Orange flag that says “Every Child Matters” against blue sky. Credit: Chris Robert / Unsplash

The National Post has given space to another racist, historical slant that counters the lived experiences of thousands of First Nation peoples. In her recent column, What we don’t know about unmarked graves at residential schools, Barbara Kay writes that known playwright Tomson Highway wrote about learning English and piano at a residential school that led to “creative self-realization.” But Tomson’s experience does not reflect the thousands of First Nations who were actually harmed in residential schools. Apparently giving weight or voices to the thousands of affected or harmed children is demonstrative of a very evil cult at work. 

Kay pounces on this injustice saying, if her son Jon Kay had kept his editorial job at the Walrus then, Canadians, in general would be so much the richer having read one story on how sainted the residential school experience was for some Indian kids.

In the time of so-called “reconciliation,” the Kays are bent on keeping old mainstream and colonial narratives alive. These narratives state that the kidnapping and forced labour of First Nation children in residential schools did not happen. These narratives assure us that residential schools were in fact utopian, places of nirvana where First Nation children learned many useful tools so they could take their rightful place in Canada.

The breaking of Indigenous families and taking of children, some as young as toddlers, never happened, because it was not recorded, the colonial narratives argue. 

But would church and state document their genocidal actions? And if they did indeed track this data, would they want to release this to the residential school survivors who are looking for family or for proof of historical wrongs? 

After beating the dead horse of her son’s “abrupt departure” from the Walrus, Barbara Kay then goes on to vilify the actions taken against ousted professor Frances Widdowson at Mount Royal University. Kay states that there was some race hustling happening at this institution, but Kay should know this is in the Cowtown of Calgary, so maybe race rustling is more adequate for her diatribe.

Barbara and Jon Kay are symbolic of the whitesplaining powers that be in Canada that cannot rest if they are going to be held to account by the original peoples who were here long before this colonial state ever existed. But the Kays are powerless without elevated academic racism that is written, peer reviewed by other white professors then promoted as viable research. The elevation of racist tropes are no longer getting fast tracked in universities and this is a problem! 

Widdowson has questioned the narratives of First Nations for many years, though she would allow some “ethnic talk” but it had to be done within the parameters of white supremacy. Otherwise, the settler colonials who have profited off this stolen land might have their societal foundation questioned and then obliterated. This cannot happen.

Barbara Kay then goes on to credit Widdowson with doing research on the two hundred and fifteen possible graves at Kamloops Indian Residential school. Kay quickly marches to Jacques Rouillard and his heretical piece, In Kamloops, not one body has been found

Widdowson and Rouillard are winding and weaving around the argument that this mass grave may not even have bodies of children in it. This grave could be filled with catholic priests no doubt still crouched on their knees praying for the souls of the savage Indians they had to tame at Kamloops Residential School.

Kay picks up speed saying suddenly. This is not just about the possible two hundred and fifteen children in one mass grave – “unexcavated” – but now it’s become a runaway train talking about thousands of missing First Nation Indigenous children. 

Kay picks up on the fact that there is a difference between mass graves and unmarked graves. If there are hundreds of bodies piled together it is merely a horizontal series of unmarked graves; but mass graves would mean genocide, says Kay. Tut-tut, no need to go bringing in the ugly word of genocide like it may have actual application in Canada.

Those words (shudder), “mass graves,” were taken as an idea and the Global News audiences ran wild with it. Kay points to Rouillard as saying that no actual remains have been found. This is really a thesis about a possible “disappearance” of kids close to the Kamloops residential school.

Kay points to Rouillard’s convoluted reasoning that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Report says nothing about “genocide.” In fact, the writers of this document were hard pressed to even use “cultural genocide.” In fact, cultural genocide is still being challenged by some of our non-First Nation accredited, academic “betters.”

Kay fails to mention that the TRC was funded and largely controlled by the federal government. If the federal government was not ready to use the term genocide; then their hired Indigenous commissioners also could not go down this path. This term could not be used – especially if these commissioners wanted a paycheck, further work or at some point a possible Senate position?

Finally, Kay looks skeptically at the 215 bodies horizontally unmarked as evidence of nothing. Kay does not address the scientific data that was undertaken to assess the unmarked horizontal bodies of two hundred and fifteen people or heretically stated as bodies in a mass grave.

Kay’s final closing arguments point fingers once again at her son’s remaining hurt at losing an editor’s position for trying to publish the borderline award winning article of Tomson Highway and links back to the firing of Widdowson and Rouillard’s article. 

Kay herself says shouldn’t reconciliation attempts contain the truth? Apparently, this is accurate because Barbara and Jon Kay’s continued whitesplaining commentaries that always allude to Jon’s “abrupt departure” are at the root about a white man of privilege losing the power to control the narrative. There is no greater threat to the myths of Canadian greatness than when a white man in a position of power is taken down. His own mother will forever bring this up, and freeride off tragedy or stereotypes while people in society begin to right the wrongs that are needed when society changes for the better.

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Rachel Snow

Rachel Ann Snow is Iyahe Nakoda, the daughter of late Reverend Dr. Chief John Snow. She holds a juris doctor from the College of Law, University of Saskatchewan and is an outspoken educator, speaker, writer...