donderdag, oktober 16, 2014

Justice Murray Sinclair: ¨Church not helping reconciliation¨; ¨Catholic entities ‘discriminated’ against by TRC commissioner, there is no “Catholic Church” ¨. De mist in Canada !


Catholic entities ‘discriminated’ against by TRC commissioner
October 15, 2014

OTTAWA - A lawyer representing the Catholic entities involved in Indian residential schools has vehemently rejected criticism from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) head who has accused the Catholic Church of withholding documents.
Pierre Baribeau says commission chair Justice Murray Sinclair has unfairly targeted the Catholic entities.
“We have a feeling that we have been discriminated against by the TRC, compared to the way they have treated the other churches,” said Baribeau. “That’s a strong feeling, and it’s very unfortunate.”

Baribeau was reacting to a speech in Winnipeg Sept. 29 by Sinclair, who said the road to reconciliation after 150 years will be a long one and the Catholic Church isn’t helping, as reported in the Prairie Messenger. Sinclair said the “government of Canada and the Catholics have not provided documents” needed for the commission to complete its work. He also said the churches were being unco-operative, and the Catholic Church in particular fears more abuse stories will emerge against living clergy.

Sinclair chairs the commission that began with a five-year mandate that has been extended by a year. It is looking into the abuses that occurred over the years in Indian residential schools in which government policy was to assimilate Canada’s First Nations’ youth with the rest of Canadian society. From 1820 to the 1970s, the federal government removed aboriginal children from their homes and placed them in Church-run boarding schools in what became known as an effort “to kill the Indian in the child.” The children were not allowed to speak their language or practise their culture and many suffered abuse.

“Those comments (by Sinclair) are erroneous,” said Baribeau, who negotiated on behalf of 50 Catholic religious orders or dioceses in the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement and remains a director of the Canadian Co-operation of Catholic Entities Party to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement.

Baribeau cited numerous examples where religious entities such as the Oblates and the Grey Nuns opened their archives, making available photographs of thousands upon thousands of original documents to the commission.
“It is very unpleasant to read those negative comments by the chair... We feel they are misrepresentations of the facts and of contributions of Catholic entities individually and as institutions.”

Seventy per cent of the 140 Indian residential schools were run by the Catholic Church with the remainder operated by the Anglican, United, Presbyterian, Congregationalist and Methodist Churches.

“We tried very hard, but we were the black sheep,” he said. “Out of the four groups, we are the black sheep and they don’t really like us.”

Baribeau said there is no “Catholic Church” in terms of the agreement as every entity is independent. Yet the religious orders and dioceses have made efforts to co-ordinate to help the process.
The entities have also contributed hundreds of initiatives of reconciliation that are worth well over $30 million, Baribeau said, and they are still going on.

Baribeau said reconciliation needs to work both ways. He said he asked Sinclair some time ago to begin that process of reconciliation around the table with the stakeholders and nothing happened. Instead of “concrete gestures of reconciliation,” the commission has been using some of its funding to take the entities to court. At a mediation proceeding, Baribeau said he and members of the executive were shocked to hear the commission counsel accuse the Catholics of being “perpetrators.”
This is disrespectful, he said. Many of the religious men and women gave their entire lives to working in the schools and they should not be lumped in with those who committed abuse, he said.

Church not helping reconciliation: Sinclair

By James Buchok
WINNIPEG — The road to reconciliation between Canada’s Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people over the 150-year legacy of Indian residential schools will be a long one, says Justice Murray Sinclair, and the Catholic Church isn’t helping.

Sinclair is chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, with a five-year mandate that was to end in July 2014 but extended to 2015 because “the Government of Canada and the Catholics have not provided documents.”

In 2010, the commission’s research director said the churches involved in residential schools were being unco-operative and suggested the Catholic Church in particular fears more abuse stories will emerge against living clergy.
Sinclair said the average age of school survivors is now 71. “It is important to complete our report so survivors will be around to see,” he said.

Sinclair was the guest for the 11th annual Sol Kanee Lecture on Peace and Justice Sept. 29 in Winnipeg. The lecture is hosted by the Arthur V. Mauro Centre for Peace and Justice at St. Paul’s College at the University of Manitoba.

From 1820 to the 1970s, the federal government removed Aboriginal children from their homes and placed them in church-run boarding schools in what became known as an effort “to kill the Indian in the child.” The children were not allowed to speak their language or practice their culture and many suffered abuse.

Seventy per cent of the 140 Indian residential schools were run by the Catholic Church with the remainder operated by the Anglican Church and United Church and its predecessors the Presbyterian, Congregationalist and Methodist churches.

Sinclair explained how the TRC was created after a lawsuit was brought against the Canadian government and several churches by survivors who emerged from the schools in a damaged state. The Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement of 2007 became the largest class-action settlement in Canadian history.

Sinclair said the agreement is flawed and the commission believes another 1,300 schools should have been included. “This excludes a lot of students and creates a significant challenge to reconciliation,” Sinclair said, adding that “day students” who did not live in the schools are also excluded, “even though they faced the same treatment.”

Sinclair said the commission has allowed any and all school survivors to present testimony at the hundreds of hearings held across Canada, from the national event in Winnipeg in June 2010 to the conclusion in Edmonton last March.

“For any society to function, its citizens must be taught the great questions of life,” Sinclair said. “Why am I here? How did I get here? Who am I? We all have a creation story and we need to know what it is. For children who were raised in residential schools the answers to those questions were denied to them. The first teacher is our mother and the first classroom is our home. Residential schools denied the children all of that and tried to squash their identities.”

Sinclair said the testimonies of horiffic abuse do not tell the whole story. “Most children were not physically or sexually abused. But all have been changed in some way, some without knowing it. Separation from parents, the atmosphere of loneliness and repression would damage any child.”

Sinclair said the problem and the solution is education. He said public schools have taught that North America started in 1492 with Columbus and text books have portrayed Aboriginals as spectators to history, as savage warriors, as an obstacle to white settlement, as victims or as a problem. “Great damage has been done because non-Aboriginals have been educated to not respect Aboriginal people. The system must teach children to speak respectfully about each other.”

Sinclair said non-Aboriginal people have attended the hearings “and they say, ‘I lived here and was taught here my whole life and I never knew any of this.’ Non-Aboriginals see the dysfunction but they have no idea how it was created. The education system has failed to do that but education can fix what it has broken.”

Sinclair said a “legacy of hope” has started with a number of provinces changing curricula to include residential schools. But, he added, “if this is taught only as an elective I expect that in five, 10 or 15 years I will still hear from people who say they had never heard of the residential schools.”

Sinclair has spoken to ministers of education asking for changes “to ensure that every child is taught about Indian residential schools and the treatment of Aboriginal people in this country. I ask each of you to help ensure that is done.”
He said the residential school system was not so much a school system as a child welfare system. “The government felt the children would receive the upbringing government wanted them to receive and that the government believed the parents could not provide. The schools were really about keeping children away from their families,” he said.

“Reconciliation cannot be achieved in five years,” Sinclair said. “We will establish what the parties need to do to get to reconciliation. The commission knows reconciliation is not going to occur in our lifetimes, but maybe we can start the conversation. The work we do today will immeasurably strengthen the fabric of this country.”

Sol Kanee (1909-2007) was a Winnipeg lawyer and former president of the Canadian Jewish Congress and longtime chair of the World Jewish Congress Board of Governors.

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