Justice Murray Sinclair, speaking about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, points to beginnings that reach back seven generations. That’s when it became the policy of our Government to “tell Aboriginal children their lives were not as good as the non-Aboriginals of the country. Their languages and cultures were irrelevant … their people and their ancestors were heathens and pagans … uncivilized … they needed to give up that way of life and come to a different way of living.”
Cultural genocide such as this leaves a terrible swath of destruction and degradation. The suffering is almost unbearable.
Sinclair doesn’t stop at describing only the plight of his own people. He spoke about the way “White children have been taught the same thing”. This is what Dr. Olive Dickason called “The Myth of the Savage”.
This negative propaganda has prejudiced non-Native people to the extent that disrespect, anger, despair and feelings of guilt cloud our relationships with Indigenous People. Huge walls of resentment over-shadow our lives and victimize us.
We can’t go on like this. Canada and its people can become a Great Society only when we tear those walls of falsehood down, lament our past and move toward a more complete future.
John Ralston Saul has written about the remarkable resurgence of Aboriginal people in positions of increasing power, creativity and influence. From their languages, their culture, and the experience of a People who have inhabited this land for thousands of years, they are enabled because they have strength and courage.
We are reminded this movement toward Reconciliation is the greatest issue of our time. Let’s move ahead together!