The ongoing archaeological survey of residential school and First Nation hospital mass graves is appalling. I am asked, “What can Canadians (who now know residential schools are part of our recent and local history?” (See News Optimist Thursday, June 3, 2021: 5).
As thousands more children’s graves are surveyed, we cannot stay numb with grief and shame: we must move to create a better Canada.
Here are some suggestions for (some) individual atonement/action and institutional reparation, some taken from Post -War Germany:
Honour the Treaties: Our ongoing treaty process must be honoured. Treaties, like mortgages, are contracts, and like mortgages need to be adhered to for the time of the contract (see AS LONG AS THIS LAND SHALL LAST, Rumoleau, Rene, 1975: McClelland and Stewart Ltd.).
Acknowledge that these atrocities are recent and have been going on for more than a century. Discuss ways of moving forward with your social network.
Become familiar with the numbered Treaties and the promises unfulfilled and still owing.
Remove all public plaques, statues, murals and place-names of the architects of this outrage, and replace with educational information on the truth of these atrocities.
Enact Truth and Reconciliation recommendations.
Enact Missing Indigenous Women and Girls recommendations.
Develop and deliver curricula that cover the social and cultural history of Canadian Indigenous Peoples and their contributions to our society.
Sacred Sites must be marked with cairns, and treated with respect.
Welcome recommendations from First Nation (FN) Elders groups and other groups funded to explore local, provincial and federal actions to atone for this horror.
Advocate for the religious groups involved (Roman Catholic, United Church of Canada, Anglican Church, etc.) to be held accountable and for them to explicitly acknowledge the living hell they forced upon little children.
Advocate for stronger anti-hate legislation.
Compensate all those ripped from their parent’s arms and thrown into brutal conditions, including Indian Hospitals such as Charles Campsel (Edmonton).
Turn offending buildings (with FN consultation) into rubble and mark the site with multi-language signage so that future generations know the truth of our multi-generational maltreatment of our own people.