Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Breaking the Silence : International Conference on the Indian Residential Schools Commission of Canada

Last weekend, the Université de Montréal hosted Breaking the Silence : International conference on the Indian residential schools commission of Canada.

The gathering was a joint initiative of the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Centre for Research on Ethics of the Université de Montréal (CREUM) and the Centre on Values and Ethics of Carleton University (Ottawa).

Prof. Daniel Weinstock of the Université de Montréal was interviewed last night on the Radio-Canada program Vous êtes ici ("You are here"). The interview is in French and lasts 18 minutes.

Prof. Weinstock teaches philosophy there and is the director of the CREUM.

The interview discusses the experience of truth and reconciliation commissions in other countries (such as South Africa) and examines some of the foreseeable problems that the Canadian commission into the abuse of tens of thousands of aboriginal children in government-funded boarding schools may run into.

From the 19th century until very recently, about 150,000 aboriginal children were removed from their communities and forced to attend remote residential schools. Countless children were abused physically or sexually.

The system intended to aggressively assimilate the children and Christianize them. They were frequently punished for speaking their ancestral tongues and their culture was denied or "beaten out" of them.

Earlier Library Boy posts on the residential schools issue:
  • Implementation of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (September 20, 2007): "The federal government announced this week the implementation of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. Former students who were subjected to abuse in Indian Residential Schools will be able to submit applications for compensation until September 2011. Aboriginal children were often grabbed away from their families to be shipped off to the boarding schools that tried to assimilate them."
  • Ontario Aboriginal Judge To Head Truth and Reconciliation Commission (April 28, 2008); "The Canadian government announced today that Justice Harry LaForme of the Ontario Court of Appeal will head the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that is to examine the legacy of decades of abuse of aboriginal children in residential schools (...) The Commission's official work of hearing testimony from former students and surviving school staff is to start in June and last 5 years. Its job will be to establish an official historical record of what was done to Native children in the residential school system."
  • Government of Canada Officially Apologizes for Indian Residential Schools Fiasco (June 11, 2008): "Prime Minister Stephen Harper presented a formal apology today on behalf of the Canadian government for the damage done to generations of aboriginal Canadians who went through Indian residential schools.The apology was read to a packed House of Commons in which many aboriginal leaders had been invited to sit. The apology ceremony was broadcast live on TV, radio, and the Internet."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:19 pm


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