Canada stands guilty of inflicting centuries of abuse and marginalization on its own native people.
This was revealed in a report released by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission last week. The TRC, which spent six years of research and recorded testimonies from more than 6,750 witnesses, concludes on how successive governments managed to abuse and ostracize the natives and their community.
The report focuses partly on the country’s residential boarding schools. Created for the purpose of eliminating what was referred to as the “Indian problem” in Canada, they, together with various churches (predominantly Catholic), abused, starved, poisoned, raped, and even medically experimented on children.
Most of them reportedly never went beyond Grade Six, even though these schools were built to educate them. The death rate for children enrolled there – 1 in 25 – was slightly higher than the death rate of Canadians serving in the Second World War – 1 in 26. The report reveals that more than 6,000 children died there, until the schools were closed in 1996.
The report also concludes that the Canadian government committed genocide during this time. The report summary on the federal government’s moves at educating the native community is as follows: “These measures were part of a coherent policy to eliminate Aboriginal people as distinct peoples and to assimilate them into the Canadian mainstream against their will.”
It goes on to admit that “The Canadian government pursued this policy of cultural genocide because it wished to divest itself of its legal and financial obligations to Aboriginal people and gain control over their land and resources.”
The Commission recorded testimonies spanning seven generations, from the 1800s. As remedial measures, its report stresses on the importance on closing down education gaps between native and other communities, which involves opening more access to higher education for indigenous youth.