"Can non-aboriginals handle the truth about the abuses that happened in Canada’s Indian residential schools?" This is a direct quote first line of an article that appeared in the online version of The Anglican Journal, the Anglican Church of Canada's news source, today. See the complete story by clicking the following link: Full Text of Anglican Journal Article
Just to catch the rest of you up on what happened in Canada.... residential schools run by the Anglican Church of Canada and other Christian institutions early in the 20th century took First Nations (indigenous) children away from their homes and families and boarded them in schools where they were forbidden from learning their language or culture and many of these children were abused by the people who ran the schools. For more on this history see: Residential Schools History CBC In recent years the churches involved and the government of Canada have come to an agreement for financial resolution and a "Truth and Reconciliation Commission" is being convened.
Just when you thought it was safe to think that the Anglican Church of Canada might be coming to terms with the truth by appointing it's first national indigenous bishop in The Right Rev. Mark MacDonald (see photo by Art Babych from the Anglican Journal article) and setting up this Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the interim director Robert Watts leaves the impression that the white people who perpetrated these atrocities may not be able to "handle the truth" about what happened there.
Ok, ok.... maybe he was misquoted or misunderstood.... but come on people! It's the duty of this commission to make certain that the people who have the privilege (i.e. the white majority Canadian population and the institutional church and state) come to terms with and admit their part in the atrocities committed at the residential schools. As a white Canadian I hear the racist remarks of other whites regarding indigenous people all the time! It's a national scandal that in one of the most inclusive societies in the Western world the indigenous First Nations people are counted by many Canadians as second class humans at best.
I think the very idea that Canadians can't handle the truth about what happened in those schools is a weather vane for the necessity for Truth and Reconciliation. So get with it white Canadians. Get up your courage and let's look together at what happens when one dominant group of people decides what's best for another group whose culture, heritage, language and values are different from the dominant majority. Let's look racism in the face. Let's look abuse in the face and take responsibility for our part in what still exists in Canada today.
As James Cone asserts regarding issues of black/white racism in the United States, if you live in privilege you must work for justice for those oppressed by that privilege. If you don't, you're part of the mechanism that perpetuates it. There is no neutral ground. We're either actively working to end the oppression that our privilege produces or we ourselves are part of the problem.