Conrad Black: Centuries of failed policy does not equal evil intent

NP, Uncategorized

Flags mark where ground-penetrating radar recorded hits of what are believed to be 751 unmarked graves in this cemetery near the grounds of the former Marieval Indian Residential School on the Cowessess First Nation, Sask. PHOTO BY THE CANADIAN PRESS

Almost all Canadians who have given it any thought have serious regrets that the country’s policy towards native people over the whole history of Canada since the arrival of the Europeans as settlers more than 400 years ago has failed. The reason for this is not «systemic racism.» Canada was underpopulated and if New France had not passed into the hands of the British just before the American colonies seceded from the British Empire, it would have been assimilated into the United States. In either scenario, the Indigenous Peoples of Canada would have had a much more difficult time with the American government than they have had with Canada. Many natives on American soil sought refuge in Canada including the great Chief Sitting Bull, who defeated the Seventh Cavalry and killed General George Armstrong Custer at the Battle of the Little Bighorn on June 25, 1876 .

The legitimate grievance of the natives is not that Europeans came here. Their grievance was that the expansion across North America of the settlers and the conversion of arable land to agriculture shrunk the ability of the Aboriginal people to feed themselves in traditional ways, and the natives were extremely susceptible to some illnesses brought from Europe, including smallpox and tuberculosis. A few utterances of colonial and Canadian officials can be removed from context and magnified to indicate fundamental hostility to the natives, but the principal attitude of successive authorities in Canada to Indigenous people was patronizing, feckless, ill-considered, and generally ineffectual benignity. Everyone can agree it is scandalous that the drinking water of many of the native people is unsanitary and the conditions in which many of them live are intolerable.

In the sudden national prostration of guilt and shame over centuries of Indigenous policy, Canada has allowed the charlatans of the victimhood industry to defame French and English Canadians with the blood libel of racism, and their principal victim has been the distinguished chief founder of this country, Sir John A. Macdonald. Macdonald lamented in Parliament that Canada «had defrauded the Indians time and again under the Liberals, giving them inferior grain and oxen.» There was nothing he could do about tuberculosis for which an adequate treatment was only successfully tested in 1949. It was also impossible for him to deal with the famine of the mid-1880s as rations would have had to been taken to the farthest reaches of the country where there were no roads. Macdonald said «We cannot allow the natives to starve and we cannot make them white men.» The TRCR claims that Macdonald was «present at birth» of a policy of genocide, and that he went to «war» against the Indigenous people.

Native children were strongly encouraged to speak English or French but no effort was made to deprive them of their native languages or prevent them from being spoken. Macdonald told the House of Commons in 1884 that the official hope was «the education in the ordinary branches of learning and the instruction in the industrial pursuits as well as the moral and social elevation of the Indian children,» an unexceptionable mission. Macdonald demanded that girls be permitted to attend and opposed the imposition of mandatory attendance. Macdonald championed the right to vote of the natives.

Macdonald is an outrage and the craven submission to it of many people and institutions throughout the country is even more contemptible.

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Source: Conrad Black | NP 

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