Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote the novel, Tarzan, and, in so doing, invented a language for the Great Apes. In that language (Mangani) the words in the blog title mean: “Warning! I come to kill the White man!”
I had some tenuous acquaintances back in the 70’s with some Black Panther-types in Seattle. They hated basic whitey and talked nasty alla time but, for the most part, it was just talk and posturing for each other. They were nice enough to me and Sally and our mutual friend (who was married to one of them). We got along.
One day when we were visiting, Malcom X (or whoever) had just come over with his brand new, purebred Afghan hound. A beautiful dog. He had come over to get help with registering it as a purebred in the American Kennel Club (AKC). Seems each dog requires three names. So the brothers were all throwing out names but agreeing on none of them. I suggested they call the dog, Kreegha Bundolo Tarmangani.
Six or so black, angry, militant faces looked at me like I was mad. “Wha..de hell yo’ talkin’, white boy?” I explained what the words meant and where they came from. They screamed with delight and that became the name of the guy’s new dog.
Now a careful PC reading of the above two paragraphs can find white, male privilege and even, maybe, some racist sentiments running rampant there. Firstly, I was using my paltry education and my penchant for reading to ‘teach’ them what I knew. I suggest that, at the time, few if any of them had read Tarzan and/or all of the works of E.R. Burroughs as I had. I’d opine that a few may not have read much at all. Clearly, I was manifesting white privilege and being patronizing. That was not my intention, however, and they knew it, but an ignorant, modern, PC advocate might chide me for it. I would definitely be rebuked for writing their question to me in psuedo-black-speak.
However, the name, suggesting that the dog will kill the white man, is clearly also a form of hate mongering to any PC Karen. I would have fingers pointing at me and them on that, for sure. After all, I was obviously suggesting the white somewhat-equivalent of the N-word to name the dog. To be fair, Malcom X joining the AKC was intended as a rebuke to the AKC collective major whiteness as well but that might be OK – he was ‘of colour’, after all, and was allowed to openly hate the white oppressor under the Black Panther banner.
But all that tedious analysis of the petty and picayune was not in fashion back then and they loved the name and elected to use it. The AKC was, at the time, 99.999% white (maybe more). Kreegha Bundolo Tarmangani was a subtly veiled threat to the club. But the Panthers were OK with that. So was I. And, as it turned out, so was the AKC. They were either very tolerant or equally as ignorant of Burrough’s work.
One can analyze all of the above in any number of ways but if the analysis did not put a huge emphasis on intent, it would miss the mark completely. My intent was to help them name their dog in a way that they would like. My intent was not to be patronizing but helpful and, I confess, amusing. Despite walking into a verbal minefield amongst potential enemies, the good intention was what was heard and no harm was done to me, the dog, the AKC or to Sally.
My point? Intention is a huge part of communication. My intention yesterday was to address the now-popular misconception that Canada waged REAL genocide on it’s indigenous peoples. Canada did not. Canada did not intend to kill thousands of their children and Canada did not actually kill any of them, not intentionally, anyway. As in the US schools, TB killed virtually all the victims. Canada’s crime was one of neglect, perhaps reckless endangerment, maybe even criminal negligence by some individuals. It was not pre-meditated mass murder.
I did not ignore the harm Canada did. I did not sweep any crimes under the carpet. I simply clarified the word, genocide. To be fair, I might even have hinted that Canada’s intention was basically good (for the era, given the times, and even delegated to churches) but that it was wrong-headed, mismanaged, mishandled, cruel and destructive in the result.
Intent, tho a huge part of the plan to assimilate, is not enough of an excuse if the actions taken were so bad and the intent – from the start – was wrong.
By the way, our intent wasn’t even well thought out. Ryerson basically copied the US model of Mission Schools for Native Americans. The US closed their last such school in 1984.
Canada is guilty of being bloody stupid, slow to fix what must have been obvious after a while and even stupider in doing what they do now – now that they know what happened. Canada has stumbled badly on this, no question. And they continue to do so. But genocide was not then nor was it ever on the agenda. The goal was indoctrination and cultural erasure….ignorant and nasty but not homicide, not genocide.
Money and effort have been spent in great gobs over the years and more is planned in future*. Those compensatory monies and efforts have been judged inefficient and unproductive but the native population has remained relatively stable. Ergo: NOT genocide. (*anyone who attended a Residential school is currently entitled to additional government compensation. The range is from $10,000 to $200,000 depending on the level of abuse).
Indigenous peoples still suffer more than they should (i.e. just in having clean drinking water on reserves). If some readers think the Residential schools were waging genocide, what do they think of the ten-times-the-normal rate of contaminated water, boil-water-advisories FNs suffer every year? If killing them off is the plan, dirty water might have been a better weapon than very poorly managed Residential schools.