Original blog post here
In 2008, Stephen Harper promised "a new relationship between Aboriginal peoples and other Canadians."
In 2009, he stated that Canada had "no history of colonialism."
For weeks, Harper refused to acknowledge Theresa Spence's hunger strike. In the last few days, the government was taken to court for their denial of access to millions of documents related to the residential schools.
The message is clear. Indigenous rights don't factor into Harper's neocolonial vision of Canada. The government is reinventing our history, and it is a dangerous one.
Here's an example.
Harper's revised Citizenship Guide describes residential schools in one paragraph, in which it says, "some [students] were physically abused" and "Aboriginal languages and cultural practices were mostly prohibited." The rest of the page is largely focused on the "renewed pride and confidence" of today's Aboriginal peoples.
It does not mention the lasting scars of colonization. Nor does it acknowledge the continued effects of the residential school system and the issues facing First Nations in Canada today.
Let's be clear. We're not talking about controversial legislation or mocking indigenous leaders. We're talking about 150,000 children that bled for their heritage. Children that were whipped and sexually abused for speaking their native languages. Children that were taken from their homes to have their identity ripped from their hearts.
How can Harper possibly justify trying to prevent access to the story of those children?
He can't. Nor can we justify allowing the manipulation of our history to continue. We must ensure that the "dark chapter[s] in Canadian history" never be forgotten. Truth matters, more than ever.
This is our history. And Stephen Harper cannot change that.