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(en) Canada, Anarchist journal Linchpin #5 - page 2

Date Thu, 14 Aug 2008 08:53:45 +0300

Updates on Indigenous activism ---- "Bob Lovelace and the KI Six were released
from prison after serving three and two months respectively of six month
sentences for contempt of court." ---- Judy Rebick, May 30, www.rabble.ca ----
"AbitibiBowater, the largest newsprint company in the world and the only one
still logging on Grassy Narrows land, announced it would leave Grassy Narrows
effective immediately. ... [T]he Grassy Narrows campaign ... included the
longest-running blockade in North American history." ---- Jessica Bell, June 23,
www.alternet.org ---- "On June 14 ... Canadian border control officers brutally
attacked Katenies and Kahentinetha, two Mohawk grandmothers. Both are part of
the MNN network and known for their outspoken criticism of U.S., Canadian and
international power cartels."
--June 23, www.mohawknationnews.com


Residential School Apology an anarchist view by Rev

On June 11th 2008, the Prime Minister of
Canada, Stephen Harper, claimed to apolo-
gize for residential schools and the govern-
ment's plan to destroy the cultures of In-
digenous peoples in Canada. This apology
came after a similar apology was given to in-
digenous people in Australia. Residential or
boarding schools were part of colonial policy
in New Zealand, Australia, the United States
and Canada. Harper's apology talked about
the abuses and cultural assimilation of Indig-
enous peoples in Canada by the Canadian
government, especially the forced removal of
children from their families. However, there is
so much that Harper did not say. What he left
out was that the residential schools were just
one aspect of colonization.
Residential schools were run by
churches, led by the Department of Indian Af-
fairs for most of their existence. They focused
on a total approach to assimilation: physical,
emotional, spiritual, and intellectual. The In-
digenous children stolen from their families
were to be made into Canadians by force.
The curriculum was created to allow the de-
struction of Indigenous ways of living on the
land. The idea of "killing the
Indian and saving the man,"
was really about making
way for capitalist ways of liv-
ing on the land. In essence,
residential schools aimed
at handing over Indigenous
land to corporations and
turning Indigenous people
into workers. Since Cana-
dian society was based on
private property while most
Indigenous communities
held the land in common,
residential schools taught Cecilia Jeffries
skills for private property Picture courtes
ownership and taught the Schools Project
values of a capitalist society
to the children. In the mind of the churches
and the government, the Indigenous person
was to become a settler and worker for the
ruling class.
The residential schools were first
called Manual Labour or Industrial schools
and this says a lot about their actual pur-
pose. The schools spent a half day teach-
ing lessons in the classroom, the other half
was spent learning trades or housework.
The schools aimed to produce workers that
were able to be exploited for wages or for
their crops. The students were taught to be
hard working and obedient like all good white
Christian workers. Or in other words, to re-
spect the authority of the church, state and
the capitalist bosses. This is the same idea
as the workhouse or poorhouse in Europe,
to discipline and create the working class.
Authority and fear were central to
the goals and methods of the residential
schools. Indigenous societies were very free
and equal. European society on the other
hand used discipline and power to control
people. Residential schools used power and
violence to train Indigenous peoples to sub-
mit to settler society and the figures of au-
thority in it. Indigenous peoples were taught
to behave like white people or face punish-
ment, just like all settler children are taught to
behave or face punishment. Those who ran
residential schools argued that Indigenous
parents did not exercise proper authority
over their children.
The residential school curriculum
tried to destroy Indigenous languages in
order to remove the people from the land.
Indigenous languages often name an ob-
ject by what you can use it for. For instance,
plants are often named after what healing
properties they offer. The elimination of this
knowledge through the teaching of English
imposed settler ways of living, because the
necessary knowledge to live Indigenous was
Residential Schools also taught
sexism and the rule of men over women
(patriarchy). Girls were taught to be do-
mestic and remain in the home, while very
often Indigenous women had more freedom
and could do many jobs outside the home.
Women were taught that Christian marriage
was right rather than be brought up in a clan
system where women's solidarity and col-
lective power protected women from male
oppression. Women were taught to be infe-
rior and this destroyed the backbone of the
gender equality in Indigenous societies. This
inequality was essential to the development
of the working class in all European societ-
ies. The production of the Christian nuclear
family is the linchpin of capitalist society.
To wrap up, residential schools were
a project to spread capitalism. Residential
schools were meant to turn Indigenous peo-
ples into settlers and make them workers and
peasants for the capitalist system. Harper
will never apologize for the real goals of the
residential schools. Many Indigenous peo-
ples, such as the Assembly of First Nations,
are even scared to admit how colonized they
remain. Really discussing decolonization will
require the unsettling of capitalism. Recog-
nizing that colonization and capitalism are
the same process, shows us that the struggle
for Indigenous freedom from the authority of
bosses and the government is a natural ally
with the anarchist struggle for freedom.



Cecilia Jeffries Indian Residential School, Kenora, Ontario
Picture courtesy of Nishnawbe Aski Nation Residential
Schools Project, www.nan.on.ca, The Shingwauk Project
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