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Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Stephen Harper’s inaction and silence in wake of the Truth and Reconciliation Report reveals PM’s atrocity hierarchy

By Mitzi Brown

Last night I was asked why I have been silent about the Truth and Reconciliation Report findings. The question made me examine why, recently I haven’t been writing like I used to.

After a few decades of being active and vocal regarding Aboriginal issues, I have become apathetic, tired and indifferent; not to mention the need to earn a living and carry on with life. I have taken up a permanent position and have little time for writing in my new job. That being said, I couldn’t help but today offer my views on Stephen Harper and my angst with the Conservative party generally. It is evident to me that Aboriginal people in this country are not a priority. We are seen as burdensome whiners, always seeking handouts; losers who don’t work and don’t care for our families. These perpetual stereotypes feed into the inaction by policymakers when it comes to the problems in the Aboriginal community, ie. let them suffer as they are lazy and they deserve it mentality. Of course this is a twist on the historic, let’s do these horrible things to destroy these people because we hate them as they are inferior mentality. It’s evolved but is, nonetheless disgusting.

The Conservative party agenda is anti Aboriginal. Stephen Harper chooses to place atrocities in hierarchies. If you look at his silence about the Truth and Reconciliation Report vs his views towards other atrocities, it is quite clear where his heart is. I have extracted a couple Stephen Harper quotes below to highlight.

But I must also beg the following questions to other Canadians: if successive generations of your people were targeted by a group of people “other” than yours to be placed in institutions BY FORCE where they are repeatedly raped, physically abused, starved, maligned and treated like inferior beings—how, collectively, successful would your community be? What would your reaction, collectively, be if you were a minority that has been placed in poverty? How would you handle the ensuing crises?

I cannot ignore, too, the sixties scoop of Aboriginal children, who, like myself were either forcibly taken, taken through coercion as well, by the tens of thousands across this country to be raised with white people. This too, was an tactic of genocide. (I reject the use of the term cultural genocide as offered by the authors of the Truth and Reconciliation Report, I choose to use the term genocide as according to the UN Convention, which defines genocide as: the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group).

The only way forward for this country, the only way is for all Canadians to come to terms with the genocide of the first peoples of this land. This is the only way. A commitment for change with sincerity, not just empty words.

This may start with adopting some of the 94 recommendations of the Report, which, of course Harper refuses to do. That’s what happens when you are at the bottom of his atrocity hierarchy.

On the Truth and Reconciliation Report, Stephen Harper – 2008

 “It will be a positive step in forging a new relationship between aboriginal peoples and other Canadians, a relationship based on the knowledge of our shared history, a respect for each other and a desire to move forward with a renewed understanding that strong families, strong communities and vibrant cultures and traditions will contribute to a stronger Canada for all of us.”

On the Truth and Reconciliation Report official release - June 2015

Harper failed to attend where hundreds of Aboriginal residential school survivors attended to hear highlights. Harper gave no speech on the issue either. Harper says that he will not respond to the Report and the 94 recommendations until after the release of the six volume report later this year.

However, if we look to Stephen Harper and his remarks about other atrocities in history, we see a vastly different perspective:

On the Ukraine and Russian conflict - November 2010

“Two weeks ago I visited Ukraine for the first time. At the killing grounds of Babyn Yar, I knew I was standing in a place where evil – evil at its most cruel, obscene, and grotesque – had been unleashed. But while evil of this magnitude may be unfathomable, it is nonetheless a fact.

It is a fact of history. And it is a fact of our nature – that humans can choose to be inhuman. This is the paradox of freedom. That awesome power, that grave responsibility – to choose between good and evil.”

On anti Jewish hatred and the European holocaust -November 2010

Anti-Semitism has gained a place at our universities, where at times it is not the mob who are removed, but the Jewish students under attack. And, under the shadow of a hateful ideology with global ambitions, one which targets the Jewish homeland as a scapegoat, Jews are savagely attacked around the world – such as, most appallingly, in Mumbai in 2008.

We have seen all this before. And we have no excuse to be complacent. In fact we have a duty to take action. And for all of us, that starts at home.

In Canada, we have taken a number of steps to assess and combat anti-Semitism in our own country. But of course we must also combat anti-Semitism beyond our borders, – an evolving, global phenomenon. And we must recognize, that while its substance is as crude as ever, its method is now more sophisticated.”
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