As I have already said, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (‘TRC’) found that the entire residential school systems that Canada imposed on indigenous people without their consent, was based on the clear assumption, entirely belied by the facts, that European civilization and culture, and the Christian religion were superior to indigenous culture. The Canadians inherited from the Europeans they succeeded, an attitude in which they assumed that the indigenous culture and religion was savage and brutal. European countries, like France, England, and Spain, were the original colonizers and with the advent of settler colonialism that position was taken over by Canadians of European descent. This was the ideology of white supremacy.
As a result, the TRC reached a devastating conclusion:
“Colonization was undertaken to meet the perceived needs of the imperial powers. The justification offered for colonialism—the need to bring Christianity and civilization to the Indigenous peoples of the world—may have been a sincerely and firmly held belief, but as justification for intervening in the lives of other peoples, it does not stand up to legal, moral, or even logical scrutiny. The papacy had no authority to give away lands that belonged to Indigenous people. The Doctrine of Discovery cannot serve as the basis for a legitimate to the lands that were colonized, if for no other reason that the so-called discovered lands were already well known to the Indigenous peoples who had inhabited them for thousands of years. The wars of conquest that took place to strip Indigenous peoples were not morally just wars; Indigenous peoples were not, as colonists often claimed subhuman, and neither were they living in violation of any agreed-upon set of values. There was no moral imperative to impose Christianity on the Indigenous peoples of the world. They did not need to be ‘civilized’; indeed, there is no hierarchy of societies. Indigenous peoples had systems that were complete unto themselves and met their needs. Those systems were dynamic; they changed over time and were capable of continued change. Taken as a whole, the colonial process relied on for its justification on the sheer presumption of taking a specific set of European beliefs and values and proclaiming them to be universal values that could be imposed upon the peoples of the world. This universalizing of European values—so central to the colonial project—that was extended to North America served as the prime justification and rationale for the imposition of the residential peoples of Canada.”
White supremacy in other words, including a belief, in most cases sincerely held, that white Europeans were superior to Indigenous people and their religion, had the same element of superiority, was the justification for European dominance over Indigenous people, and that included imposing their religion on Indigenous people no matter the costs. That fundamental belief was the fundamental problem, and the legacy of that belief continues into present times. It was and is, toxic. It is the basis for much that went wrong with residential schools, and the imperial project of doing as we please with Indigenous people.
Nothing that comes from eating that poisonous fruit is worth saving.