This week to keep you going while we are still on summer break we bring back an episode that originally aired in 2021 after the discovery of a number of mass graves at the sites of former residential schools in Canada. Such institutions were created with the explicit objective of removing children from their families and tribes, and forcing on them the culture, language and religion of Euro-Christian colonisers. It is estimated that some 6000 children died while attending these schools.
In this episode with the help of not one, not two, not even three, but four experts, we delve into the impact of the discovery of these mass graves, coupled with Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission Final Reports. To cover such a sensitive topic our array of experts included Ry Moran, a member of the Red River Métis and former founding director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and is now associate university librarian at the University of Victoria with a focus on reconciliation. 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.
For this episode there weren’t any enticing Netflix recommendations, but we did put together an extensive reading list to help our listeners get as well informed as possible on the troubling history between Canada’s government and its indigenous population. These readings obviously remain just as relevant now as they were when we first aired the episode 2 years ago:
- The Hawthorn Report (or A Survey of the Contemporary Indians of Canada, 1966), which investigated the social conditions of Aboriginal peoples across Canada and came to the conclusion that they were Canada’s most disadvantaged and marginalized population, thanks to years of bad government policies;
- The Red Paper (1970), a policy proposal by the Indian Association of Alberta, put forward as a reaction to policies proposed by Pierre Trudeau’s government;
- The Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP, 1996);
- The Report of the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry of Manitoba (AJI, 1999);
- The Report of the Commission of Inquiry Into Matters Relating to the Death of Neil Stonechild (2004);
- The Ipperwash Inquiry (2007), to investigate events surrounding the death of Dudley George, who was shot in 1995 during a protest by First Nations representatives and later died.
- The Truth and Reconciliation Commission Final Report (2015), especially its Call to Action;
- The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (2019);
- and The Kamloops Indian Residential School Le Estcwéý (The Missing) report, about the discovery of 200 potential burial sites, whose findings were released on July 15th 2021.