One of the interviewers asked me a question at the Truth & Reconciliation Commission for Indian Residential School event in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada. He asked me what reconciliation meant to me.
That was an interesting question as reconcile is difficult to define or can be defined to fit different circumstances. I always assumed it meant acceptance. So immediately that is what I thought, that Indians should accept what had happened. If we accept it only follows that we should forgive.
That is quite an interesting notion to forgive. I wonder though, why is reconciliation a way one drive? The whole TRC is aimed at the Indian. The opening of old wounds, the closing of wounds, the putting a bandage on and ripping it off. What of the other parties involved? It is not only the Indians that were affected but so was the general public, but more so the Church and the government (officials and agents of the government). They too have to reconcile what I think is not reconcilable. For true reconciliation that acknowledgment must be sincere and actions must convey that feeling. Not photo opportunities and empty words. The Indians must see that the people involved are true. The general public has been affected as they have been sold on the goods that government has said about Indians. The education system, the governance system, the religious system and the bueacracy has all tried to undermine the Indian (their whole way of life). The public only knows what it has been sold. Some of the public has become enlightened and is aware of the real situation around the world and here at home. They are a minority.
The public only sees the money aspect of things. The costs. The Indian getting money again. You know that the government is a very smart animal. They are not in power for nothing. It takes thinking and real thinking to get away with stuff. Let me tell you about the Indian Residential School settlement process. The government made a deal with Indians to settle the court battles that started up because of the Residential school abuses. There were some horror recounts coming out of the school experience. There were a lot of them, recounting horror. Long story short. Indians were allowed to claim without a trial process, go in front of an adjudicator, recount their experience and based on a set of criteria of abuse, get a cash settlement. Cash Settlements on average were in the thousands. The adjudication process was to ease the pain of a big trial. Sounds like a heck of a deal, those damn Indians getting money again. Let's not forget the Devil is in the details. Much of the money allocated went to the lawyers. In one case this law firm from Saskatchewan invoiced for fifty million dollars. It's not like the movies where the client gets rich off their misery. The idea that the Indians did not have to go through re-living the experience in a court room is not exactly true as well. The process is still a formal setting where you are questioned about your accounts of events. The whole adjudication process is set on a criteria of sexual abuse. How many times you got raped in the bum or in the vagina. That's the thing. Never mind that the whole Residential school era has killed (or rather tried to kill) the soul of the Indian. Making the Indian feel worthless, to hate themselves, to leave everything Indian at the door of the school and never be able to go back again. Generations of Indians are now living with that killing era. Yet they will never be heard or get a chance to say that it was wrong. It was wrong to try and kill the Indian. They didn't succeed. There is damage to the Indian Spirit, that is true, but there is a whole lot of resolve in that Spirit as well. Indians are not going anywhere. Some of us have gotten lost, but we are finding our way back, no thanks to the Church or the government. So the whole "easier process" of adjudication is a sham. It's puts the experience in narrow parameters. The government is not interested in how the school affected the Indian, they know how it did, after all they were the architects. They just want to limit their exposure of wrong doings. So it has become only about the genitals of Priests, Indians and Nuns.
The government is really smart (I said that already). With this action they achieve a number of things: 1) they get rid of the financial burden of law suits; 2) they look like good people in the international community, 3) the Indians look like welfare handouts, 4) the general public has more reason to hate the Indian (again), 5) the government can inject needed cash into a depressed economy (give an Indian a dollar and he spends that dollar; aspects of the poverty syndrome, while the small business owner, and the neighbouring town reap the benefits of cash from the Indian community), and 6) the reconciliation process puts the onus on the Indian to move forward and forget all the bad stuff. A very good process and good deal.
I know I sound like a complainer and I am. I don't like it when I see wrong, so I say something. The thing is the reconciliation process is flawed. It's about resigning yourself to a fate that is dictated to you. There is no act of reconciling from the other side. The Church still has the mandate to recruit and convert the Indian. The government will still not live up to the Treaties. The government and the public will still see the Indian as a burden on society. That is the reconciling part. The Indian must accept and be resigned to the same conditions as before. People will say "what the fuck more do you want?"
Good question. Let's start with an attempt to recognize the Treaty. That is an easy place to start. But wait, not for Canada. They want to rape the country without any consequence. The general public buys into their notion that the resources belong to Canada, Wrong.
I met a woman the other day and she said it best for Canada: "all I hear in the paper is the residential school this and the residential school that, when is it going to stop? It must be generations ago? They can't still be suffering from the school?" Congratulations Canada, plan implemented perfectly. Indians are seen in the way Canada intended. It's not about reconciliation at all, it is about escape, and pretense.