First came truth. Now comes the hard part.

Award-winning author Joseph Boyden writes about truth, reconciliation, and a callous, uncaring government response

Commission chairman Justice Murray Sinclair speaks at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 2, 2015 . (Adrian Wyld/CP)

Commission chairman Justice Murray Sinclair speaks at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 2, 2015 . (Adrian Wyld/CP)

A few days after the Truth and Reconciliation closing ceremonies in Ottawa, I boarded the Little Bear, that iconic train running between Cochrane and Moosonee. The plan was to decompress with my friend, the Cree legend William Tozer, at his remote camp about 210 km north of Cochrane. I don’t use that word—decompress—lightly. I’d arrived in Ottawa the Sunday before to take part in the march (10,000 strong) that kicked off the highly anticipated final Truth and Reconciliation Commission gathering, the climax of which was to be the commission’s announcement of findings and especially its recommendations.

That morning on the Little Bear I was still reeling from the psychological weight of being witness to the torrents of pain that a Truth and Reconciliation Commission gathering unleashes. But I was also stunned by the beauty of days of witnessing survivors surrounded by younger generations there to support them, with spontaneous drumming and singing of traditional songs in the original languages, as if to remind those survivors that the system that had brutalized them had ultimately failed in its original mandate to remove the Indian from the child in order to save the man. To experience something historical as it unfolds before your eyes turns out to be pretty exhausting emotionally, psychologically, and even physically.

Related: Almost missing, almost murdered: Stories of survival from Indigenous women

I ran into three women in the train’s dining car who were heading home to Moose Factory, part of a larger contingent of about 50 who’d made the long trip to our capital to witness what, for our country’s First Nations, was one of the most important contemporary events of our time. We sat together for a bit and chatted. I asked them a question I would never have even considered asking six years before, when the first TRC gathered at the Forks in Winnipeg, a simple question on the surface but one fraught with weight. Where’d you go to school? Asking any other Canadian this is the most casual and even entertaining way of entering a conversation. Ask a First Nations person my age or older and you’re opening up a Pandora’s box of pain. Think about that for a second.

Is there any way of weighing or measuring positive change as the direct outcome of the TRC hearings? Maybe it’s not just being able to openly ask this question of virtual strangers but in their being able to answer it without glancing down at the table or not answering at all. These three women spoke without that hiccup of fear, and I was able to ask without feeling as if I were awkwardly investigating a family’s worst secret. Freida Sackaney shared that she’d spent three years at Bishop Horton on Moose Factory Island. Her friend Beatrice Rickard said she was taken from her family at six years old and spent the next 10 in residential schools, first at Bishop Horton and then, when she proved herself a promising student, a number more years far away from home at the notorious Shingwauk Hall in Sault Ste. Marie. Half-jokingly, I commented on the irony of having to suffer such horrible punishment as being stolen from your land, family, and friends and dropped in the likes of that hellhole for being smart.

Related: A leading Inuit artist on her experience in residential schools

As the train slowed for me, I thanked the women and went to the baggage car for my fishing gear but not before bumping into my friend, Bob Sutherland, a traditional healer as well as residential school survivor. I jumped off the train, watching it shrink into the northern distance, and realized that in Indian country, you are never far from that dark history of the schools and their damage that continues to reverberate down the generations. To be First Nations in this country is to know that the very history outsiders are telling you to get over—if they know the history at all—isn’t something of the past but what continues to rock communities every day. Many have come to label it intergenerational trauma. All I know is that it is a very real thing.

I wrote about the first Truth and Reconciliation Commission gathering for this magazine back in this same Canada Day issue in 2010. It was called “The hurting.” In part, I made the connection between the damage residential schools inflicted on generations of First Nations to the insanely high suicide rates in northern reserves across our country. I didn’t think it was in any way a stretch; I’m pretty sure very few Indigenous people saw it as one, either. Yet I wasn’t surprised when the naysayers came out of the woodwork to call me a number of colourful names.

The highest suicide rates in the world aren’t the only by-product of generations of trauma. I’m here five years later to draw another connection, this time to our country’s missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIW), and it’s certainly easy to point to the very top: Prime Minister Stephen Harper adamantly refuses to greenlight a national inquiry into MMIW, claiming it’s simply a criminal issue and not a sociological one. I know he’s smarter than to truly believe that, but in politics going to the lowest common denominator is more often than not the most efficient and safest course of travel.

Related: Why it’s time for a national inquiry into MMIW

Still, there’s something much deeper going on in Harper’s almost childish refusal to create an inquiry into what is one of this country’s most horrific travesties. When he coldly stated in a TV interview last December that the MMIW and inquiry weren’t really high on his radar, he certainly understood that almost 1,300 Native women have been murdered or gone missing in this country since 1980 and that if you are a First Nations woman you are four times more likely to die violently than your non-Native peers. Please consider that: if you are a First Nations woman in this country you are four times more likely to meet a violent death than non-Native women. This statistic alone leads to the logic that something very wrong indeed is happening that is far more than a criminal issue. And yet he dismissed it, and continues to dismiss this travesty, despite other political parties and the majority of Canadians demanding an inquiry.

The disdain that the current federal Conservative party shows toward our First Nations slipped out of Harper’s mouth last December when speaking to Peter Mansbridge. But rather than try to rectify it, Harper completely removed himself from the equation, stating that not he but his ministers would continue to dialogue with concerned parties.

I sat beside former prime minister Joe Clark on the day that commissioners Justice Murray Sinclair, Chief Wilton Littlechild, and Dr. Marie Wilson made their long-anticipated recommendations. I also witnessed prime minister Clark in a rousing speech state, in clear reference to Harper’s calculated apology in 2008 that, “there is a difference between an apology and a priority.” The room erupted into cheers. Did we really just hear from not any white guy but a former Progressive Conservative prime minister what so many of us have been thinking for the last seven years? Harper’s apology must be more than simple words, and sadly, that apology has never felt like a priority for the current federal government. Clark’s words only helped to underline the disconnection that this current leadership has created between it and our original peoples.

(Adrian Wyld/CP)

At the TRC, I sat just down the aisle from and had a direct line of sight on Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs Bernard Valcourt, Harper’s representative at this historic gathering. As the commission made its recommendations, painful years in the making and the heart of what so many survivors had been waiting to hear, the whole room, including people like former prime minister Clark, rose over and over to give standing ovations. What struck me hard in the gut, though, was dour Minister Valcourt refusing to stand, refusing most often even to clap, hunched and either jotting notes as if he were making a grocery list or worse still, sitting and staring straight ahead, a scowl on his face like an angry child who thinks those around him cheer his bad fortune.

Related: Our profile of Bernard Valcourt

This physical act of disapproval, this infantile display of a grown man being the only person in a packed room of hundreds and hundreds to remain seated during the announcement of what are clearly moderate and fair recommendations, spoke as loudly to me as anything else that day. Valcourt is Harper’s representative, after all. When the recommendation that a national inquiry into our missing and murdered Indigenous women was read, the room erupted in applause. But even as Thomas Mulcair, the official leader of the Opposition, stood right beside Valcourt along with everyone else in that room clapping wildly, Valcourt simply sat, his hands in his lap. There was no more potent a physical symbol of just how tone deaf the Harper government is when it comes to not just understanding but beginning reconciliation with our original peoples.

Digging deeper, though, I realize this isn’t just a matter of being tone deaf. There’s a calculated movement afoot, and Valcourt himself helped put it into motion a few months back when he purposely let slip to a closed-door meeting of western chiefs that an as-yet-unreleased RCMP investigation reported to him that in the cases in their jurisdictions of MMIW that had been solved, 70 per cent of the murders were committed by people who were acquaintances of those women, supposedly Native men. According to witnesses in the meeting, Valcourt explained that he was able to share this information with the chiefs because “there is no media in the room,” a bizarre statement on the surface that smacks of veiled threat: this insider information is a secret for now but probably won’t be for long. And then what? The whole world is going to know that it is your people at the root of the problem.

The chiefs present were understandably infuriated. One of them, Joe Laboucan, is the father of Bella Laboucan-McLean who fell from a 31-storey Toronto condo to her death in July 2013. Despite three male witnesses present at the condo, none First Nations, her death remains unsolved. Valcourt, however, seemingly believed he could magically shut down the need for a national inquiry by sharing with these people the “fact” that their own men were to blame.

If anything, Valcourt’s backroom words, along with the RCMP’s official recent release of further findings that the majority of solved MMIW homicides in RCMP jurisdictions were perpetrated by “acquaintances,” make a national inquiry even more necessary.

Apparently, the current federal government is trying to spin these recent statistics to convince Canadians that this isn’t a national issue but a First Nations one, one that First Nations alone must rectify. Valcourt isn’t the only federal Conservative minister to focus so obsessively on this one part of the RCMP’s findings in what is clearly an effort to undermine the call for an inquiry. Status of Women Minister Kellie Leitch (the irony of her title in this instance does not escape me) also toes Harper’s line when it comes to simplifying a deeply complex problem with her repetition of handpicked numbers. It’s no secret that Harper keeps a tight leash on his ministers and that they must march in lockstep to his orders. To either subtly imply—or worse, directly point the finger at the victims and families of those victims—in order to avoid an inquiry is, at best, ignorance. At worst, it is one of the most callous, vile, and corrupt political attempts to not just dumb down reality but completely ignore it that this country has ever seen.

A photograph of Summer "CJ" Morningstar Fowler, of the Gitanmaax First Nation near Hazelton, B.C., is displayed as her mother Matilda Fowler weeps during a news conference in Vancouver, B.C., on Dec. 12, 2012. (Darryl Dyck/CP)

A photograph of Summer “CJ” Morningstar Fowler, of the Gitanmaax First Nation near Hazelton, B.C., is displayed as her mother Matilda Fowler weeps during a news conference in Vancouver, B.C., on Dec. 12, 2012. (Darryl Dyck/CP)

These handpicked RCMP statistics are being used by Harper’s Conservatives in a deceitful way. The most recent RCMP report actually states that Aboriginal women are at greater risk of being killed by people who don’t know them than are non-aboriginal women. Further, these handpicked statistics don’t take into account the hundreds of still unsolved missing women cases, the hundreds of still unsolved MMIW homicides, or the fact that domestic violence in the vast majority of First Nations communities is a contemporary, not historical, phenomenon, one unquestionably linked to residential schools.

For seven generations Canada attempted what a representative of the most powerful court in the land recently labelled cultural genocide, never a term to be thrown around lightly. Our nation attempted to completely destroy the very fabric of Indigenous life by literally tearing apart its most valuable and sacred cornerstone: the family. Untold scores of children were regularly physically and emotionally assaulted, so much so that this became the norm across the country, generation after generation. Most horrifically, a grotesquely high percentage of children, boys and girls alike, were repeatedly raped throughout their childhoods by those put in charge of their well-being. Have I even mentioned the most basic and public tenet of these schools was to exterminate the languages, traditions, and religions of these children? The last residential school in this country closed its doors in 1996.

Child abuse is certainly a criminal issue. Institutional child abuse of the most heinous kind, not just allowed but encouraged by the state for more than 120 years, is far more than that. It’s a festering sociological, psychological, and very human crisis residing in the heart of this nation. And the ramifications? Systemic abuse, even when it physically comes to an end, is going to reverberate into the future. Simply put, to be stripped from your parents and then in turn stripped of the tools to become a parent, the pattern repeating for generations, has a high toll attached. Throw into this caustic mix the theft of your language, your religion, even your dances and songs, and it becomes easier to begin to understand the lasting impacts.

To truly try to understand the impact of this particular cultural genocide is to recognize that the fallout from that attempted destruction has real and lasting effects on the generations that follow. It is simple denial to disregard the concept of intergenerational trauma, especially as we watch it play out before our very eyes. I’ve witnessed it with many of my friends, metastasizing in all kinds of ugly ways that include suicide, domestic violence and yes, even murder.

And one of the most hurtful impacts of attempted cultural genocide and the intergenerational trauma that we see unfolding is in the sheer number of Aboriginal women who find themselves in such vulnerable places, whether it’s in a home on the rez, in an alley in Winnipeg, or on a dark highway of tears in British Columbia.

Related: Canada’s race problem is worse than America’s

The hard work of the TRC uncovering this truth has come to an end. But the hardest work lies ahead. To be First Nations is to implicitly understand in your very body the travesties of our history. But there are many amazing examples of the next generations of First Nations who are picking up the torch, taking their place as true role models and helping to change the tide: Wab Kinew, Taiaiake Alfred, Pam Palmater. Tanya Tagaq and A Tribe Called Red, Waubgeshig Rice and Digging Roots, Drew Hayden Taylor and Lisa Charleyboy. The list goes on.

We are at that crossroads in our country, the one where we face the decision of whether we strive for true reconciliation or whether we remain a country in denial. There is no more room for the politics of divisiveness. Now is the time where we must all come together as a nation not to just accept but begin to reconcile with what is our darkest stain. As Justice Sinclair so clearly pointed out in those days in Ottawa, this is not just a First Nations problem or issue. It is a Canadian one.


First came truth. Now comes the hard part.

  1. Over 90% of assaults and murders of native women are perpetrated by native men.

    Next highest is by native women on native women.

    In BC the prevention of carnage on the “Highway of Tears” is simple, don’t hitch hike.

    The Indian Act should be abolished, natives need private property rights, not reserves.

    One law for all Canadians.

    • And another wholly predictable comment from Billy Bob – not useful but definitly predictable.

      • BB is as honourable as Dean Del Mastro, but lacks Dean’s integrity

      • I should educate myself? Really?

        This coming from a writer of fiction?

        Peruse stats regarding race of inmates and the crimes committed that they have been found guilty of.

        The report you cite conveniently lacks the pertinent information and does absolutely nothing insofar as refuting the truth.

      • Straight from Senator Dyck:

        Dear friends,

        I was appointed to the Senate of Canada in the spring of 2005 by former Prime Minister Paul Martin. In my naiveté, I decided to become a New Democratic Party (NDP) senator, but was immediately rejected by the leader of the NDP, Jack Layton. The federal NDP did not know me as I had not been politically and publicly active and they had not bothered to contact me to enquire about my senate appointment. In fact, they did not do their homework to find out that I was a First Nations, First Generation Chinese, Feminist, Scientist and Senior University Administrator. The NDP would not allow me to join their caucus, but the NDP women did invite me to their meetings. After a year or so, I changed my designation to Independent NDP and then in 2009, I joined the Liberal caucus

        #That history of this Senator speaks volumes eh novel writer?

      • The RCMP report says 89 per cent of offenders accused in aboriginal and non-aboriginal female homicides are men.

        “The perpetrators of aboriginal female homicides are typically less employed, they have increased use of intoxicants, and more frequently on social assistance,” Bates said.

        “An increased percentage of them have criminal records, as well as a history of violence with the victim that they killed.”

        In more than 90 per cent of all cases of homicides, the offender is known to the victim through a prior relationship — either as a spouse, relative, or acquaintance, Bates said. Only eight per cent of murders are perpetrated by strangers, he added.

      • Joseph, this information should be in the by -line along with” award winning writer”:

        “is a novelist, short story writer and teacher of creative writing.”

        • BB in your attempt to downplay this significant issue in Canada, you have totally missed the point of the article. People who don’t want to accept this history will continually want to play the blame game. As a First Nation women, I have seen the violence in my community. And yes there are several reasons why young women are vulnerable and yes I know of some who have been abused and murdered by First Nations men. This is not about blame. This is about looking at the reasons why both the women and men are in crisis situations that leads to unspeakable horrors in our communities. Joseph is not speaking of fiction here. Residential Schools was the main reason for broken families and loss of pride, respect and strength. Look inside yourself and try to think about this from a humanitarian point of view rather than someone who wants to dismiss the facts of history.

          • Attempt to downplay? Not at all, this violence is a serious problem

            Not accept history? Where have I denied any history?

            Play the blame game? I am stating facts, the truth hurts sometimes.

            To keep blaming todays problems entirely on Residential schools is absolutely wrong, a cop out and not facing up to the facts.

            People are responsible for the choices they make no matter what their colour, religion, nationality, etc.

            It is not some who have been abused or murdered at the hands of native men, it is most of them, that is the reality, face the facts.

          • Don’t be shy, Bob.
            Tell us why the murder rate is higher amongst First Nations.

          • “Residential Schools was the main reason for broken families and loss of pride, respect and strength.”

            That may be true, but they no longer exist. And the cruelty of the system has long been accepted by all Canadians. So? Now what? Nothing can be done to alter the memories of those children who were placed in residential schools. The scars will remain – because the experience was real. No amount of standing and clapping and saying sorry will remove them. Obviously those posting, and those protesting want something more than an apology. What is that? And will it relieve all the pain suffered? I’m Jewish. No amount of ‘feeling sorry’ or ‘money’ or special treatment will bring back my dead family members – murdered during the Holocaust. All I want is for the world to learn and remember. Is that all First Nation peoples’ want? If so then – you’ve succeeded. And like us Jews you are going to need to get past it.

    • BB speaks and it hurts. So people bite back.

      So much that even the author could not hold back. A shameful response tilted in one direction showing the author is entirely biased – so much for journalistic entegrity.

      @ – JustaReader – did not like it and – I suspect knowingly – worked around it to make BB seem like the loser he is NOT.

      @ Daman – simply attacked

      Seems to me that the truth is something no one truly wants.

      @ Tresus Capax – asks a rhetorical question that even s/he knows the answer to.

      @ Emilyone said – “FN will tell you what you want to hear….it’s part of their culture.” This is a truth that many will resent – but it is a truth and I find in humorous that I am defending her as we scrap all the time.

      In order to solve a problem that none of us made – there will have to be some hard things looked at – and a pack mentality when someone speaks – shows me Canadians do not want the truth. They want the touchy feely.

      Personally I have no dog in this fight – the res schools were before my time and while I do not approve of what has been done, I am not responsible for it – no more than the Brits of today who starved my ancestors during the potato famine are responsible for me and mine. I have not and never will attack a native lady – but we all know that most of them KNOW their attackers personally – and THAT is the problem that ALL seem to ignore – even those who call themselves responsible native leaders.

      Time folks started demanding some personal responsibility from those who take the tax dollars and abuse them.

      Time folks got off their entitled attitudes and looked down into the barrel to see who is causing the problem and laying the blame squarely on their shoulders and NOT mine or the Canadian public.

      • LOL nobody pays attention to BB as he is too far gone to matter.

        Not even stats are safe around him,

        “Over 90% of assaults and murders of native women are perpetrated by native men.”

        Well……90% of assaults and murders of white women are perpetrated by white men….which is a meaningless number to begin with.

        Who else would be abusing them….Tanzanians?

        Domestic assaults are easy to solve….it’s always the partner……it’s the MISSING and MURDERED ones we’re talking about. Over 1100 of them. This is not a good thing no matter what else is involved.

        Every 6 days a woman in Canada is killed by her partner.

        And yes it’s your responsibility. You take all the good things in this country….medial care, pensions, peace-keeping quite happily….well the bad things count too. It’s a package deal.

        We….the collective ‘we’….. made a deal with the FN and it’s time we honoured the deal.

        No more whining and excuses. Or bizarre statements.

        • BB make far more sense than you ever will. Some questions for you:
          -How many of the missing and murdered are missing. BB spoke to the murdered part.
          Many of the survivors who have been interviewed were drug addicts who turned to prostitution to feed their addiction. I wonder how many addicts in general have gone missing.
          -What “deal” do you think we made?
          -Would you please articulate your solution rather than just rant on BB. And don’t tell me it’s a National Enquiry. That’ll be a waste of money just to show what is already known about life on unproductive reserves and prostitution there and elsewhere.

          • Of course BB makes sense to you….you drink the same brand of whisky.

            As proved by your next comment….’what deal’?

            If you’ve never heard of the 1763 deal between the crown and FN….usually called treaties…..then it beats me what you think we’ve been discussing all this time

          • I wasn’t ‘chewing’ on BB at all….I usually ignore him….BB wouldn’t recognize a ‘fact’ if it bit him…and YOU might try checking the names on the posts.

            I guess you also haven’t noticed the continuing series on FN that Macleans and other publications have been doing?

            The MMIW is just one of many reports.

            Kelowna was a great deal….and Harp the Hun killed it…..which is going to cost us a great deal in the long run.

            ‘Economic development’ is necessary for any place….and geographic location has nothing to do with it…..unless it’s one of your oil pipelines or a mine.

            There is no way out of our obligations to FN Jerome….sorry.

        • Emily-still more yap then sense. The whole discussion has been about missing and murdered naïve Canadian women. And I gave you a very logical explanation for that much earlier. What “deal” do you want for that??

          • The discussion m’dear is about FN….and all the problems that involves.

            Don’t try to excuse your ignorance with more ignorance.

            Cough up the rent money.

          • Nice try Emily. You were chewing on BB because of the facts he presented re the missing and murdered not FN in general.
            However, as for The Kelowna Accord, the wimpy Liberal government at the time let the native participants write the whole deal with next to no input from the government. One big item which the smarter Harper government took exception to what a ton of money headed for “economic development”. This is not practical where most of the reserves are located. For any business development you need a market that you can compete in and the transportation cost from most reserves to markets would make whatever was produced uncompetitive. The next request would be to subsidize the transportation to make the business viable. The Harper government was too smart to get sucked into that game. The funding they said they would provide covered the other needs like housing, education and health facilities.

          • I wasn’t ‘chewing’ on BB at all….I usually ignore him….BB wouldn’t recognize a ‘fact’ if it bit him…and YOU might try checking the names on the posts.

            I guess you also haven’t noticed the continuing series on FN that Macleans and other publications have been doing?

            The MMIW is just one of many reports. It’s a major question and topic in Canada right now.

            Kelowna was a great deal….and Harp the Hun killed it…..which is going to cost us a great deal in the long run.

            ‘Economic development’ is necessary for any place….and geographic location has nothing to do with it…..unless it’s one of your oil pipelines or a mine.

            There is no way out of our obligations to FN Jerome….sorry.

          • Emily. Now you’ve demonstrated that you know nothing about business either. For any economy to develop you need to produce something of value. Whatever that is
            a market the size of that on a reserve will not make the business viable. So you need scale and from a reserve you could only achieve that by moving your “product” to a large market. So geographic location has a lot to do with it. By the way, moving oil or mined products is the cheapest bit for those operations so they can be remote.

          • LOL ahh Jerome….now you’ve done it.

            I work in economic development. Development analysis in fact.

            You must be thinking of the industrial age, and car factories or something. FN aren’t about to do something like that…whyever would they? The rest of Canada is a 75% service economy. You provide a service, not a product. That means a trade or profession…..teachers, lawyers, doctors, engineers etc

            We are also moving rapidly into the knowledge economy….which is science and technology.

            And you can be online from anywhere in the country….altho why the hell you’d expect FN to live on a reserve all the time I don’t know.

            Most Canadians left the farm behind a couple of generations ago. Natives are doing the same.

            And to return you to the actual topic….we cannot avoid our obligations to FN, no matter how much you try. Sorry.

        • Actually Emily, you are wrong.

          Yet again.

          • Here’s a tidbit for you to chew on EO, is this also wrong?

            In general, males tend to commit crime more frequently than females, a trend which continued in 2011. Of the almost 413,800 adults (age 18 years and older) charged with a criminal offence in 2011, 79% were male.

            Regardless of the type of offence, males were consistently more likely than females to be the accused. Sexual offences showed the highest representation of males: 98% of all persons charged with sexual assault level 1, child pornography and sexual violations against children in 2011 were male. The offences with the highest representation of females included abduction (49%), prostitution (47%) and theft under $5,000 (37%).

            While the rate of adult males charged with a criminal offence has been declining over the past 20 years, the rate of adult females charged has generally been increasing over the past decade. This difference in trends is even more pronounced for violent crime, particularly over the past 20 years. Since 1991, the rate of males charged with violent crime has declined 32%, while the rate for females has increased 34%. However, males still accounted for more than 4 in 5 people accused of violent crime in 2011.

          • LOL

      • No, TICKED OFF CANUCK, it wasn’t a rhetorical question.
        But apparently you know the answer, so why do you tell me what it is.

  2. Time to see if we can take our own confederate flags down, and eliminate our own KKK before we play holier than thou with the Americans.

    • The Reserve System is badly broken and I believe accounts for the majority of MMIW. The government continues to pour money into reserves where there is no opportunity for employment. With money and idle time, many wrongs result not the least of which is addiction and all of the tragedy that goes with it. I visited all of the territories and met with a band of elders. I asked what the most important thing the government could do to help. After some brief discussion, the most senior of them said “Gradually withdraw government support. Our children no longer know how to live off of the land-they are living off you. When we all lived off of the land we didn’t have any of the issues we do today”. The issues he mentioned were laziness, addiction, spousal abuse and prostitution. I suspect many of the deaths by casual acquaintance occur in that latter occupation.
      An independent study conducted by one of the western Canadian universities in 2013 indicated that the government could completely fund the relocation of all reserve residents to areas where employment exists-that including buying homes, relocation expenses, job training, etc.-for an amount of money equal to two years of current reserve payments. Those who wished to remain on the reserve and live off the land would be given their own property but their reserve living would no longer be subsidized. Now you just have to find a government with the courage to move forward with this.

      • I’d like to find that crackpot ‘elder’ you spoke to.

        I’m betting he’s white.

        • Emily-still your charming, socialistic self I see. This elder was indeed a native Canadian about 75 years old and the appointed spokesperson for the other 14 in attendance. And
          having seen 4 or 5 broken, abandoned snow mobiles in almost every front yard, I’d say he was a very wise man.
          Have you ever visited any reserves in the territories to be able to make such a dumb ass comment.

          • Oh I’ve never claimed to be charming….and I sure as hell have never been a socialist. Bite your tongue.

            But I didn’t fall off any turnip truck yesterday either…..,and no native guy young or old would tell you to cut off their money, put a bunch of them in a white working class life…..while the rest of them [over a million!] went backwards to a hunter-gatherer society. Why the hell would they do that??

            I think your ‘elder’ was your white neighbour….or maybe you were having a wet dream. Either that or at least one of you was having medication or a drink

            FN will tell you what you want to hear….it’s part of their culture.

            And yes, I’ve been on 3 reserves….one in Ont, one in the north, and one in Alberta.

          • Emily-your knowledge is thin and you don’t read very well.
            There are about 450,000 Native Canadians on reserves. The other 450,000 have already got the message and left on their own.
            The elder wanted them to be forced to return to their culture of living off the land by not being subsidized any longer. They lived for thousands of years without subsidies and without the mess they currently have. He didn’t ask to turn them into whities. That was a university study premise.
            So three choices for them: return to the land; move to areas of employment; or stay with the current mess. You seem to support the latter.
            Finally, you love to critique but I can’t recall you ever proposing a solution to anything.

          • There are over a million indigenous people in Canada….they live where they choose to live same as everyone else. They frequently go back to their reserve if they live elsewhere.

            No one is going back to the hunter-gatherer stage. Would you?

            I frequently propose solutions to problems, and all you old guys freak out because it might cost you a nickel.

  3. so you hate the conservatives, i get it. so do i. but i would like to hear from one native that going to a private school was the best thing that ever happened to him or her. you cant tell me that every native child was abused. there were a lot more kids than staff. in a lot of photos they look clean, smile, and look happy. there are two sides and a lot of it has to do with money.

    • It’s not about “hating” the conservatives. And the term “private school” implys there was a choice. There was no choice for the vast majority of children who were forcibly taken from their homes. And no one is saying that all children were abused, but there is ample evidence that many, many suffered neglect, &/or physical/sexual abuse. Most suffered emotional abuse because they were TAKEN AWAY FROM THEIR FAMILIES AT A YOUNG AGE! Your interpretation of the situation based on staged photographs is ridiculous.

    • “but i would like to hear from one native that going to a private school was the best thing that ever happened to him or her.”

      Well, of course you would, because it would reinforce what you want to hear. Good luck with finding someone, though.

  4. Every time that victims of Canada Scoops are referred to, those victims of the same Scoopings who were not kept within Canada but who were instead placed in USA and west Europe should also be referred to. the experience is so similar that often within the same family while some of the children who were scooped were taken and placed in residential schools within Canada other children from same family and scooped on same day by same people were handed over to representatives of, for example, Pearl S Buck’s Welcome House adoption agency in Pennsylvania, USA and transported to USA to be placed in USA adoption and foster care system.

    • This is for Emily. I haven’t seen any proposal from you on this topic at all!!

      • On this thread? No. But it’s been discussed on here for years.

        It’s not that hard….we have over a million indigenous people in Canada in almost 700 First Nations. They are all as different in their nations as Hungarians are from Ukrainians….or Finns are from Italians…..

        Land settlements, education, medical care… they have to be set up equally so they all have a chance to move ahead. And they all have to agree, at least on the main things.

        The Kelowna Accord was a terrific start….that govt squashed…..but sooner or later we’ll have to stop whining and making excuses and hunting for exceptions…..and get it done.

  5. We always hear that stuff about how most FN women’s murders when they are solved it is someone they know. Well, that’s true of all murders, as I understand it. And of course there are the mitigating circumstances in any case of generations of abuse. What no one ever seems to point out is about the “missing” part — there are so many missing FN women, like the women on the Hwy of Tears and all over Canada, and these are not your standard domestic cases, these are victims of systemic racism. Such a hugely disproportionate number of unsolved disappearances are FN women. This is different from mainstream problems, this is a specific tragedy requiring real in-depth inquiry.

  6. “…but in politics going to the lowest common denominator is more often than not the most efficient and safest course of travel.” I would add “cheapest”…which makes Harper’s refusal worse then childish. It is calculated and cold-blooded.

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