In honour of my mother: a residential school survivor

June 10th/2008 the Prime Minister of Canada delivered an apology to the survivors of the Residential School era. As my mother is a 2nd generation IRS survivor, I want to share with you a passage she recently wrote. [My mothers thoughts]: "I am stunned, which should not come as a surprise given my continued historical encounters with No Justice, that the predessors of Non Aboriginal Leaders -who on hand fully acknowledge that laws were put in place to committ horrific crimes to thousands of children in residential school- continue to reiterate and broadcast their verbal barrage of compensation complaints to the rest of Canada. I am now addressing the statement made by the Conservative MP, in light of expending tax payers monies. For those who are in the dark, and it is shamefully apparent that many of our country's citizens are definately in the dark, let it be known that a majority of First Nations people pay taxes. First Nations tax breaks are applicable only on Native reservations (reserve lands) and for those who choose to acknowledge the geography of Canada it isn't hard to see that reservations lands represent approximately 1/3 of the country. That being clarified, when you talk about spending 'tax payers dollars' you are also referring to and representing the First Nations taxpayers and their dollars earned, spent, and distributed in support of the Canadian economy. To add insult to injury, the taxes levied upon First Nations people off reservation lands are in direct violation with the policies and laws applicable to First Nations as defined by the Indian Act, an act legislated, but not enforced, by the government of Canada. Certainly intelligent and compassionate human beings are able to discriminate that the residential school era was a dark chapter in Canadian History. However, for those individuals who are less compassionate and who remain ignorant of the basic human rights guaranteed to all Canadians, of which First Nations people are most definately a part, the dark chapter i refer to is far from over. All actions have reactions. The legacy of the Indian Residential School era resulted in far-reaching consequences. Indeed, many of the dysfunctional behaviours of the decendants of the Indian Residential School survivors are a testament to the atrocities forced upon and endured by their elder relatives. Imagine Sir, if the government of the day violated your home and family by kidnapping your children. Just up and decided that your race was inferior and was in dire need of assimilation and re-culturation. Further imagine the look in your five year old childs face when you try to explain why you are 'allowing' them to be taken away. Does a five year old fully understand or comprehend the consequences involved in defying law? Did you yourself know that the First Nations parents who chose to protect their children from being taken away to residential school were jailed? Probably not. In many situations, children were forcibly removed and often outright tricked into custody or stolen. Can you imagine the devastation and trauma you, as a parent, might experience when you visualize your flesh and blood being ripped from your arms?? Then try to shut out the screaming silence left behind by a village without children?? A life without your children?? The denial, pain, injustice, and righteous rage you might suffer?? Worse the acknowledgement to self that your power to 'right the wrong and get your child back' is impotent. And just when you think it won't get worse, you start to understand that you might never again see your child and that you have no idea of what your child is going through. The unfortunate and brutal truth is, many children disappeared, died, were beaten to death, were raped, and endured inhumane atrocities sanctioned by religion and government all in the name of assimilation and cultural genocide. Yet these crimes weren't suffered by warriors or war vets, but by children. Babies. Yes, these events did occur more often then we are led to believe or even mention. Getting back to the Conservative MP- do the comments surprise me, sadly no but they still stun and shock me. Respectfully, A 2nd generation Indian Residential School Survivor Mary Anne Katcheech Bear Palmer" NDN's all across the nation witnessed the historical apology. It's been a long time coming. Did you know that the last residential school was shut down in 1996?? To all my relations who attended RS, and who have felt the devastation of its legacy to our people...i honour, validate, acknowledge, thank, love, and pray for you and yours!