Monday, June 21, 2010

Truth and Reconciliation? How Dare We Celebrate

How Dare we Celebrate?
An Open Letter and a Requiem
to Governor-General Michaelle Jean
from Kevin D. Annett
Photo: Children at residential school in 1930s in Alberta

Dear Ms. Jean,

Yesterday, as I watched you preside so "regally" at the closing events of the "Truth and Reconciliation" farce in Winnipeg, and presume to smile at those native people who somehow survived the massacre inflicted on them by your government and your Queen and her church, I was once again disgusted to be a Canadian.

How dare you claim to speak for me when you declare that "Canadians are healing together" from the Indian residential schools nightmare? For we are doing no such a thing. All you are doing, in our name, is to candy-coat genocide, protect child killers in clerical garb, and muzzle the survivors while patting them on the head.

It's all so familiar. For, despite your claim, there is nothing new about your "truth and reconciliation commission", since its self-congratulatory hype and horrible exploitation of native people is an exact repeat of the torture they suffered in Indian residential schools.

My friend Doug Wilson of the Haida Nation is almost dead now, but as a child he was incarcerated in the United Church's Edmonton residential school in the late 1950's. At age nine, he was on the burial detail, hiding the murdered children from the school and the Charles Camsell Indian hospital in mass graves at night. School staff used to give him electric shocks to his head so he'd forget what he saw, but his memories have returned.

The one night of the year when Doug wasn't being sodomized, beaten and electro-shocked by Christians was Christmas eve, when he and all the other Indian kids were bussed to a local United Church to entertain the lily-white congregation by singing Christmas carols to them. Just like at the recent TRC forum in Winnipeg, Doug and his friends had to perform and make whites feel good so that their guilt and complicity could be relieved by the heart-warming spectacle of "assimilated" Indians behaving as expected.

Doug says that after the Christmas service, the congregants would hand them gifts - but before they left the church, they all had to hand them over to the white kids in church, or face a beating, or worse.

You know about Doug Wilson, of course, because his story was made public
by me and a few others twelve years ago, along with countless tales of murder and torture in the residential schools. Since 1907, when the crime was reported in national newspapers, Canadians have known that half the children were dying in these schools after being deliberately exposed to tuberculosis by staff and left to die. But despite this blatant genocide, you and your government have refused to press criminal charges against the churches responsible.

That's called complicity in murder, Michaelle: not "healing and reconciliation" .

When your government so magnanimously tossed a few dollars at some of the aboriginal survivors of this mass murder on the condition that they shut up, and pretended you were "healing" them, you were simply being Canadian: like all those nice, upstanding Christians in the Edmonton United Church who herded the violated and dying native children into church on Christmas eve for their own sick, private amusement.

I don't expect us to change. Why should we, when we won the war that started centuries ago when the first missionary landed here? We get to write history, define reality, and believe our own lies. We even get to brainwash and hire Indians to dance to our tune and issue nauseating "Forgiveness Proclamations" which declare it fine for us to rape and murder little kids, and then absolve ourselves of the crime with an "apology".

I also don't expect us to face justice, except at the hands of an equivalent to the Nuremburg trials, presided over by our victims after their successful overthrow of you and your government.

What I do expect, and demand, is the truth, which is all that the dead require. And, thankfully, such truth lies not in your hands at all, for you are incapable of bearing it. It resides, rather, among the very souls you trample and exploit so shamelessly, with typical Canadian nicety.

That truth is spreading, slowly but surely, throughout our land, and when its spirit and implications reach the next generation of Canadians, your regime will be over, along with its putrid legacy of Christian supremacy, colonialism and crown.

So enjoy the treats while you can, Michaelle. The hangman approaches, in the most unlikely of people.

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Censored News is published by censored journalist Brenda Norrell. A journalist for 27 years, Brenda lived on the Navajo Nation for 18 years, writing for Navajo Times, AP, USA Today, Lakota Times and other American Indian publications. After being censored and then terminated by Indian Country Today in 2006, she began the Censored Blog to document the most censored issues. She currently serves as human rights editor for the U.N. OBSERVER & International Report at the Hague and contributor to Sri Lanka Guardian, Narco News and CounterPunch. She was cohost of the 5-month Longest Walk Talk Radio across America, with Earthcycles Producer Govinda Dalton in 2008:
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