Captive Canada - First Nations, First Captives: Genocidal Precedents for Canadian Concentration Camps

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Captive Canada - First Nations, First Captives: Genocidal Precedents for Canadian Concentration Camps

This is from Captive Canada. Following the US model of “aggressive civilisation,” Canada concentrated Indians in ghettos called reservations, held them captive in Christian schools, confined them with laws restricting religious, linguistic, economic & political rights, and framed them with racist narratives. A key to this nation-building was the progressive "Social Gospel" and its leaders, like Rev.J.S.Woodsworth, who sought to "uplift" and ethnically cleanse "savages" & "heathens" by Canadianising, civilising and Christianising them. Social Gospellers were instrumental not only in creating the narratives that allowed well-meaning citizens to turn a blind eye to genocide, they also ran state-funded Residential Schools. Progressives need our share of Truth and Reconciliation.

This article was written for and first appeared in
Captive Canada:

 Renditions of the Peaceable Kingdom at War,
from Narratives of WWI and the Red Scare to the Mass Internment of Civilians
Issue #68 of Press for Conversion (Spring 2016), pp.14.

Published by the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT).  If you quote this article, please cite the source above.  And, please consider subscribing, ordering a copy &/or donating. Thanks.   Here is the pdf version of the article below as it appears in Press for Conversion!

 First Nations, First Captives:

Genocidal Precedents for Canadian Concentration Camps

By Richard Sanders, Coordinator, Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT) 

WWI was not the first time that thousands of people had been forced into captivity for threatening the “peace, order and good government of Canada.”1 In fact, Conservative and Liberal governments alike already had a well-established modus operandi that used mass captivity to subjugate so-called “foreign” enemies on the homefront.

Canada’s 20th-century internment camps did not arise in a vacuum. They continued a long-standing tradition of forcing targeted populations into isolated rural locations across the country. Canada’s system of mass confinement followed the US model for segregating Aboriginals into remote ghettos, called reserves. But this was only one weapon in a multidimensional war to destroy First Nations. Besides restricting physical movements, elites used a diversity of tactics, including residential schools, to hold Indigenous people in place. They were also confined within the bounds of a genocidal legal framework that restrained religious, linguistic, social, economic and political freedoms.

Such multidisciplinary genocide cannot be committed by a few sociopaths. Large scale atrocities can only be achieved by an institutionalised sociopathy. Those with “Antisocial Personality Disorder” are defined by the US Department of Health as individuals with “a long-term pattern of manipulating, exploiting or violating the rights of others. This behavior is often criminal.”2  When state agencies, NGOs or corporations run programs or businesses that inflict these same abuses —albeit on a vastly more devastating scale—they go undiagnosed, at least by those rendered prisoner by the reassuring narratives of captive institutions.

Those who are able to free themselves from the confining frames of thought and language imposed by sociopathic institutions, sometimes dare to speak out against the normalisation of antisocial policies. By trying to liberate those who remain enslaved within the narrative webs spun by abusive institutions, activists may be diagnosed as rebels, radicals, conspiracy theorists or, ironically, as psychopaths with “Antisocial Personality Disorder.”

A century ago, racist and xenophobic views were the norm in Canada.  Widespread antisocial pathology was pandemic throughout the country. The largest and most highly-respected religious bodies were captivated by this social illness. This is well illustrated by the Churches’ enthusiastic collaboration with government agencies to plan, conduct, justify and cover-up the genocidal programs of mass captivity inflicted on Indigenous peoples. 

But long before Aboriginals were forced into the confinement of reserves and residential schools in the 1880s, Canadians happily profited from the institution of chattel slavery. For two centuries, Blacks and Indians were subjected to the “legalized” captivity and forced labour practised by British and French colonialists. While prominent members of Canada’s Catholic and AngloProtestant churches owned slaves, these institutions also helped perpetuate slavery with Biblical narratives to rationalise their antisocial pathology.

These long-standing patterns of racist, institutionalised abuse and exploitation are the sociopathic precedents for Canada’s widely-supported, mass internment of foreigners and political radicals that began with the pretext of WWI.

Perhaps the most alarming aspect in this history of sociopathy is that progressive, reform-minded Christians—both Protestant and Catholic—were entrapped by Canada’s mass psychosis.  Although genuinely sincere in their work, missionaries were restrained by the straightjacket of a widespread, cultural pathology.

Those captured heart and mind by predatory institutions, and working within the strict confines of their myths and narratives, felt compelled to “uplift” peoples who they saw as inferiour, uncivilised, unChristian and unCanadian.  Unable to perceive social reality, and blind to the horrors that their actions were having on others, well-meaning Christians were spellbound by the sociopathy of Canada’s domineering Eurocentric delusions of grandeur.

This social illness went far beyond mere racism and ethnocentrism to become an enslaving cultural narcissism. Those enthralled by the anti-social narratives of Canada’s dominant religious and political institutions were confined by arrogant hubris, an entitled sense of superiourity, and a fearmongering paranoia that “strangers” are inherently inferior, dangerous and evil. 

Hamstrung by myths of national exceptionalism, many Canadians took up the imperialist call of the “white man’s serve your captives’ need,” those “new-caught, sullen peoples, Half-devil and half-child.”3 Good Christians justified their genocidal efforts to rend other cultures asunder, with such altruistic goals as civilisation, education and morality.  Immured by grand imperial delusions, Canadian nationalists believed that they were building a model country that was bound by destiny to lead the world.  As Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier proclaimed in 1904, to cheers from Liberals and Conservatives alike, “the Twentieth Century belongs to Canada.”4 This nonpartisan fantasy of national superiourity was ingrained, not only in the patrician psyche, but in the mindset of mainstream citizens. The country was gripped by a widespread social malady that can aptly be called the Canada Syndrome. (See pp.2-4.)

The delusion that as a superior nation we should sow our “Canadian values” abroad, grew from an earlier narrative meme of so-called “Christian values.” George Emery, in his pioneering history of prairie Methodism, described the prevailing AngloProtestant hegemony saying Canadians believed “Christian values would be menaced throughout the dominion if the west, with its enormous material potential, were not won for Christ.”5 (See “Occupation(al) Psychosis...,” p.18.)

Social Gospel and Social Progress

Some of the loudest voices of Canadian nativism were leaders of the Social Gospel, a progressive strain of Christianity that prospered from the 1880s until the early 1920s. Historian Richard Allen defined this reform movement, by saying the

“social gospel rested on the premise that Christianity was a social religion, concerned ...with the quality of human relations on this earth.... [I]t was a call for men to find the meaning of their lives in seeking...the Kingdom of God in the very fabric of society.”6

The Social Gospel included “advocates of direct social assistance; social purists; those who advocated a change of attitude as the means to social change; state interventionists; and socialists.”7

Leaders of the Social Gospel were usually white, middle-class, AngloProtestant missionaries or clergymen. Driven to “uplift” the less fortunate, these reformers wanted to help inferiour classes and races to deal with growing social, moral and economic problems of industrialisation.

The Social Gospel, said Mariana Valverde, was an effort to “humanize and/or Christianize the political economy of urban-industrial capitalism.”  Valverde is a University of Toronto criminology professor who authored a classic text on Canada’s social purity movement. “Prophets” of the Social Gospel, she has said

“were generally moderately left of centre, but included such mainstream figures as W.L.Mackenzie King, who ... was influenced by social gospel ideas in his popular 1919 book, Industry and Humanity.”8

Before becoming Canada’s longest-serving Prime Minister, King was “an ardent social gospeller,” said historians Douglas Francis and Chris Kitzan. King believed that his political mission on earth was divinely inspired. Calling himself “a true servant of God helping to make the Kingdom of Heaven prevail on Earth,” King explained: “This is what I love politics for.”9

Methodism Led the Way

Most Social Gospel leaders belonged to the Methodist Church, which adopted its “Social Creed” in 1908. Capturing the reformist spirit of the Social Gospel, it was a rallying cry for the whole progressive movement.  The Creed declared it “the duty of all Christian people to concern themselves directly with certain practical industrial problems.” Among these were achieving “the right of workers to some protection against the hardships often resulting from the swift crises of industrial change,” “the abolition of child labor,” and “the abatement of poverty.” Methodists also offered a “pledge of sympathy and of help” to those “seeking to lift the crushing burdens of the poor, and to reduce the hardships and uphold the dignity of labor.”10

Canada’s Methodist Church was a powerful force in Anglocentric settler culture. Like an invasive non-native species, it spread quickly across western Canada, and had a devastating impact on Indigenous peoples. Between 1891 and 1911, Canada’s prairie population rose almost fivefold, from 220,000 to 1.32 million.11  Between 1896 and 1914, during the Social-Gospel heyday, there was a tripling in the prairie Methodist fold, and its churches grew in number from 180 to 562.12

Emery described prairie Methodists as “part of the predatory white settler population”13 that did not lament the devastation of the Aboriginal population.  In fact, he points out that:

 “During the 1870s and 1880s Methodist missionaries acted as advance agents for the white settler society. They favoured the slaughter of the buffalo herds, the government’s native treaties and...the reserve system.”14

To aid in this genocide, the church was happy to cozy up to Canada’s economic elites.  As political scientist Kenneth McNaught said, “the Methodist church in the 1880’s and 1890’s was consolidating itself as a church of the well-to-do.”15 Methodists were later central in forming the United Church of Canada (UCC). In 1925, when Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregational churches merged, the UCC took over the fifteen Methodist and nine Presbyterian residential schools.16

Teaching “The Three Cs”

As Methodists and other Christians spread across the Canadian prairies in the 1880s, they brought a growth in residential schools.  Rather than imparting the traditional “Three Rs,” church schools targeted Aboriginal children with “The Three Cs,” Civilise, Christianise and Canadianise. 

Of the sixteen Methodist residential schools built between 1838 and 1975, all but two were in the West. Their earliest efforts to “uplift” Indian children began with two Ontario schools in 1838 and 1848.  Its first three residential schools in western Canada began in the late 1870s. Six more were founded there in the 1880s, two in the 1890s, another two in 1900, and their last one opened in 1919.17  Using opening and closing dates of these well-meaning, but genocidal, Methodist schools, we can calculate that each school operated for an average of 66 years. Cumulatively then, the 14 Methodist residential schools in western Canada inflicted the “Three Cs” for a total of 925 years. The toll on Indian lives is still being felt.

Among the Methodists who lavished praise upon missionaries for their fine efforts to Canadianise, civilise and Christianise the Indians under their control, was Rev.J.S.Woodsworth.  In his Social-Gospel classic Strangers Within Our Gates (1908), Woodsworth noted that:

"Much missionary work, evangelistic, educational, industrial and medical, has been done among the Indians. Many are devout Christians living exemplary lives, but there are still 10,202 Indians in our Dominion, as grossly pagan as were their ancestors, or...half civilized, only to be debauched.”18

Strangely enough, Woodsworth’s book on “strangers” and “newcomers” to Canada included a section on Indians.  It relies heavily on two tracts from the Methodist Department of Missionary Literature: Indian Education in the North West, by Rev.Thompson Ferrier, and The British Columbia Indian and his Future, by Rev.R. Whittington. Ferrier’s work concluded:

"The Indian problem is not solved, but it must not be given up, and it need not be deserted in despair until there is a proper and final solution.  I believe it possible to civilize, educate and Christianize the Indian.”19 (Emphasis added.)

Rev. Whittington, who led the Methodist Indian Missions in BC, also praised his Church’s residential schools by speaking of “the noble band of teachers, who daily and quietly are really laying the foundations of the future in the souls as well as the minds of our Indian children.”20

The rapid population growth of prairie settlers and the boom in churches and residential schools, benefitted the imperial project known as Canada. Westward expansion of Canadian “civilisation” was a national crusade of Biblical proportions. Methodists, like Woodsworth, with their blessed rage for Social Gospel progress, took themselves and their godly mission far too seriously. “[I]n concert with other Protestants, Methodists were the self-appointed guardians of Protestant Christian values in society,” said Emery. “[T]hey assumed that the perpetuation of Protestantism was vital to the nation-building process.”21 As prominent Presbyterian Social Gospeller Rev.Charles Gordon proclaimed in 1909, “it is the Christian Church ...more than all other forces put together, that has to do with the making of a nation.”22

The Methodist Church, Emery wrote, also exhibited “an aggressive nationalism” that “opposed the penetration of the west by rival cultures from French Canada and Europe.”  The church fought hard for English-language public schools because it was preoccupied with assimilating Francophones and other nonAnglo aliens. Methodists also created missions to “Protestantize the Europeans.”23  These were tasked with assimilating east Europeans, mostly Ukrainians, in the so-called “Austrian Missions” of northern Alberta, and Winnipeg’s All People’s Mission24 where Woodsworth worked (1908-1913).

Nation-Building Myths

The role of religious narratives in Canada’s nation-building experiment is explored by Douglas Francis and Chris Kitzan. In The Prairie West as Promised Land, they show how Biblical illusions were used to express and structure the narrative myths of Anglo settlers. The “Promised-Land” image that they fabricated “became the dominant perception of the region during the formative years,” from 1850 to WWI.25

Francis and Kitzen see three main versions of the Christian mythology that captured Canadian settlers’ imagination:

(1) The “myth pictured the Prairie West as an Edenic paradise” that was “flowing with milk and honey,”

(2) “Social gospellers believed that the Prairie West was destined to be a New Jerusalem,” where “virtuous and morally upright” settlers could establish their “Kingdom of God on Earth,” and

(3) The prairies were a “land of opportunity” “free of the limitations of privilege and traditions that hampered advancement.” They saw it “as a tabula rasa—a blank sheet—upon which each individual could write his or her own destiny of success, wealth and happiness.”26

Trapping Natives and Nativists

But all was not perfect in the Social Gospel paradise, especially for Aboriginals.  While building a “New Jerusalem” paved the way for Christianity to be writ large across the “empty” prairies, it was a death knell for First Nations. Long before AngloProtestants turned their bigotry against east Europeans in WWI, they had pegged Indians as the needy targets of uplift.  Penned as a primitive savages and heathens, Aboriginals were the first nations to be forced into mass captivity by Canadian settlers. 

From the first visits of Europeans to what they came to call Canada, Indigenous people had been kidnapped, enslaved and converted.  European monarchs and their churches authorised imperial agents to conquer and control the human and natural resources of the new-found lands.  Forced to relocate their communities, confined to reservations, coerced into residential schools and bound by the Indian Act, Aboriginal people have been held physically, socially and legally captive throughout Canadian history.

But members of Canada’s captor society were also held hostage. Trapped within the narrow-minded confines of a racist worldview, many settlers were bound by the nativism that riddled Canada’s largest religious, economic and political bodies. Among the leading advocates of this xenophobia were the Social Gospel’s top, influence pedlars. Their bigotry against Indians was as boundless as the prairie sky. Thus shackled, Social Gospellers mounted no resistance to Canada’s genocide of Aboriginals. They saw no need.

In fact, these progressives were bound and determined to administer the very injustices that they should have been protesting.  Brimming with good intentions, many well-meaning souls stepped forward to clear the path toward what they saw as heaven on earth. But instead, they forged a genocidal road to hell for all Indigenous peoples standing in their way. 

By the late 1800s, Canada’s crusade to expand Britain’s imperial vision across the prairies, was in full swing.  To implement this plunderous policy, which dispossessed Indians of their land, Canadian authorities imposed severe restrictions on Aboriginal mobility and culture. Churches and state institutions united to impose genocidal programs of physical captivity and cultural assimilation that could only succeed with the willing participation of many, well-intentioned Canadians.

Bound by Legal Fictions

The ludicrous idea that western Canada was an empty slate, devoid of humanity, was a restatement of the ancient “Discovery Doctrine.” For 400 years, this legal fiction justified the genocidal conquest of the Americas for the profit of European monarchs and Church authorities. 

The Discovery Doctrine was grounded in a much older legal fiction, called terra nullius. Originally used by lawyers in ancient Rome, this Latin legalese refers to empty, barren or vacant territory belonging to no one. During the “Age of Discovery,” the Catholic Church redefined terra nullius to encompass new lands coveted by European monarchs. As the Manitoba Justice Inquiry, noted:

“terra nullius was expanded…to include any area devoid of ‘civilized’ society.  In order to reflect colonial desires, the New World was said by some courts to fall within this expanded definition.”27

Stretching this term’s boundaries began a litany of new crimes to enclose and capture Aboriginals. This framing of Indigenous peoples was aptly described by Canada’s Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, as a “restrictive constitutional circle drawn around First Nations by the governance sections of the Indian Act.”28

Imprisoned on Reserves

Erased from the metaphoric map, like chalk dust from the supposed tabula rasa of the prairies, Aboriginals were swept off the land in an ethnic-cleansing campaign that confined them to reserves.  These were Canada’s first POW concentration camps.  Corralling Indians into captivity kept them out of the way of European settlers who were then being poured into the prairies. 

As James Daschuk said in Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Aboriginal Life: “Reserves became centres of incarceration as the infamous ‘pass system’ was imposed to control movements of the treaty population.”  And, as Sir John A.MacDonald told Parliament, we “are doing all that we can by refusing food until the Indians are on the verge of starvation, to reduce the expense.”29

More than a century later, the Canadian government finally admitted:

"The notorious pass system was never part of the formal Indian Act regime. It began as a result of informal discussions among government officials in the early 1880s in response to the threat that prairie Indians might forge a pan-Indian alliance against Canadian authorities. Designed to prevent Indians on the prairies from leaving their reserves, its immediate goal was to inhibit their mobility. Under the system, Indians were permitted to leave their reserves only if they had a written pass from the local Indian agent.”30

To the Mounties, the blatant illegality of enforcing mass internment was irrelevant.  Under the Indian Act, Indians were not even allowed to hire lawyers to challenge the Canadian government’s crimes.

Besides using the “Pass System” to arrest Indians caught “off the reservation,” Mounties also jailed them for trespassing and for vagrancy. This was appreciated by leading Methodist Social Gospellers like J.S.Woodsworth. In Strangers Within Our Gates (1909), he used a five-page quotation from L.M.Fortier, Chief Clerk of Canada’s Immigration Department. Speaking of the Mounties, he said: “Colonizing the North-West would be a very different matter without the aid of this splendid organization.” Using his racist wit to lump together crooks with all Indians found guilty of being “off reserve,” Fortier said Canada’s Mounties kept a “sharp lookout” for “smugglers, horse thieves, criminals, wandering Indians, and such like gentry.”31

Although racism was the norm in Woodsworth’s circles, it was opposed by radicals, not just with words but with actions.  In 1906, when local 526 of the anarchosocialist Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) was formed in Vancouver, it was led by Squamish First Nation activists. Though mostly Indigenous, this Lumber Handlers’ union also had Chinese, Hawaiian, Anglo and Chilean members.32

Capitalism and religion were under attack by atheist radicals like Jack London. In The Iron Heel, published one year before Woodsworth’s xenophobic tract, London’s hero was Ernest Everhard. In arguing with a well-meaning but naive Bishop, he said the “Indian is not so brutal and savage as the capitalist class” and noted “The Church condones the frightful brutality and savagery with which the capitalist class treats the working class.” London also quoted Presbyterian, Baptist and Methodist leaders to prove the “Church’s outspoken defense of chattel slavery.”33

London was influenced by US Socialist Party leader Eugene Debs,34 an atheist cofounder of the IWW.  He compared the state’s control of unions with their control of Indians. Capitalists, he said in 1906, tolerated organised labour

     “so long, only, as it keeps within ‘proper bounds,’ but ... put [it] down summarily the moment its members, like the remnants of Indian tribes on the western plains, venture beyond the limits of their reservations.”35

By keeping Indians within their “proper bounds,” Canada’s pass system contributed to genocide on every level: physical, economic, religious, social, psychological and political.  Confinement to reserves cut off access to food and other resources, blocked trade and commerce, stopped travel to religious and social events, prevented the building of alliances, and stopped parents from visiting children kidnapped and held in government-financed, church-run residential schools.

Penned in by Education

Residential schools were seen as essential to progress.  To Social-Gospel reformers on the cutting edge of Canada’s western frontier, the “Three Cs” were the key to teaching Indians about the culture of their superiours.  As UBC Political Science professor Barbara Arneil has said, the “driving force” behind this education was “to foster ‘civic virtue,’ to ‘morally uplift,’ and to build ‘civilization’ through the progressive vehicle of education and the social gospel.”36 (Emphasis added.)

While the government and its religious agents sometimes differed on how to impose the “Three Cs,” they collaborated well.  John MacLean, a Methodist missionary in Alberta, who became a public school inspector,37 wrote in 1899 that the government wanted residential schools to “teach the Indians first to work and then to pray.” MacLean however said missionaries wanted to “christianize first and then civilize.”38 Either way, the Three-C process was genocide. While First Nations were dispossessed of land and culture, Canada succeeded in expanding the boundaries of the British empire. To political, economic and religious elites, it was a win-win-win solution to the “Indian problem” that they saw as a major obstacle to “progress.”

Whatever their differences, church and state agreed on the value of residential schools in destroying the symbolic core of Aboriginal cultures, their languages. MacLean became the Methodist Church’s chief archivist and chief librarian at the Social Gospel’s Wesley College in Winnipeg (1922-1928). (See p.26.)  He said that: “It is the desire of the Government and the missionaries that the English language should become the only medium of communication.”39 In Canadian Savage Folk (1896), MacLean further remarked that:

“There can be no legitimate method of stamping out the native language except by a wise policy of teaching English in the schools, and allowing the Indian tongue to die out.”40

Canada’s religious schools for Indians were a major weapon in the all-out war to exterminate Aboriginal cultures.  During the 1880s, Canada engineered a “Perfect Storm” to wash the prairies clean of First Nations and to usher in a golden age for European settlers.  As the government’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission noted in 2012:

“From 1883 onward, the federal government began funding a growing number of industrial schools in the Canadian West. It also continued to provide regular funding to the church-run boarding schools. The residential system grew with the country. As Euro-Canadians settled the prairies, BC, and the North, increasing numbers of Aboriginal children were placed in residential schools.”41

In 1884, after a report contracted by Sir John A.MacDonald, Canada began pouring money into the Churches’ existing program of residential schools. The report, written by Nicholas F.Davin, a poet/playwright/lawyer and newspaperman-cum-Tory MP, urged the Canadian government to copy the assimilation plan of the US government’s euphemistically-named “Peace Commission.” He said this US program, “known as...‘Aggressive Civilization,” had been “amply tested” since 1869.  Its “principal feature,” he said, was the “industrial school.” The “chief thing to attend to in dealing with the less civilized or wholly barbarous tribes,” Davin said, “was to separate the children from the parents.”42

Another feature of “Aggressive Civilization” was the concentration and confinement of Indians. As Davin said, “the Indians should, as far as practicable, be consolidated on few reservations.” Canada’s Aboriginal policies were soon dominated by mass captivity, both physically on reserves, and culturally by church schools. Christianity was absolutely central to the genocidal plan. Europeans, said Davin, were “civilized races whose whole civilization…is based on religion.” Praising their “patient heroism,” he said the “first and greatest stone in the foundation of the quasi-civilization of the Indians ...was laid by missionaries.” Davin extolled their schools as “monuments of religious zeal and heroic self-sacrifice.”43

After Davin’s report on “Aggressive Civilization,” the state boosted funding to church-run Indian schools in the western Canada from $962 in 1877, to $53,000 in 1886, and $226,000 in 1906.44  (In 2015 figures, this was $39,000, $2 million and $5.4 million, respectively.) These church schools were cheap yet effective bricks in the apartheid wall that kept Aboriginals out of the “Peaceable Kingdom.”

Davin may not have identified himself a Social Gospeller, but he did have a “progressive” side.  In 1895, he introducing a bill to allow women (white ones, at least) to vote. Although unsuccessful, Davin’s bill sparked the only full-fledged Commons’ debate on (white) women’s suffrage between the 1880s and WWI.45

Davin was influenced by his lover Kate Hayes, with whom he had a long affair and two children. Like other Social Go-spellers in the “social purity” movement, Hayes used religion, class and ethnicity to belittle others. She believed, said York professor Kym Bird, that “non-Anglo-Canadians were a godless impure breed that required assimilation and civilization into middle-class Anglo-Canadian values.”46

These “Canadian values” taught citizens not only to ignore the genocide of residential schools, but to see them as proof of the Church’s benevolence towards godless savages. But, as David Langtry, the Acting Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission stated:

“Wilful blindness to the horrors of the schools was government policy. Dr. Peter Bryce, hired by the...government in 1907 to report on health conditions at residential schools in western Canada, found that in Alberta the mortality rate was a staggering 50%.  

“Ottawa’s response was to fire Bryce, abolish the position, stop reporting and repress the facts. Shortly afterwards, it became mandatory for all Aboriginal children to attend residential schools.”47

Bryce is now being celebrated by progressive Canadians for exposing the negligent, if not deliberate, spread of TB through the schools. However, this narrative turns a blind eye to Bryce’s overt support for cultural genocide. The “wandering bands of Indians would still have been savages,” said Bryce in 1907, “had it not been for the heroic devotion of those missionaries.” His report also stated that the “story” of Canada did not sufficiently credit Europeans for “transforming the Indian aborigines into members of a civilized society and loyal subjects of the King.”48

Occupied and Preoccupied

First Nations were defrauded in one of the largest land grabs in the history of imperial civilisation.  Central to this Canadian success story was a social-engineering scheme that imposed severe limits on Aboriginal mobility, while promoting a massive influx of European immigrants.

Newcomers, including many east Europeans, were shifted onto the prairie playing field like so many little pawns in the “Great Game” of empire. This achieved Canada’s nation-building goals by:

(1) Removing First Nations’ peoples from their traditional territories,

(2) Displacing them with new Canadian settlers whose presence imposed a false sovereignty over the stolen land, and

(3) Using other newcomers as a menial labour class to be exploited on farms, and in mines, lumber operations and huge infrastructure projects like railways. 

Members of Canada’s mainstream society aided and abetted not only the genocide of Indigenous peoples but the rapid assimilation of nonAngloSaxons.  But because good, decent, ordinary people do not generally want to collaborate in callous anti-social enterprises, the nefarious nature of Canada’s imperial project had to be kept hidden. Canadians had to be convinced that their grand national project was not only morally justified, but essential to human progress. The narratives that evolved to rationalise and cover up Canadian crimes, relied on the entitled sense of superiority that preoccupied AngloProtestant thinking.

Canada’s nation-building myths were built on the firm bedrock of religious and political delusions. The self-image that possessed the prevailing public mindset was of a new nation, rich not only in “Christian values” but in Britain’s hallowed, constitutional monarchy. Accepting this mirage required a studied ignorance of imperialism. Besides turning a blind eye to the empire’s many wars, believing in the fictive Peaceable Kingdom meant blissfully ignoring the savage treatment of Indians and Canada’s slave-like exploitation of aliens, especially nonAngloSaxons.

Out of Sight, Out of [One’s] Mind

Behind the rich, dream-like mirage of a Heaven-on-Earth paradise that the AngloProtestant mainstream believed they were creating in Canada, there lurked the reality of a living hell for First Nations.  Although reserves were places of captivity, torment, deprivation and starvation, this truth was largely hidden from mainstream Canadian consciousness. Being geographically removed from the dominant settler society, reserves—and those trapped on them—were easy to ignore. Other than Mounties, missionaries, and other agents of government, few from the AngloProtestant community ever visited reservations.

So, keeping Aboriginals confined to reserves not only facilitated European occupation, it also swept natives under a mental rug. Keeping Indians hidden—out of both sight and mind—helped settlers to avoid unsettling qualms of conscience. Just seeing the living conditions of those forced onto reserves, let alone hearing their disturbing narratives of genocide, might have upset some settler’s blind faith in the powerful national mythology that building Canada was a God-inspired enterprise.

Hiding Indians on reserves shielded European settlers from the mental dis-ease that might arise if they realised their complicity, witting or not, in Canadian crimes against humanity. Cognitive dissonance was also avoided by non-physical means. The physical boundary lines drawn around reserves were not as effective in segregating Aboriginals from European settlers’ as the storylines of superiority that separated Indians from mainstream Canada.  The official narratives of church and state created virtually insurmountable walls of apartheid between the cultural worlds inhabited by Canada’s two main solitudes.

First Nations have also been held in place with linguistic weapons. Canada’s religious and political institutions not only penned Aboriginals in place with such slurs as “primitives,” “heathens” and “savages,” they also framed them as “strangers” within the “Peaceable Kingdom.”

Old Narratives, New Enemies

Canada’s largest political and religious institutions developed effective myths and narratives to rationalise their use of structural violence against Indigenous peoples. During the 20th century, lessons learned from the physical, social and legal segregation of Aboriginals—and the old narratives that had evolved to justify these diverse forms of mass captivity—were put to use against a whole new set of enemies. With WWI and the Russian Revolution, east Europeans and particularly “Reds” soon replaced the “Red Man” as the chosen enemy of both church and state.  New wine was placed in old bottles.

Although the “foreign” enemy had changed, symptoms of Canada’s Settler Syndrome—that mass hysteria which possessed mainstream AngloProtestant culture —remained intact. The racist and xenophobic belief systems that permeated the country’s leading institutions continued unscathed, as did the popular narratives and myths of Canadian exceptionalism. 

While the vivid, social pathology of Canadian narcissism continued to capture the imagination of Conservative- and Liberal-Party elites, it was also the norm within Social Gospel circles. Even those heroic trendsetters on the vanguard of this reformist Christian movement, like Rev. J.S.Woodsworth, were shackled and enslaved by Canada’s national delusion.

Canada’s dominant culture believed it was their noble mission to civilise and Christianise those seen as their inferiors.  Citizens on the right, left and centre all believed that they could not stand idly by while Canada was besieged by Indians, east Europeans, “Reds” or other “foreign” threats to the national good. Enslaved by narratives of “Christian values” and west European superiority, captives of the so-called “Peaceable Kingdom” suspended their disbelief in Canada’s fictive myths. In doing so they were able to keep calm and carry on imposing the audacious felonies of their self-righteous imperium.



1. The Constitution Act, 1867.

2. Antisocial Personality Disorder

3. Rudyard Kipling, “The White Man’s Burden,” 1899.

4. Wilfrid Laurier, January 18, 1904. Cited in Gerald Brown (ed.), The Canada Club of Ottawa, 1903-1909, 1910.

5. George Emery, Methodist Church on the Prairies, 1896-1914, 2001. p.11.

6. Richard Allen, The Social Passion: Religion and Social Reform in Canada 1914-28, 1973, p.5.

7. Douglas Francis and Donald Smith, Journeys: A History of Canada, 2010. p.348.

8. Mariana Valverde, The Age of Light, Soap, and Water: Moral Reform in English Canada, 1885-1925, 2008, p.3.

9. MacKenzie King. Cited by Douglas Francis and Chris Kitzan (eds.), Prairie West as Promised Land, 2007, p.xi.

10. George D.McClain, “The History of ‘The Social Creed,’” 1988.

11. Emery 2001, Op. cit., p.6.

12. George Emery, Methodism on the Canadian Prairies, 1896-1914, 1970, p.165. (PhD thesis, History, UBC.)

13. Emery 2001, Op. cit., p.3.

14. Ibid., p.4.

15. Kenneth McNaught, A Prophet in Politics: A Biography of J.S.Woodsworth, 1959, p.6.

16. Directory of Residential Schools in Canada, 2007, passim.

17. Ibid.

18. J.S.Woodsworth, Strangers Within Our Gates, 1909, p.194.

19. Rev.Thompson Ferrier, “Indian Education in the North West,” 1906, p.40.

20. R.Whittington, “The British Columbia Indian and his Future,” 1906, p.7.

21. Emery 1970, Op. cit., p.11.

22. Canada’s Missionary Congress, March 31-April 1, 1909, p.107.

23. Emery 1970, Op. cit., p.iii.

24. Ibid., pp.227-291.

25. Francis and Kitzan, Op. cit., p.ix.

26. Ibid., pp.x-xi.

27. Report of the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry of Manitoba, November 1999.

28. Looking Forward, Looking Back, Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, 1991.

29. James Daschuk, Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Aboriginal Life, 2013, pp.xxii, 123.

30. Looking Forward..., Op. cit., pp.272-273.

31. L.M.Fortier, in Woodsworth, p.39.

32. Sean Carleton, “Bows and Arrows: William Nahanee & Local 526 of the IWW”

33. Jack London, The Iron Heel, 1908, pp.18-21.

34. Debs was the Socialist Party candidate for US president five times and won 6% of the popular vote in 1912. In 1920, he got about a million votes while serving a ten-year jail sentence for denouncing WWI.

35. Eugene Debs, “The Growth of Socialism,” Appeal to Reason, March 17, 1906, in Debs: His Life, Writings and Speeches, 1908, p.227. (See also, pp.382 and 421)

36. Barbara Arneil, “Just Communities Social Capital, Gender and Culture,” in Brenda O’Neill and E.Gidengil (eds.), Gender and Social Capital, 2006, p.23.

37. Susan Gray, “John MacLean,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography, 2003.

38. John MacLean, The Indians, their Manners and Customs, 1899, p.264.

39. John MacLean, Canadian Savage Folk: Native Tribes of Canada, 1896, p.547.

40. Ibid.

41. They Came for the Children, 2012.

42. Nicholas Flood Davin, Report on industrial schools for Indians and half-breeds, March 14, 1879, pp.1, 7.

43. Ibid., pp.1, 14, 12.

44. Dr. Peter Bryce, “Report on the Indian Schools of Manitoba and the North West Territories,” 1907, pp.8-9.

45. Kym Bird, Redressing the Past: Politics of Early English-Canadian Women’s Drama, 1880-1920, 2004, p.95.

46. Ibid., p.92.

47. David Langtry, “Residential schools,” Ottawa Citizen, April 8, 2014.

48. Bryce, Op. cit., p.7.

Issues Pages: 

Funny you should mention Jack London..."I am first of all a white man, and only then a socialist."

Richard Sanders Richard Sanders's picture

Thanks for that comment.  Yes indeed, Jack London did hold extremely racist views, and his fellow socialists were very critical of him at that time.  I should have pointed that out in my article because it confirms my general thesis that good, well-meaning progressives can be captivated by very regressive ideas.  Here's a quote about the origins of London's statement, that you mentioned. The following quote ends by suggesting why socialists who though critical of his racism, still tolerated him.  I believe there is much that progressives can learn from this today.  We sometimes turn a blind eye to the flaws of our fellow progressives because they have celebrity status and a platform within the mainstream culture:

For London, socialist internationalism extended only to the brotherhood of the White man. ...

The struggle against race prejudice, especially against hatred of the “yellow” races, was part of the daily work of the socialist branches on the Pacific Coast and it was hard to conceive of Jack London, one of the foremost members of the branch, evincing race chauvinism.

Convinced that there was some misunderstanding, one of the comrades began talking to him about classes that exist in Japan as everywhere else. Another called his attention to the slogan decorating the wall over the portrait of Marx: “Workers of all countries, unite!” But this did not touch him in the least and only served to increase his passion. Pounding his fist on the table, Jack met their arguments with, “What the devil! I am first of all a white man and only then a Socialist!”

His socialist friend, Cloudesley Johns, criticized London for his combination of racialism and socialism. London refuted Johns’ criticism with the following letter, dated June 23, 1899, in which he very succinctly defines his interpretation of socialism:

"Socialism is not an ideal system, devised by man for the happiness of a life; nor for the happiness of all men; but it is devised for the happiness of certain kindred races. It is devised so as to give more strength to those certain kindred favored races so that they may survive and inherit the earth to the extinction of the lesser weaker races. The very men who advocate socialism may tell you of the brotherhood of all men, and I know they are sincere, but that does not alter the law."

Johns continued to argue the matter, which brought another frank response from London in a letter dated December 12, 1899: “I do not believe in the universal brotherhood of man. I think I have said so before. I believe my race is the salt of the earth. I am a scientific socialist, not a utopian . . .”

Despite London’s maverick views and continual embarrassment of the socialist movement, his fellow socialists could not resist the temptation to capitalize on his immense popularity as a novelist. And he wrote vast quantities of socialist propaganda for them.

Source: The Soul of Jack London, Part 4 Dietrich Wolf


Your writing raises many important questions, but I do wish you wouldn't carpet-bomb our board with so many new topics - a topic for each of your chapters at least. This is a matter of posting etiquette, not a disagreement about the importance of memories of mistreatment of Indigenous populations and putting things right. All your posts should be grouped in a single topic.

swallow swallow's picture

That would make things easier to follow, for sure. 

Richard Sanders Richard Sanders's picture

Thanks for your advice.  After a hiatus of several years, I posted seven articles in six days.  Sorry, lagatta, that you see this as "carpet bombing" your board. 

After spending more than a year researching, writing and laying out the articles (and 500+ references) in "Captive Canada," it has been nice (for me), after the seclusion of that solitary work, to get this material circulating beyond those who received their publication by post.  I'm pleased, for example, that this one particular article (on First Nations, First Captives) has so far received 230 views in less than two days. I'm sure that many of those viewers would never have even seen the title of this particular article if it had been buried in a long boring Table of Contents within the confines of a single Babble posting, as you suggest. 

Babble says's discussion board is "an online community for folks who just won't shut up. It's a place to tell each other — and the world — what's up with our work and campaigns."

However, despite that, I certainly do not want to be rude or to break the rules of posting etiquette on your board.  I will therefore restrict myself to uploading no more than one of my original articles per day. I will group smaller articles together into single postings.  And, I will append small sidebars to the end of articles with which they appear in print.  This will reduce the annoying number of my postings.  Rest assured that I will then disappear again for some time


I most certainly don't want to "disappear" you! I've long been involved in support to Indigenous struggles and particularly in promoting Indigenous culture(s). It is just a question of organisation of writings online. I do share some of smith's concerns though, with respect to the emphasis on the ignorance and backwardness of social democrats and the "social gospel".


Generally speaking, I think this is important stuff to look at. Some in the political and progressive left were (and are) racist and xenophobic, just as those on the right. This included social reformers, feminists and labour organizers who supported eugenics, and used racist scare tactics and opposed non-Anglo immigration, and supported the assimilation and genocide of Native people.

That leads to my concern about this series. This is a very wide and interesting topic which is deserving of research. While I do appreciate (honestly) what you have written  it does seem to be banging on one or two notes, most specifically J.S. Woodsworth, who is always highlighted. I did go to your site and read the other articles there. While I think it is important to temper his good work with his discrimination, taking it to the point of devoting articles to the things he did not do, and his family history starts to make it seem like a hatchet job.

And rather than taking the information at face value, it leaves me wondering what the angle is, and wanting to do further research to see what is fair and accurate and what is not. Too bad, because I am sure this is not your intent, and I think the information, some of which I was not aware of, is very interesting. But when one makes one single argument to the exclusion of all others, it invites those questions.

Thanks though for posting; there is some good information there.

Richard Sanders Richard Sanders's picture

Thanks smith and lagatta for more feedback on my research.  I do appreciate hearing what people think. 

Perhaps smith you are right that I have focused alot on Woodsworth.  I certainly did not set out to do that.  It was not my intention when i started this research.  This research came out of work that began on a book I am writing to debunk Canadian peace mythology.  My vehicle for that process was to look at the history of mass physical captivity in canada (including reserves, slavery, internment, Duplessis orphans, prisons, eugenics and mental hospitals, kettling, holding migrants indefinitely, etc.). In the course of doing that research I was looking for any examples I could find on the complicity of progressives in these state crimes.  When it came to studdying WWI, I came to see Woodsworth's antiUkrainian and antiRed views as important building blocks in spinning the mainstream narratives that entrapped progressives into accepting Canada's slave labour camps. 

There are quite a few entire books that have been devoted to celebrating Woodsworth's life and legacy. Should we criticise those authors for focusing to much on Woodsworth?   They focused on him much more than I do.  Most of my articles in Captive Canada do not even mention him. The biographies of Woodsworth tend to whitewash, coverup or turn a blind eye to his worst failings, or rationalise them with the old saw that "everyone used to be a racist back in his time" and that we can't judge him by today's standards.  He is still revered as an icon of the left.  Can we let that stand?  Is it wrong to point out his racism? 

My intent is to try to understand it and explain it, not merely to criticise it.  It's easy to denounce his racism.  What's more important  is to see how he came to hold such views, and how he helped to spread them.  He is in that sense a victim or captive of certain frames of thought, AND a perpetrator of those enslaving ideas.

Perhaps I looked a little extra into Woodsworth because of my own upbringing.  I was raised by leftleaning NDP, peace-activist parents who said only good things about the Social Gospel and J.S.Woodsworth.  I imagine there are many others like me out there -- even on Rabbleland -- who were brought up with inaccurate or false narratives about him and the Social Gospel that need to be modified, corrected and/or even rejected.

This is not easy for me.  I don't like being in this role as the guy pointing out skeletons in our collective closet.  I wrote to all the NDP MPs, sent them all letters, and a copy of Captive Canada, and asked them to answer questions about this troubling history and what they were doing about it (in the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation).  I haven't heard a word back from any of them.

Wilson, you say you want to go and check out this history that I've written about and see if it's a "hatchet job".  I can see why you think it might be exagerrating becuase some of this history is so outrageous, one might think I made it up.  Please check it out.  I welcome that.  I have included hundreds of sources so that people can go and see for themselves whether they agree with my narrative of this history.  I'm sure I've made some errors too.  I hope that my research will inspire people to ask some challenging questions about their own accepted narratives and perhaps even revise them, as I have had to do.  I am open to contuning the revision of my understanding of this history.


I'm not doubting your scholarship. It is more the cherry picking aspect of it, and using sins of omission, and other family members as an indictment. I don't see exaggeration, but rather a focus on one specific aspect.

Again, I'm not saying I think your info isn't useful and accurate, or that I think you are being dishonest; I found it very interesting. But I hope you won't be offended if I say I treat it the way I would any biased source with a strong message.

I can think of plenty of similar sources, some which even have a thesis I disagree with, which I think are worth hearing and defending. As for yours, I haven't taken the time yet to go over it in detail, but it rings true with my understanding of him, and of the that movement, and indeed society as a whole at that time.

But I do not see it as an accurate picture of the greater whole. And I think that needs to be remembered.

If it has any modern relevance, I think there is a lesson that we need to pay attention to our own  biases and discrimination.

Richard Sanders Richard Sanders's picture

I'm not exposing family traditions of racism and xenophobia etc "as an indictment" but rather to show that the institution of family is absolutely crucial to the perpetuation of narratives. Family stories and myths (about ourselves and others) are central to the way ideologies are passed down from generation to generation.  Of course media propaganda, the church, political parties, NGOs and other institutions play a big role in spreading myths and narratives, but I find it really interesting to show how these cultural institutions combine with the influence of family traditions. 

I will shortly be posting my research on the Woodsworth family tradition which in some ways focused on opposing rebels, radicals and reds.  I think I have identified four different Woodsworth generations that each followed a similar narrative against those who opposed the religious and political traditions of their day.  It is, I think a fascinating history to trace, and I had to really dig into many different sources to pull it together.  The purpose was NOT to do a "hatchet job" or to pick on anyone*, but to explore how cultural beliefs and traditions evolve through the institution of family.  It is as much true of Woodsworth as it is of the Lewis family of the Laxer family, or my own.

(* Ironic that I am seen as doing a possible "hatchet job" by picking on Woodsworth because i am exposing how HE did a hatchet job and picked on natives, Asians, Blacks, east Europeans, Middle easterners and Reds of all nationalities.)

You say:  "As for yours, I haven't taken the time yet to go over it in detail, but it rings true with my understanding of him, and of the that movement, and indeed society as a whole at that time."

Then you say: "But I do not see it as an accurate picture of the greater whole."

I hope that you will take the time to go over it in detail and that then, once you've done that, you decide whether it is "accurate picture of the greater whole." 

I'm interested to hear what you and others think, especially once you've read it.  Thanks!


Richard Sanders wrote:

You say:  "As for yours, I haven't taken the time yet to go over it in detail, but it rings true with my understanding of him, and of the that movement, and indeed society as a whole at that time."

Then you say: "But I do not see it as an accurate picture of the greater whole."

Yup, that is what I said. Is that distinction not clear? Yes, like many people of his time he discriminated. But he was a good deal more than that.

Do you really think there was something particular about his family? I'd say that was the norm for Anglo society at the time.

As for the tendency of progressives back then to think they know what is best for people they think are lesser than themselves, that knowitall tradition is still alive on the left and the right.

Richard Sanders Richard Sanders's picture

Yes, I do see his family as very special indeed! 

I agree with you that they exuded the prevailing AngloProtestant elitism of that time, which was riddled with ethnocentrism and -- dare I say it? -- White Supremacism.  But the thing that made the Woodsworth family very different is that they were powerful leaders of that xenophobic right-wing tradition.  They were not just passive victims of these captivating ideologies that were pulled along by their traditions, this was a family whose patriarchs through successive generations, led others along the garden path.  They were major perpetrators of these beliefs.  Some were even very influential players within huge institutions that helped to mold and spread the deluded social narratives that captured others in a web of racism, xenophobia, classism and imperialism.  Some, like James Woodsworth Sr., not only wrote books and gave sermons, his day job was to lead  all of the Methodist Missions in Western Canada for 30 years! the Methodist Church was the largest AngloProtestant institution in Canada, and it ran the most Residential Schools and it was the core of what became the United Church of Canada. 

So yes, there is something "very particular" about the Woodsworth family.  This was not a "normal" run-of-the-mill family. They were a very established and powerful part of the Canadian elite that was responsible for helping to perpetuate the narratives that captured others.  I looked at four generations of Woodsworths as well as several generations of wealthy and staunch British Empire Loyalists on his mother's side of the family, ie., the Shavers, who gave him the name James Shaver Woodsworth.

I'm sorry that my purpose in pointing out those two quotations from you was not clear. I was trying to contrast the fact that on the one hand you said you hadn't "taken the time yet, to go over" my research "in detail" and yet on the other hand you were were saying that my research was not "an accurate picture of the greater whole."

I'm really hoping that you will have a chance to read my research in detail and that after you do we can more properly discuss it.

Thanks again for your input.  I look forward to continuing this dialogue. 

You may have already seen my latest posting:
Captive Canada - Crushing Rebels, Radicals and Reds: The Bunker Mentality, All in the [JS] Woodsworth Family Tradition



the Methodist Church was the largest AngloProtestant institution in Canada, and it ran the most Residential Schools and it was the core of what became the United Church of Canada.

Actually the Catholic Church ran 60 percent of residential schools in Canada, and the Anglican church ran another 30 percent. The Methodists ran about 10 percent.

I did read your articles and take some of it at face value But this is an example of what I mean by having the chance to do some research to see what might have been left out.

And all you had to do to be a United Empire Loyalist was have your house burned down and be forced to run across the border. One line of my family was loyalist and moved to Ontario. Part of them stayed back and joined the Vermont militia. Not quite the same as being a member of the Orange Order.



Richard Sanders Richard Sanders's picture

You are totally right on the number of Methodist residential schools. I will have to try to be more careful what i say in these comments.

My research dealt with AngloProtestants and the progressive "Social Gospel" movement in which Methodists were so prominent.

In the article above, I said: "Methodists were later central in forming the United Church of Canada (UCC). In 1925, when Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregational churches merged, the UCC took over the fifteen Methodist and nine Presbyterian residential schools."18

The Methodist Residential Schools only formed the largest number of the schools that were taken over by the United Church.

Like you I have loyalist ancestors on one side of the family who came to Upper Canada. (Mine however were Quakers from New York).  But they were certainly not of the same leadership class as the powerful loyalists in the Woodsworth and Shaver families.

Mr. Magoo

You are totally right on the number of Methodist residential schools. I will have to try to be more careful what i say in these comments.

Careful?  Or did you mean "accurate"?  I mean, you only mentioned them 26 times in one post, and another ten times in your endnotes.

"Accurate" means "I shouldn't say this because it's not actually correct".

"Careful" means "I shouldn't say this because someone might call me on it".


Richard Sanders wrote:

 But they were certainly not of the same leadership class as the powerful loyalists in the Woodsworth and Shaver families.

I guess that's why Woodsworth took a job working on the docks when he lived in B.C.

His grandfather may indeed have been on the government side of the rebellions 40 years before he was born. He made reference to family legacy himself:

"It is strange how some of the old family names crop up. I am reminded of some generations ago in this country a fight had to be made against what was known as the family compact... There is today a far more serious menace to the welfare of this country than was the family compact in our grandfathers' days".

(from A Prophet in Politics. Kenneth McKnaught P 189)


Richard Sanders Richard Sanders's picture

I mean I will have to be more careful to be as accurate when exchanging short comments in Babble as I am when I'm writing articles. 

Believe it or not Mr. Magoo, I think it's important to correct inaccuracies in people's writing, including my own.  Despite all my efforts to be as accurate as i can, I'm sure I've still made some errors.  I am overwhelmed by this huge history and the thousands of books and articles out there revealing bits and pieces of it.  One could spend decades studying this stuff fulltime and still only grasp a fraction of what's out there.  Plus we all have our own filters and perspectives through which we interpret all the data we are trying to absorb.  But how else can we move closer to a more accurate narrative of the truth than by trying to carefully correct our mistakes?

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Careful?  Or did you mean "accurate"?  I mean, you only mentioned them 26 times in one post, and another ten times in your endnotes.

"Accurate" means "I shouldn't say this because it's not actually correct".

"Careful" means "I shouldn't say this because someone might call me on it".

Sorry Mr Magoo, who did I mention 26 times?  the Methodist church?

Richard Sanders Richard Sanders's picture

6079_Smith_W wrote:

His grandfather may indeed have been on the government side of the rebellions 40 years before he was born.

It's not that J.S.Woodsworth's paternal grandfather (Richard Woosdworth) "may" have been involved in supporting the Family Compact, he was very deeply committed and involved in supporting the imperial side of that struggle.  In my article, (see link below), I quote from the the minutes of the British American Fire Co. (BAFC) in which Richard was an elected representative and I argue that it was probably through this powerful paramilitary AngloProtestant organisation of prominent businessmen that he received the sword with which to physically fight the rebels in 1837.  That sword was passed down to J.S.Woodsworth and displayed in his Winnipeg home.  When the Methodist Church in Toronto split over whether to support the Upper Canada rebellion, Richard designed and built the new church for those wealthy and staunch supporters of the empire who supported the Family Compact and opposed the rebels. It was one of the most influential and powerful Methodist churches in Canada. A few years later Richard, and two other prominent business men in the York building trade--  who were also very active with Richard in the BAFC, and within that particular loyalist, Methodist church -- won the very lucrative contract to construct the British military's garrison at Fort York, which had been the HQ for imperial fight against the rebels.  I also find it interesting that it later became an internment facility, during the WWI/RedScare era, for holding prisoners rounded up in Toronto who were then shipped off as slaves by the Canadian govt to forced labour camps.

J.S.Woodsworth and his father, and his paternal grandfather and greatgrandfather were all very prominent, indeed towering figures in Canadian history.  They all took very strong leadership positions in major struggles to fight against rebels, radicals, Aboriginal/Metis and/or Reds.  That is the side of history that they stood on. 

Captive Canada - Crushing Rebels, Radicals and Reds: The Bunker Mentality, All in the [JS] Woodsworth Family Tradition



I know he was, Richard. The bit about the sword I believe, and his grandfather's opposition to Mackenzie is mentioned in most of his biographies.

I have a railroad watch that belonged to a great great uncle. He got it in 1897, and I am quite glad to have it. 

What does that tell you about me? That my values are the same as those who stole the land out here, killed Riel, and blew up Chinese migrant workers? That I am of the same power and class as Sir John A?

Now, J S Woodsworth, for all the good he did, was Anglocentric, and held a lot of the prejudices that other Anglos, including some social reformers, did. Evidently he wasn't so much of a racist and and powerful staunch supporter of empire that he refused to work with those non-Anglos, or strike with them, or get arrested with them.

And his political differences with the Communist party didn't stop him from defending its members against arbitrary arrest..

As for the church, he left it when he saw it serving that empire by supporting conscription. And he was fired from his job over that same stand.

So yes, there are parts of your articles about him and others I believe, and which are actually known by those familiar with his story. But using events that happened two generations before he was born, other people's words, and other examples of guilt by association (some of it second hand and quite thin), to imply that he was a powerful supporter of empire who was the same as the Molsons and the Curries is a bit of a stretch.

Sorry, but I believe his own words and actions regarding that system of power more than a piece of steel that he hung on his wall.

Richard Sanders Richard Sanders's picture

Yes, others have mentioned Richard's sword but I added the all the details about the BAFC, his contracts to design and build not only the Fort York Barracks but also the Methodist church for his fellow Methodists who supported the empire's crushing the rebellion.

You make it sound as if his grandfather's sword was the only evidence that I presented of JS.Woodsworth's politics.  In reality i presented much evidence of his creation and promotion of powerful and eloquent narratives that were very useful in justifying Canada's criminal enslavement of thousands.  You must know that I also quoted at great length many examples of JS.Woodsworth's extremely racist and xenophobic statements (which were almost a carbon copy of similar statements in his father's autobiography).  They both denounced as a threat to peace and democracy the influx of unwanted  foreigners who were radicals, anarchists, socialists and atheists.  (Sir JohnA. did the same.)  So, yes, of course, we have to I believe Woodsworth's words and actions.  That is exactly why I have quoted so many of Woodsworth's words.  They are undeniable prove of what I've said about him. (The sword merely makes for an interesting story about his grandfather's role in squashing the Mackenzie rebellion. And i quote Mills saying it was "prominently displayed on the wall" of his home in Winnipeg.)

Again, my point in revealing that his father, grandfather and greatgrandfather were also involved in the suppression of such radical uprisings as the Northwest Rebellion and the Upper Canada Rebellion is to demonstrate evidence that pro-imperialist narratives and the propensity to carry them out with actions, is something passed down from generation to generation to generation.  This is certainly true within the Woodsworth family tradition.  I believe i have amply proven that.

In terms of him helping communists that were interned during the Second Red Scare, here's what I wrote in an article called "Why the Social Gospel turned a Blind Eye to Mass Internment"

"Even during WWII, when 130 Canadian communists were interned, Woodsworth would not help to gain their release. He articulated his refusal in a 1940 letter to Rose Shapack, the wife of Jacob Penner. Jacob, a Russian-born Marxist, and the alderman for Winnipeg North from 1933 to 1960, was interned for being a communist in 1940. Woodsworth’s reply to Rose’s request for help focused on criticising communism and justifying Canada’s WWII internment of Marxists. Penner remained interned for 25 months until mid-1942."

I never implied that Woodsworth "was the same as the Molsons and the Curries." To say I implied that he was, is more than "a bit of a stretch,"  to use your words.

In fact, the main thesis of "Captive Canada," as summed up in the first article "The Canada Syndrome, a Captivating Mass Psychosis" is that good, honest, decent, well-meaning, left-leaning PROGRESSIVE activists (like Woodsworth) are a key to the process of getting the public to go along with and support regressive, state-funded programs like the mass captivity of reservations, residential schools and forced labour concentration camps.  The progressives don't do this because they are bad people, quite the contrary, they sincerely believe they are doing the right thing to promote peace, democracy, and other noble causes like civilisation, education, Christianisation and Canadianisation,  (Just as some progressives now support the UN's "Responsibility to Protect"  doctrine which disguised imperial wars as peacebuilding humanitarian operations.)

But the problem here is that I am repeating what I've already written in the articles and i don't think that is a constructive use of my time.  I've already made my perspectives as clear as i can and if you disagree with my analysis that is your right. 

We will just have to agree to disagree.

Richard Sanders Richard Sanders's picture

I've provided ample evidence showing that the narratives that Woodsworth excelled in creating and promoting were welcomed by Imperialists.  They welcomed into their circles and were happy to use his word.

For example, as I've alreay written in Religious Guardians of the Peaceable Kingdom: Winnipeg’s Key Social-Gospel Gatekeepers of Canada West (which perhaps you have not read or have forgotten), Woodsworth was invited to speak at the imperialist Canadian Club of Winnipeg in 1914, after WWI was declared.   He titled his speech “The Immigrant Invasion after the War: Are We Ready for it?”  Other speakers that year included Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden, Solicitor General Meighen, Minister of the Militia Maj.Gen. Hughes, and several wealthy businessmen and media tycoons.  He was welcomed into this company.  This exclusive Club absolutely epitomised the powerful imperialist elite that ran Canada.

Here, to jog your memory, is what I wrote about Woodsworth's value to the imperialist elite:

"Despite all his achievements as activist, organiser, politician and architect of Canada’s social democratic movement, Woodsworth held the same sort of racist and patronising attitudes of religious and cultural superiourity that plagued those on Canada’s extreme right. ...

"...just after the out-break of WWI, Woodsworth addressed Winnipeg’s prestigious Canadian Club on “The Immigrant Invasion after the War: Are We Ready for it?” This was one of 16 lectures in 1914 that were attended, on average, by 430 of the city’s most powerful men. His talk came between speeches by Solicitor General Arthur Meighen on WWI, and Prime Minister Borden on “Canada and the Empire. ”Other speakers that year included the top brass from Canada’s ultraconservative military, banking and press establishments.47 The fact that Woodsworth was warmly welcomed by this powerful circle, reveals his role as the Canadian elite’s favourite 'socialist.'”

In another article, online at the COAT website and to be posted to Rabble (later today), I write this:

"Canada’s rabid anti-Semitism and the widespread prejudice against east Europeans went hand in political hand.  Jews and Slavs were often tarred as seditious, leftwing radicals. Woodsworth not only linked east Europeans with Judaism, but with an atheist brand of socialism that went far beyond the accepted, religious pale:
    “Many of our immigrants from Russia and Roumania are Socialists, some of them of the most extreme type. This seems rather strange, as naturally the Jew is individualistic.... Socialism has come as a gospel, and they have welcomed it with almost religious devotion. Some of them have preached anarchy.”7

Woodsworth was suggesting that “extreme” Socialism, which replaced “religious devotion” with a political “gospel,” threatened the Canadian establishment. He devoted his life to crafting Social Gospel politics as an acceptable alternative.  Christian social democrats were tolerable to the establishment because they rejected the atheist, anticapitalist Socialism attributed to radicalised Jews and east Europeans. Compared to these “extremists,” Woodsworth’s middle-of-the-road socialism was tame, loyal, compliant and easily co-opted.

Blaming “extreme” socialism on “despair” caused by “intolerable conditions” abroad, Woodsworth believed that better conditions in Canada meant that “extremists cannot secure a large following.”8  His narrative did not mention the Czar’s use of extreme violence, including mass murder, to crush general strikes and mass protests for democracy.  Nor did Woodsworth note that the Czar had forced hundreds of thousands into internment. (See “The Russian Revolution...,” pp.38-39.) Instead, Woodsworth’s worries dovetailed nicely with the paranoid antiRed delusions of the Canadian elite.  They shared an intense phobia that godless, east European socialist fanatics were threatening the established social, religious and political order of our so-called Peaceable Kingdom."

These are among the many parts of my recent research which show that Woodsworth's narratives were shared by imperialists and that they were useful to imperialists. 

Now i need to get back to work...




But you keep using the terms like "powerful" and "leadership class" and "loyal".

What is that supposed to mean, if not an implication that he had power, was in the leadership class, and was loyal to empire?

And "pro-imperialist narratives" are not something passed down from generation to generation unless they are actually passed down. That is where your thesis fails.



You don't have to jog my memory, Richard. I know he held some racist attitudes. That isn't quite the same as being one of those in power, or supporting imperialism.

And I did read that article about internment camps. And I found the Penner letter and read it. You know they had history, and that this was not simply a case of turning down someone asking for help. Yet you leave it with no context (in fact you don't quote him at all), even though you surely must have read the chapter in Alan Mills' book which preceded it.

As mentioned above, he had stood up in the past about unwarranted detention of communists, and he did so during the second world war regarding internment of so-called enemy aliens. And whatever racist lleanings he may have had, it didn't stop him from trying to help someone who was Italian:




Richard Sanders Richard Sanders's picture

Wilson, you acknowledge that Woodsworth refused to help get Jacob Penner's release when he was interned in 1940 (although Penner was a popular, elected Winnipeg communist alderman who eventually became the longest serving municipal councillor in North America, 1933-1960), you provide a link to show that Woodsworth did help gain the release of another man interned in WWII, an Italian named Rev. Libero Sauro. 

In the link you provided it shows a written oath by Rev.Sauro in which he admits that he was the "Grand Administrative Secretary" of the Order Sons of Italy (OSI).  According to Enemies Within: Italian and Other Internees in Canada and Abroad, by Franca Iacovetta, Roberto Perin, Angelo Principe, the OSI was  the largest italian organisation that was by then taken over by the fascists.  See the link I've provided above, pp55-56) which says that by 1934, the Toronto and Ontario branches of the OSI were completely taken over by fascists.

OSI executive members like Rev. Sauro were, the RCMP thought, suitable candidates for Canadian internment during WWI. 

But why would Woodsworth help this Italian Reverend in his efforts to be released from a Canadian internment camp, but at the same time refuse to give any assistance to Penner, a communist alderman in Winnipeg? 

Penner had fled Ukraine to come to Canada in 1904, because he had become a revolutionary socialist at an early age in struggles against state oppression under the Csar Nicholas II (who was a first cousin of the British Empire's King George V). 

People can read more about the Russian revolution of 1905-1907 in my articles here:

Canada's WWI Internment of Leon Trotsky, and the Captivating Mass Psychoses of antiSemitism and antiCommunism

and here:

The Russian Revolution of 1905-1907


Have you read what he said in that 1914 address?

Again, thanks for mentioning it, because I had not, until I looked it up. And had I not I would probably assumed it was, as you say, a "racist, xenophobic narrative".

In fact, although his way of talking about race is pretty 19th century, what he says is far from xenophobic. He talks about how to deal with rising immigration, reminds the audience that they are not one monolithic group, but many cultures, and that the English majority should not try to set different groups against each other. That they should not panic and do things that promote racial animosity. He recommends adequate education and services, and recreation (including not closing bars), as well as adult education in other languages. He points out that lack of those services is the cause of social problems. He argues for a multicultural approach as an alternative to what he sees as cultural divisions in Europe.

He did not say one word about anyone being unwelcome, or restricting immigration.

He ends by saying "Our national and imperial ideal must be big enough and noble enough to include the best that all the nations m ay bring us."

Here is what he actually said, and the original source. Obviously a few sections (like the very beginning) are a third party framing his actual comments. Excuse the formatting.


J. S. Woodsworth, Secretary Canadian Welfare League

Mr. Woodsworth reminded his hearers that the war had clearly revealed to us what we had only begun to suspect: That we had in our midst large numbers of undigested aliens who might at any time cause a serious disturbance within our body politic.

"The danger now to be guarded against is that a sud- den panic may lead us to take extreme positions and thus intensify and perpetuate racial bitterness and ani- mosities. Canadian unification is still far from com- plete, and the introduction of foreign elements is mak- ing the progress extremely complicated and difficult.

While admittedly the question is an exceedingly complicated one and it is impossible to determine accur- ately what the resultant effect of the war will be, it ap- pears probable that the war will accelerate rather than retard this world movement of the people. In support of this conclusion, two general considerations may be urged. First, war tends to break down national social barriers, to loosen old associations, and to enlarge our little world; second, this war will change the whole economic map of Europe and of the world. Trade cur- rents will take entirely new directions. The precise effects no one can prophesy, but on the whole, Canada, a new country, largely as yet undeveloped and with un- limited natural resources stands to gain.

"Are we ready for more immigrants? Even without a greatly augmented increase, our problem is a serious one. As yet no constructive policy has been adopted for dealing with it in any adequate way. Our immigration department has made excellent arrangements for the care of immigrants during their journey, has provided for their comfort at points of transfer, has even helped them financially till they obtained a foothold. But more far-reaching measures are absolutely necessary. Our industrial system, our educational system, our political system, must be decidedly modified to meet the new needs. We have a commission on conservation of natural resources. Why not a commission on conserva- tion of human resources?"

A chart exhibited by the speaker, showed that Can- ada's population in 1901 was 5,371,315; of this 57 per cent., or 3,630,195, was British. The immigration from July 1, 1900, to March 31, 1914, was 2,906,022. The various nationalities were represented in the following proportions: English, 27.63 per cent.; Welsh, .44; Scotch, 7.98; Irish, 2.36; Dominions, .72; total British, 38.41 per cent; United States, 34.41. The non-English- speaking peoples were divided as follows: Norwegian, .65 percent; Swedish, .91; Danish, .19; Icelandic, .14; Finnish, .71; French, .81 ; Belgian, .5; Swiss, .07; Dutch, .30; German, 1.25; Austria-Hungary, 6.63; Polish, 1.17; Roumanian, .28; Russian, 3.17; Italian, 3.87; Greek, .24; Hebrew, 2.49; Spanish, etc., .07; Bulgarian, etc., .52; Syrian, etc., .42; negro, etc., 1.71; Chinese, 1.06; Japanese, .53; Hindu, .19: Total non-English-speaking, 27.18. The distribution by provinces was as follows: Maritime provinces, 4 per cent; Quebec, 16; Ontario, 26: Manitoba, 15; Saskatchewan, 13; Alberta, 14; Bri- tish Columbia, 12.

In view of the situation presented by this chart, Mr. Woodsworth intimated that the question for us in Can- ada to decide is, not only "What will we do with our im- migrants?" but "What will our immigrants do with us?" The task is not necessarily how to paint this whole map red, but at least to introduce true harmony among the manv nationalities that are living side by side beneath our flag. 

Chart two showed the total immigration from 1913 to 1914 as 384,478, against 402,432 in 1912-13, or a de- crease of 4.46 per cent. The British immigration was 142,622 as against 150,542, or a decrease of 5.26 per cent. Immigration from the United States was 107,530, as against previous year 139,009, or a decrease of 22.54 per cent. From other countries the immigration was 134,726, as against previous year 112,881, or an increase of 19.35 per cent. Thus, while there was a decrease in the immigration both from Great Britain and the United States, there was an increase in our non-English immi- gration.

"While we superficially class all of these people as foreigners, we must remember that in reality each is a foreigner to all the others. The Canadians are the amalgam which must bind together these diverse peoples. My question is: Mix these peoples together, and what is the outcome? Prom the racial standpoint it is evident that we will not longer be British, probably no longer Anglo-Saxon. Prom the standpoint of eugenics it is not at all clear that the highest results are to be obtained through the indiscriminate mixing of all sorts and conditions. But if they do not intermingle and intermarry, the situation may be even more serious, as we will then set up more or less of a caste system. From the religious standpoint, what will be the out- come? For it must be remembered that most of our foreign immigrants do not belong to the churches which are at the present time dominant in Canada.

From the political standpoint it is evident that there will be very great changes and very serious dangers. Whilst it is true that these peoples are not united, and that the Eng- lish majority may retain its power by pitting one against the other, at the same time it is also true that such a condition is far from satisfactory and would inevitably result in placing any party at the mercy of any one lead- ing nationality, thus practically giving that nationality  the balance of power.

Unfortunately, already many of these foreigners have been politically corrupted. "Now, from the social standpoint. We must re- member that each nationality brings with it its own social customs and ideals. Which will prevail? Again, from the industrial standpoint. There is the serious question as to whether with such a rapid influx Cana- dian standards of living can be maintained.

"Let me say a good word for the foreigner. Few of us realize the riches which he brings with him. In fact, from Europe these streams of immigration bear with them valuable deposits which may enrich our national life if we have but the good sense to conserve them. A high idealism; love of art, music and literature; patient industry; deep religious devotion; all these the immi- grant brings to our shores. We cannot afford to lose any of them. Most Canadians despise the foreigner. The foreigner himself soon catches the prevalent attitude and becomes ashamed even of the excellencies in his own civilization.

Unfortunately too, he often picks up the worst in our Canadian life. Too often the children despise their parents and disregard their views, and thus constitute the class from which our juvenile criminals are recruited. No man should think lightly of his mother country. "A century ago the population of the United States was five millions. At the begining of this present cen- tury Canada's population was five millions. But whereas in the first ten years of last century the United States received only 70,000 immigrants, Canada has received nearly two millions in the first ten years of this century. That is, our responsibility is 28 times as great as that of the United States. Further, up to the year 1870, less than 1 per cent, of the total immigration to the United States came from south-eastern Europe.

Almost 20 percent, of our immigration comes from south-eastern Europe. According to our northern standards the peoples from south-eastern Europe are lower in the scale, but in any case the very fact that they are so different from ourselves constitutes the problem. If the United States had difficulty, how much greater our task?

"I would like to call your attention to the serious problems arising because of the varieties of language, the lack of proper housing, educational needs, and the question of unemployment. The difficulty is, that we have too long been quite indifferent to these needs. We have tried to segregate ourselves as far as possible from them, have exposed them to all sorts of vicious influ- ences; then wonder why they are not assimilating.

"What social opportunities are afforded the immi- grant? The closing of the bars is a negative way of dealing with the problem. Our other public and semi- public buildings should be thrown more widely open; I think particularly our schools. They are open in this city, I am glad to say, for the teaching of the English language three nights in the week. Why not throw them open for social gatherings for the other three nights?

To-day we practically drive the immigrant into questionable places of resort. "Several important questions arise in the matter of education. Foreign children leave the schools too early in large numbers. Then there is the question associated with the term 'bi-lingualism.' Personally I have a great deal of sympathy for the foreigner in his desire to re- tain the language which his father and mother speak, and which is the language of his religious expression.

I can see no reason why under proper safeguards pro- vision should not be made for the teaching of other than the English language. We do this in our universities, where we recognize the cultural value of the various European languages. Why should it not be done at the  age when children can most readily learn a second lan- guage. But this should be done in such a way that it would not interfere with unifying influences of the school. English should be the language of our schools and should be taught thoroughly.

"Further, modifications in our public school system become necessary. We have made no general provision for the teaching of adult immigrants. In this respect Winnipeg has done excellent work, but in the majority of our Canadian communities absolutely no effort is being made to instruct our adult foreigners in the Eng- lish language or in the principles of Canadian citizen- ship.

"The race map of western Canada looks very much like a crazy patchwork quilt. How can these peoples be sufficiently united to form one strong nation? Europe has been transferred to Canada. Here we have all the divisions of race and language and social customs, and all the inherited animosities of centuries. What Europe has failed to do in a thousand years Canada must at- tempt. On this point at least both the east and the west will take suggestions from Winnipeg.

"Gentlemen, we are the sons of pioneers. Our fore- fathers, daring the wilds of eastern Canada, carved out for themselves homes in the forest and laid the founda- tion of a mighty nation. We honor their memory, not so much by proudly reciting their heroic deeds as by carrying forward their work. Out national and imperial ideal must be big enough and noble enough to include the best that all the nations may bring us."


Richard Sanders Richard Sanders's picture

Happy Canada Day Smile

Thanks Wilson for posting J.S.Woodsworth's entire speech from when he was invited to address the very imperialist Canadian Club of Winnipeg.  I'm glad you looked it up and read it on my prompting.  If people want to see the context of that speech, with all the other speeches that year by some key representatives of Canada's powerful AngloProtestant elite (like the PM, the Solicitor General, the head of the military, plus newspaper and corporate powerbrokers), here is the URL from my references.

I find it very interesting that we can look at the same text by Woodsworth and see it in such different ways.  You say "what he says is far from xenophobic."  I totally disagree.  He carefully and eloquently expresses the palpable fear of nonAnglo immigrants, that dominated the thinking of Canada's racist powerbrokers. Even the title of his speech ("The Immigrant Invasion after the War: Are We Ready for it?") reflects a belief system which sees certain immigrants as potentially dangerous enemies.  Why else is he referring to the "Immigrant Invasion"?  His use of that military metaphor is telling.

Here is what I said about his speech in another article posted here on

 Captive Canada - Religious Guardians of the Peaceable Kingdom: Winnipeg’s Key Social-Gospel Gatekeepers of Canada West

"Five years later, just after the outbreak of WWI, Woodsworth addressed Winnipeg's prestigious Canadian Club on "The Immigrant Invasion after the War: Are We Ready for it?" This was one of 16 lectures in 1914 that were attended, on average, by 430 of the city's most powerful men.  His talk came between speeches by Solicitor General Arthur Meighen on WWI, and Prime Minister Borden on Canada and the Empire.  Other speakers that year included the top brass from Canada's ultraconservative military, banking and press establishments.47 The fact that Woodsworth was warmly welcomed by this powerful circle, reveals his role as the Canadian elite's favourite socialist.

No longer leading Winnipeg's Methodist Mission, Woodsworth was then secretary of the Canadian Welfare League (1913-1916). The self-described purpose of this national, Winnipeg-based organisation was to confront emergent social problems caused, in part, by Canada's large and heterogeneous immigration.48

The Canadian Club introduced Woodsworths speech by saying that
"the war had clearly revealed to us... [t]hat we had in our midst large numbers of undigested aliens who might cause a serious disturbance within our body politic."49
This phraseology, plagiarised Charles Gordon's 1908 novel which had warned of "an undigested foreign mass" in "the body politic" that must be "absorbed...or it will be a mighty bad."50  (When Woodsworth gave his 1914 speech to the Canadian Club, Gordon --  who had cofounded the club in 1904 and been its president, 1909-1910 -- was in Europe building a new career as Canada's leading military chaplain.)

"The danger now to be guarded against," began Woodsworth in his speech, "is that a sudden panic may lead us to take extreme positions and thus intensify and perpetuate racial bitterness and animosities."51 Woodsworth must have known that just four months earlier, Canada had taken an "extreme position" by interning thousands of civilians in 12 slave-labour camps.  Manitoba had two internment facilities, with one in downtown Winnipeg.  Was this not "extreme" enough for Woodsworth?

Woodsworth then presented what he saw as extremely disturbing set of statistics.  In 1901, he said, 57% of Canada's 5.4 million inhabitants were British but of the 2.9 million that had been admitted since then only 38% were British. Of those allowed in since 1901, 27% were non-English speakers. Of these, two thirds were from south and eastern Europe.  British immigration had decreased by 10% over the previous two years and the percent of non-English newcomers was rising.  After listing 24 non-English nationalities pouring into Canada's gates, Woodsworth asked:

"Mix these peoples together, and what is the outcome?  From the racial standpoint it is evident that we will not longer be British, probably no longer Anglo-Saxon. From the standpoint of eugenics it is not at all clear that the highest results are to be obtained through the indiscriminate mixing of all sorts and conditions.... From the religious standpoint, what will be the outcome? For...most of our foreign immigrants do not belong to the churches which are... dominant in Canada. From the political standpoint it is evident that there will be very great changes and very serious dangers."52 (Emphasis added.)

Besides basing his rabid xenophobia on ethnicity, politics and religion, Woodsworth's racism was also tied to "eugenics." This phobic pseudo-science sought to improve humankind -- physically, culturally and morally -- through selective breeding, sterilisation and segregation. In 1916, Woodsworth was promoting eugenics through his work as Director of the Bureau of Social Research (BSR).  This government agency actively campaigned for the segregation and sterilization of defectives.53  Although this arm of the Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba governments was created to deal with "mental defectives," Woodsworth expanded its scope to target other so-called "community problems," such as "Our Immigrants."54
 47. 11th Annual Report of the Canadian Club of Winnipeg, 1914-1915, passim.

48. Canadian Welfare League, 1901, p.1.

49. 11th Annual Report..., Op. cit., p.28.
 50. Connor, 1908, Op. cit., p.140.
 51. 11th Annual Report..., Op. cit., p.28.
 52. Ibid., p.30.
 53. Jana Grekl, The Right to Consent: Eugenics in Alberta, 1928-1972, in Janet Miron (ed.), A History of Human Rights in Canada: Essential Issues, p.137.

54. Kenneth McNaught, James Shaver Woods-worth: From social gospel to social democracy (1874-1921), 1950, pp.24-28. (PhD, History, University of Toronto)



Richard Sanders Richard Sanders's picture

Why then did the very imperialist Canadian Club give Woodsworth a lofty platform from which to speak -- along with the PM, the Solicitor General, the head of the military, and various top media and coporate leaders -- if they did not welcome his racist, xenophobic narratives as bulwarks to support their own vision of the British Empire? 

My take on it is that Canadian imperialists (like those that ran the Canadian Club, and who spoke at its events) saw Woodsworth as their best ally on the "left." Like them, Woodsworth opposed what he called “extreme” Socialism -- which he said replaced “religious devotion” with a political “gospel.”   Woodsworth, like the imperialists that administered Canada, saw those more radical leftists and militant labour activists (who were very influential in those days) as serious threats to the Canadian establishment.

Woodsworth devoted his career to crafting Social Gospel politics that -- to Canada's imperial elites -- were an acceptable alternative to the more radical left. 

Christian social democrats could be tolerated by the social, political, economic and religious establishment because they too rejected the atheist, anticapitalist Socialism that was attributed to those unwanted "enemy aliens" such as radicalised Jews and east Europeans who they saw as flooding into Canada.

When compared to these scary “extremists,” Woodsworth’s middle-of-the-road socialism was tame, loyal, compliant and easily co-opted.

Over the decades, the Woodsworth process of de-radicalising the CCF has continued apace within the NDP.  We now have such a watered down version of a socialist party that it actually shuns the word socialism.  The NDP which once wanted out of NATO, has even become complicit in imperial crimes that Woodsworth himself would have denounced, like supporting US &/or NATO-led invasions, occupations, regime changes and military operations, such as in Haiti, Libya and Ukraine.  Wouldn't pacifist Woodsworth, who denounced Canada's entry into WWII, be rolling in his grave?  And, the NDP has even helped promote narratives that justify Israel's occupation of Palestine.

Similarly, JS,Woodsworth's eldest son, Charles, was a big supporter of Israeli Apartheid -- before it was called that -- when he was editor of the Ottawa Citizen, and as a diplomat doing the work of the Canadian government.  In that latter capacity, he even helped the US with its rather imperialist war in Vietnam. People can read more on that continuation of the Woodsworth family tradition of opposing uppity opponents of Empire  at the very end of my article: "Crushing Rebels, Radicals and Reds: The Bunker Mentality, All in the [JS] Woodsworth Family Tradition."


You know the answer to that, Richard. And you also know, even if you don't say it, that he spoke against the detention of people who were communist. He was open-minded enough that he visited the Soviet Union and spoke highly of many of the things they did, but he also had an adversarial relationship with some in the Communist Party here in Canada.

And what he did in Sauro's (who was not a fascist)  case was forward it to someone who might be able to help.

That incident came at the end of a long history with the party, and with Jake Penner. I think anyone interested in the background to that should go read the chapter in Alan Mills' book, and the letter themselves.


yup let's discredit the whole social justice movement in Canada. it was based on lies so it's no fucking good today either.

thanks Smith for at least attemting to dispell some of the personal opinion based on today's ideology contained here.


Richard Sanders wrote:

Happy Canada Day Smile

Speaking of state crimes, you should be careful what you say. Fifty years from now someone might take those words and use them as evidence that you are a strong supporter of the genocide of First Nations people, and the empire that threatens to destroy the world.

For that matter, you might want to be careful  being seen talking to me, because someone might take my words and use them against you too.


The Canadian Club introduced Woodsworths speech by saying that
"the war had clearly revealed to us... [t]hat we had in our midst large numbers of undigested aliens who might cause a serious disturbance within our body politic."

Not surprising that you highlight one of the sections that was not spoken by him, and which stands in stark contrast to the things which he did say.

And I am not surprised by your take on the speech - that you choose to ignore the bulk of what he said and highlight a few points which serve your purpose.

That is why I pasted it in its entirety, and also why I urge anyone interested in his letter regarding Jake Penner to read it, and the chapter in Alan Mills's book which precedes it. Again, you certainly must have since that is your source, even though you chose to leave that context out.

I said I found your series an interesting read, in part because of the bits and pieces you have collected, and in part because of how you string it together to make your argument. Not the subtlest example of the craft, but it is still kind of like a jigsaw puzzle sorting out your thesis from what actually happened.

And it does make me wish for a real analysis of the racism and discrimination that was present, and still is, in progressive movements. It is a very interesting and worthwhile topic.

And @ quizzical.

No problem. As I said, it is in some ways an enjoyable exercise. Though as I said, I am not a fan of hatchet jobs.


Richard Sanders Richard Sanders's picture

I quoted from what the Canadian Club said to introduce Woodsworth's speech (and certainly never ascribed that text to Woodsworth himself)  I thought it was significant because it paraphrased, in fact, plagerised what Charles Gordon (author of The Foreigner) had said in his usual very clever (but racist & xenophobic) style.  I thought that this was significant and worth mentioning because Charles Gordon was another very prominent Social Gospel leader at that time. He was in fact far more famous  than J.S. Woodsworth. He was one of the world's leading popularisers of imperialism through his novels which belonged to a genre called "Muscular Christianity" and were part of a literary style called "Imperial Adventure." He -- Gordon -- was a key person in the Canadian Club of Winnipeg, and was among its prominent cofounders (1904) and a former president of it as well (1909-1910). So, yes, that statement was not made by Woodsworth -- as I pointed out in my article -- but it was a close paraphrase of yet another Social Gospeller who -- like Woodsworth -- was very fearful of what he called "the Immigrant Invasion."

Rev.Charles Gordon (aka Ralph Connor) praised Woodsworth's tome "Strangers within our Gates" at a huge Missionary Congress in Toronto in 1909.  Most interesting for my research was that both Woodsworth and Gordon directed some of their most vitriolic diatribes against Ukrainians, particularly those who were radical leftists.  This was important because Canada forced about 5000 Ukrainians into slave labour camps for six years during the WWI/Red Scare era. The vile and abusive narratives by Social-Gospel gatekeepers like Woodsworth and Gordon played an important role in getting progressives on board so that when the Canadian government enslaved Eastern Europeans, mostly Ukrainians, no one (as far as i can tell) did anything at all to raise even a little finger in protest!)

Read more on that Cdn Concentration Camps here:

Capt Cda - War Mania, Mass Hysteria, Moral Panic: Rendered Captive by Barbed Wire & Maple Leaves

And, if people want to learn more about Charles Gordon and his extremely racist, xenophobic and imperialist writings --  to compare them with those of Woodsworth -- they can read this:

Captive Canada - Religious Guardians of the Peaceable Kingdom: Winnipeg’s Key Social-Gospel Gatekeepers of Canada West



Richard Sanders wrote:

it was a close paraphrase of yet another Social Gospeller who -- like Woodsworth -- was very fearful of what he called "the Immigrant Invasion."

Woodsworth did not say that he was fearful of any immigrant invasion. He said it was our duty  welcome people and accomodate their needs. In 1914 he spoke in favour of adult education in people's own languages.

The only thing he was afraid of was xenophobes and haters, and not being prepared to help those who came here.



Richard Sanders Richard Sanders's picture

I too am part of Canada's social justice movement.

Painful and disturbing as it may be, we should not turn a blind eye to our movement's history of complicity with state crimes.

Even progressives need a healthy dose of truth and reconciliation.



In response to quizzical who said:

"yup let's discredit the whole social justice movement in Canada. it was based on lies so it's no fucking good today either."

"thanks Smith for at least attemting to dispell some of the personal opinion based on today's ideology contained here."


Richard Sanders Richard Sanders's picture

After all Woodsworth wrote exhibiting his vehemently racist attitudes towards Blacks, Aboriginals, Asians, Syrians, East Europeans, and others, you (Smith) are still asserting that he was only opposed to xenophobes?  How is this possible?

Please read Strangers within our Gates and get back to us.  If you haven't read this racist little screed published by the Methodist Missionary Society, be prepared to be shocked. But who knows, perhaps you'll think it proves he feared only "xenophobes and haters."

The reason I focus on this old (1909) book is because my research dealt largely with the WWI/Red Scare-era slave labour camps which took place in Canada between 1914 to 1920. 

The diatribes by Woodsworth and Charles Gordon, that so-clearly demonstrated their fear and loathing of east Europeans (particularly unemployed working class urban Ukrainian men), helped to formulate and spread the widespread publicly-accepted narratives that allowed good honest decent well-meaning progressive Canadian citizens to turn a blind eye, or to actually support the government, when the Canadian government threw some six thousand east Europeans (mostly of the demographic described above) into forced labour camps.

This was one of the biggest civil-liberty crimes of that era, second only to the cultural genocide against Aboriginals (which was also supported by the progressive Social Gospel movement).

Despite what you say, Woodsworth certainly did not want Aboriginal adults (or their children) to be educated in their own languages!

He and the other Social Gosple leaders were outspoken in their view that the Canadian government should assimilate foreigners, and they thought the churches were a perfect vehicle for executing that process.

People can read more about Canada's WWI/Red Scare internment of east Europeans here:

Capt Cda - War Mania, Mass Hysteria, Moral Panic: Rendered Captive by Barbed Wire & Maple Leaves




Can you get through one comment without 're-pluggeng these articles. Do you think a third reading is going to change my mind? Yes, I know he held some racist attitudes, as the majority of people did back then. I said as much in my first comnent. As for xenophobia, nothiing he said there even hinted at fear of Immigration or wanting to prevent it. And his working for the welfare of those communities would indicate he did not let those outdated notion about culture get in the way of his dedication to social reform. As for your claims about him being a powerful supporter of the empire, that is a complete fabrication.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Colonial Legacy of the CCF: An interview with Allyson Stevenson


RA: The CCF is remembered for its socialist policies and anti-capitalist stance represented in Regina Manifesto. As an Indigenous person, what is your take on this view?

AS: I want to complicate this history by providing an indigenous critique of the settler-colonial prerogative of the men and women who made up that party at this time. It’s important to insert Indigenous voices into histories of this time period to challenge the heroic triumphant narrative that has often been used in a way that perpetuates the disappearing of First Nations and Métis peoples from the land and histories.

While I share many of the critiques of capitalism put forward by those who crafted the Regina Manifesto, I must point out the severely limited vision of this document and the farmer-labour alliance that it represented. The struggle for control over which group would benefit from the profits accrued from lands and resources in Saskatchewan, Eastern Canadian financiers, and corporations, or small farmers and workers, ignored Indian and Métis peoples.

At this time, Métis people were also organizing the Métis Society seeking a political solution to the accumulating losses from land hungry farmers. So it is interesting that that this is taking place at the very same time. One issue they were pursing was hiring a lawyer to determine whether they had a legal case against the federal government for failing to implement the scrip system for Métis in the west. First Nations people at this time were prohibited from organizing and raising funds to hire lawyers because of the Indian Act section 141, which really hampered their ability to mount any type of resistance to the government or its policies. Oppression in any form is offensive to me, however, my question is: Where in the Regina Manifesto, or the society that it envisioned, is there a space for indigenous peoples?


Richard Sanders wrote:

When you say "the majority of people" you are of course refering only to the majority of white Canadian people.  Woodsworth had racist attitudes towards Blacks, Asians, Aboriginals, Eastern and Southern Europeans, Middle Easterners...    So that puts him in a majority position NOT the majority.  He also cl;assified people by their religon, so if they were not Christian, they too were inferiour and should be converted.

Yes, I am talking about the Anglo majority, which was at that time a clear majority. In 1901 only 12 percent of Canadians were immigrants, and 57 percent of those immigrating to Canada were from the UK. Only 20 percent were not English-speaking.

I'd expect most Canadians, of the time, anglophone and francophone, held opinions about other cultures that were at least as racist as what Woodsworth and his co-author wrote in Strangers Within Our Gates. This was a time, after all, when the Orange Lodge was the most significant social organization in Protestant Canada.

As for claiming he would want all non-Christians to be converted, you do know that he wrote a letter to his church in 1907 telling them that he did not believe in the divinity of Jesus, original sin, the Bible as the word of God,  or salvation by faith - the cornerstones of Methodist dogma. A few years later he wrote that most methodist clergy didn't believe those dogma either. He also said church doctrine was no longer significant given the amount of practical work that needed to be done.

(link below)

And during his visit to Russia he wrote with approval of the communists' attacks on religious superstition.

That is another problem I see in your thesis. Yes Woodward expressed 19th century racist attitudes in some of his works. But at the same time he worked for the welfare of those communities and said that it was our duty to welcome and accomodate them. He published a report with material critical of socialism at a time when he called himself a socialist. And his relationship to Methodism was just as unorthodox.

So none of these things you post give a definitive picture of him or his work. As for the attempts to link him with more conservative Christians, and with British imperialism, they are simply without foundation.

If I may follow your lead in papering the thread with articles, I'd recommend this one. It is long, but a very interesting view of the religious and social work he and some of his colleagues were doing at the time.

Richard Sanders Richard Sanders's picture

6079_Smith_W wrote:

Can you get through one comment without 're-pluggeng these articles.

I am directing people to other articles which have fewer views thn this one. 

6079_Smith_W wrote:

Do you think a third reading is going to change my mind?

No I don't think there's much hope of that.  This is why I say "People can learn more..."

6079_Smith_W wrote:

Yes, I know he held some racist attitudes, as the majority of people did back then. I said as much in my first comnent.

When you say "the majority of people" you are of course refering only to the majority of white Canadian people.  Woodsworth had racist attitudes towards Blacks, Asians, Aboriginals, Eastern and Southern Europeans, Middle Easterners...    So that puts him in a minority position NOT the majority.  He also cl;assified people by their religon, so if they were not Christian, they too were inferiour and should be converted.

6079_Smith_W wrote:

As for xenophobia, nothiing he said there even hinted at fear of Immigration or wanting to prevent it.

People can decide for themselves by reading Strangers within our Gates.

As for your claims about him being a powerful supporter of the empire, that is a complete fabrication.

His ethnocentric, racist, xenophobic and antiRed narratives were certainly useful to Canadian Imperialists in promoting some of their major programs, like the slave labour camps, reservations and residential schools.

Richard Sanders Richard Sanders's picture

Thanks for your comments Wilson.  You, like many others, often justify or explain the racism and racists of the past by saying that the "majority" of people in those days were racist.  I debate that they were in the majority.

In response to that argument, I think it's important to point out that even at that time there were people who did not hold racist views against all Aboriginals, for example...  Aboriginal people themselves.  There were also people who did not think all Blacks were savages, for example, Black people themselves.  There were people who did not think all nonChristians were inferiour, for example, nonChristians... etc etc etc.  Aboriginals, Blacks, Asians, Middleeasterners, etc, all those groups that Woodsworth and others held such racist views towards, are people too...  

There were also radical socialists who were contemparies with the Social Gospellers 100 years ago who were building militant unions that included people of different races.  They organised with Marxist slogans like "Workers of the World Unite!"  Yes, of course some of these radical types also held some racist ideas, and those need to be pointed out too!

So when you and others always keep coming back with arguments that attempt to rationalise the racism that prevailed among the "majority," we need to be careful to say Woodsworth was actually part of a small global minority -- white, western European AngloProtestants.  This small group held tremendous power over other groups because of the imposition of imperial systems of abuse and control that were being imposed around the world.  Of course there were those within this group -- the 1%, so to speak --  who had more power and sway to influence others through various state institutions etc.

At what point is an individual culpable for holding racist ideas that were/are commonplace among their peers within certain social, political, economic, ethnic groups?

And, another question, what about the very eloquent leaders of those groups who didn't just accept and go along with the racism of their peers but helped to create and perpetuate the group's racist narratives.  Such leaders use their social platform to write books, speeches, sermons, or write articles or lectures, that made the racism of their groups seem more acceptible? 

What about those who toned down the groups racism a little bit, but remained essentially racist?

These are not simple questions and I'm not claiming to know all the answers.  I am struggling to deal with these issues because they are not simply a thing of the past.  We are still dealing with exactly the same sorts of problems.  What will people think when they look back on us in 100 years and read discussions such as these here?

As for trying to wrap our minds around the idea of culpability for the mass psychosis of racism in which an individual may find themselves, I've found psychological and legal concepts that deal with these questions were helpful in my own analysis.  Here's a quote from what I wrote in Captive Canada: The Canada Syndrome, a Captivating Mass Psychosis:


Renditions:  From Extraordinary to Banal

In studying the captivating power of myths, we inevitably invoke different meanings of the word “rendition.”  Narrative renditions of history capture and organise diverse versions of past events.  They can also seize and express feelings of identity based on cultural constructs like race, ethnicity, nationality and ideology.  “Rendition” also refers to the act of taking prisoners, including covert abductions that spirit away alleged enemies of the state.

While secret CIA teams use “extraordinary rendition” to illegally grab victims under cover of darkness, the widespread popular narratives that abduct people en masse, and in broad daylight, are considered legal. Carried away in plain sight by delusional beliefs, victims of “ordinary rendition” can be moved to profess anything as the truth, from false histories to utopian fantasies.  In contrast, victims of torture will soon confess to anything just to free themselves. But those rendered captive by myths are blissfully unaware of their captivity and cannot even imagine their need to escape.  As such, no chains, fences, walls or bars are needed to immobilise them.  Held hostage by false narratives, some quietly acquiesce to abetting harmful programs, while others take active roles in grave crimes—even kidnapping and torture—because they truly believe they are aiding the greater good.

The official narratives used to capture hearts and minds are as mundane and prosaic as the well-respected institutions that fabricate and distribute them. State bureaucracies, political parties, the mass media, corporations, NGOs, churches, the family and other ubiquitous institutions of culture, are the chief purveyors of Canada’s prevailing mythos.  Speeches, sermons, lectures, news items, novels and bedtime stories serve as common delivery systems for the memes that have coddled Canadians into complicity. Using hackneyed clichés and platitudes, beguiling myths are conjured up to render state crimes as if they were noble efforts to protect our ever-precious “Canadian values.”

When a psychopathy like the Canada Syndrome becomes normalised, decent ordinary people may feel a disturbing sense that the cultural system they inhabit is mad. To suppress such qualms of cultural dissonance, captives of a mass psychosis reach out for any kind of rational-sounding justification to help suspend their disbelief, keep calm and carry on. The talking points supplied by their pious narratives allow people to maintain a blissful ignorance of state crimes, and their role in supporting them.

Are hostages of official myths culpable for their wrongdoing?  Should such captives be held accountable, if they meant no harm, but were only trying to do good?  In law, liability rests on whether reasonable care was taken to avoid actions or omissions that could reasonably have been foreseen as likely to harm others.  So, yes, they are guilty, if they should have known better.

“Plausible deniability” is usually applied to figures in spy agencies, or corporate and political bureaucracies, who are trying to hide their guilt from the public eye. The term is also useful in seeing how captives of mass psychoses cover up the truth, not from others, but from themselves. It is a mental alibi. By avoiding facts that conflict with their false narratives, individuals can retain a studied ignorance that keeps them happily unaware of their own guilt. This careful inattention to facts may become such a reckless disregard for the truth as to cause gross negligence.

In law, wilful blindness and contrived ignorance refer to the deliberate avoidance of facts. The very act of looking away confirms that one did have a blind-eye knowledge of the denied fact, or at least some good reason to suspect its existence. This awareness, known in British courts as “Nelsonian knowledge,” is named after the Admiral who put a telescope to his blind eye and then honestly said he did not see what he knew was there.



Inuit Sue Federal Government Over Medical Experiments That Included Skin Grafts

Canada as Dr Mengele and genocider.


NDPP wrote:

Inuit Sue Federal Government Over Medical Experiments That Included Skin Grafts

Canada as Dr Mengele and genocider.


What the fuck is wrong with people?


Try: 'Captive Canada: The Canada Syndrome, A Captivating Mass Psychosis,' in links above...


Feds Making A Wreck of Reconciliation

"Now that the hysteria over the audacity of a national inquiry's use of the word 'genocide' has died down, let's take stock of how the Canadian government continues to proactively perpetuate systemic and systematic racism against Indigenous peoples. This is not reconciliation, it's Wreckonciliation, an ongoing colonial project of systematic and systematic genocide, and the Liberal government is one of its chief proponents in both actions, words and sometimes criminal negligence.

Your land acknowledgements are nothing more than lip service. You need to do the work and dismantle Canada's genocidal regime. Because the Liberals sure as hell won't."

Nor any other Canadian parliamentary political party. Canada's 'soft-genocide', settler-colonial project has succeeded in ways Apartheid Israel can only dream of. Hence the support for this ghastly monstrosity by the Canadian political class.


NDPP wrote:

Feds Making A Wreck of Reconciliation

 You need to do the work and dismantle Canada's genocidal regime. Because the Liberals sure as hell won't."


What would a dismantled Canadian genocial regieme look like?


Paladin1 wrote:

NDPP wrote:

Feds Making A Wreck of Reconciliation

 You need to do the work and dismantle Canada's genocidal regime. Because the Liberals sure as hell won't."


What would a dismantled Canadian genocial regieme look like?

That is a good question. If you are really interested in the answer then here is a link to the Truth and Reconciliations Final Report. Many of its recommendations were contained in the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Affairs. The problem and potential solutions have been presented to Canadians by First Nations leaders. However settler politicians will not piss off the electorate and indigenous voters are a small demographic.

The Commission defines reconciliation as an ongoing process of establishing and maintaining respectful relationships. A critical part of this process involves repairing damaged trust by making apologies, providing individual and collective reparations, and following through with concrete actions that demonstrate real societal change. Establishing respectful relationships also requires the revitalization of Indigenous law and legal traditions. It is important that all Canadians understand how traditional First Nations, Inuit, and Métis approaches to resolving conflict, repairing harm, and restoring relationships can inform the reconciliation process.

This is a quote from the Royal Commission that ended over twenty years ago. Governments of all stripes since then have met indigenous assertion of control over their homelands in the face of corporations wanting to benefit from their resources with the military wing of the RCMP, just like its been for a hundred and fifty years.

Change of this magnitude cannot be achieved by piecemeal reform of existing programs and services - however helpful any one of these reforms might be. It will take an act of national intention - a major, symbolic statement of intent, accompanied by the laws necessary to turn intentions into action.

This can best be done by a new Royal Proclamation, issued by the Queen as Canada's head of state and the historical guardian of the rights of Aboriginal peoples, and presented to the people of Canada in a special assembly called for the purpose.

The proclamation would set out the principles of the new relationship and outline the laws and institutions necessary to turn those principles into reality. It would not supplant but support and modernize the Royal Proclamation of 1763, which has been called Aboriginal peoples' Magna Carta.

The new proclamation would commit the government of Canada to making good on its proclaimed intentions by introducing new laws and institutions to implement them. The laws and institutions would come into being through companion legislation passed by Parliament:

  • An Aboriginal Nations Recognition and Government Act, to permit the government of Canada, following processes and criteria set out in the act, to recognize Aboriginal nations and make interim arrangements to finance their activities.
  • An Aboriginal Treaties Implementation Act, to establish processes and principles for recognized nations to renew their existing treaties or create new ones. This act would also establish several regional treaty commissions to facilitate and support treaty negotiations, which would be conducted by representatives of the governments concerned.
  • An Aboriginal Lands and Treaties Tribunal Act, which would establish an independent body to decide on specific claims, ensure that treaty negotiations are conducted and financed fairly, and protect the interests of affected parties while treaties are being negotiated.
  • An Aboriginal Parliament Act, to establish a body to represent Aboriginal peoples within federal governing institutions and advise Parliament on matters affecting Aboriginal people. (A constitutional amendment, to come later, would create a House of First Peoples, to become part of Parliament along with the House of Commons and the Senate.)
  • An Aboriginal Relations Department Act and an Indian and Inuit Services Department Act, to set up two departments to replace the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development - one to implement the new relationship with Aboriginal nations, the second to administer continuing services for groups that have not yet opted for self-government.

The proclamation and companion legislation can be initiated by the federal government acting on its own. But it would be better for the future of the relationship and for the negotiations that lie ahead if the governments of Canada, the provinces, the territories and the Aboriginal nations were to work together from the very beginning.

We propose that close consultations with Aboriginal peoples and provincial governments on the content of the proclamation and companion legislation begin within six months of the publication of this report.

Provincial and territorial governments have benefited greatly from Aboriginal peoples' loss of lands and resources. They have a moral and a legal responsibility to participate fully in measures to restore self-reliance and autonomy, including land redistribution, the redesign of government responsibilities, and arrangements for co-management of shared resources.

If the wealth of our homelands is equitably shared with us, and if there is no forced interference in our way of life, we could fully regain and exercise our traditional capacity to govern...

Vice-Chief John McDonald
Prince Albert Tribal Council
La Ronge, Saskatchewan


Thanks I'm actually very interested in it. Would this be an appropriate area to discuss some of the points you quoted?


"For me July 1st and July 4th are Indigenous resistance to settler-states days! I will work these days!"


Oh Oh Canada! (and vid)

Lilwat Women's Warrior Song


NDPP wrote:

"For me July 1st and July 4th are Indigenous resistance to settler-states days! I will work these days!"



Ya, I'm working too. 


Appeal For Calm as Tensions Mount in Oka Over Land Transfer to Kanestatake (and vid)

"There were appeals for calm Thursday amid steadily mounting tensions in Oka over a private developer's plan to return land to the Mohawks of Kanesatake..."