Episode 48 – Canada’s Reckoning with Ry Moran, Fannie Lafontaine, Karine Duhamel and Andrew Woolford

Stephanie and Janet (top left and top centre) talk to Ry Moran (top right), Fannie Lafontaine (bottom left), Karine Duhamel (bottom centre) and Andrew Woolford (bottom right)

Over the past few months, several mass and unmarked graves have been identified near former residential schools for indigenous children in Canada. Such institutions were created with the explicit objective of removing children from their families and tribes, and forcing over them the culture, language and religion of Euro-Christian colonisers. They were the site of violence and abuse usually performed by religious orders and subsidised by the Canadian state.

Now human remains are surfacing, and with them the stories and experiences of victims and survivors are gaining more space in the spotlight and mainstream conversations. How is Canada dealing with the “discovery” of these unmarked graves and with the growing claims that what happened to indigenous children amounts to cultural genocide?

To discuss such a sensitive topic we asked for the help of not one, not two, not even three, but four experts. Ry Moran, a member of the Red River Métis and former founding director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, is now associate university librarian at the University of Victoria, with a focus on reconciliation, a groundbreaking position with the objective of decolonizing the university’s archives and collections. Fannie Lafontaine is a professor at the Faculty of Law of Laval University, holder of the Canada Research Chair in International Criminal Justice and Fundamental Rights and co-author of the legal analysis for the National Inquiry Into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG). Historian Karine Duhamel is Anishinaabe-Métis and was the Director of Research for the MMIWG inquiry as well as managing the Forensic Document Review Project and the Legacy Archive. Andrew Woolford is professor of Sociology & Criminology at the University of Manitoba and former president of the International Association of Genocide Scholars, with a specific focus on cultural genocide against Indigenous Peoples in North America. 

This time we don’t have any Netflix suggestions or escapist reading advice for our listeners. Instead we decided to put together a different kind of reading list, in the best summer school break tradition and in line with our guests’ wishes. To better familiarise yourself with the issue of the decades long difficult relationship between the Canadian government and Canada’s Indigenous Peoples, here are all the reports mentioned in the episode, from earliest to latest:

This podcast has been produced as part of a partnership with JusticeInfo.net, an independent website in French and English covering justice initiatives in countries dealing with serious violence. It is a media outlet of Fondation Hirondelle, based in Lausanne, Switzerland.