Friday, June 12, 2015
Re: Jeffrey Simpson
Throughout our history with Indigenous Peoples in Canada, our 'agreements' have been full of weasel words, poison pills, sharp dealing, double talk and bald faced lies. The First Nations education 'deal' between Harper and Shawn Atleo was no different.
" Then came the "deal" -- the promise of adequate funding, First Nation control and legislation that would recognize our Aboriginal and treaty rights to education. From the moment Atleo-Harper held their joint press conference, First Nations knew we were in trouble. Atleo sang songs about how he was saving our children from the status quo while Harper countered every point Atleo made -- although with great tact. When Atleo realized that Harper wasn't singing the same song, Atleo sent a strongly worded letter asking whether or not any of the promises Atleo made to First Nations were in fact going to be kept by Harper. The answer was no.
Lawyers, academics, analysts and political commentators all seemed to come to the same conclusion: the Act did not reflect First Nation control or protect treaty rights, and even the funding was an illusion. "The proof is in the act -- Bill C-33 which was supposed to be called First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act actually reads: An Act to establish a framework to enable First Nations control ..." "
Weasel words, poison pills, sharp dealing, double talk ... forked tongue.
Historically, 'Indian' Agents and other Crown agents have made 'deals' with whomever they could isolate and get to sign a paper, without the ratification by the whole community that is required by the Royal Proclamation 1763:
"... at some public Meeting or Assembly of the said Indians, to be held for that Purpose"
Many such historic 'deals' have now been overturned in land claims actions on that basis - the community never consented. With that history, the scene of Shawn Atleo and Harper working out some secret deal ... Atleo singing it's merits while Harper undermines every commitment it 'appears' to make ... deja vu to Indigenous communities. It was doomed to fail.
Jeffrey Simpsons 'analysis' is very lightweight, superficial, patronizing and colonialist. He doesn't address anything of substance at all, and makes no attempt to comprehend First Nations perspectives. And his poisonous words "radical aboriginals" ... referring to Dr. Palmater and others ... reveal pure racism. Jeffrey Simpson ' s racist diatribe reveals everything that is wrong with Canada.
Where we are today, in the aftermath of the truth about the residential schools' genocide ... we have to do better:
Reconciliation is a two way street.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
TRC politics: John Milloy 'resigned' after giving this interview:
Truth and Reconciliation: An interview with John Milloy
Monday, 22 March 2010 14:53
In Milloy’s book, A National Crime, he describes how students were subjected to physical and sexual abuse and restricted from speaking their traditional languages. They were also severely malnourished. Students came out without the skills to live in either Canadian or Aboriginal society. In a January lecture, Milloy stated that the death rate of students at one such school was 64 per cent. Across Canada, a large number of students died at the schools or within a year of returning home.
As many as 150,000 Aboriginal children attended Canada’s 130 residential schools before the last one closed in 1996.
The Commission will pour over church and government records in order to produce an official historical record of Canada’s residential schools era.
The Missing Children Research Project is only one part of Truth and Reconciliation Canada’s mandate, which is to inform all Canadians about what happened in Indian Residential Schools and to document the survivors’ stories and those affected by the schools’ legacy.
Arthur had the opportunity to talk to Dr Milloy about the Commission and his role as the Commission’s Director of Research.
Arthur: So what is the Truth and Reconciliation Commission?
Milloy: [The Commission] was set up by the government, the churches and the Assembly of First Nations by way of an agreement that brought all litigation to an end. There were thousands and thousands of cases against the government and the churches.
Paul Martin and Phil Fontaine, who was then head of the Assembly of First Nations, sat down and said, “This is crazy; it’s costing millions of dollars, survivors are dying, and we’re not moving forward at any speed.”
So, they negotiated a settlement which meant that anybody who had been in a residential school and could prove this, would receive a payment for the years they’d been there, called a Common Experience Payment (CEP). [For example]: we were all in school, it was a dreadful thing, so put your hand up and say, “I was there for five years...” and we’ll multiply the years times the payment.
Then there’s an individual assessment process where you come forward, having gotten your CEP, and say, “I was sexually abused” or whatever. There’s a separate administrative process by which added amounts of compensation are paid.
Arthur: I remember hearing about that settlement and thinking the amount of compensation was completely inadequate.
Milloy: It is completely inadequate, but you have to ask yourself the question, ‘What is adequate?’ There’s absolutely no way of making up for lost youth, lost language, lost culture.
If you talk to survivors, what was most important to them wasn’t the Common Experience payment- what was most important was the recognition that what they had been saying all along was true.
Arthur: So, you were asked to be head of research for the Commission?
Milloy: Director of Research. Part of the agreement was that the churches and the government would give us copies of all their residential school files; then we would have copies given to the commission, we would digitize those records, and we would build a national research centre with that as the initial foundation collection.
Since the 1920s, or even before that, there’s been a growth of Aboriginal political organizations. Their papers sit in basements across the country and there’s no way they’re going to be giving them to the national archives of Canada. So, we’re thinking about the possibility of building a freestanding, Aboriginally-controlled archive that would have that collection.
Then on top of that we may be able to get the AFN (Assembly of First Nations) papers and other papers and build a fair-sized archive.
It would be an electronic archive so Aboriginal people sitting in Yellowknife with a laptop and internet access could actually read documents in the server in Winnipeg or Trent or wherever the hell the server ends up.
I’ve only got five years to do this job. I’ve got a digitization budget of $3 million – that’s a lot of digitization. There are 40 different sites across the country where church documents and government documents exist. 40 bloody sites. Then, in each of those sites are two or three archives, so it’s really 120-140 archive sites. We have to get people in there to look at every document, which has to be indexed – each document as if you’re building a library – then digitized, and then off you go to the next site. It’s a mundane project.
Arthur: And what’s the purpose of this research?
Milloy: I’m Director of Research and Report Writing, and there are two reports that have to be written: one two years from now and a final report in five years.
The first report is a history of the system, so we’ll do some research to increase the level of knowledge we have about how the system was built and operated. We don’t know how much the system cost or how much the federal government put into the system. We know they never gave the system enough money to provide decent food, housing, clothing, or qualified teachers, but we don’t know the actual number.
We also don’t know the number of children who went to the schools, for a whole series of reasons.
Arthur: Why aren’t these numbers known?
Milloy: If you were the principal of a school, you submitted what was called a Quarterly Report to the government for most of the life of the system. On that Quarterly Report, you listed all the names of the students and you got $X a head as a per-capita payment. You sent the document to Ottawa, they cut you a cheque, and on you went. So, theoretically, we should know every child who was ever in school because we would have all these Quarterly Reports.
But during the [Second World War] the government decided it needed paper and it wanted to recycle government documents. The word went out to various departments saying, “Give us documents you’re not interested in having any longer.” Why keep the Quarterly Reports, right? The cheque had already been cut.
So people who had been in the school, for example, and were applying for the Common Experience Payment would say, “Well, I’ve been in the school for ten years,” and the government would search the Quarterly Reports and say, “We only have records of you being there for five.”
I saw numbers yesterday. There were about 92,000 people who applied for Common Experience Payments and 23,000 of them were rejected. Nearly a third of the people who apply are rejected because, largely, the records aren’t there. So, the person who was already abused in one way now gets to be abused in another. There’s 23,000 liars out there? Give me a break.
Arthur: What other problems have there been in accessing this information?
Milloy: The government is being relatively cooperative; the churches are not being cooperative at all. Even though they signed the agreement saying they’d cough these things up, you go to them and they tell you, “We can’t give you that.”
Arthur: What are their reasons for that?
Milloy: Oh, privacy largely. They’re afraid of lawsuits under the Charter of Rights, for example.
The Catholics are especially wary. They might say, “if we give you the documents, John, and they’re the diary of priest so-and-so and this opens him up to liability” – because he was buggering boys in the basement and that sort of thing – “and he sues us (the church) we’re in all sorts of trouble.”
This is the reason they weren’t giving us the documents in the first place, because the documents prove they were not treating children in the way they should have been treated. They’re just scared shitless.
You go to the big meetings where all of the church reps are and they go on about how important this is; then you go to the archivists and you hear, “it’s private, piss off,” or you hear, “they haven’t given us any money.”
For example, the United Church archives in Winnipeg is only open three days a week, from lunch until the afternoon. So, it’s got a part-time archivist and she’s saying, “how am I going to do this? I have to go through every piece of paper in my archives to determine what’s relevant and then get these papers ready for you guys.” Then we’d go in and index and digitize. It’s a massive project. She said, “I don’t have any money to hire people. What am I supposed to do?”
Arthur: I thought there was money earmarked by the Commission for that?
Milloy: The money is earmarked by the churches. When they signed the agreement they all stuck their hands up and said, “We’ll do all this.” But the churches are dragging their feet.
Why would the guy who’s up on criminal charges provide you with the evidence that will convict him? Survivors are going to look at us and say, “What are you, a fucking fool?”
Arthur: Part of your research is also tracking down kids who didn’t survive the schools?
Milloy: It’s called the Missing Child Project. Families want to know where their kids are. They want to know where they disappeared and where they’re buried.
You have to sit down and you have to go through every piece of paper in every archive looking for indications that X-child died or went missing in a particular place for a particular reason.
And then where are these children buried? Many schools had graveyards, but not every graveyard connected to the school was the site for the burial of these children. I went to Qu’Appelle residential school in Saskatchewan and the school has been destroyed. The church is there, the graveyard was there, but there was not one marker for one Indian.
I said to one of the school survivors, a guy in his fifties, “What’s going on, why didn’t they give you guys markers?”
He said, “Oh they didn’t bury us there. We’re in a field across the lake.” So we’re dealing with an unmarked graveyard with unmarked graves, and that’s common right across the country.
Survivors come to me and say, “Here’s the graveyard John,” and it looks like someone stopped on the side of highway 7 and took a picture of a bush. All you see is brush, but there are Indian kids in there.
We’ll have to find the cemeteries and we’ll have to x-ray the ground to make sure there are bodies there and count them. Then we’re going to have to find collateral documentary evidence to tell us who’s in those graves - but we will never have a complete list.
Arthur: You mentioned that there will be a second report in five years. What will that cover?
Milloy: The second report will be much more contemporary. There’s nothing you can do about the schools because they’re closed. What we need to do is direct people’s attention to the problems Indigenous people face today as a direct result of the residential school system.
We can draw direct lines between students leaving (what they call ‘graduates’ in the file) and things like incarceration rates. Graduates had, on average, a grade three education, even though they’d been there for ten years, and current incarceration rates are just astronomic. More First Nations people are in jail in Manitoba and Saskatchewan than any other ethnic group in those provinces. And the Native percentage of the population is miniscule: the smallest population, the most unemployed, the most drug-addicted, the most alcohol-addicted, the most uneducated, and so forth, naturally produces the largest part of the incarcerated population.
We can actually go down one list after the other – health conditions, social dysfunction, unemployment – and you can draw lines between that and previous residential school participation.
The other thing is that when you sit in Ottawa and read the records, what’s not there in 95 per cent of the cases are the Indian voices. Not the voices of the parents and certainly not the voices of any children. So we expect to take 50,000 statements from survivors over the next five years.
Arthur: What do you think will come out of all this?
Milloy: We’re mandated to do seven national events in seven different places across the country. The first one is in Winnipeg this July.
It will be a four-day event. Commissioners will set up shop, CBC will be there, and thousands of people will come, many of them survivors. There will be a whole process of statement gathering. Some people will speak publicly, as in South Africa, sitting in front of the commissioners and telling their stories. Many, many more will give private sessions.
There will be all sorts of learning opportunities for non-Aboriginal people. We want to not only talk about the crises and the opportunities for reconciliation, but we also want to say, “We’re still here and we’re still determined to be here.”
What we’re trying to say to people is, “Look, if you really want to rebuild the relationship with First Nations people, then we need to talk about fulfilling treaty promises, issues of unemployment, and economic development, and we need to talk about bad water in Northern communities.”
The whole thing will be a disaster if it is only a few people complaining and white guys turning their back on it and saying, “so what?” We really have to work hard to get non-Aboriginal people involved.
Last Updated on Monday, 22 March 2010 15:33
Friday, October 17, 2008
Thursday, October 9, 2008
What is Canada?
It was just this year that the Canadian government apologized for the residential schools that were put in place to assimilate Native students into the mainstream Canadian culture. As evidenced by the deputy superintendent of the Department of Indian Affairs, Duncan Campbell Scott’s words, the goal of the Indian Act was for “Indians [to] progress into civilization and finally disappear as a separate and distinct people, not by race extinction but by gradual assimilation with their fellow-citizens.”
Unlike Joe’s claim, we were not always, “really, really nice.”
In the end, the cost of indifference is a world where people like George Bush and Stephen Harper are heads of state. It is a world where genocide makes headlines and continues to occur; it’s a world where large financial institutions get bailed out with government money that could have fed and sheltered millions of people.
It is a world that allows the Oka Crisis and residential schools to occur, a world with a climate changing for the worse, a world running out of natural resources.http://www.theomega.ca/article/4988
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Leaders raise questions about new executive director
Last Updated: Wednesday, October 8, 2008 | 11:47 AM ET Comments55Recommend23
Aboriginal groups are concerned that a federal government bureaucrat who is not aboriginal has been chosen to be the new executive director of the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Aideen Nabigon, who has worked for the federal government on issues arising from the legacy of Indian residential schools, has replaced Bob Watts, former chief of staff to the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations.
Watts, who was seconded from the assembly to work as interim executive director, said this week that he was surprised that he received a letter last month saying the commission was activating the termination clause in his contract.
"I'm really at a loss to figure out what's going on except it's quite likely they're not honouring the job offer they made me," he said.
"I've put my heart and soul into this process and made commitments to survivors across the country that I was going to work hard for their benefit and not having that opportunity is tough."
While Nabigon has treaty status, Watts is from the Mohawk and Ojibway Nations in Ontario. He was directly involved in negotiating the residential schools settlement for the assembly.
Phil Fontaine, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, said this week that he is worried that the federal government is behind the change in staff and that the appointment is another example of the federal interference in the commission.
"The issue here is not colour. The issue is competence and understanding and experience. That's OK as long as the independence of the TRC is not compromised in any way," he said.
Edward John, a lawyer and member of the Union of B.C. Chiefs, said the appointment is raising questions because aboriginal leaders believe that the executive director of the commission should not simply be a federal appointee.
The commission is charged with examining the legacy of abuse in Indian residential schools.
"We certainly want to make sure there is someone there who understands residential schools, who understands survivors, and not just another mandarin from Ottawa," John said.
Chief commissioner Harry LaForme defended his decision to hire Nabigon, saying he should have the independence to hire the person he thinks is best for the job.
"When it's interference and influence that's being attempted through aboriginal organizations like the AFN, then it's just me being accused of getting into bed with the federal government," he said.
"And I will defend the independence of the commission from that kind of influence as much as I will from the influence of government."
LaForme said the commission needs to strike a balance between the federal government and aboriginal interest groups and be independent from both.
He said Nabigon is an excellent choice for executive director. "She's worked on many aspects of the settlement agreement. I'm satisfied," he said.
"She's working out marvelously. I'm quite delighted with her work."
Last summer, the assembly protested another hiring. It urged LaForme to reconsider a decision to hire lawyer Owen Young, who had last worked for the Ontario government in a court case against aboriginal leaders.
The federal government formed the commission as part of the court-approved Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement that was negotiated between legal counsel for former students, legal counsel for the churches, the federal government, the assembly and other aboriginal organizations.
The commission has been asked to provide former students with an opportunity to share their experiences in a safe and culturally appropriate manner.
Its purpose is to create a historical account of the residential schools, help people to heal, and encourage reconciliation between aboriginals and non-aboriginal Canadians.
The TRC has a budget of $60 million. It was formally established on June 1, 2008, and is expected to complete its work within five years.
In my opinion
Bob Watts was appointed by the governmentHarper and the fact that he is a government appointee and defender was apparent in his attempt to shut Kevin Annett down: He found out Kevin was speaking in London and called the organizers and simply INSISTED that he was coming too. He used the same old smear tactics the governments always have used against Kevin. Showed his true INAC colours, he did.
Despite the opposition, we were successful in forcing the government to create a TRC Task Force to look into the deaths of children in the residential schools, but not without opposition from the AFN, Band Councils, and the Canadian governments. Phil Fontaine and Ed John's credentials in 'independence' from government is entirely suspect, as they both operate within Canada's imposed 'Band Council' system, not traditional Indigenous governance. I would trust Justice Laforme to make an independent decision before I would trust them.
Now ... if Justice Laforme can detach himself and his budget from the dept INAC set up to spend his budget, then there is some hope of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission being independent, as it is ordered by the courts to be. I will continue to share my concerns about independence with influential Canadians and with the International Centre for Justice that oversees the process.