Truth-Telling

A Canadian government investigation used the term “cultural genocide” to describe the experience of aboriginal people, advising that reconciliation within the country “is going to take hard work.” Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission on June 2 called for changes at all levels of society and government. Aboriginal schools were established and paid for by the Canadian government in the late 1800s but were administered by church organizations of several religions, including the Catholic Church, which ran about 60 percent of them. “States that engage in cultural genocide set out to destroy the political and social institutions of the targeted group. Land is seized and populations are forcibly transferred and their movement is restricted. Languages are banned. Spiritual leaders are persecuted, spiritual practices are forbidden, and objects of spiritual value are confiscated and destroyed. And, most significantly to the issue at hand, families are disrupted to prevent the transmission of cultural values and identity from one generation to the next.” According to the report, “In its dealing with aboriginal people, Canada did all these things.”

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