When I went to school I was told that Prime Minister John A. MacDonald was one of the heroes of Canada. We thought he should have been awarded the status of saint John. He appointed himself as the Minister Responsible for Indians in his cabinet. If you think the expression “cultural genocide” is too strong to describe what Canada did with the imposition of its Indian Residential Schools on indigenous people consider this statement he made in the House of Commons in 1883:
“When the school is on the reserve the child lives with its parents, who are savages: he is surrounded by savages, and though he may learn to read and write his habits, and training mode of thought are Indian. He is simply a savage who can read and write. It has been strongly impressed on myself, as the head of the Department, that Indian children should be withdrawn as much as possible from the parental influence, and the only way to do that would be to put them in central training industrial schools where they will acquire the habits and modes of thought of white men.”
The Prime Minister did not misspeak. He meant it. This was government policy. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission explained this in this way:
“These measures were part of a coherent policy to eliminate Aboriginal people as distinct people and to assimilate them into the Canadian mainstream against their will. Deputy Minister of Indian Affairs Duncan Campbell Scott outlined the goals of that policy in 1920, when he told a parliamentary committee that “our object is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed into the body politic.” Canada did not do this with “good intent” as some suggest.”
As the TRC said,
“the Canadian government pursued this policy of cultural genocide because it wished to divest itself of its legal and financial obligations to Aboriginal people and gain control over their land and resources. If every Aboriginal person had been “absorbed into the body politic,” there would be no reserves, no Treaties, and no Aboriginal rights.”
In fact, then there would be no Aboriginals. The genocide would be complete. The final solution would be realized.