Wednesday April 18, 2012
'Government A Lousy Parent'
alive and well in BC
Released by the BC Green Party
Truth and Reconciliation Commission Regional event held in Victoria
on April 13th and 14th was attended by First Nations groups and
concerned citizens including members of the Green Party of BC.
TRC is shedding
light on one of the greatest tragedies in Canadian history - the
abuse of Aboriginal children under the guise of education and
assimilation. The event provided an important forum for those
affected by the Indian Residential School system to share their
experiences, connect with other survivors, educate the Canadian
public about ongoing issues, and propose further action to ensure a
just and healthy society.
Since European contact, Aboriginal people have been deprived of
learning about their own culture, language, and history within
Residential School systems. These schools were used to assimilate
children by replacing their identities and customs so that future
generations would not pass on Aboriginal teachings, including
spiritual beliefs. Children were seen as the easiest targets to
"Europeanize" in order to ensure they would no longer relate to
"The stories we heard were heart wrenching and I felt profoundly
ashamed of Canada, Canadians, the churches, the sexual and physical
abusers who perpetrated unspeakable acts on young aboriginal
children and the province and police who didn't see or ignored what
was going on," said Jane Sterk, leader of the Green Party of BC.
"The damage to the individuals, to First Nations families and to
communities continues to this day. Some survivors used the words
'genocide' and 'holocaust' to describe the consequences of
Residential Schools, a pretty powerful indictment.
"Today, Aboriginal students continue to be deprived of the
opportunity to learn their culture, history, values and worldview
and non-Aboriginal children are being taught a sanitized version of
Canadian history that fails to acknowledge the implementation of a
deliberate policy to rob First Nations of their identities, culture
and language and to systematically weaken their families and
The Commission was set up to force Canada to confront the legacy of
the residential school system. The "truth" part involves collecting
thousands of stories from individuals directly and indirectly
affected by residential schools.
Reconciliation will be the job of Canadians today and for
generations to come. Until each First Nations' child develops a
positive self-identity as an Aboriginal person, reconciliation will
not be complete. Until languages and cultures are regained,
reconciliation will be delayed. Until Canada and Canadians move
beyond apology to action to right the wrongs, reconciliation is not
"Even though Residential Schools have closed, we continue to
marginalize individuals and to impede the success of Aboriginal
families," continued Sterk. "First Nations children are still being
taken away from families through our child welfare practices.
"Too often BC's Ministry of Children and Family Development has
become the new residential school system. Aboriginal children are
the majority of children in care in BC and parents have to fight
against overwhelming odds to get their kids back. Instead of helping
families stay together or to reunite quickly if children must be
removed for their own protection, the response seems to be
apprehending and presuming the parents will never be capable of
parenting their kids.
"The government is a lousy parent," said Sterk. "One woman presented
the case of her recent separation from her son Nolan, who was taken
without warning 16 months ago. She has been asking why ever since
and trying to dispute this action in the courts. Meanwhile her son
suffers from nightmares and is being medicated against his parents
wishes. She is also quietly helping the parents of 400 other kids in
care who are fighting similar battles to get their kids back. She
asked us to read "Walking This Path Together", a book that
challenges the current Anglo-American child welfare paradigm.
"The province of BC seems to have reinvented and perpetuated a new
expression of the policies that led to the residential school
system. Child welfare, the lack of progress on treaties and the
hostility toward First Nations opposing Enbridge and other
industrial projects in their territories suggest we continue our
colonial ways," concluded Sterk.
Copyright (c) 2012 The Valley Voice