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 Stolen Generations

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PostSubject: Stolen Generations   Tue Feb 12, 2008 3:36 pm

I was on my way to work when I got an e-mail from a friend with the statement that will be issued in relation to 'Sorry day' in Australia. I thought my job could wait just a few more minutes and that I would share this with my friends here. I love you Will it ever be enough?

The Labor PM's speech to the nation, opening of Parliament 13th February 2008:

Quote :

Today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history.

We reflect on their past mistreatment.

We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were Stolen Generations - this blemished chapter in our nation's history.

The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia's history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.

We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.

We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.

For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.

To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.

And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.

We the Parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation.

We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians.

A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.
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PostSubject: Re: Stolen Generations   Tue Feb 12, 2008 9:42 pm

Are they talking about all the convicted people who were transported to Australia and who never could return to Great Britain again?
I have a few books in a series called "The Australians" (translated to Danish) written of the author William Stuart Long. I've never been able to find all books in that series. The story follows one special family through several generations.
And I also remember the series in tv called: "Against the wind". It was a very good series to watch.

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PostSubject: Re: Stolen Generations   Wed Feb 13, 2008 11:22 am

I think I may be wrong! I heard that the Australian government has appologized to the Aboriginals for having let them down. Perhaps USA should appologize to the Native American Indians and all the Africans who were transported to America to slave for the white man.

We Danes haven't sent all the Greenlanders to special camps so we could get Greenland to ourselves. They are as Danish as the rest of us and they have their own home rule and they get money and help from the rest of Denmark (South Denmark, as I guess they call us). But of course some Greenlanders can't keep away from the alcohol. It's sad to say. Most Greenlanders are nice and friendly people. My city here in Denmark has the very important harbour where we sail goods to the Greenlandic harbour towns. And many Greenlanders live here, too.

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PostSubject: Re: Stolen Generations   Wed Feb 13, 2008 1:58 pm

Canada's 'Reconciliation Day' occurred in 1998. I would say that some things have changed but not much. As Mr. DeGagne says below many are still burdened with abus and shame. There is no trust. They have been given very little to trust. PR is not enough.

Here is his speech in Australia a couple years ago.

Quote :
25 May 2005

Notes for speeches delivered by Michael DeGagné
Executive Director, The Aboriginal Healing Foundation.
The Great Hall, Parliament, Canberra

CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY

Honourable Members, Ladies and Gentlemen. Thank you for the gracious invitation to address you today.

I acknowledge those of the Stolen Generation in attendance. It is an honour to be your guest.

My name is Mike DeGagne, and I am the Executive Director of an Aboriginal-run organization based in Ottawa Canada called the Aboriginal Healing Foundation.

We are a not-for-profit corporation, established March 31, 1998, and funded by the federal government of Canada. We were entrusted with a one-time grant of $350M and an eleven year mandate, ending in 2009.

Our mission is to encourage and support, through funding and research, community based projects which address the legacy of physical and sexual abuse suffered by Aboriginal people – Metis, Inuit, and First Nation – in Canada’s Indian Residential School System.

In many ways the Stolen Generations and the Residential School System have walked the same path. Canada’s Aboriginal peoples were forced to attend regional, faith-based boarding schools for much of the last century.

This system of forced assimilation, established through a formal partnership between the government and the churches, was official policy from 1892 to 1969. The stories of what came to pass in these institutions resonates through both of our countries. The story of Shirley Williams is an example.

Shirley Williams is an Odawa woman from Wikwemikong First Nation in Ontario. She attended St. Joseph’s Residential school for girls in Spanish, Ontario from 1949 to 1956. Shirley’s parents negotiated a 3-year postponement of her enrolment in residential school, with the result that she remained at home receiving instruction in Odawa culture and language from her family. When she left by bus for St. Joseph’s school her father counseled her: “Do not forget your language. Do not forget who you are. No matter what they do to you in there be strong. Learn about the Indian Act and come home to teach us about it.”

She does not dwell on the pain and loneliness and punishments that she and others endured at the school; she talks instead with humour about the small acts of resistance that they engaged in. Despite the prohibition against using Aboriginal languages at the school Shirley practiced talking to herself in bed at night, her head covered with a sheet. She imagined that she was back at home at the kitchen table speaking Odawa to her parents.

When Shirley turned 16 her mother, at great personal sacrifice, sent Shirley a store-bought dress to celebrate her coming of age. The nuns disapproved. When she defended her mother she was slapped and strapped and made to stand facing one of four punishment posts in the middle of the building for three days with only bread and water. That year she left school and went to work. She worked for years as a laundry and scrub woman, ashamed of herself and unsure of who she was. But in 1979, Shirley Williams had the courage to enter University. Today Shirley is a full professor, teaching others her native language.

She has honoured the promise she made to her father. In spite of a long and painful detour caused by life in residential school, she is on a journey to healing and wellness.

But there are many who remain burdened by abuse and shame.

Seven years ago – the year of Australia’s first Sorry Day – Canada’s then Minister of Indian Affairs Jane Stewart read a “Statement of Reconciliation”, expressing regret for the role of the Government in the administration of residential schools.

She said in part: “The Government of Canada acknowledges the role it played in the development and administration of these schools. Particularly to those individuals who experienced the tragedy of physical and sexual abuse at residential schools, and who have carried this burden believing that in some way they must be responsible, we wish to emphasize that what you experienced was not your fault and should never have happened. To those of you who suffered this tragedy at residential schools, we are deeply sorry.”

Seven years intervening, we reflect upon that which has been done and that which remains to be done. What has happened since then, good and bad, stands on the shoulders of the Statement of Reconciliation.

Today there are roughly eighty-seven thousand former students of Indian residential schools in Canada.

The Foundation’s research shows that over 111,000 former students, their families and members of their communities – all of whom we know have been affected by the residential school system – have participated in healing activities supported by the 1,345 Aboriginal Healing Foundation grants. Most of these participants have never been involved in a healing
program before.

These activities include both traditional and Western therapeutic models of healing, alone or in combination.

We have funded for examples memorials, counseling, conferences, plays, parenting skills workshops, educational resources, training for healers and healer support programs, and on- the-land activities.

The message I bring you today is that the success of this community-driven healing work has implications and promise for Aboriginal peoples everywhere. I encourage you to learn from our mistakes, and I hope that you may benefit from our
successes.

One of the effects of the healing movement has been the building of new relationships, between Aboriginal peoples, the churches, and members of governments and the Canadian public. This begins by acknowledging and honouring the support of non-Aboriginal Canadians and Australians who are committed to establishing right relations.

Again there is a distance yet to go. Nonetheless, we have momentum which gives us hope.

I believe it is fair to say that, although there is not universal agreement on every detail, the persistence of a decade has resulted in principled and practical agreement on the matter of what needs to be done.

The list includes:
An apology from the Prime Minister of Canada on the floor of Parliament
A universal compensation package for residential school attendees
Truth-telling, healing, and reconciliation activities
Public Education
And adequate long-term support for healing projects like those supported by the Aboriginal Healing Foundation

How does this come about? Where does change come from? It comes in the simplest way: through words expressed by committed leaders, to those who are willing to hear them. In 1996, our then and current National Chief Phil Fontaine courageously and publicly reveled his own physical and sexual abuse in residential school. This truth telling galvanized our
nation. He had a willing partner in then Minister of Indian Affairs Jane Stewart, who listened and acted. We have strong Aboriginal leadership today who speak with commitment. I acknowledge Senator Aden Ridgeway among them. And there are those of you who are listening.

We are hopeful, and have been assured that in the coming weeks the Government of Canada will announce a package of measures to address the terrible legacy of Residential Schools.

We are told it could include:
Blanket compensation for each former student
A truth telling, healing, and reconciliation process
And a formal apology
We are grateful they have heard us.

Reconciliation means “to bring back into harmony; to become friends once again”. It is a matter of looking back and moving forward – addressing both the errors of the past and the requirements of the future.

In Canada, we have the examples of the earliest agreements between Aboriginal peoples and those newly-arrived from distant shores to guide and inform us.

And we recognize that, on both sides, there are those either unprepared for or uninterested in reconciliation.

However, this does not relieve us of the responsibility of laying a foundation of a better future. We know the alternative and would have something better – for ourselves, our children, and our communities.

For this reason the Aboriginal Healing Foundation continues to deliver the message that healing and reconciliation are long-term projects requiring long-term support, resources, and commitment.

For survivors, former students of residential schools seek only to heal and move forward, to bring to closure a painful experience.

My friend and mentor Garnet Angeconeb watched on a cold and snowy day in January 1996 as his abuser was escorted from court to serve four years in jail. He had mixed emotions: happiness, sadness, bitterness, anger, and confusion.

Last year he learned that his abuser had died in a halfway house and it struck him hard. He had wanted to shake hands with his abuser, to speak to him in a good way, so that his healing could continue.

So last year he rose in a public gathering and spoke these words: “I thought today would be a good occasion, with you as my witness and the Creator watching over us, that I can truly say: Leonard I forgive you. I forgive you. I wish I could have said it while you were here on this earth.”

On the occasion of the very first National Day of Healing, I offer my best wishes for the successful realization of your efforts and your dreams and I encourage you to continue in your good and necessary work of healing and reconciliation.

The Aboriginal Healing Foundation
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PostSubject: Re: Stolen Generations   Sat Jun 14, 2008 3:52 pm

Canada's latest in apologies to its first peoples happened this week with an apology from Prime Minister Harper to former students of Indian Residential schools.


Quote :
I stand before you today to offer an apology to former students of Indian residential schools. The treatment of children in Indian residential schools is a sad chapter in our history.

In the 1870's, the federal government, partly in order to meet its obligation to educate aboriginal children, began to play a role in the development and administration of these schools.

Two primary objectives of the residential schools system were to remove and isolate children from the influence of their homes, families, traditions and cultures, and to assimilate them into the dominant culture.

These objectives were based on the assumption aboriginal cultures and spiritual beliefs were inferior and unequal.



Quote :

"The burden of this experience has been on your shoulders for far too long. The burden is properly ours as a government, and as a country."



Quote :
The government now recognizes that the consequences of the Indian residential schools policy were profoundly negative and that this policy has had a lasting and damaging impact on aboriginal culture, heritage and language.


Quote :

There is no place in Canada for the attitudes that inspired the Indian residential schools system to ever again prevail.



The reaction to this week's statement has been interesting. I suppose it should be in the hearts and minds of all citizens to actually take a moment and draw their own conclusions. And recognize if some of those 'attitudes' still exist or prevail in one form or another.
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PostSubject: Re: Stolen Generations   Sun Jun 15, 2008 6:03 am

Sadly, I firmly believe that attitudes such as this do still exist here in Canada and elsewhere. In fact, just this week I heard just the sort of mind sets that set into motion such things.

It is also interesting as I am serving on a committee with several First Nations people who did spend their childhood in residential schools, and they have spoken about the day they were taken from their parents, the effects on the entire family, and the way they, themselves, were damaged by what happened. I can associate so strongly with their experiences, as I was sent to boarding school at age five. The effects that linger with me today, are reflected in every word they utter. We have spoken about this, and found a unity. My experience was in a premiere English-style school of high repute, and yet there were SO many similarities.

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PostSubject: Re: Stolen Generations   Sun Jun 15, 2008 1:50 pm

I have also sat with elders and listened. Really listened. And in their words you cannot but help hear the child they once were trying to understand such injustices, atrocities and bewilderment. And the loss...

Many are saying the latest apology by the government brings light to the situation others are saying terrible insensitivities like the things you've probably heard Jennifer. Where are people's hearts?

This from the Calgary Herald:

Quote :
Many people think aboriginal people are just squeaky wheels or that they should get over it. Few understand that the key difference between the victimization of the native children in residential schools was that it was federally mandated by law, and executed en masse. It was tantamount to state kidnapping.

Why can't people ever see the big picture, eh? Sad
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