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FNCARES Spring Talk 2022 – A National Crime: Is it Over?

In this webinar, speakers discuss the denial of genocide in Canada and the importance of holding the government accountable for ongoing injustices against First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples.

Canada’s reputation as a bastion of human rights amid global headlines of hundreds of “Indian” children in unmarked graves in 2021 was defended by many, who suggested that people back then did not know the children were dying. And even if they did know, defenders said, “we can’t judge the past by the values of the present.” However comforting, these defences crumble in the face of work by Peter Henderson Bryce, a renowned public health expert appointed Medical Inspector for the Department of the Interior and Indian Affairs in 1904 whose pamphlet The Story of a National Crime: An Appeal for Justice to the Indians of Canada was published in 1922. (1hr. 30min.)

Watch here: FNCARES Spring Talk 2022 – A National Crime: Is it Over?https://youtu.be/SQFAuKwfUNc


Video: A National Crime: https://carleton.ca/history/cu-videos/a-national-crime/

“The Darkest Tapestry”: Indian Residential School Memorialization at the Keeping Place at Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan by Dr. Amber DVA Johnson: http://digitalcollections.trentu.ca/objects/etd-899

“’A Cruel Kindness’: Laying the Foundations of Federal Child Welfare Policy in the 1920s and 1930s” by John S. Milloy and Amber Johnson: https://fncaringsociety.com/publications/cruel-kindness-laying-foundations-federal-child-welfare-policy-1920s-and-1930s

Reconciling History, First Nations Child & Family Caring Society: https://fncaringsociety.com/reconciling-history

Here is an educational resource created by Project of Heart on the basis of the Beechwood plaque work: https://www.bctf.ca/classroom-resources/details/project-of-heart

Here is a link to the Indian Act- same law that forced children into residential schools still regulates the lives of First Nations peoples. Read the table of contents and imagine if this applied to everyone in Canada: https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/i-5/

Here is a link to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (1996) that among other things set out a plan out of the Indian Act- not implemented: https://www.rcaanc-cirnac.gc.ca/eng/1100100014597/1572547985018

A National Crime

The Canadian Government and the Residential School System, 1879 to 1986 – John S. Milloy (Author): https://uofmpress.ca/books/detail/a-national-crime

“I am going to tell you how we are treated. I am always hungry.” — Edward B., a student at Onion Lake School (1923).            

“If I were appointed by the Dominion Government for the express purpose of spreading tuberculosis, there is nothing finer in existence that the average Indian residential school.” — N. Walker, Indian Affairs Superintendent (1948).

For over 100 years, thousands of Aboriginal children passed through the Canadian residential school system. Begun in the 1870s, it was intended, in the words of government officials, to bring these children into the “circle of civilization,” the results, however, were far different. More often, the schools provided an inferior education in an atmosphere of neglect, disease, and often abuse.

Using previously unreleased government documents, historian John S. Milloy provides a full picture of the history and reality of the residential school system. He begins by tracing the ideological roots of the system, and follows the paper trail of internal memoranda, reports from field inspectors, and letters of complaint. In the early decades, the system grew without planning or restraint. Despite numerous critical commissions and reports, it persisted into the 1970s, when it transformed itself into a social welfare system without improving conditions for its thousands of wards.

A National Crime shows that the residential system was chronically underfunded and often mismanaged, and documents in detail and how this affected the health, education, and well-being of entire generations of Aboriginal children.