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The Harper government is behaving in colonial ways towards our indigenous peoples.
“When the school is on the reserve, the child lives with his parents who are savages; he is surrounded by savages and though he may learn to read and write, his habits and training and mode of thought are Indian. He is simply a savage who can read and write.”
That was our first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, speaking in the House of Commons in 1883, rationalizing the residential schools where aboriginal children were consigned to be cleansed of their Indian-ness.
Of the 150,000 who suffered that fate, many were sexually abused. Many were starved to be used as guinea pigs for nutrition experiments. Not until 2003 did Ottawa acknowledge the horror. In 2008 it formally apologized. More than 100,000 former residents have since been compensated from a $1.9-billion fund. A Truth and Reconciliation Commission has been hearing from survivors and examining 3.5 million documents, earlier withheld by Ottawa.
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