Thursday, July 18, 2013

For there to be reconciliation, there has to be truth.

When the news of intentional malnutrition of aboriginal children in 1940s Canada came out, a Crown Attorney I was sitting with said "that's just like Nazi Germany". 

My instinct was to say "no, there wasn't a plan to kill" but then I stopped and thought a bit.  And realized the Crown was right. 

The imposition of malnutrition is not the same as the imposition of death. But both actions are based in the same mindset - the people "we" are dealing with are not the same as "us" and are lesser beings who can be used without regard for their inherent dignity and value. "They" are other and not fully or really human. 

That view - the other is different and of no inherent worth - links the actions.  It is a wicked view that ignores the sanctity of human life. 

To be clear, the imposed malnutrition was an action of the Canadian government against Canadian children. It was racial based. It was of a piece with the German government killing German (and Polish and French and Russian etc) children.  And as the Holocaust remains a trauma to this day so does the abuse of Canadians by their own government in the 1940s. 

As Shawn Atleo of the Assembly of First Nations said, "The past isn't past. It remains with us to this day". 

"For there to be reconciliation, there has to be truth."


The Rat said...

A lot of Liblog posts on this. I wonder, does anyone know which party was in control of the country at that time? A hint: It wasn't the Conservatives.

Another prolific Liblogger likes to forget that it was his party that did stuff like this, and the SS ST. Louis, as well as many of the Chinese head tax laws, and so on.

My point? When pointing fingers and shouting "racist" Liberals might want to remember that being the natural governing party and ruling Canada for much of the 20th century is a double edged sword. Liberals have much to answer for, too.

Marie Snyder said...

It's closer to Stalin's starvation of Ukrainians - but whatever. It's brutal either way.

gabriel said...

Let's be reasonable. This was abusive and exploitative, but it wasn't genocidal. Sin and evil exist, and this was both; so while we it did not go as far as other crimes, its roots are the same.