Residential schools are famous in Canadian history. I personally term it the ‘Canadian Holocaust’. The Canadian government and peoples are very infamous for being close-minded and racist on a personal and systematic level, and the majority of its citizens were (and still are) taught the White-European version of history and viewpoints.
Some progress has been made, but pebbles do not compare to boulders. Pebbles are the first official Federal apology regarding Residential Schools. The boulder in the room is the fact that the Government did not blame any specific individuals; no person was punished from the educators at the front lines of the residential schools, or the creators of such painful policies. This pebble and boulder are atop a mountain of the oppressive Canadian past.
Let’s move back to the official federal apology. Prime Minister Steven Harper, in July of 2009, apologized to all survivors of Residential Schools and admitted that the system was a complete disaster and failure. Residential schools were a result of colonialism, the believed Darwinism of Ethnicities, and assimilation policies of the ‘Canadian’ governments of almost 150 years.
Despite this, in only one year after his apology Harper has stated (at an international conference) that “Canada has no history of colonialism.” Quite the contradiction, ignoring the fact that Canada (and more specifically, Western Canada where the majority of residential schools occurred).
Fast forward to the modern age, and we reach Sir John A. MacDonald’s 200th birthday. On this day, Steven Harper was planning to lay a wreathe and celebrate the day, while Aboriginal rights advocated staged a protest in front of a statue of the creator of Canada. These protesters shamed John A. by stating that he (and by extension-his nation) denied Aboriginal peoples food, water, shelter, human rights, raped, murdered, tortured, and created a war of genocide on Aboriginal culture.
Due to this, Harper and his cabinet decided to cancel the ceremony/celebration of John A, but in a press Conference, Prime Minister Stephen Harper commemorated the occasion under tight security in Kingston, Ont. He described Macdonald as “a shining example of modesty, hope and success,” but also alluded to his reputation as a drinker. No mention was made of his treatment of Aboriginal persons and the policies he fronted or had major influence in.
It becomes clear that Harper’s apology was insincere and I guess was done only to gain a vote. I hope that Harper changes his recognition of the past atrocities of Aboriginal persons, or that a new leader whom truly repents for the past and present (and subsequently makes the future brighter) comes in soon.