vast amounts of money” on improving the lives of Canada’s native population.

In fact the Conservatives government has systematically attacked Canada’s aboriginal people as part of its offensive against the working class as whole. This offensive has included massive social spending cuts, an increase in the retirement age, further cuts to jobless benefits, the effective outlawing of strikes in the federally-administered industries, and a dramatic expansion of the powers of the national-security apparatus.

Harper has cut billions from programs that benefit native people, beginning with his government’s repudiation of the commitments made by the previous Liberal government under the 2005 “Kelowna Accord.” Central to the Conservative government’s agenda has been the push to develop new mineral deposits in the Canadian North and pipeline-projects that will transport Alberta tar-sands oil to U.S. and Asian markets over the strenuous objections of indigenous groups. Under legislation passed in 2012, the Conservatives made changes to the Indian Act and Navigable Waters Act that open the way for the de facto privatization of native lands and significantly reduce environmental protection.

The world capitalist crisis and opposition from native communities have impeded the government’s plans. But in a spate of policy papers, think-tank reports and academic studies, the Conservatives and their big business and neo-conservative supporters have explained that their goal is to integrate the native Indian reserves much more fully into contemporary Canadian capitalism, including throwing them open to private land ownership, so as to more profitably exploit their natural resources and pools of cheap-labour.

If Harper and his government are publicly dismissive and privately disdainful of the TRC report, it is because they view it as cutting across this predatory agenda.

The opposition parties and the TRC

The opposition parties, joined by a significant section of the capitalist press have taken a different tack.

The NDP and the Liberals were quick to endorse the report and its recommendations. Liberal leader Justin Trudeau went so far as to pledge that a Liberal government would enact all 94.

There is a huge dollop of cynicism and hypocrisy in this.

When last in power federally, the Liberals implemented the greatest social spending cuts in Canadian history and all but completely ignored the 440 recommendations outlined in the 1996 final report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal People. That commission had been set up to contain mounting native discontent as exemplified by the 1991 Oka crisis, which had ended with the Canadian army suppressing a Mohawk occupation of ancestral lands that were being transformed into a private golf course.

While the NDP has never held office in Ottawa, its provincial governments, including the current Manitoba NDP government, have presided over appalling conditions for native people, on- and off-reserve.

Moreover, both parties are committed to balanced budgets and maintaining the reactionary fiscal framework, established by decades of federal Liberal and Conservatives governments, under which corporate taxes and income and capital gains taxes for the rich and super-rich have been reduced to record lows. Should they come to power, the Liberals’ and NDP’s claims of support for the TRC’s call for a major boost in social spending to alleviate the social misery of Canada’s native people will prove to have been a cruel hoax.

In the wake of the TRC report and the litany of horrors it has documented, the mainstream press has published statements abhorring the treatment of native children in the residential schools. However, the editorials and commentary have pointedly skirted the central issue of funding a massive expansion of public and social services for the Aboriginal population, preferring to concentrate on the need for public apologies from various political and church entities and reconciliation.

This is not to suggest there are no differences within Canada’s ruling elite. In his push for resource development and neo-liberal “reform” of the reserve system, Harper has repeatedly clashed with those hitherto recognized by Ottawa as Canada’s native leadership, such as the Assembly of First Nations. By contrast, those ready to commend the TRC report, including the NDP and Liberal politicians, generally favour the continuation of policies first elaborated in the 1970s and 1980s to give Canadian capitalism’s continuing oppression of the native people an ostensibly more humane face, through the promotion of native “self-government” and land-claim negotiations.

This section of the elite notes Harper has manifestly failed to realize his pipeline-building plans. Furthermore, like Harper, they are acutely aware of mounting discontent among native people. (Reports made available by leaks and access-to-information requests, reveal that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and other state agencies have repeatedly warned of the threat of widespread native social unrest.)

Those sections of Canada’s elite who are embracing the TRC report hope to use it to carry out something of a course correction. They favour relying more on the aboriginal elite nurtured over the past four decades and propose to do so by more systematically incorporating them into government and into resource development. The three TRC Commissioners—Manitoba Justice Murray Sinclair, journalist and broadcast executive Marie Wilson, and lawyer and former Conservative MP Chief Wilton Littlechild—are themselves representatives of this aboriginal elite and their report is imbued with the perspective of “reconciling” the native population with Canadian capitalism.

Justice McLachlin and Canada’s “most glaring blemish”

In this regard, it is highly significant that just five days before the public release of the TRC report, the head of Canada’s Supreme Court, Justice Beverely McLachlin, delivered a major address in which she affirmed that Canada’s treatment of the native people had been tantamount to “cultural genocide”—in effect endorsing the TRC’s central conclusion in advance.

A Supreme Court Justice since 1989, McLachlin has been involved in a series of Supreme Court decisions that delimit “native land rights” and “self-government.” These decisions are aimed at giving legal imprimatur to the dispossession of the native peoples and are serving to fashion a modern-day system of native self-government that is fully-incorporated into the Canadian capitalist state and, as such, an instrument for the further dissolution of traditional communal land and its transformation into capitalist private property.

In her May 28 speech McLachlin termed the treatment of the First Nations “the most glaring blemish” on Canada’s historic record as a “peaceful multi-cultural country”—a statement that typifies the attitude of the ostensibly progressive section of Canada’s elite to the TRC and the continuing plight of the native people.

In reality, the dispossession of the indigenous population was not a blemish, nor a birth pang. It was integral to the rise of Canadian capitalism and the consolidation of the Canadian nation-state. Moreover, it lays bare the violent and oppressive character of the Canadian state, as the instrument of organized violence for upholding capitalist exploitation, to this day. Canadian capitalism’s rise involved the destruction of aboriginal society—a genocide—because the communal relations on which aboriginal society was based were incompatible with the imposition of capitalist private property.

The last four decades of land rights struggles, based on the acceptance of capitalism and the promotion of native nationalism with a view to negotiating a new “relationship” with the Canadian state, have led native people into a political and social dead end. Self-government and land-claim settlements have nurtured a small elite that manages the reserves for six-figure salaries and is immersed in business deals, from construction and transport to casinos and cigarette smuggling, while hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of their fellow band members live in abject poverty.

Ending the historic oppression of the native people, like securing the social and democratic rights of all working people, will only be possible though the independent political mobilization of the working class to reorganize society from top to bottom along socialist lines.

The authors also recommend:

Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Report and the crimes against the native people

[6 June 2015]

Canada Evades its Genocidal Legacy to Mask its Ongoing Crimes

When the Killers conduct the Autopsy, don’t expect the Truth

By Kevin Annett
June 7, 2015
Dissident Voice



Whenever the winners of a war write its official history and pronounce absolution on themselves, the results are both tragic, and comic. Canada demonstrated that in spades this past week when the government-run Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) released its “official” report on the homegrown church-and-state slaughter of thousands of native children in the so-called “Indian residential school” system.

Despite the rapturous attention the TRC report received in the world press, it said nothing we didn’t already know, and that I personally didn’t broadcast to a deaf world as far back as June of 1998. What the TRC report did do was to cast a thick veil around Canada’s crimes of the past in order to protect its crimes of the present, like institutionalized child trafficking.

To the uninformed, and to those who somehow consider it legitimate for criminals to investigate themselves, it is a convincing enough veil. All the right words were used in the TRC report, concealed of course by horror-softening adjectives: an antiseptic term like “cultural genocide” becomes a substitute for the truth of tortured bodies, sterilized genitals, and violated and torn little children tossed into mass graves at night. Can 50,000 dead innocents really constitute simply a “cultural” extermination?

Besides, regardless of its beguiling doublespeak and outright lies, the TRC report could hardly have unearthed any type of truth about crimes in the residential schools when the primary perpetrators of those crimes – the Catholic, Anglican and United Church of Canada – were given years to destroy incriminating evidence, trash or hide documents, silence eyewitnesses and obliterate grave sites stuffed with their young victims.

Any judge that allowed a suspected killer to do such a thing would obviously be charged with aiding and abetting crime, and removed from his office. But that’s precisely what the TRC – whose Directors were nominated by these same churches – allowed them to do.

At what even the media called the “circus like atmosphere” at the TRC forums, any residential school survivor who wished to speak had to submit their statement to the TRC officers for screening and censoring before they could make them. Then they got a whopping ten minutes to make their statement. Yet Church officials who used the forum to spout their “we were only trying to do good” propaganda had no such time restrictions placed on them. “It was disgusting, like sitting in the same room with my rapist and having to go through it all over again” one old Cowichan woman said to me after a TRC event in Victoria, BC.

Even worse, whenever survivors mentioned the names of their torturers or those who’d killed children, it was all carefully stricken from the TRC transcripts. That fact alone goes far to disqualify the TRC from any claims at legitimacy or legality: something the global media seem to be ignoring.

“How can all this crap produce anything but a total white wash of our genocide?” bemoaned Squamish Chief Gerry Kiapilano to me after sitting through an early TRC forum in Vancouver.

A white wash is precisely what the TRC report produced, seven years later. But if one can stomach sifting through its hundreds of politically correct, lawyer-crafted pages, much of which is distraction and padding, the ultimate strategy of the report does emerge: namely, to minimize the total dead body count in the residential schools so as to “prove” that the genocide wasn’t intentional. For if there’s no intention, there is no crime, under the law.

Half the children dead is clearly a deliberate genocide, whereas one tenth of them dead is simply “negligence”. And so the TRC spin machine went to work to convince us that, rather than the figure of 50,000 and more dead children yielded by a simple calculation of the constant 40% plus death rate that was the norm for nearly a century, only “four of five thousand” kids actually died.

That low a figure, spread over more than one hundred residential schools, means that according to the TRC, only fifty children died in the entire system every year, or one death for every second school! Such a grotesque Holocaust denial is not only absurd but disproved by all of the records, which routinely report dozens of deaths at individual schools every year, especially in the west.

Given such bald faced deception, it’s hardly surprising that the TRC chairman, a puppet native named Murray Sinclair, recently issued the lie that “the (Canadian) government stopped publishing residential school death records in 1920”. That’s an odd claim to make, even for a sellout, since I have time and again found and published such government death records that span the years 1889 to 1969. I even sent copies of them to Murray.

If the intent of these “schools” wasn’t genocidal, then why did that enormous death rate of 40% to 60% never subside, decade after decade? And why was it present the very first year that the western residential schools opened, in 1889?

Neither the TRC, nor anyone in Parliament or the media or the universities, has ever bothered to address these questions, any more than they are searching for all of those missing children in the twenty eight mass graves documented by me across Canada. For to do so would be to point towards the obvious conclusion that the TRC was established to avoid: that Canada and its churches deliberately exterminated tens of thousands of children, and that this genocide machine has never been turned off.

The massive trafficking and torture of indigenous children through the government’s “child care” and foster care system; the continual murder of reserve Indians for their lands and resources; and the “Agenda 21” plan of depopulating indigenous nations to one tenth of their present levels by mid-century are the hard indicators of these ongoing Canadian crimes that the TRC was set up to conceal.

Fortunately, there is a little matter called International Law, which ever since the Nuremberg judgements has clearly said that citizens under a proven criminal regime like Canada are not only obligated but required not to pay it taxes or obey its laws. Such a regime, in fact, has lost its right to govern, and it must be replaced by a new political arrangement that is lawful, and that reflects the will of the people.

In short, more than damage control was at work in the TRC fiasco. The very survival of that corporate redundancy called the crown of England is at stake, especially now that patriots have proclaimed an alternative to it and to genocidal Canada, through the new common law jurisdiction of the Republic of Kanata.

Rather than the neat resolution hoped for by its blood soaked creators, the TRC has unwittingly opened the door to the disestablishment of Canadian church and state as convicted criminal actors, by confirming that thousands of children died at their hands. None of us are compelled to cooperate with genocidal institutions, and indeed, to do so is to collude in a crime against humanity.

Amidst a similar revolution against the British crown and its tyranny in 1778, Thomas Paine observed that regimes that are collapsing tend to make decisions that are increasingly suicidal, as if seeking out their own destruction. Christian Canada and its sponsors in London and Rome have borne out this axiom. The only question now is whether We the People of Kanata will take advantage of such an historic opportunity, and cleanse our country once and for all of its legacy of institutionalized mass murder.

Kevin Annett is a proudly excommunicated former pastor of the United Church of Canada and a recovering Canadian. Read other articles by Kevin, or visit Kevin’s website.

Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Report and the crimes against the native people

By Carl Bronski
June 6, 2015
World Socialist Web Site


The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) issued its report Tuesday documenting the horrific abuse suffered by 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Metis children at residential schools between the 1840s and 1996.

The century-and-a-half policy of forcibly removing aboriginal children from their families and communities and herding them into faraway schools run mainly by the Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches, amounted, said the report, to nothing less than a “cultural genocide.” One, moreover, that has left deep scars on indigenous people up to the present day. At the height of the program in 1931 there were 80 residential schools across the country with 15,000 captive native children.

The TRC—comprised of its chair, Manitoba Justice Murray Sinclair, journalist and broadcast executive Marie Wilson, and lawyer and former Conservative MP Chief Wilton Littlechild—was appointed by the federal Conservative government in consultation with the Assembly of First Nations as part of a negotiated settlement to a class-action law suit against the federal government and Canada’s churches brought by residential school survivors.

Over the course of six years, the TRC took testimony from 7,000 residential school survivors and reviewed hundreds of thousands of documents. It found that the residential schools were a central component of a Canadian state policy designed to “cause Aboriginal peoples to cease to exist as distinct legal, social, cultural, religious and racial entities in Canada.”

In releasing the Executive Summary of the TRC report (six volumes of documentation will be forthcoming), Sinclair noted that between 5,000 and 7,000 children died whilst in the custody of the residential schools from disease, malnutrition, fires, suicide and physical abuse. Many were buried even without a name recorded. Parents were not notified as a matter of course. Many residential schools had no playgrounds for the children, but did have cemeteries. Healthy children were consciously placed in dormitories with children suffering from tuberculosis. Sick and dying children were forced to attend class and sit up in church. Malnutrition was rampant. Testimony from school survivors recounted how hungry children would raid the slop-buckets of livestock for additional sustenance.

Discipline was harsh. Children were often corporally punished for speaking their native language. Teachers would berate them as “stupid Indians.” Humiliation and de-humanization were part of the regime. One survivor recounted that the shoving of children’s faces into human excrement was a standard punishment. In some institutions, children were not addressed by name but by number. Survivor testimony described a life without love or human warmth but fraught with fear, beatings, hopelessness and, in the dreaded dead of night, rampant sexual abuse.

Despite the government’s purported aim of providing education to residential students, especially in the form of workplace skills, school administrations more often used the children as indentured labour, imposing back-breaking chores for up to half of the school day. School text books were a rarity, with Christian religious indoctrination a priority.

TRC Chair Sinclair received a loud ovation Tuesday from a ballroom full of school survivors, Band Chiefs and aboriginal advocates when he characterized the more than century-long government residential school policy as “cultural genocide.” The term comes from the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a non-binding document reluctantly signed by the federal government of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, but deemed only “aspirational” and not immediately implementable. Those cheering Sinclair’s declaration were also cognizant of the 2011 statement from John Duncan, Harper’s former Aboriginal Affairs Minister, that the residential school system was not part of a program of “cultural genocide,” but rather simply “education policy gone wrong.”

The TRC report, however, avoids a crucial conclusion arising from any objective study of the horrendous history of the program—that the aboriginal policy pursued by the Canadian capitalist state was not simply aimed at the eradication of a culture but at the eradication of a people. The 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, defines genocide in legal terms as “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about the group’s physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

The tribulations suffered by generations of aboriginal children in the residential schools fall into most, if not all, of these categories. But many of those pulling back from a characterization of Canadian government policy towards the native population as genocidal—including the administration at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights—downplay the question of conscious “intent.”

The historical record contradicts this approach.

Policies geared towards physically expunging native populations as part of the Canadian state’s westward expansion have been documented by many historians. James Daschuk in his recent book Clearing the Plains, for example, describes the approach of Canada’s first governments towards its aboriginal population as “outright malevolent.” Policy statements called on government agencies “to starve uncooperative Indians onto reserves and into submission.” Treaty guarantees for food in times of crisis were ignored. Government agents allowed food to rot rather than distribute it to starving native bands. The 1876 Indian Act codified aboriginals as an inferior group and made them wards of the state. In 1885, Canada’s “founding father” and first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, bragged to parliament of his government’s fiscal stewardship, pointing to its refusal to give food to hungry, malnourished First Nations people “until the Indians were on the verge of starvation, to reduce expense.”

Under Macdonald, who presided over the Canadian state’s dispossession of the native peoples in today’s Prairie provinces, the residential school system was greatly expanded and systematized and, in the process, directed even more deliberately against the indigenous population. In 1883, he told an agreeable parliament: “When the school is on the reserve the child lives with its parents, who are savages; he is surrounded by savages, and though he may learn to read and write his habits, and training and mode of thought are Indian. He is simply a savage who can read and write. It has strongly been pressed on myself, as the head of the (Indian Affairs) Department, that Indian children should be withdrawn as much as possible from the parental influence, and the only way to do that would be to put them in central training industrial schools where they will acquire the habits and modes of thought of white men.”

The argument that “intent” to destroy native populations was not evident in the policy of Canada’s capitalist elite flies in the face of subsequent developments.

In 1909, Peter Bryce, an official of the Ontario Health Department was commissioned by the federal government as the country’s first Chief Medical Officer to report on the health conditions of aboriginal children in residential schools in western Canada. Bryce, citing an average death rate of between 30 and 60 percent, reported that children in the schools were malnourished, living in squalid, freezing conditions and being systematically exposed to tubercular patients. He accused officials of deliberately killing the students through their actions and inactions. Furthermore, church and school officials were consciously falsifying mortality records.

The report was quashed by the Department of Indians Affairs and the recommendations ignored. Bryce was later dismissed from his post. Said Duncan Scott, then head of Canada’s residential schools program, Bryce’s report “does not justify a change in the policy of this Department which is geared toward a final solution of our Indian problem.”

In Alberta in 1928 and British Columbia in 1933 acts were passed allowing for the forcible sterilization of residential school students. It has been estimated that as many as 3,000 children underwent this procedure. And recently, a report surfaced showing that in the 1940s and 1950s malnourished aboriginal children in residential schools were used by government researchers in dubious medical experiments that systematically kept them on starvation diets, denying them milk, nutrients, vitamins and dental treatments to measure health outcomes. The “research” was done with the full knowledge of Canada’s then Liberal government.

The government’s subsequent treatment of native children changed little. From 1960 until 1986, as many as 20,000 aboriginal children were taken from their families, placed in either residential schools or non-indigenous foster homes, or put up for adoption.

Even today, as a result of the deplorable poverty and squalor to which large parts of Canada’s native population are subjected and the paternalistic attitude of the state, First Nations children make up more than 50 percent of Canadian children in foster care. Under Manitoba’s NDP government others are housed, without proper care and supervision, in run-down “welfare” motels .

The continuing abuse and neglect of the aboriginal peoples is one of the historic crimes of Canadian capitalism and one that exemplifies the true character of Canadian “democracy.” It is critical for the political development of the Canadian working class that it recognizes this and fights vigorously to oppose the oppression of the native population.

In a second article, to be published at the beginning of next week, the WSWS will detail the political context and debate over the Truth and Reconciliation report. This will include an examination of the dismissive attitude adopted by Prime Minster Stephen Harper, the report’s ostensible embrace by the opposition parties and much of the corporate media, as well as the government-appointed Commission’s recommendations. These are aimed at reconciling the native people to Canadian capitalism and the Canadian state, not ending the system responsible for their oppression.

Canada’s Genocide against First Nations’ Children. Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Whitewash

Canada’s Elaborate Coverup of its own Genocide nevertheless proves Guilt, Criminal Intent of Government, Churches

By Dr. Gary G. Kohls
June 5, 2015
Global Research


canadaidlenomore“They have lost their legal and moral right to exist …” – Brussels Tribunal

Canada’s expensive, seven year attempt to whitewash its mass murder of aboriginal children ended in lies and shame yesterday, when the state-funded “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” (TRC) released its final report into the murderous Indian residential school system that obscured more than it revealed – and held nobody liable for the worst crime in Canadian history.

The $68 million TRC report acknowledged that genocide had in fact taken place in Canada, but named no perpetrators, ignored the legal consequences of this crime, and effectively absolved Canada and its churches for the systemic rape, torture and killing of aboriginal children that spanned over a century.

Plagued by corruption and tampering, and openly snubbing international law and due process by muzzling eyewitnesses and destroying crucial evidence, the TRC concluded by reporting that thousands of children “may have” died in the Indian residential school system, despite its own confirmed evidence of tens of thousands of such deaths.

Justifying the evasion of this truth, TRC Chairman Murray Sinclair, who was indicted by an international court in 2013 for obstructing justice and concealing genocidal acts, lied publicly yesterday when he claimed that “the (Canadian) government stopped publishing residential school death records in 1920″. In fact, reports of students’ deaths, and a constant mortality rate of between 40% and 60%, were continually published by the government until at least 1969, as was proven by independent researcher Rev. Kevin Annett in 1998, and subsequently.

In a public statement issued today and to be broadcast on youtube, Kevin Annett remarked,

“The little of the truth of the Canadian Holocaust that the TRC has admitted is simply a rehashing of everything I first made public in June of 1998, at our own independent inquiry. The TRC has simply stage-managed a public absolution of the churches and government that together exterminated more than 50,000 children. No-one will go to jail for these murders: the TRC was set up to ensure that. This is yet another national crime!”

Commenting from Brussels on the TRC report, a spokeswoman for the International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State (ITCCS), the body that prosecuted Canada and its churches for Genocide in 2012 and 2013, said today,

“Churches and governments that committed and concealed such horrible crimes have no right under the law of nations to conduct self-managed ‘inquiries’ of themselves, as has happened in Canada. So we consider the TRC report a clear obstruction of the law and of justice, and it does not diminish by one iota the criminal liability of Canada and its churches, and their sponsors in London and Rome, for these war crimes. Frankly, these bodies have lost the moral and legal right to exist.””

In Winnipeg, and in response to the TRC report, the Provisional Council of the lawfully-proclaimed Republic of Kanata announced a renewed campaign to “dismantle this criminal conspiracy called Canada, and enforce the standing Citizen’s Arrest Warrants against thirty leaders of church and state in Canada”, including TRC chairman Murray Sinclair.

“They’ve admitted their crime and stand condemned under the law. Now it’s up to We the People to punish those criminals and their system, to cleanse our country of their legacy of child killing” stated Kevin Annett today.

A complete broadcast of Kevin Annett’s commentary along with updates of the Republic’s Arrest and Disestablishment campaign will follow shortly on youtube. See www.itccs.org and www.kanatarepublic.ca .

A Joint Communique issued by the ITCCS (Brussels) and the Republic of Kanata.

2 June, 2015

Kevin Annett was re-nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2015. Messages for him can be left at 386-323-5774 (USA). His personal website is www.KevinAnnett.com.  

Kevin’s award winning documentary film Unrepentant can be viewed at UNREPENTANT: KEVIN ANNETT AND CANADA’S (NATIVE PEOPLES) GENOCIDE: 1 of 1 FULL . See also: Eyewitness to Coverup of Genocide in Canada

His weekly blog radio program, Radio Free Kanata, airs on Sundays at 3 pm pacific, 6 pm eastern. It is found at: http://bbsradio.com/radiofreekanata . 

The official website for the Republic of Kanata is www.kanatarepublic.ca . The Founding Proclamation of the Republic of Kanata (January 15, 2015) is here:
Canadian Republic Proclaimed

See the evidence of Genocide in Canada at www.hiddennolonger.com and at the website of The International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State at www.itccs.org.

The complete Common Law Court proceedings of Genocide in Canada are found at:The International Common Law Court: Genocide in Canada – Common Law Court Proceedings – Genocide in Canada  (Part One) – 1 hr. 46 mins.

Second Session of The International Common Law Court of Justice – Common Law Court Proceedings – Genocide in Canada  (Part Two) – 1 hr. 47 mins.Verdict and Sentence: Genocide in Canada – Final Court Verdict and Sentencing – 8 mins. 30 secs.Endorsements of ITCCS and Kevin Annett by native eyewitnesses – Authorizations and Endorsements of ITCCS/Kevin Annett by indigenous eyewitnesses – 10 mins.Witness to murder at Indian Residential School – Irene Favel, Eyewitness to the incineration of a newborn baby by a priest at Muscowegan Catholic Indian school, Saskatchewan, 1944Preview of Evidence of Genocide in Canada – Other key testimonies from our Court case against genocide in Canada

The first excavation at a mass grave residential school site: Mohawk school, 2011

An International, multi-lingual ITCCS site can be found at: http://kevinannettinternational.blogspot.fr/

See also an insightful personal interview “Who is Kevin Annett?” (2013) at:

Who is Kevin Annett?

and eyewitness to the crimes: Dr. Jennifer Wade