Dr. Dawg

Harper's apology to Aboriginals revisited

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How does one measure the worth of Stephen Harper’s apology to Canada’s Aboriginal peoples for Canada’s shameful residential school episode?

Genuine apologies are followed by positive attempts to undo or to compensate for a wrong done to another. False and hollow apologies are unaccompanied by any real change or remorse. They are written on the wind. Their purpose is inevitably self-serving.

Perhaps we might judge Harper’s apology by the actions (or inaction) of his government on behalf of Native children during and after that so-called historical event.

Here is how matters stood as he was mouthing his words in the House of Commons. After considerable pressure, Canada eventually signed the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2010. That’s the only substantive move forward from that day to this—a signature on a document.

Readers will remember the years of struggle waged by a tiny First Nations community to obtain an elementary school for their kids. A previous Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, who liked to joke about “scalping” and whatnot, stood firm against the idea. But earlier this year, finally caving to pressure, the Harper government promised a school for the children of Attawapiskat.

One elementary school, to be completed in 2013. According to Charlie Angus, the MP for the area, there are at least 40 others in the same fix.

Then there are the social service payments available to Aboriginal children across the country compared to white kids. Funded by the federal government, they receive 22% less than other children, who are supported by the provinces.

What’s being done about that? Well, Harper appointee Shirish Chotalia, who heads up the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, after dragging her feet for a year and a half or so, ruled that this was perfectly fine.

(Chotalia, aping the clown car brigade running Rights & Democracy into the ground, has managed to achieve a 100% staff turnover since she showed up a couple of years ago. Most left voluntarily: some are still off on stress leave.)

Aboriginal children with disabilities are also treated abominably. Once again, the Harper government appears to see nothing wrong with this obvious discrimination against Native kids.

Both of these matters are presently before the federal courts, with Justice Department lawyers fighting tooth and nail against equal treatment for Aboriginal children. And we’re paying for it.

Now we have news that the Harper government is also fighting a class action lawsuit launched on behalf of another group of Native children—victims of the “Sixties Scoop,” a second wave of forced assimilation. Rather than settle the scandal, for which the state bears ultimate responsibility, Harper prefers to use the government’s bottomless resources (our taxes) to drag this thing through the courts for years.

Against all this, I ask again: What was Harper’s apology worth? But at this point the question is purely rhetorical.

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on November 5, 2011 12:21 PM.

The Hidden Costs of Autism was the previous entry in this blog.

Mark Bourrie and the curious silence of the Speech Warriors™ is the next entry in this blog.

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