Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A firm purpose of amendment...

...used to be what Catholic catechism students were told was an essential part of any act of contrition. Forgiveness of wrongdoing is contingent on a commitment not to go on doing wrong.

That's the context in which one might view today's apology by the government of Canada, on behalf of all of us, for the treatment of aboriginal Canadians in the residential schools. If the apology could help bring about a commitment by Canada to amend its ways and take its treaty commitments seriously, then its impact could be profound.

Ward Churchill writes in the current Briarpatch, "the Indian Residential Schools were not the result of a 'misguided policy undertaken with the best of humanitarian intentions,' as they’re often described, but rather a pillar in the attempted genocide of Canada’s indigenous peoples."

Today's reading would be from the work of J.R. Miller of the University of Saskatchewan, the leading academic historian of residential schools and aboriginal/ white relations:

Shingwauk's Vision: A History of Native Residential Schools;
Skyscrapers Hide the Heavens: a History of Indian-White Relations in Canada;
Sweet Promises: A Reader in Indian White Relations in Canada.

Late Update: You might add to that list John Milloy's 1999 history A National Crime: The Canadian Government and the Residential School System, 1879-1986 from University of Manitoba Press.
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