...there has also been a sort of spiralling escalation of hostilities underway, fought mainly on the point of whether the legacy of the residential schools can be shoehorned into the category of “cultural genocide” (I think it can, and I’ve said so). Harsh words have been exchanged. It’s been a bit bruising. This is no longer the kind of discussion you will sensibly enter with your guard down.Despite the squabbling that the "cultural genocide" claim has engendered, Glavin concludes that the report which has that toxic and highly loaded nugget as its core is worthy of our attention:
The “cultural genocide” claim is the central thesis of the commission’s “Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future” report. Its entire 388-page heft is devoted to proving that thesis and recommending a way forward from it. This is a good reason to read the report with a very critical eye.
But it should be read. Chelsea Vowel, Erica Violet Lee are quite right about that. And they have done a lot of people a great service by having people read it aloud, in sections, and uploading the whole project to Youtube. And no matter which side you end up on in the whole cultural genocide debate, or who you think should be held historically responsible, we all have some very serious work to do in healing these wounds, right now, and building a better country, for all of us.Can this report, premised as it is on the "cultural genocide" claim, help us heal? I don't think it can. Here's the letter I wrote dispelling that fantasy:
While Terry Glavin admits to having some hesitations about calling what occurred at Canada's Residential Schools a "cultural genocide"--he says he requires a "shoehorn" to cram it into that designation--he encourages us to read and absorb the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report predicated on that exact charge.The problem here is that such an incendiary charge, which, in essence, lumps us in with the Nazis and other historical genocidaires, is bound to be spurned by many Canadians; in particular, by those who do not situate themselves on the left end of the political spectrum and who don't embrace its victimhood ethos. So while the Report is intended to spark a conversation that will ultimately lead to a great national healing, it is the charge of "cultural genocide" itself that stands in the way of that happening. In fact, by pre-judging all non-indigenous Canadians, most of whom have their provenance in countries other than Canada, as bearing the blame for this so-called genocide, the document's premise and take-away (which may be summarized as "you're guilty; pay up") could well end up torpedoing the very conversation it had intended to launch.