News from The Truth Commission into Genocide in Canada

From: "Kevin Annett"
Sent: Saturday, November 01, 2003 8:39 PM
Subject: Update from The Truth Commission into Genocide in Canada and Kevin Annett - November 1, 2003

Please Circulate this through your networks:

Dear friends and supporters,

Here, first of all, are some brief updates:

1. Upcoming Regional Workshop on Genocide in Canada:
Sharing the Evidence and Planning our Work
Sunday, November 30 from 10 am to 5 pm
Howard Johnson Hotel
1 Terminal Avenue, Nanaimo BC
Admission: $20 (for ticket outlets call 1-800-294-5250)
Speakers: Kevin Annett (author, "Hidden from History: The Canadian Holocaust")
Splitting the Sky (Sundance Chief and author of "From Attica to Gustafsen Lake")

2. Weekly Lecture and Discussion Series on Genocide
Yesterday and Today: Every Wednesday at 7 pm at the CAW Hall, 326-12th st, New Westminster, BC. A lively sharing circle.

3. "Hidden from History", Kevin Annett's weekly radio program, is now broadcast every Monday from 1-2 pm on CFRO 102.7 FM, Vancouver Co-op radio.

My Toronto trip:

Between October 19 and 21, I journied to Toronto to be interviewed on Vision TV (it will be broadcast in the new year on the Test of Faith program). When I was there, a native womens' group invited me to speak to dozens of residential school survivors.

It was an amazing circle. I am constantly awed at the endurance and courage shown by survivors of the Christian death camps. One woman in her eighties struggled to her feet and described how she can't walk properly because she was consistently given shoes too small at the Spanish residential school in northern Ontario (a Catholic school).

"They did it so I wouldn't run away at nights. Just like the way they would bind womens' feet in China."

In June, 1998, Willie Sport, a survivor of the United Church school in Port Alberni, described exactly the same torture done to him, thousands of miles away from where this woman suffered.

There must have been a policy in the residential schools to deliberately cripple childrens' feet in this way. The question is, who devised the policy and why and how was it followed so deliberately for many years, in both catholic and protestant schools?

The Toronto survivors want me to return and conduct more workshops, hopefully in the new year, if we can raise the $800 in travel funds. Many of them want to take their stories directly to the front steps of Parliament, and to the national offices of the churches, if we can organize it. Here's to their courage and persistence! -Kevin

Reasons for Hope:

Last week, I was speaking over the phone to an official of the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights (HCHR) about why nothing has been done at the United Nations to indict Canada and its churches for the murder and torture of thousands of native children.

Her response was remarkably frank, for a bureaucrat. She said,

"The Convention on Genocide is a declaration of ideals, not of political reality. Canada is part of the group that will never have to answer for anything it has done."

That's the view from the top. But the truth is that the government of Canada and the mainline churches have their backs to the wall these days, and have been pressured to admit responsibility for all sorts of crimes because of pressure from below, especially from our Truth Commission network.

For example, in April, 2000, Health Canada (the federal health department) publicly acknowledged that it used native children from "many" residential schools as involuntary test subjects in medical and dental experiments between the 1940's and '60's. What is not known about this admission is that it followed almost immediately on our release to the media of documents detailing the sterilization of native kids at United Church hospitals in Nanaimo and Bella Bella, BC during the same period.

So revealing what we know publicly does have an impact, which is why much of our work involves documenting the crimes and releasing the information to the world: over the internet, in press releases, in my publications, and at public demonstrations.

Despite this, the federal government and the Catholic, United, and Anglican churches have been able to contain the issue of their genocide of Indians to an issue of "physical and sexual abuse", thanks largely to the criminal complicity of the courts and the media.

After a brief round of court victories in 1998, when the United Church and the feds were repeatedly found EQUALLY liable for damages to native children in the residential schools, the government and its appointed senior judges acted quickly to head off any further such decisions.

Between 1999 and 2002, over a dozen separate Supreme Court decisions in BC, Alberta, Ontario, and in federal courts, made the following rulings:

- the churches which ran the residential schools are not liable for any damages to native students beyond that of the loss of education

- Ottawa, not the churches, is primarily liable for such damages

- cultural Genocide, loss of language, and more serious crimes (such as murder) are not actionable in Canadian courts

- no lawsuit can be brought against the churches and government for damages suffered in residential schools BEFORE 1973 (when most of the schools were closed by then!)

In effect, the courts in Canada have barred any legal remedy for Indian people for the residential schools Genocide.

But cheer up. This actually works in our favour, since under international law and the mandate of The International Criminal Court (ICC), all domestic legal remedies need to be exhausted before parties can be formally charged with Genocide at the ICC. And Canada's legal obstruction of native peoples' claims for justice is a clear roadblock to any domestic resolution of the residential schools crimes, thereby making international action obligatory.

This is the argument that native activists have already put forward at the UN, and elsewhere, with the result that since 2002, two different UN investigators have visited Canada on initial fact finding tours of native reserves to gather evidence of genocide and human rights abuses. A third official, Special Rapporteur Rudolfo Stavenhagen, is scheduled to visit Canada in May of 2004, and has indicated to me his desire to meet with members of our Commission and native eyewitnesses to Genocide.

This encouraging development makes it all the more important for those of you reading this to help us in our efforts to do three things:

1. Document the crimes and testimonies,

2. Share this evidence publicly, and

3. Maintain political and public pressure on the government, the RCMP, and the Catholic, Anglican, and United churches to reveal what they know about crimes against humanity they have perpetrated on native people.

We are in the process of organizing regional and local committees of our Truth Commission, to coordinate this work across Canada and around the world. Please inform us of your willingness to join your local committee, and we'll put you in touch with the organizer in your area.

If you can't help directly with this work, you can at least support us with a cheque or money order. Our monthly expenses total nearly $2500, mostly from traveling, reprinting copies of our books, and recording the testimonies of native eyewitnesses.

To date we have compiled nearly 2000 separate testimonies from residential school survivors in every province except PEI and Newfoundland. All of this will be shared with Rudolfo Stavenhagen when he comes to Canada.

To make sure this happens, please consider sending us monthly sustaining pledges. Make the cheques out to our lovely treasurer, Pamela Holm, and mail them to:

11759-248 St.
Maple Ridge, BC
Canada V4R 1H6

Even better, save yourself a stamp and the effort of mailing it, and make a direct bank deposit to this account:

Scotia Bank, north Burnaby branch, 6715 East Hastings
Account of Pamela Holm
Account No.: 50450 00238 84

Make this effort today, for the sake of the people, living and dead, who still await justice.

with my thanks,
Kevin Annett

And in closing:

- The word from Hollywood is that a major movie company is looking favourably at not only scripting my book "Love and Death in the Valley" into a feature film, but of possibly producing a major documentary on Genocide of Indian people in Canada. Stay tuned!

- Please help us in a simple way and have your local library and college order both copies of my books:

1. "Hidden from History: The Canadian Holocaust" (the evidence of genocide in residential schools) - cost is $30, and can be ordered directly from me at the Maple Ridge address above

2. "Love and Death in the Valley" (my biographical account of the past ten years and this campaign) - cost is $16.50 US and can be ordered over the internet from this website: 11639

3. A group of native activists are planning an extended occupation of a church in Vancouver in the distant future, to draw attention to the ongoing torture suffered by residential school survivors and their children, and to protest the churches' evasion and indifference to their suffering. We will keep you informed as this action approaches, or contact Kevin for more information at 604-466-1804.

And remember:

"The only thing that survives the passing of time is the Truth" - Mohandas Gandhi

"what has happened to him is outrageous"
         . Noam Chomsky, speaking of Kevin Annett, August 7, 2002

          Read Kevin's personal story of uncovering Genocide in Canada, and the price he has paid for doing so:
Order "Love and Death in the Valley" by Kevin Annett through First Books at:


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