Faithfully Observe the Laws of Canada
Issue Four: Falling into Action
Welcome to the fourth installment to the Faithfully Observe the Laws of Canada series. Apologies for the tardiness, the PS Buzz has been busy researching & fact checking for the constant reader, to ensure top of the line content we’ve had to take our time. Truth be told, this article sat on the desk for quite a while.
It should be noted that this series is meant to be serious, and we understand if some readers are turned off, but the issues being analyzed are not light issues. Right, that’s our disclaimer.
Now, it’s time to look at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future report from early 2015.
The TRC 2015 report outlines the injustice and mistreating of individuals exposed to Canadian residential schools. Please see the links at the bottom of this article to find out more. It’s a rather comprehensive report, so a pot of tea may be required.
A little background on the early beginnings of residential schools in North America:
Indian Residential Schools (from here on out they’ll simply be referred to as residential schools) was an institution that began in North America during the late 1800’s.
In 1857, one of the first acts in Canada was developed (pre-confederation), the Gradual Civilization Act- like many of the treaties set into motion at that time- would set the foundation for Canadian/Aboriginal affairs.
The GCA had quite a few goals for how the early natives were to be recognized by the future Canadian government. We have more to share, so we’ll just let you know that this was the start of assimilation at a cultural level.
The follow up to the GCA, is the more well known Indian Act (first passed in 1876) which would be the definitive legislature for how Canada would recognize native bands. The current Indian Act of Canada is still receiving amendments and continues to dictate how the state is to interact with the First Nations Bands in Canada.
During the early push for assimilation, Canada decided certain things were necessary for someone to be Canadian. In general- for aboriginal peoples- it meant control over the culture privy to them (students of residential schools were required to learn colonial languages and ideologies, and not allowed to practice their own.)
We’ll keep this section brief, however to say that Canada ignorantly disregarded Canadian Aboriginal peoples culture is not far from the truth.
The TRC focuses heavily on the cultural genocide that existed up until the late 1960’s, however the last residential school officially shut down in 1996. During this time, the residential schools were still considered a social support system for native communities. The religious based education was often considered an important social service.
Sadly, this service would lead to a mortality rate of 30-60% for students, depending on the school. It’s estimated that at least 3,000 students died due to the living conditions of these institutions.
There is more that can be said, but it’s advised that if the constant reader wishes to find out more on this piece of Canada’s history the TRC has all of its documents posted online (PDF in all of its glory!)
We’ll end thoughts on the TRC with a statement made in the closing of the report:
“The urgent need for reconciliation runs deep in Canada. Expanding public dialogue and action on reconciliation beyond residential schools will be critical in the coming years. Although some progress has been made, significant barriers to reconciliation remain.”
The Canadian government, has apologized for the atrocities, and intends to help build a better future for the Canadian/Aboriginal relationship.
This kind of just makes Canada look like a bully that doesn’t really feel bad for itself, then apologizes to the principal but thinks to themselves ‘I really wanna push that kid down the stairs again.’ All because Canada feels like it’s deep and complex and should be allowed to do what it wants.
A better analogy, it’s like a bully that actually has a bunch of personal issues, refuses to take people’s advice on how to get a better outlook so it just apologizes for doing something, but doesn’t actually attempt to make amends.
Perhaps the reader is curious why the Buzz is using such a cynical tone here.
The TRC has put a lot of time and resources to bring these issues into the public sphere. It’s reached a point that the United Nations is actually calling for Canada to address its overwhelming track record for violating human rights. We’ll let the reader decide if Canada has reacted appropriately, we’re also not going to sugar coat the situation.
As a wrap up for this article, we’ll share the origin of the series title (Faithfully Observe the Laws of Canada). This is to reference the Canadian Oath of Citizenship. If you’re not familiar with it, well, it’s quite poetic really:
“I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.”
There’s the big reveal, time to drop the mic!
The PS Buzz chose FOLC because the COC is still something that people becoming Canadian citizens must recite. It’s a whole ceremony, and actually only a portion of an extremely emotional process (gaining citizenship).
It sums up how the practices within the Canadian political system are far from perfect, but it tries. Oh how it tries.
If Canada can reassess how it treats people, perhaps the UN will lay off. Perhaps, people will be proud to learn about their heritage again. Perhaps Aboriginal Canadian and state relations will see positive discourse.
Perhaps we’re running out of things to say perhaps about.
Right, that brings us to an end in this article. It was a little lighter on content because if the Constant Reader needs more, it’s simply a scroll + click away. Expect our next issue to cover the action Canada is currently taking to repair its relationship with Canadian Aboriginals.
As always, if you are enraged, interested, or mildly curious with our intentions and thoughts while this series is being published then we feel like we have done some sort of job. That being said, volunteer writers are always encouraged, no matter the point of view!
Links as promised:
TRC: Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future summary of the final report for the TRC of Canada- http://www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/File/2015/Honouring_the_Truth_Reconciling_for_the_Future_July_23_2015.pdf
Routing Used to Enslave Indigenous People: Gradual Civilization Act- http://signatoryindian.tripod.com/routingusedtoenslavethesovereignindigenouspeoples/id10.html
Canadian Parliamentary Review: The Indian Act an Historic Perspective- http://www.revparl.ca/english/issue.asp?art=255¶m=83
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada: Gender Equity in Indian Registration Act- http://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1308068336912/1308068535844
Law and Society @Kwantlen: Oppression of Aboriginals People and Genocide- https://kpulawandsociety.wordpress.com/2013/11/07/oppression-of-aboriginals-people-and-genocide/
Canadian Oath of Citizenship- http://web.archive.org/web/20070321032215/http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/pdf/pub/look.pdf
The Star: Anti-terror Bill Not in Keeping with Canada’s International Obligations - http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2015/07/23/anti-terror-bill-not-in-keeping-with-canadas-international-obligations-un.html