Tilting at sacred cows

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?

28 thoughts on “Tilting at sacred cows

  1. You are wrong. I am not going to discuss it with you. So, much like your comments about the status of women I will ignore it and wait for off grid stuff… Sorry….




  2. You are right! The announcement started with a comment that it was a mass grave! The mistake they made was not returning the deceased to their loved ones because it was “too expensive”!


    • Thank you, PR. That illuminates. ‘Mass grave’ implies ‘they all died at once’…..thus the leap to genocide.
      NOT returning the deceased to their family is all part of the gross discrimination and lack of concern exhibited and practiced against FNs but it does not constitute genocide. There is much to regret about our history with FNs without exaggerating it. And I still do NOT understand how millions of dollars given to younger people today makes up for crimes of neglect conducted a hundred years ago. If we really cared, wouldn’t we do something more personal and helpful than just F-150’s?


  3. Test 1

    On Tue, Jun 22, 2021 at 10:15 AM Our Off the Grid Home wrote:

    > jdavidcox posted: ” 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 g” >


    • Ha! Moira says, “You are wrong!” (no discussion) and Rjukan says, “You are right!” (no discussion). I guess that is the definition of ‘sacred’ now….it’s all ‘belief’ based?


  4. No discussion required from my perspective. You offered a succinct analysis, with which I find myself in respectful agreement. No more really needs to be said.


  5. The tragedy of Indigenous Schools, triggered by the one here in Kamloops, I analogize to Black Lives Matter, Anti Asian, Racism and Exclusion/Inclusion. Reparation is a different challenge. . Steve Barnes Kamloops, BC


    • I tend to compare them all as well but I don’t think it is quite right to do so. The Residential schools ended in 1996 and, in BC, in 1983. FNs have had a lot of effort, laws, procedural changes and money expended in trying to fix things.
      BLM is an ongoing, daily and likely continuing problem so long as the police keep shootin’ ’em. They are more current even if the problem is an old one (in the USA) The anti-Asian thing is a comparatively smaller issue (altho Asians tend to suffer in silence so maybe I am wrong) and such negativity is sporadic and mostly amongst the idiot contingent. Same for anti-Muslim and even anti-Semitic sentiments (altho they do not tend to suffer in silence). That level of prejudice and hatred will likely always persist. Some of it, I suggest, is just primal ‘fear-of-the-stranger’ and most of it is economic based (I think). FNs are different. They have never been an economic threat – maybe a drain on the public purse but not competition in the rat race. FNs are not seen as a threat. That may not be a big difference (especially to them) but I think it is a difference.


  6. J. David. I congratulate you on your bravery and forthrightness! I hesitated to go where angels fear to tread, and besides, I couldn’t match your succinct analysis. Of course there wasn’t a ‘mass grave’ and the number of fatalities was lower than could be expected, given the conditions.

    I believe the government of the day was well intentioned, but misguided. the amount of money spent building and equipping these schools COULD have resulted in any number of doctors, lawyers and………Indian Chiefs. But, alas, the funds and resources were misappropriated.
    Now, let’s get on with life!


  7. The whole 1st Nations debate is a never ending blame session.
    If Canada had never been conquered by Europeans these 1st Nations would still be fighting, enslaving, killing and conquering each other.
    As was their history over tens of thousands of years.
    As for the “1st nations” moniker….even they conquered the land as occupiers hundreds of thousands of years ago.
    The latest debate,/outrage/ apologies comes after the “discovery” of a long forgotten graveyard.
    A graveyard that was lost to history.
    Canada is full of “lost” graveyards with mass burials due to 500 years of wars, famines, plagues, etc.
    I personally know of a graveyard ,literally on the east coast of Canada that is being washed away by the ocean. A few 150 year old headstones remain of people that are long forgotten…even by their families
    Far be it for me to suggest that the politicians of this country would seize on a craven opportunity to pander for votes by standing up and “apologizing” for anonymous, long dead, forgotten children.
    Crocodile tears come to mind.

    A co worker was on Vancouver island yesterday and spent the night at a friends place.
    The friend lives next to a Reserve.
    While Canada and its taxpayers must apologize again and again and again for wrongs committed 100, 200 and 300 years ago and cancel our National Holiday along with handing out Billions in reparation payments…..
    The 1st Nations people on Vancouver Island were obviously over their 3 weeks of “grief” for the Kamloops School graveyard discovery since………. the Fireworks for Indigenous Day were plentiful and loud.
    On the bright side.
    No churches were burnt.


  8. I think it is in the human gene to fight, enslave, kill and conquer each other. I even think that at the time that the Europeans conquered Canada and the US, a lot of Indian or Ingenenous tribes were far more civilized then the European conqueroros, after all, the conquerors were only looking for a passage to India and/or gold. We even might learn a lot from their way of organizing their tribes. And of course they also killed, conquered and enslaved. So I agree with you and JD. There is no reason why there should be apologies and handouts by the politicians….how low can we (politics) get. And an F-150 will not help them, I agree on that


  9. Moira is right. You are wrong! On all counts. You just don’t get it. How disappointing. The primary objective of the residential school system was to “to take the Indian out of the Indian.” This was an act of cultural genocide. Genocide is genocide. The Catholic, Anglican and United churches colluded with our government to commit genocide. You unashamedly bask in the glory and profit of your white male privilege. Enough already. Moira is right. Stick to off the grid stuff.


    • @ A settler
      “You unashamedly bask in the glory and profit of your white male privilege.”


      Ahhh yes.
      The white mans burden.
      The fail safe of the feminist, misandrist, BIPOC crowd.
      When in doubt blame the ..white….man….
      How simplistic.
      Dare I suggest reverse racism?
      Well if current immigration policies are to continue or increase.
      You wont have us to kick around in about 10 years.

      One wonders if the new, inevitable, non white provincial Premiers and Prime Ministers of the future will be as receptive to the tax implications of the endless “reparations” demands…..
      Think about it.
      In another 25 to 50 years all the reparations complaining will fall on deaf ears.

      Trudeau has allowed the camel’s nose into the tent. Now its the head.
      Soon we will all be shivering outside the tent as the warm camel inside the tent asks for more.

      Or perhaps we just turn the clock back 500 years and give everything back to the “1st Nations” and watch as we revert to a squabbling, warring country where tribes that kidnap, kill, enslave as they argue over Land Claims issues among themselves.
      ( Anyone notice the new BC map of 1st Nations “Title”?
      110% of BC has been claimed due to overlapping boundary disputes based on verbal history and legend.)

      Well this white man pays enough taxes thankyewverymuch….
      I dont need to pay more taxes for something that I had nothing to do with by long dead people who I didnt know.
      Tax money to people who will demand more more more because…..what spineless politician will say ….
      “There is no more.”


    • Genocide is genocide but cultural genocide is CULTURAL genocide and the adjective makes all the difference. And that difference was my point. We can lament the misdeeds of our ancestors against their ancestors but we cannot call it planned murder of a group. It was NOT genocide. To say it was is to diminish the real genocidal crimes of Hitler and Stalin and Pol Pot. It is to diminish Rwanda and Yugoslavia, the Hutu and the Tutsi.
      And how does expressing my opinion on semantics translate to basking in and profiting from my white male privilege? It may be a privilege to express my opinion but the opinion is NOT white, nor male. It is opinion. Just like the one you expressed or a FN might. By the way, sweetie, you have no idea what my life was like. On that, you have NO opinion.


      • Careful Dave.
        If you keep offering an opinion that isnt accepted….
        You’ll be accused of “Mansplaining”.

        My two cents.
        Universities have become echo chambers for the Woke Left where Professors live in fear of losing their tenure and remain silent or quit.
        And the result is the dumbing down of society.


  10. Yeah Dave, you shameless white man’s glory basker you. How dare you express any view on your own blog about any non-off-grid issue? Sheesh! Know your place, will ya’?

    We can hope that the short, sharp jerks delivered by those stalwart, scholarly contributors to your blog – Moira and settler – will have reined you in just a tad. You have no business riding the unruly horse of political correctness.

    You have been warned.


    • Well, Moira and Settler are entitled to their opinion….if they actually had one. All they expressed, really, was vitriol towards me (’cause of my whiteness and genitals). I suppose Moira did say clearly that cultural genocide is, in fact, genocide and I replied that the adjective made that NOT so. That is a semantical opinion of sorts, I suppose. Although a search of Webster’s defines genocide as: “the deliberate killing of a large number of people from a particular nation or ethnic group with the aim of destroying that nation or group”. Deliberate killing being the key words to me. It seems history estimates that there were 60M indigenous peoples in the Americas before the Europeans came and, today, there are 54M. Wikipedia also describes the interaction between white and native groups in Canada as relatively peaceful (wrong-headed but peacefully wrong-headed) compared to everywhere else – especially the USA. Of course, Settler and Moira may know much more….so…..


      • Dave.
        In this day and age, white men, like children 100 years ago , should be seen and not heard.
        I think over the past decade ( or two) most ( unless they are endless apologists like our Prime Minister) white, Anglo, males have been relegated to the position that they are not permitted to voice an opinion about anything without being labelled a sexist, racist, misogynist.
        Debate is not wanted or appreciated.
        Your opinion is not worth expressing as it will be ridiculed, shouted down, ignored or labelled sexist , racist or misogynistic.
        Good luck.


  11. In my brief stint as an Indian Agent (DIAND -1961) I had occasion to visit a number of Reservations throughout BC. I was amazed at the abundance of trashed boats/engines, chainsaws stuck in trees and GRAVES! i recall wandering along a West Coast beach and observing crypts with exposed bodies. So much for the sanctity of the dead! At least the bodies in Kamloops were buried.


    • First Nations have suffered a lot in a number of ways and some of those ways were inflicted on them by the larger Canadian society. Some other afflictions were self administered. FNs have been, at times, their own worst enemies. Moira and Settler might claim that all that dysfunction was the result of poor treatment by us. The assumption is that, without European influence, FNs today would be healthy, thriving, sustainable, environmental, spiritual communities acting well. And, maybe they are right. Maybe we ruined them. Having said that, I would still deny anyone ever attempting genocide.


    • Oh, I was allowed (by WordPress) to voice my own opinion and they (Moira and Settler) were allowed to voice theirs, brief as they were. Voicing slings, arrows and opinions is fairly easy. Constructive discourse, civility, original thinking and sharing real knowledge seems to be the hard part. It is so much easier to fling an insult and leave the room in a huff of righteousness. Still, your question is a good one….’what exactly is the point of writing a blog?’
      I am gonna mull that over….


  12. Dave, I think you provided a well reasoned explanation of the genocide label that is being perpetrated by some. My father was the principal of a residential school in northern Manitoba. Although in his later years he was very remorseful at the attempt at integration. He was the kindest and most humane person I have ever known and I am sure that in the 1940s and 50s the children under his care were treated with the utmost respect and consideration.


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