Holy cow! His Holiness, Pope Francis apologised for his church’s role in building and maintaining residential schools for the indigenous people of Canada, a.k.a. Indians, or First Nations. If you happen to invent yet another name, should spirits move you, be ready to make it exclusive to everybody else.
Canada’s Prime Minister issued a special statement, acknowledging the Pontiff’s apology and stressing that the entire residential school plan had created an awful stain on Canada’s history.
This is called compounding a lie with another lie.
What’s at issue?
Literate people who had come to what would become known as North America found it inhabited by people living in what could safely be described as close to Stone Age.
The locals, for wont of a better word, lived a nomadic lifestyle, exploiting natural resources till exhaustion, to move on to greener pastures once done. This puts paid to the nonsense of the original locals being great husbands of nature, respecting it, as well as respecting others from other tribes. Their own stories of their inter-tribal wars have been filled with violence rarely seen in modern human history (until the arrival of socialism under the guise of communism, fascism and Nazism).
Canada has established a national museum in the area of Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. Indians would drive entire herds over cliffs. The most productive way to hunt bison, indeed. Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump was their favourite hunting spot for over 6,000 years, until the 1800s. According to the museum records, hundreds of thousands of bison bones left at the bottom of the cliff formed a deposit 12 metres deep.
That’s called respect for living creatures. The only good thing about the modern memorial to this centuries-long atrocity is how they answer their phone calls. According to Dave Barry, formerly a Miami Herald humour columnist, he called the site and heard: Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Bon Jour. He laughed so hard, he had to write a column about it.
Residential schools received similar mistreatment by the modern, politically correct, crowd.
Designed to bring the locals all the way from Stone Age to a more contemporary era, they would teach many an Indian the alphabet, reading and writing skills, basic arithmetic and, of course, the era being what it was, some basic religion.
The criticism involved use of corporal punishment for those deemed to have misbehaved in one way or another.
Those who are upset about it would create such hue and cry that it would bring along Royal Commissions of Enquiry. These would result in the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). And the TRC, in order to justify its existence, would start publishing reports, one worse than the other.
The residential schools were accused of not only inflicting physical pain on its students, they were destroying their culture along the way.
It should be noted that corporal punishment, spanking for misbehaviour, that is, was de rigueur at the time in any school, including most top private schools for the most privileged children. Masters and teachers at residential schools simply followed what was required by the current fashion or custom. Spanking their students for misbehaviour was socially obligatory. Period.
Besides, any culture that can’t survive without bureaucratic support creates doubts about its values. But that’s another debate for another day. For now, suffice it to say that residential schools have educated a number of Indians who could (and would) progress in modern society, no mean achievement.
Yes, there were (and still are) numerous other issues, such as letting Indians live their lives on reserves where they do not have to perform any work, relying on government largesse, instead.
That this destroys their feeling of self-worth is now clear to the dumbest of officials, with the exception of those who profit on the set-up. But, again, this is another issue for another day.
Anthropologist Sarah Beaulieu used ground-penetrating radar on the grounds where the Kamloops Indian Residential School operated between the years 1890 and 1978.
She claimed that she had discovered the remains of 215 children allegedly buried there.
Chief Rosanne Casimir of the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation reported the news. In a May 2021 statement, she said that “[g]iven the size of the school, with up to 500 students registered and attending at any one time, we understand that this confirmed loss affects First Nations communities across British Columbia and beyond.”
Dramatic, right? One would have expected immediate excavation of the remains and some serious forensic medical investigation.
No remains had actually been excavated.
It still would not stop Canada’s Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, from releasing a statement saying the “remains were found at the former Kamloops residential school breaks my heart – it is a painful reminder of that dark and shameful chapter of our country’s history.”
But: Professor Jacques Rouillard, professor emeritus in the Department of History at the University of Montreal, burst the balloon with a study published by The Dorchester Review.
Founded in 2011, The Dorchester Review is a semi-annual journal of history and historical commentary. While non-partisan, it does offer what it describes as robust polemics for “elements of tradition and culture inherent to Canadian experience that fail to conform to a stridently progressivist narrative.”
Meaning: it’s a substantial thorn in the side of those who had hijacked the term “progressive” to advance their politically correct woke and cancel culture agendas.
Professor Rouillard went straight to the point: the anthropologist who claims to have discovered the remains is way too young to know what she’s doing.
Having thus disposed of the would-be discoverer of the would-be genocidal injustice, Professor Rouillard went to the technical points: “Her preliminary report is actually based on depressions and abnormalities in the soil of an apple orchard near the school – not on exhumed remains.”
Ms. Beaulieu would backtrack a bit: the burials would now become “probable.”
After she had “barely scratched the surface,” she found many “disturbances in the ground such as tree roots, metal and stones.”
What does it mean? Nothing more than that those “disruptions picked up in the radar” led her to conclude that the grounds “have multiple signatures that present like burials.”
Even that remains a fancy hypothesis: to confirm that what Ms. Beaulieu saw were either remains of children or tree roots, the site would have to be excavated.
It hasn’t been yet. Professor Rouillard wonders where an excavation would ever take place.
And yet, Canadian flags on official buildings flew at half-mast for quite some time, in memory of the non-existing dead children, the Prime Minister continues waxing poetic, the United Nations continues chastising Canada for her unspeakable, yet non-existent, crimes against humanity, and the Pope said mea culpa, mea maxima culpa for deeds his church hasn’t committed.
Textbooks on disinformation warn of danger: those creating fake news may end up believing it themselves, and this could have tragic consequences.
To figure this out, we would have to know whether Justin Trudeau, as well as those who sing in his chorus, are aware that they are lying.
Knowing the answer to this question may not have any immediate practical implications other than that we’d know that our powers-that-be have got used to governing by imposing hoaxes.
And that would be seriously useful knowledge.