21 juin 2015

Le Canada et les premières nations

Un des aspects les plus honteux, les plus détestables et les plus méprisables du Canada est le traitement qui a été fait aux Amérindiens dans ce pays depuis la conquête britannique.

Plus les aspects les plus sordides de cette sombre histoire deviennent publics, plus l'inaction du gouvernement fédéral devient ignoble.

Extrait de cet article du New York Times:

On June 2, the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its executive summary on the ill-advised system of government-mandated, church-run residential schools that persisted until 1998. For over a century the program sanctioned the kidnapping of native children from their families and communities. All under the guise of education.

The full report, a result of six years of research and public meetings across the country, along with the testimony of some 6,000 residential-school survivors, will be released later this year.

Now that the commission has finished its work, now that politicians have had their time in front of the cameras, there is every indication that the governmental song and dance around the critical and longstanding matters of land and treaty rights will continue, and that native people will be left, once again, with vague and lumpy promises “to consider the issues at a later date.”

The 130-plus residential schools that operated in Canada emerged from the mid-19th century’s love affair with Christianity and the ideology of assimilation. In 120 years, more than 150,000 Aboriginal children were dragged, literally, kicking and screaming into the waiting arms of Canadian paternalism.

One hundred and twenty years of neglect and malnutrition. One hundred and twenty years of physical, mental and sexual abuse. One hundred and twenty years of cultural genocide.

Mortality rates at some schools reached 50 percent.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission came into being as a requirement of the 2006 Indian Residential Schools Settlement agreement, itself a product of the largest successful class-action suit in Canadian history. It was not created out of any largess on the government’s part. Perhaps that’s why, when the commission’s 94 recommendations came to the floor of Parliament, the prime minister thanked the commission, noting simply that it “has spent a long time on this report” and that “it has issued a large number of recommendations.”

Which is the political equivalent of “so long and thanks for all the fish.”

Had this been a royal commission on tar sands development or a white paper on tax breaks for corporations, the recommendations would have been applauded, but as the report was on Canada’s native population, the folks in power were able to curb their enthusiasm, opting instead to wait to see the full report.

Just another day at the office.

Here’s what’s most likely to happen. Those recommendations that are, in large part, cosmetic or symbolic may well be adopted. Any recommendations with price tags attached — funding for improved health care on reserves — or recommendations that might open the government to legal action will be ignored.

Sure, that’s cynical, and I wish I were wrong. It’s just that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report is not the first narrative of its kind. In 1907, Dr. Peter Bryce, the chief medical officer for Indian affairs in Canada, submitted a report, the results of which were buried by Ottawa until 1922, when Dr. Bryce published his findings as a book in which he called the health conditions at residential schools “a national crime.”

Les souverainistes québécois devraient prendre bonne note.

Ils devraient mettre sur pied un projet républicain qui permettrait de redonner aux Premières Nations de ce territoire leur dignité et leur honneur. Ils devraient présenter un projet qui permettrait de recommencer sur de nouvelles bases dans un climat de coopération, de respect et de reconnaissance. Dans l'esprit de la Grande Paix de 1701, le pays du Québec devrait offrir un partenariat unique en Amérique aux descendants de ces peuples qui étaient ici bien avant nos ancêtres européens.

S'ils le faisaient, il s'assureraient un avenir brillant, la participation enthousiaste des autochtones et l'admiration du monde entier.

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