In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

Canada and its Genocide: What has Caused the “Apology” and “Truth and Reconciliation Commission”: A Chronology of Key Recent Events

Posted by seumasach on November 17, 2008

Unrepentant: Kevin annett and Canada’s Genocide

Preamble: The true history of what has brought about the official acknowledgment of genocide and deaths in Canadian Indian residential schools during 2007 and 2008 is being lost and rewritten by a current campaign of misinformation by the government, churches and media of Canada.

This campaign is portraying the government’s “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” as the architect and cause of this change, when the TRC itself is the product of the grassroots work of Kevin Annett and his circle of residential school survivors, whose constant public action, advocacy and research since 1996 has forced the government to finally act.

Here is a brief summary of the key, recent events that have brought about this change:

October 1, 2006: The first documentary film on genocide in Indian residential schools, UNREPENTANT, is released globally by Rev. Kevin Annett. The film is based on twelve years’ research by Annett and his book, Hidden from History: The Canadian Holocaust (2001, 2005). The same month, the first media reporting of massive deaths in residential schools is made in The Epoch Times, based on an interview with Kevin Annett.

January 1, 2007: After interviews arranged by Kevin Annett in British Columbia, the Globe and Mail newspaper publishes first-hand accounts of murders and mass graves at Indian residential schools for the first time.

February-March: Kevin Annett conducts two major speaking tours and screenings of his film UNREPENTANT in nine Canadian cities, including to politicians in Ottawa and in dozens of aboriginal communities. Members of Parliament refuse Annett’s request to endorse a Parliamentary motion to investigate the missing residential school children.

April 15: Kevin Annett’s group, The Friends and Relatives of the Disappeared (FRD), holds rallies in seven Canadian cities at its Third Annual Aboriginal Holocaust Memorial Day, demanding that the Catholic, Anglican and United churches disclose the burial sites of children who died in their residential schools, and surrender those responsible.

April 16: Aboriginal Member of Parliament Gary Merasty, having seen UNREPENTANT and been notified of the FRD protests, asks federal Minister of Indian Affairs (MIA) Jim Prentice to investigate the deaths in residential schools and “begin a process of repatriating their remains“.

April 20: Prentice addresses the issue in the Canadian Parliament and publicly pledges himself to inquire into the deaths, a first by a Canadian politician.

April 24: After interviewing Kevin Annett, The Globe and Mail runs an article entitled “Natives died in droves as Ottawa ignored warnings“, which confirms Annett’s claims of a fifty percent death rate in residential schools.

The same day, MIA Prentice declares that his department will begin a search for death records and graves at Indian residential schools.

April 25: The Ottawa Sun newspaper reports that government agents systematically destroyed residential school records on orders from the MIA all during the 1950’s and ’60’s.

May 11 and 18: FRD members in Vancouver, led by Kevin Annett, occupy church and government offices, demanding the return of the remains of children who died in the schools. The actions are widely reported in the media.

June 1: Prentice announces the formation of a “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” (TRC) as part of a “settlement” with residential school survivors. The major media in Canada begin covering the issue of deaths in residential schools for the first time, primarily by interviewing Kevin Annett and eyewitnesses known to him.

August: Jim Prentice is removed as Minister of Indian Affairs and is replaced by close friend of Prime Minister Harper, Chuck Strahl. The same month, Member of Parliament Gary Merasty, who demanded action by the government, steps down from politics.

October 4: TRC head Bob Watts announces that the choice of TRC Commissioners is being delayed until 2008. A panel of “advisors” to choose the TRC Commissioners includes officials of the same churches that will be investigated by the TRC.

November: Kevin Annett conducts a third speaking tour to eastern Canada and discloses more evidence of mass graves to the media and politicians.

January 13, 2008: Members of Kevin Annett’s FRD network stage high-profile demonstrations at Catholic, Anglican and United churches in Vancouver. A Letter of Demand is issued to church officials giving them thirty days to disclose the mass grave burial sites of residential school children. The event is widely covered in the media.

January 27 – March 23: Similar protests and church occupations are staged by FRD groups organized by Kevin Annett in Toronto and Montreal as well as Vancouver, again to widespread media coverage. Letters of Demand are  issued to the Prime Minister of Canada, the Pope and the Queen of England by the FRD and residential school survivors. Squamish Chief Kiapilano, part of the FRD, orders these churches off his land in Vancouver.

February 4: TRC head Bob Watts declares that “criminal acts” including homicide definitely occured in Indian Residential Schools, but that a criminal investigation will not be conducted by the TRC. In response, Kevin Annett and the FRD announce they will seek international court action to force such an investigation.

March 1: The TRC announces the choice of its three Commissioners and the formation of a “Missing Childrens’ Group” to search for burial sites and death records.

April 10: Kevin Annett releases to the media a list of twenty eight mass grave sites at former Indian residential schools across Canada. The list is reprinted in the media and sent to the government and the TRC; but neither the TRC nor the police contact Annett in response.

April 15: Annett and ten indigenous elders and hereditary chiefs announce the formation of an independent International Human Rights Tribunal into Genocide in Canada (IHRTGC) at a Vancouver press conference. The founding elders represent the Squamish, Cree, Metis, Anishinabe, Mohawk and Six Nations people.

The IHRTGC declares itself to be an alternative to the government’s TRC, which has no power to subpoena, compel disclosure by the churches, or allow the naming of names of mentioning of wrongdoing in its forums. “The TRC is not an independent body but a creation of the government and churches of Canada, who are guilty of genocide” states the IHRTGC founding declaration.

May 1: Five local IHRTGC groups are operating across Canada, documenting murders and grave sites at former residential schools and conducting preliminary forensic investigations with eyewitnesses.

June 9: Kevin Annett is interviewed in a major article in the Globe and Mail, and is referred to by media commentators as “the government’s opposition … on the residential schools“.

June 11: Prime Minister Stephen Harper issues an “apology” to residential school survivors in the Canadian Parliament. No plan of action to bring about full disclosure and accountability around the residential schools accompanies the “apology”.

June 15: Annett is interviewed on the national CBC and calls for a rejection of the apology and the TRC, calling instead for support for the independent IHRTGC.

June 22: Harper’s “apology” is publicly rejected by groups of residential schools survivors at rallies organized by Annett’s FRD in Vancouver, Ottawa and Toronto.

August 2-September 14: Kevin Annett conducts a European speaking tour and screening of his film UNREPENTANT, and establishes overseas support for the IHRTGC, including among members of the European Parliament. In London, Annett calls for a boycott of Canada, its churches, and the 2010 Olympics.

October 20: TRC head Judge Harry LaForme resigns in protest over the TRC’s operation. The government uses his resignation as an excuse to halt and “re-evaluate” the TRC and its Missing Childrens’ Group.

October 27: The Globe and Mail runs a front page story on grave sites at Indian residential schools, not mentioning any of the sites named by Kevin Annett and the FRD on April 10.

Early November: Kevin Annett conducts another speaking tour in eastern Canada and the USA. UNREPENTANT is screened in six European cities. The independent IHRTGC releases a new list of mass graves totalling thirty three in number, along with affidavits and survey evidence of the sites. The government and TRC do not respond, but new groups of clan mothers and elders join the IHRTGC and begin conducting local investigations.

Source: The Globe and Mail, The Ottawa Sun, The Epoch Times, 24 Hours News, CBC and CTV radio and TV, Friends and Relatives of the Disappeared media archives, Rev. Kevin Annett, The Department of Indian and Northern Affairs (INAC).

Monitor ongoing events on Kevin Annett’s website:

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