Billions offered for Indigenous improvements meaningless without justice

To the Expositor:

Re: ‘Manitoulin KAIROS group organizes portable display of 215 pairs of kids’ shoes in mourning for unmarked graves at BC residential school,’ June 2, Page 1.

The discovery of the 215 slain First Nations children in an unmarked burial site beneath the old Kamloops Indian Residential School now solidifies Canada’s place among a notorious group of maniacal regimes all guilty of crimes against humanity. There is no longer a moral difference between ourselves and the Nazis who murdered 13 million people; no counterpoint to the actions of China as it murders ethnic Uyghurs and sterilizes them. Equally disheartening is the realization that Canada will never face international accountability for its actions leading to the deaths of Indigenous women and children. 

Genocide is typically enacted by a lie cleverly concocted to seduce its easy facilitation; killers don’t want resistance by victims or non-victims. In Germany, the wholesale slaughter of the “feeble-minded” or “insane” was disguised as “euthanasia.” In Canada, the government and the churches invoked the pretense of “re-educating” Indigenous youth. Here, cattle cars were not needed. But the result was the same: children abducted and killed wholesale behind closed doors. The residential school system, death camps by another name, is no different than Hitler’s Chelmno, Belzec, Treblinka, Sobibor and Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The crime of genocide as defined by the International Criminal Court includes actions intended “to destroy in whole or in part a national, ethnic, racial or religious group by killing its members or…causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group,” or “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its destruction” and any measures “intended to prevent births” or “transferring children of the group to another.”

How distressing to know that there will be no accountability for these crimes on an international level since the International Criminal Court cannot punish nations nor hear crimes committed before 2002. The concept of sovereign immunity means that a nation cannot be prosecuted internationally nor face civil litigation beyond its borders.

Any justice for Indigenous people must be won inside Canada itself. The Liberal government’s $2.2 billion pledge to improve living conditions for indigenous women, including a basic income concept, are meaningless without justice. Equally upsetting is the refusal of the Catholic Church to compensate residential school victims or issue a public apology in a meeting with the Indigenous community.

All of the Liberal government’s promises are rendered more meaningless when compared to the speed with which they apologized for the historical abuse of the Italian community. In that sense, justice is not ‘colour’ blind.


Christopher Mansour