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The Canadian Holocaust

The Untold Story of the Genocide of Aboriginal Peoples by Church and State in Canada

Published by The Truth Commission into Genocide in Canada, a public investigative body continuing the work of previous Tribunals into native residential schools:
The Justice in the Valley Coalition’s Inquiry into Crimes Against Aboriginal People, convened in Port Alberni, British Columbia on December 9, 1994, and The International Human Rights Association of American Minorities Tribunal into Canadian Residential Schools, held in Vancouver from June 12-14, 1998.

Copyright @ The Truth Commission into Genocide in Canada, 2001

The Untold Story of the Genocide of Aboriginal Peoples by Church and State in Canada

A Summary of an Ongoing, Independent Inquiry into Canadian
Native “Residential Schools” and their Legacy

By Rev. Kevin D. Annett, M.A., M.Div.

Jasper Joseph is a sixty-four year old native man from Port Hardy, British Columbia. His eyes still fill with tears when he remembers his cousins who were killed with lethal injections by staff at the Nanaimo Indian Hospital, in 1944.

“I was just eight, and they’d shipped us down from the Anglican residential school in Alert Bay to the Nanaimo Indian Hospital, the one run by the United Church. They kept me isolated in a tiny room there for more than three years, like I was a lab rat, feeding me these pills, giving me shots that made me sick. Two of my cousins made a big fuss, screaming and fighting back all the time, so the nurses gave them shots, and they both died right away. It was done to silence them.” (November 10, 2000)

Unlike post-war Germans, Canadians have yet to acknowledge, let alone repent from, the genocide that we inflicted on millions of conquered people: the aboriginal men, women and children who were deliberately exterminated by our racially supremacist churches and state.

As early as November, 1907, the Canadian press was acknowledging that the death rate within Indian residential schools exceeded 50% (aee Appendix, “Key Newspaper Articles”). And yet the reality of such a massacre has been wiped clean from public record and consciousness in Canada over the past decades. Small wonder; for that hidden history reveals a system whose aim was to destroy most native people by disease, relocation and outright murder, while “assimilating” a minority of collaborators who were trained to serve the genocidal system.

This history of purposeful genocide implicates every level of government in Canada, the RCMP, every mainline church, large corporations, and local police, doctors, and judges. The web of complicity in this killing machine was, and remains, so vast that its concealment has required an equally elaborate campaign of cover-up that has been engineered at the highest levels of power in our country; a cover-up that is continuing, especially now that eyewitnesses to murders and atrocities at the church-run native residential “schools” have come forward for the first time. For it was the residential “schools” that constituted the death camps of the Canadian Holocaust, and within their walls nearly one-half of all aboriginal children sent there by law died, or disappeared, according to the government’s own statistics.

These 50,000 victims have vanished, as have their corpses, “like they never existed,” according to one survivor. But they did exist; they were innocent children, and they were killed by beatings and torture, and after being deliberately exposed to tuberculosis and other diseases by paid employees of the churches and government, according to a “Final Solution” master plan devised by the Department of Indian Affairs and the Catholic and Protestant churches.

The term “Final Solution” was not coined by the Nazis, but by Indian Affairs Superintendent Duncan Campbell Scott in April of 1910 when he referred to how he envisioned the “Indian Problem” in Canada being resolved. Scott was describing planned murder when he came up with the expression, since he first used it in response to a concern raised by a west coast Indian Agent about the high level of deaths in the coastal residential schools. On April 12, 1910, Scott wrote,

“It is readily acknowledged that Indian children lose their natural resistance to illness by habitating so closely in these schools, and that they die at a much higher rate than in their villages. 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.” (Department of Indian Affairs Superintendent D.C. Scott to B.C. Indian Agent-General Major D. McKay, DIA Archives, RG 10 series).

With such official consent for manslaughter emanating from Ottawa, the churches responsible for annihilating natives on the ground felt emboldened and protected enough to declare full-scale war on non-Christian native peoples through the twentieth century. The casualties of that war were not only the 50,000 dead children of the residential schools, but the survivors, whose social condition today has been described by United Nations human rights groups as that of “a colonized people barely on the edge of survival, with all the trappings of a third-world society.” (November 12, 1999). The Holocaust is continuing.

This report is the child of a six-year independent investigation into the hidden history of genocide against aboriginal peoples in Canada. It summarizes the testimonies, documents and other evidence that proves that Canadian churches, corporations, and the government are guilty of intentional genocide, in violation of the United Nations Convention on Genocide, which Canada ratified in 1952, and under which it is bound by international law.

This report is a collaborative effort of nearly thirty people. And yet some of its authors must remain anonymous, particularly its aboriginal contributors, whose lives have been threatened and who have been assaulted, denied jobs and evicted from their homes on Indian reserves because of their involvement in this investigation. As a former minister in one of the guilty institutions named in our inquiry-the United Church of Canada-I have been fired, blacklisted, threatened and publicly maligned by its officers for my attempts to uncover the story of the deaths of children at that church’s Alberni residential school. But, as they should know, lies and crucifixions have never stopped the truth from surviving.

Many people have sacrificed to produce this report, so that the world can learn of the Canadian Holocaust, and ensure that those responsible for it are brought to justice before the International Criminal Court. Beginning among native and low-income activists in Port Alberni, British Columbia, in the fall of 1994, this inquiry into crimes against humanity has continued in the face of death threats, assaults, and the resources of church and state in Canada. It is within the power of the reader to honour our sacrifice by sharing this story with others, and refusing to participate in the institutions which deliberately killed many thousands of children.
The only ethical response to having blood on one’s collective hands is to say no to the habit of condoning genocide, and to the lies that have concealed it in our country. Such a step is a form of moral cleansing that we, the heirs of a murderous system, must practice if we are to honestly claim the mantle of a “civilized nation.”

This is an ongoing story, for the murder of native people continues. The standard of living of Canadian Indians today ranks sixty-fourth in the world, below that of Mexico and Thailand (Globe and Mail, Oct. 12, 1998) In my former parish of Port Alberni, infant mortality among native families is as high as in Guatemala. On many occasions between the years 1992 and 1995, when I ministered there, I presided at the funerals of aboriginal babies who had died of malnutrition, pneumonia and other illnesses caused by poverty and substandard housing. It was common for me to deliver food to Port Alberni native families who had not eaten in days, and whose children could not even stand up because of hunger-induced exhaustion.

Such miserable conditions in one of the world’s richest nations are primarily caused by the systematic theft of native lands and resources by multinational corporations like the U.S. logging giant Weyerhauser, and corporate fishing monopolies like the Weston and Pattison groups. Sadly, this theft is enabled by governments, churches, and privileged native leaders on state-funded reserves.

The pattern for this oppression was in many ways laid in the native residential schools, where death and torture was the norm. Then, as now, the government of Canada deliberately concealed crimes committed by the churches. Typical in this sense is the statement of Indian Agent P.B. Ashbridge in his January, 1940 report concerning a fire at the United Church’s Ahousat residential school that was “probably deliberately set”. Ashbridge wrote, “As this school was the property of, and conducted by, the Church, care was taken to avoid too close an inquiry.” (P.D.Ashbridge to Indian Affairs Commissioner Major M. McKay, Jan. 26, 1940)

This history of official endorsement of, and collusion in, a century or more of crimes against Canada’s first peoples must not discourage us from uncovering the truth and bringing the perpetrators to justice. It is for this reason that we invite you to remember not only the 50,000 children who died in the residential school death camps, but the silent victims today who suffer in our midst for bread and justice. Let us stand with them, come what may. For as peace activist Phil Berrigan has said,

“If the powers of death need not step on your bodies to reach their intended victims, then a curse on your lives, and a curse on your religion.”

(Rev.) Kevin D. Annett
The Truth Commission into Genocide in Canada (Vancouver)
February 1, 2001

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