Many Canadians have been shaking their heads in disbelief and disgust these past few weeks after the discoveries of the mass unmarked graves of Indigenous children who died at the hands of the Catholic Church in so-called Indian Residential Schools set up to assimilate them.
It’s a history lesson most of us didn’t learn at school, and it’s important that we confront it now — even if we can’t make amends for what our forbears did.
I have no doubt that the French and English of the 1700s, 1800s and 1900s felt they were doing the right thing in Canada. The politicians of the day probably felt they were giving the Indigenous Peoples a break by assimilating those they had conquered and not massacring them all outright. And no doubt the superstitious nitwit Christian missionaries felt they were acting on behalf of their imaginary supernatural god by trying “to take the Indian” out of these poor children.
Many of us are weeping today, inwardly at least, because of the crimes committed against humanity by imperial colonialism in Canada. Many feel a sense of guilt because the country we call Canada was built on the grief of the original inhabitants of this land — and nothing illustrates the horror of what was done to Indigenous Peoples more than the graves of the most innocent of all, the children. I have seen estimates that there are as many as 30,000 Indigenous children buried in unmarked mass graves on the grounds of residential schools across Canada — and with ground-penetrating radar, they will all be found. This will be a summer of great sorrow in Canada.
As the annual Canada Day celebration approaches on July 1, many towns across the country have chosen not to celebrate — because it just doesn’t feel like it’s the right thing to do this year, and perhaps for many years to come. But there are those calling for Canada Day celebrations, anyway, giving short shrift to our country’s dark past and proving that the mentality of that time is very much still present here — and around the world.
I don’t think that is a surprise to any readers here. Nations have been conquering other nations for thousands of years and bringing immeasurable horror and grief to those conquered, who are either forced to assimilate, enslaved or massacred.
And it will continue to happen for as long as man exists on Earth. Canada will inevitably be conquered by another nation some day and those who survive the war will be forced to assimilate, if not enslaved or massacred outright.
Meanwhile, other nations on this planet are forcing people into assimilation camps and imprisoning and murdering people who they feel are a threat to “their way of life.” Or more likely, who challenge the rule of the despots and other leaders.
Indeed, for all our technological and scientific advancements, man is still very much a primitive species that will stop at nothing to satiate itself.
Today we cry for the thousands of Indigenous children whose lives were stolen from them by superstitious religious nutcases acting as a proxy for the British Empire.
But there are so many more tears we could be crying — if we bothered to give mankind’s present-day atrocities much thought. We’re a long, long, long way from being a truly civilized race. If I had to sum up mankind with one word, it would be: Selfish.
We are destroying the ecosystem of our host, Mother Earth, and we are murdering myriad innocent creatures — the true meek of the Earth — as both a byproduct of our recklessness and intentionally. As Paul McCartney wrote, “if slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.”
So, today we weep for the children — as we should be doing.
But when will we weep for all the other innocent lives — the most innocent of all — that still continue to be taken?
Collectively, mankind is among the most abominable species on the planet. And we’re not going to change until, perhaps, another species emerges from somewhere, i.e. another planet, and conquers us. Perhaps we will all end up on meat hooks some day.
Karma calling . . .
There are those who deny the force of human nature but I argue that it is there. That cannibalistic, warlike chimp is staring back at us in the mirror just as surely as that sex-positive, free-loving, laid-back bonobo.
Very clear and well written pieces on intensely sensitive and complicated issues.
But then again, not so complicated really.
As an individual, I have always agreed with Fred’s thought on human nature. As a species, we are who we are, we do what we have always done. For all our developed existence on Earth, still blindly driven by the primordial desire to survive, thrive and
So much tragedy for false reasons, beyond those “sort of” noble, natural ones.
The logic behind ruthless assimilation after the Smallpox’d blankets didn’t work
is valid, but I personally, have developed my humanity beyond it.
That leads to another point for another time.
Humanity will advance ……… if we have enough time.