Monday, June 23, 2008

The White Mans' Burden: Guilt

All this talk in Canada about 'the Apology' to Indians and how everybody reacted has really got me thinking.

What's behind or underneath all this brouhaha?

What's all the excitement about?

What, exactly, is an apology, anyway?


What is precursor to apology and acknowledgement? What is the groundbeing of forgiveness?


That is what's behind this incredibly sick polite-you-to-death style of racism I've seen in British Columbia. That's what's behind the reality that Canadian Indians have never been accepted into Canadian society. It just hasn't happened. Not like it has in the States, where I used to live.

The acknowledgement of the Canadian government that Indian kids were forced, by law, to go to these concentration camps in such places as Kamloops and Cranbrook, and have the most terrible things happen to them...

To apologize for creating so many screwed up families.

This is an incredible step for Canada.
A step towards wholeness and maturity.

This, by direct inference, means that Indians are NOT naturally screwed up, lazy and 'genetically disposed to alcoholism'!

You must infer more.

For ten thousand years, Canadian Indians lived rich and productive lives. Their families produced stable and productive adults. Up until about the late 1800's, where government agents sent smallpox infested gift blankets to First Nation communities.

This eliminated over 95% of healthy Native Men, Women and Children in BC.

I mean, after this successful germ-warfare attack, only about 4% of the original inhabitants were left.

Then came the Mission School nightmare. Over one hundred years of sustained torment.

No wonder so many non-Indian folks just can't figure out out why Indians can't get it together. They simply don't know BC history. Or Canadian history, for that matter. They don't know what Canada did to the Aboriginals here.

That part is avoided by history books, thank you.

The point I want to establish here is that there is a collective guilt in Canada, by Canadians, for the abuse and neglect and general chaos created in the Indian world. And I don't mean responsibility, either. I mean simple guilt by association.

And now, a collective guilt that has just been lessened.

Please remember that my Lifeskills Lexicon definition includes both healthy and toxic forms.

Healthy guilt leads to action.

Toxic guilt keeps us stuck in defeating behaviours.

When we acknowledge our responsibility in someones suffering, there is a release. A lightening up. New choices present themselves.

Canada has just lightened up about Indians.

There is, after all, Hope for the Aboriginals of Canada.

And, indeed, hope for Canada.

Terry Harris

1 comment:

Tim said...

I am a white man and I feel guilty. I was raised Roman Catholic. I'm pretty sure that has everything to do with it.