Opinion

EDITORIAL: Past mistakes under scrutiny

It’s sure to be a solemn time for many of those taking part in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Victoria.

The trauma inflicted by the 150-year legacy of Indian residential schools has shaped Canadian society as we know it. First Nations continue to have an uneasy relationship with the country they are born into. That won’t change after this weekend, or even once the commission finishes hearing from the 150,000 or so people expected to tell their stories across the country.

We might ask if it’s worth the pain to reopen old wounds and whether we’d all be better off by simply forgetting.

In the 21st century, it seems beyond the pale for people to treat each other the way earlier generations did.

We are a society that prides itself on our tolerance, but the fact is, we are not that far removed from our past.

The idea of forcing hegemony was a popular notion among many Canadians throughout our history.

Almost every ethnic group that was somehow alien to the mainstream has stories of attempted assimilation. In almost every case the process was a profound failure.

But it is the residential schools – their thoroughness and persistence – that left the largest legacy of damage to a population that really should be at the core of who we are as a nation.

As many as 3,000 people are expected to add their voices to the commission at the Victoria Conference Centre.

Some will recall the kindness of teachers and others who really believed they were doing what was best for the children in their care. Others will reveal a depth of evil that provokes emotions that should be harder to stir from events that happened so long ago.

It’s time for Canadians to open ourselves to doing what will correct past mistakes. We need to celebrate cultures authorities once tried to destroy.

– Victoria News

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