Genocide in Canada – The Canadian Holocaust
The next stage in genocide is the Organization. Genocide is always organized – usually by a state. This occurs in the Canadian genocide through the passing of legislation with the intent of eliminating Native culture. In 1920, legislation was passed by the federal government which made it mandatory for all Native Children in Western Canada to attend Residential schools. The Government knew that the death rates due to diseases were much higher in these schools; this legislation was passed at a time when the death rate of residential schools was about 40% (Truth 14). This legislation provides the “intent” to destroy, as defined in the UN’s definition of genocide.
After Organization, comes Polarization, a stage in which the groups are pushed apart by extremists and the law; moderates are taken out of the scene. In the Canadian genocide, Polarization occurs hand in hand with Organization, and the next stage – Preparation. In Preparation, victims are identified and forcefully separated from the main group, the “us”. Death lists are drawn up, and the “them” are relocated to an area, for elimination. In the Case of the Holocaust, the Jews were sent to the ghettoes. In the Case of the Canadian Genocide, however, Natives were forcefully sent to Residential Schools.
Natives are legally classified as a separate group of humans, and figures of power overtly dehumanize and segregate them so that the general population can no longer identify with them. Rev. A. E. Caldwell, a head of a Residential School, said himself that the Indian peoples would learn to surrender their barbaric lifestyles, and treaty rights. Only then, he says, “will the Indian problem in our country be solved” (Truth 26). His reference to Native culture as a “problem” means that he wants to destroy it – including all those incapable of assimilating into his modern, “civilized”, society.
The Canadian Federal Government passed laws which legally allowed the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to forcefully remove children from their families in the Aboriginal Reservations, and relocate them in Residential Schools (RINF 1). This conforms to definition (e) of the UN’s Convention, which is “Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group”. This relocation of the masses parallels the Nazi Holocaust, in which Government Agents forcefully placed Jewish people into Concentration Camps. It also conforms to definition (b) of the UN’s Convention, which is “Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group”. Children in the Residential Schools were subjected to serious bodily and mental harm. Physically, they were raped, beaten, killed. Mentally, their cultural identity was taken from them, as was their language. At this stage in the genocide, the next stage – Extermination – also occurred. The Extermination of the Native children in Residential Schools is unlike any genocide in the world. Children were specifically targeted, in order to end the blood line of the Natives.
The Government of Canada funded sterilization programs in which, without consent, the Native people were sterilized. This fits definition (d) of the UN’s Convention, which defines genocide as “Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group”. There was deliberate intent to inhibit the reproductive capabilities of the Native people, so that the current generation of Children would be the last. In 1933, British Columbia enacted a law identical to one in Alberta, which allowed for the sterilization of any child considered “socially or morally defective”(Truth 44) – the perfect law to allow for the mass sterilization of an entire “socially defective” culture. In fact, this law was enacted only one year before a similar one in Nazi Germany was (Truth 44.). A doctor, named Darby, once stated that he was being compensated by Indian Affairs for every native sterilized. Many young Natives were held prisoners in facilities, until their turn to be sterilized arose (Truth 45).
The treatment of Natives in Residential Schools most obviously fits definition (c) of the UN’s Convention, which is “Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part”. The conditions of life in the Residential School were abysmal. DIA Superintendent D.C Scott is recorded writing to BC Indian Agent-General Major D. Mckay, about the increased death rate in residential schools – “But this alone does not justify a change in the policy of this Department, which is geared towards the final solution of our Indian Problem”(Truth 6). Deliberately, Native children were placed into an environment in which they would be killed. When Dr. Peter Bryce of the Ontario Health Commission was sent to report on the health conditions of Residential schools, he claimed that he “believes the conditions are being deliberately created in our residential schools to spread infectious diseases…” (Truth 16)