You are here

Investigating genocide

Brian Champ

July 10, 2021
Of the 94 TRC calls to action, 6 have to do with missing children and unmarked burials – none of these have been completed to date. Tired of waiting for the government to act, the Tk'emlúps te Secwe̓pemc First Nation commissioned the ground radar study that found the initial 215 graves – provincial and federal funding has since been forthcoming, and the number has risen to 1323 across the Canadian state.
The intransigence of the Catholic church to take responsibility, apologize properly and release their records in the aid of justice has made them a target of anger for Indigenous people. But Trudeau has also seized on this convenient fact to deflect blame away from Canada for this historic genocide, in the hopes that most people won't make the connection to his continuing genocidal policies. 
In fact, the Canadian government and the Catholic church have colluded to hide the truth about residential schools. In a press conference on July 8th with NDP MPs Mumilaaq Qaqqaq and Charlie Angus to call for an independent investigation, Angus said "What we learned from the implementation of the Indian Residential school settlement agreement is that the Catholic church and the federal government were focused on one shared objective: limiting their liability." 
These efforts continue to this day leading to their call for a special prosecutor "to investigate the historic policies, the crimes and the coverup of abuse committed against the Indigenous people of this country."
MP Qaqqaq began by reviewing the crimes of Father Revoire, who raped, tortured and abused Indigenous children at a number of IRS sites. She denounced the "genocidal partnership between the federal institution and the Catholic church" and called for the special prosecutor because "there cannot be reconciliation without truth, there cannot be reconciliation without justice. So today we're calling for truth and justice ... What begun with institutions that were designed to annihilate us continue to haunt our communities today."
And she pre-empted the resistance to this of Attorney General David Lametti: "Minister Lametti, don't you dare tell me you can't do this! You have the authority ... you just refuse to use it, and that needs to end today."
They called for the investigation to have: the mandate to consult with the International Criminal Court around crimes against humanity and serious breaches of international law; the right to demand all relevant documents from churches including school records and personnel files; the right to access records of every criminal perpetrator that Canada has on file under litigation privilege and relevant documents on the policies that protected these men and allowed them to carry out their crimes; to make this information public; the ability to access all the documents, through subpeona if necessary, because of the intransigence of the government and the Catholic church.
Charlie Angus presented the case of Father Lavoie, who was able to skip testifying at the TRC hearings because his 2400+ page file of crimes was sealed by litigation privilege. "We are pleased the Prime Minister is calling on the Catholic church to turn over the documents. But the reality is the federal government has their own long list, and detailed list with names of the criminals and their crimes. They have a treasure trove of the documents that prove the planned attempted destruction of a people, and how it was carried out. ... We are talking about crimes against humanity and the bodies of these children are crying out for justice."
For their part, the government is called on to seriously increase the budget to undertake, "under the authority of the affected First Nations and Indigenous communities, the proper forensic investigations at the sites, the tracking of file histories, the ensuring that the bodies are carefully exhumed and returned to their family communities with dignity."
AG Lametti was called on for "immediate and credible action".
Reporters asking questions, refused to stay on topic, instead asking for sound bites on Judy Wilson-Raybould's announcement that she would not run again and the not-yet-known results of the AFN Grand Chief election. Mumilaaq Qaqqaq briefly responded with grace to these questions, but then insisted that the reporters keep to the topic at hand (which they never really did). After the second such unrelated questions, she lectured the media corps: 
"... but like I just said, let's focus on Indigenous children, let's focus on justice for them, let's focus on what we're talking about today. Let's do better media and ask questions that matter. Let's ask questions [about why we are here] which is to call for a special prosecutor. I said in the beginning of my statement, Revoire raped children. He has caused possible generations of trauma. Child sexual abuse in Nunavut is rampant: there is a reason for that. Let's look at asking the relevant questions that affect Indigenous lives every single day. Let's talk about what we're here to talk about."
This is a welcome call for an arms length investigation to determine responsibility and culpability for these crimes. If the investigation and prosecution of the crimes has the mandate that is being requested, much will be learned about how Canada and the Catholic church maintained this brutal system of genocide, and there is a chance that some of the abusers will be brought to some semblance of justice. 
Trudeau may not be able to lay all the blame on the church, but he hopes not too many people notice that his government is continuing genocidal policies: stealing Indigenous children under the guise of child welfare; maintaining poverty conditions on reserve, many of which have unsafe drinking and bathing water; invading Indigenous land, whether unceded or treaty territory; fighting Indigenous children in court; failing to mitigate apartheid conditions in the healthcare system, at the hands of police, in the courts. 
True justice requires dismantling this system of Indigenous genocide that we call Canada. It is a settler colonial state built on stolen Indigenous land from which Indigenous people were removed through a variety of means: violence, trickery, false diplomacy, maintaining poverty conditions on reserve, residential schools, sixties and millenial scoops. 
But Canada's settler colonialism is capitalist. It is an economic system whose goal is the endless accumulation of capital through the exploitation of labour power and the appropriation of Indigenous lands. The profit drive overrides all other considerations, such as the environment, human rights or justice. Profit is generated by surplus labour at the point of production. If workers act collectively they can strike, stopping the flow of profits, and challenging the right of capital to rule. 
Building the connections between Indigenous sovereignty struggles and workers struggles can further the fight for a future society where human needs and the need for a sustainable planet is the goal, not profit.
Geo Tags: 

Featured Event


Visit our YouTube Channel for more videos: Our Youtube Channel
Visit our UStream Channel for live videos: Our Ustream Channel