Statement: FACLC reacts to Eric Robinson's reaction to Harper apology

Eric Robinson (who?) has reacted to the speech today where Stephen Harper inexplicably apologized for something he didn't do. [don't mothers get upset when children do this? why is it so important for the PM to do so? -ed]

Naturally, I won't let it go without a fight.

As a survivor of a Canadian policy designed to strip my people of our collective identity, it is with mixed emotion that I rise today to respond to the apology delivered by the Prime Minister yesterday in the House of Commons.
Er, the policy was designed to educate Indians. Apparently it didn't work with Robinson, who fails to note the distinction between the design of a policy and the result of the policy.
I, like many of you joining us in the gallery today, was taken from my family as a five-year-old boy entering the formative years of my life, and placed in a world that taught me everything I knew was wrong. Of course at that age it’s not hard to believe.

It’s difficult to remember many aspects of those early years, but I can still taste the lye soap placed in my mouth for speaking my language. As you can see, it didn’t work.
I know the whole "punished for speaking their own language" meme has really caught on as a symbol of the horrors of the residential schools. But lets look at two key elements that are forgotten:
  1. Even today, children in school are punished for talking non-English in class -- which the Residential schools were consisting of most of the time. We don't have true Boarding Schools anymore, but any who went to one would understand why the language thing was such a big deal: how can teachers deal with conspiracies against them when the conspirators can speak openly?
  2. At the time of the schools, lye soap in the mouth was a mild punishment. The strap was still in use in Alberta into the 1990s, so sorry if lye soap 50 years ago fails to impress me.
Other memories are more difficult to relive. Being molested at a young age by a priest has brought me a lifetime of pain and anguish. Being told it was my fault and later learning to blame everyone around me has taken a toll on my personal relationships.
Even if every reported case of molestation at the residential schools was accepted as a gospel fact it would remove some 95% of the people clamouring for compensation.
But I still consider myself one of the fortunate ones, because at a young age I was able to leave that institution aimed at de-Indianizing me. But I could not escape the pain inside. Alcohol and drugs may have provided temporary relief but only accelerated my feelings of despair.
Alcoholism, drugs, despair... I guess the institution didn't do a very good job!
Meanwhile my father attended the Brandon Residential School for seven years but never learned anything more than how to write his name.
Illiterate after seven years, eh? Still better than the modern day Ontario school system.
With the kindness, strength and wisdom of our elders, and the traditional ceremonies and teachings we hold sacred, I was able to escape from that road of self-destruction.
With the Prime Minister's apology, the most powerful political figure in Canada, it is my belief that we have crossed another obstacle in our trail of hurt. I'm proud to be part of a government that respects and recognizes Aboriginal Peoples inherent right to self-governance. A government that respects the spirit and intent of our treaties. A government that works meaningfully with First Nations to build government to government relationships based on mutual respect and trust.
These two quotes together are quite illuminating. The spirit and intent of treaties is questionable in the modern world, where technology has meant that "traditional native ways" are quite meaningless. Our "traditions" from the 17th and 18th centuries haven't held up, so why should we assume that Indians should act and be treated as if they have not? Furthermore, 'government to government' relationships work way better if one of the governments isn't in fact paying all the costs to the 'citizens' of the other. Can we finally lose this "government to government" bullshit? The City of Edmonton and Ottawa can communicate "government to government" with far more legitimacy, and the former is still totally subsurvient to the latter. Same with these "native self-government" dealies; the native government doesn't actually have any powers or responsibilities, so it cannot be possible for them to have a hand in negotiations. In all practical senses, the native governments are Ottawa's bitch.
At the same time I fully realize a lot of work remains to be done. I do know we cannot allow our children be taken away from us again. Our children will never again be allowed to be adopted from our reserves, our province and even our country, nor be placed in tuberculosis sanatoriums and be used as guinea pigs. That is why I support our devolution initiative that allows our people to run our own Child and Family Services.
Because there are no problems with keeping children on reserves. None at all. Offhand they'd be better off in the tuberculosis sanatoriums.
Yesterday morning I heard a media personality here in Winnipeg question whether an apology was necessary. Excuse me, but it’s the survivors who decide what’s appropriate here and now, not those who believe they know what’s best, because it’s that kind of thinking that spawned the residential school system in the first place.
Er, excuse me, but victims are quite often the poor choice to decide whats appropriate. Their sense of victimhood can easily get in the way of rational thought. And the residential school system was spawned by the thinking of "hey, lets help natives become educated", incidentally, which is the sort of thinking that Robinson could seriously use more of instead of "keeping children from being adopted into better homes".
I would like to acknowledge the contribution of National Chief Phil Fontaine in making yesterday’s apology a reality.
As Jonathon Kay wrote, in 1998 the AFN accepted the feds apology. Who was elected as President of the AFN in 1997? Why, the self-same Phil Fontaine! Shouldn't yesterday's apology be totally unnecessary, seeing how it was already accepted a decade ago by the very person who today insisted upon its necessity. You can't trust Phil Fontaine, you can't trust the AFN, and you can't trust its defenders like Robinson. So who should be apologizing again?
Mr Speaker, I request you canvass the house to see if there is leave for a 15 minute recess of question period to allow our honoured guests time to exit and all members the opportunity to shake the hands of those brave women and men we know as survivors.
Please tell me this never happened.