June 10, 2015

Atonement Big Time

For most Canadians cultural genocide is something that happens in places like Africa and the Middle East but never in our own backyard. However, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has just blown that misconception out of the water. This commission's report reveals that there has been a conscious policy of cultural genocide when it comes to our First Nations people

In the name of benevolent assimilation, a despicable brutality was inflicted upon our aboriginal children in the form of residential schools between 1893 and 1996. In these institutions, run by so-called followers of Christ, there was at least 6,000 deaths/murders. And, there were unspeakable acts of physical and mental torture perpetrated on little children.

Now that we know about post-traumatic stress disorder, it is no wonder we are witnessing very high rates of suicide, addiction and violence in many of our aboriginal communities. These are the tell-tale symptoms of deep psychological wounds. We are seeing the generational impact of the trauma that our forefathers inflicted upon our aboriginal people. And, the sad part is that some of us continue to damage with our ignorance and hostile attitudes.

However, there is the good news. The fact that we now can see the injustice is progression. Sixty years ago our ideas about human rights did not allow for this kind of understanding. Today we can look back at our legacy of colonialism and wonder what the hell were they thinking. Herein lies an example of the evolution taking place in humankind.

The values of freedom and equality to which we all like to think we aspire, have been slowly working on Homo sapiens' psyche. And, what was tolerated in the past is no longer acceptable. It looks like we are becoming a more emphatic species. I think the dismantling of both Apartheid in South Africa and the caste system in India is further proof of this. 

The masses no longer want to perpetuate the law of the jungle in human relations; we have aspirations for a true democracy. As we move into this new millennium we will continue to shine a light on the injustices of past and present. After all, we are waking up to the truth about our animal origins. Now, the big question for Canadians, and others across the globe, is all about how best to atone for these sins of our fathers.

Faithfully yours,

Sheila Banks

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