By Medicine Hat News Opinon on March 14, 2017.
There’s good reason why we don’t parse through the horror that was the Holocaust, to try to find the bright side to it. There is no bright side. Nothing was worth the brutal slaughter of over six million people, and the devastation that the Nazi regime caused.
As New Democrat MP Romeo Saganash, a residential school survivor, said last week “There’s never a good side to genocide.”
He said this in response to comments made last week by Conservative Senator Lynn Beyak who lamented on how all the negative stories about residential schools have overshadowed what good that the schools did. Saganash has called for Beyak to resign.
Beyak sits on the Senate’s aboriginal peoples committee. She also is a Senator from northern Ontario, whose population includes large numbers of First Nations people who had generations of children torn away from their language, culture and identity to be put through those schools.
Some who attended the schools had experiences that weren’t completely horrific. If there was good, then it is up to each individual survivor to choose what that was for them. And any good can in no way offset the devastating, long-term impact residential schools have had on survivors’ lives, families and communities.
It was genocide. Cultural genocide, plain and simple. This is abundantly outlined and articulated in the report issued by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. This report, and its recommendations should be read by every Canadian.
It doesn’t matter that those involved in running residential schools meant well and were trying to be good people. Sometimes the road to hell is paved with good intentions. And the harm caused wasn’t just a case of a few bad apples. This was a planned decision by the Canadian government to systematically destroy First Nations communities and peoples.
Saying there was “good” in the residential school system is defending the indefensible — akin to saying there was some good within the Holocaust, in South Africa’s Apartheid, or any other dark moment in human history.
Beyak’s words are a slap in the face to all those who came forward to give their testimony, to the survivors, their families, and to those working to right the wrongs of Canadian history.
We can’t get to reconciliation, if we aren’t even willing to face the ugly truth.
(Peggy Revell is a News reporter. To comment on this and other editorials, go to http://www.medicinehatnews.com/opinions.)
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