For some reason, I have been taking a slightly different-than-PC stance on some sacred matters lately. I do not apologize for that and, to be clear again, I am not opposed to all things PC – ish or even bovine. It just feels to me that some of it has gone too far. I will not bore you with repetition but it seems I, now, might go too far again….
WARNING! I am about to say something that may get me in hot water. Hot water I can take. I can also take criticism and correction if I am wrong so feel free with your slings and arrows. All I ask is that you do not consider me heartless or cruel. A heartless Pinko is a man who has lost his way.
Here we go: Because 215 children’s graves were found at the Kamloops Residential School DOES NOT constitute genocide. Moreover, it may not indicate much of anything! Of course, the Residential Schools were ill-conceived, seemingly poorly run and maybe even criminally negligent and cruel at times. But 215 children’s deaths over the 88 years of the Kamloops operation with as many as 500 kids in residence at a time when the First Nations were suffering greatly from Tuberculosis is likely close to the normal mortality rate for those unfortunate times. That works out to approximately 2.5 children per year from amongst 500 annually enrolled, underprivileged, unhealthy children. By my poor math that is .5% per year. Coincidentally, the Canadian child mortality rate in 2019 was 4.9 deaths per 1000 children or .5%.
Yes, I know that we can lament and grieve the situation they suffered and that we should. Those kids died separated from their families and were discarded heartlessly. Many of those that survived described the schools as cruel, inhumane and they clearly did not achieve what was intended, namely assimilating, educating and training the students in becoming ‘white’. Residential schools were a mistake.
But even the coldest, cruelest and stupidest of the staff, even the pedophiles (if there were), even the bullies and creeps were NOT waging genocide. They were up to all sorts of no good and definitely not enough do-good but they were not engaged in genocide.
Sometimes (most times) this nonsense of handwringing, self-flagellation and exaggerated, misplaced apologies over every perceived wrong done in the past is, at best, a dramatic self-serving (politically) apology of sorts. Sometimes it is merely stating an ugly fact about what our ancestors perpetrated in their ignorance. And maybe that is a necessary component of reconciliation. But, not only is it not working, it is making matters worse. If Trudeau admits to someone else’s genocide, then that is tantamount to pleading guilty to murder on a grand scale on behalf of someone long dead. Trudeau is accepting guilt for something he wasn’t even around for and those that were are no longer alive to defend themselves. Not in any way.
A.E Ryerson is considered the ‘father’ of modern education in Ontario and that included the concept and creation of the Residential schools. That his mission failed is fact. But, so far, that seems to be the only fact that I can discern. He did not have a mandate for genocide, he had a mandate for education. He was also a strict Methodist preacher born in 1803 to a well-off family in Ontario and was very likely not so-very-much understanding of the First Nations due to his somewhat removed and privileged place in society and politics. We have had more than our share of those kind of out-of-touch politicians. I probably would be disinclined to like A.E. Ryerson but his life history is not one of murder and cruelty.
Trudeau assuming Ryerson’s guilt (and J.A. McDonald’s) is stupid in itself but, of course, the modern politician also assumes to distribute compensation to the victim’s ancestors. Trudeau will provide money from the taxpayer, not his own pocket (how sincere and heartfelt can that be?). How does giving millions of dollars today make any sense in this matter anyway? Some 35 year old can now get an F-150 to make up for the long lost cousin who died 100 years ago in a Residential school from TB? Maybe, just maybe, some compensation might be justified for any ex-student still alive. Maybe. Sometimes, however, a mistake is just a mistake and it was unfortunate and we should all just do better now that we know better. FULL STOP.
I wouldn’t make this rant if the so-called compensation and acts of contrition weren’t clearly having the opposite effect of the intention. First Nations do not accept all the money and apologies and then say, “Oh, gee. Thanks for the moolah. Let’s be friends now.”
Of course not. They do what most people would do, they say, “Hey, you owe me even more money than that last amount. We found more evidence of wrong doing by your ancestors hundreds of years ago and now we want even more money, more apologies and more concessions.” In other words, we are perpetuating the mistake by feeding into ridiculous expectation that also DO NOT HELP the people, First Nations or General Population. This current policy of buying forgiveness is really just a separation pathway that leads to more conflict.
Put another way: I do not blame a young German for Hitler. How can anyone? My father was so shot up in the second world war that he had a 100% disability pension. Our family lives were made very difficult as a result of his war injuries. Should I sue Germany? Does Merkel owe me an apology? I think it is time to ease up on the mea culpa craze, don’t you?