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2012-12-04 at 15:18

Education the key

By Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com
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THUNDER BAY -- The head of the truth and reconciliation commission believes education is the key to a better relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in Canada.


The commission is holding hearings on the effects of residential schools not only on the estimated 80,000 survivors with which a common experience payment was settled in 2007, but any member of the public who wishes to speak.

Chair Justice Murray Sinclair said the commission wants to hear everything in an effort to commit the full impact of the 130-year-old black eye to the national memory.

“If we don’t’ do it as a commission then we will have failed,” Sinclair said in Thunder Bay Tuesday for two days of hearings.

Information from the hearings will help combat what was an aggressive suppression campaign from the Canadian government how people view First Nations people and how they view themselves Sinclair said.

Residential schools and the abuse that went on in them weren’t even discussed until recently.

“It was a deliberate act of censorship on the part of the government of Canada to ensure that much of that information never got out,” he said.

“All Canadians have been educated to believe that Aboriginal people are inferior are wild and savage and pagans. That they were lucky that Europeans came to this part of the world and saved them without in fact appreciating that Aboriginal people have lived in this part of the world for thousands upon thousands of years very well quite adequately without anyone coming to their assistance.”

Originally from Scotland, Yvonne Farquhar told the hearing the only things she knew about Aboriginal people came from museum exhibits or John Wayne movies until coming to Canada.

As manager of the J.J Kelso Centre, part of William W. Chreighton Youth Services, she has seen a lot in her 22 years there.

The centre holds 11 girls, virtually all Aboriginal, who have committed crimes that adults would receive at least five years in jail for. With almost every girl there’s a pattern of traumatic sexual or physical abuse and neglect, addiction issues and suicide attempts.

There’s also a history of foster homes, some girls going through 40 homes before ending up in her care Farquhar said. The girls are often very angry and have a total loss of identity. But they all share the same goal, wanting to get back to their community and family.

“They don’t know who they are,” she said.

Both of Patricia McGuire’s parents were residential school survivors. Their experiences were discussed openly. Her father went to school with Norval Morriseau and others who used their experiences to become activists and artists, showing strength and resilience.

“They took that experience and created beauty in the world,” she said.

As a professor at Confederation College, McGuire said it’s something she tries to do as well, saying educating the public about Aboriginal history is a sacred duty.

The hearing continues Wednesday at the DaVinci Centre.

 

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Comments

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Tbay99 says:
"All Canadians have been educated to believe that Aboriginal people are inferior are wild and savage and pagans"

Not what I was taught whatsoever but nice generalization.
12/4/2012 4:34:30 PM
vimeo says:
Agreed. It looks like the need for education is needed for both sides. Yes, we hear you. There's lots to learn about your culture and history. But there's a lot to learn about ours. Like our grandparents who as children were separated from their families in England in the 20's and shipped to Canada and Australia to work as child labourers.

This is a positive step. But, every culture has their story.
12/4/2012 9:05:12 PM
Baor says:
"All Canadians have been ..... Pagans." Never in my long life was I taught that nor were my children. What a statement to make! Absolutely insulting.
12/4/2012 8:36:09 PM
ring of fire dude says:
“All Canadians have been educated to believe that Aboriginal people are inferior are wild and savage and pagans." WOW ! And this statement is from the Justice heading the Inquiry ? Unbelievable !!
12/4/2012 8:55:51 PM
Molly says:
Justice Sinclair if quoted right has shown an ignorance of the Canadian people
No doubt the residential Schools have scarred some and led to a number tragedies ,but his statements lessen and mar any conclusions the commission may later come to.
I feel they only widened the divide between cultures
12/5/2012 4:32:01 AM
thecity says:
All of these comments seem to be laced with anger, it just proves the inquiry is necessary. we can't get angry and deffensive.
12/5/2012 9:08:19 AM
captain says:
I am disguested by the comments from the head of this committee. A judge said this stuff. I was not conditioned to believe anything about natives. I do believe they are as equal to anyone else. I also believe that in some respects they have been treated horribly. I also believe that in an attempt to rectify past wrongs, current policies are slanted in such a way as to build resentment towards native people from non-native people.

Speaking about past wrongs, admitting what took place and ensuring it never happens again are worthwhile goals. Allowing the victims the right to be heard should take place, but please spare me the rhetoric of how I or others do not know that wrongs have been done. I treat everyone with respect, unless during the interaction I am disrespected.

All of us, whites, natives, other races all need to do a better job of respecting each other. This justice should be removed for his comments. To anger me and others does not advance the worthy cause for natives.
12/5/2012 10:20:13 AM
cachinnate says:
With statements like that, all credibilty of these hearings is completely lost.
12/5/2012 10:30:17 AM
getgoing says:
I must of missed that part of my education. My best friend growing up was aboriginal and I am scottish. She lived on the Mission and I lived in town. We went to highschool in the 70's. I somehow, don't ever remember being taught that she was a savage or anything other than my very best friend.
I think Justice Murray Sinclair needs to think about what comes out of his mouth before he speaks. I am very insulted by that statement. I am CANADIAN and have NEVER been taught this. I think Justice Murray should stop the finger pointing at the rest of the non native Canadians and realize that the majority of us had absolutely nothing to do with the residential schools. You will never find peace until you forgive and move on. There are MANY cultures with horror stories of coming to Canada, willingly or unwillingly. These stories however, will never be told, because there isn't a price tag attached to them.
12/5/2012 10:41:56 AM
passlake says:
I was never taught to think aboriginals were inferior, or savage, or anything but a different and distinct culture. What a stupid statement to make by someone leading an inquiry as big as this.

However, I was taught that there is a set of laws that differentiate people based on race: aboriginals and non-aboriginals. You know it as the Indian Act.
12/5/2012 10:42:39 AM
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