… alle Verhältnisse umzuwerfen, in denen der Mensch ein erniedrigtes, ein geknechtetes, ein verlassenes, ein verächtliches Wesen ist … (Marx)

Zur Kritik an einer Entschuldigung, welche keine ist

Posted by entdinglichung - 4. Juli 2008

Wie der australische Premierminister Kevin Rudd im Februar hat sich nun auch der kanadische Regierungschef Stephen Harper bei den UreinwohnerInnen Kanadas für die jahrzehntelange Verschleppung von Kindern zur Umerziehung (verbunden mit endemischer psychischer, physischer und sexualisierter Gewalt) in sogenannte Residential Schools, welche von den vier grossen Kirchen des Landes geleitet wurden, „entschuldigt“ … viele Native Activists und ihren UnterstützerInnen empfinden diesen Schritt (zumal nicht mit praktischen Konsequenzen verbunden) als ungenügend:

aus: Mike Krebs: The Harper ‘Apology’ — Saying ‘Sorry’ with a Forked Tongue

The residential school system had the effect of fostering complete self-hatred in most of those who went through it, building a collective psychology within Indigenous people that reproduced the colonizer’s image of them. Indigenous people were forced to internalize a conception of themselves as being drunken, lazy, and stupid. Weakening Indigenous communities, cultures, and nations was the primary goal, with little in the way of “education” even in terms of Western conceptions of learning.

Challenging the Canadian state and the underlying settler project

These political implications of the residential school project continue today. It has had such a disastrous effect on the inter-personal relationships of Indigenous people that its wounds are overcome only with immense individual and collective struggle.

Generations of physical and sexual abuse, alcohol and drug addiction, continued child apprehension by organs of the Canadian state, alarming rates of suicide — these are only the more visible of the many problems Indigenous people have been forced to work through because of the residential school experience. As a result, the ability of Indigenous communities to effectively organize against the continued theft of lands and resources is directly weakened.

Yet this resistance continues, and should be understood as one of the main factors influencing the decision of the Canadian government to issue this “apology.” Right now there are numerous struggles by Indigenous people within Canada over land and resources. These struggles are intensifying in response to the Canadian capitalist economy’s increased hunger for valuable resources such as platinum, uranium, and oil in a time of increasing prices, scarcity, and volatility in energy markets.

These struggles of Indigenous people, be it Haudenosaunee, Cree, Innu, Anishininimowin, or Tahltan, just to list a few examples, are only in part over who the land in question “belongs” to in the Western sense of private property. When Indigenous people assert sovereignty over their lands, this also challenges the legitimacy of the entire Canadian nation state and the settler project that underpins it.

More importantly, it involves struggles for the assertion of a different conception of land and of Indigenous worldviews that see the well being of humans and the state of the land and all its living beings as inseparable. This means a respect for the earth and valuing life in a way totally alien from the “market value” these things may or may not have under capitalist relations.

These struggles over the land mark a departure from engaging with the Canadian political establishment on the terms it tries to set. Evidence of this can be seen in the consistent criminalization that goes on whenever Indigenous people make stands for their rights. Organizers like Shaun Brant, the KI 6, Robert Lovelace, and Wolverine are presented by the mainstream media, the police, and politicians as “criminals,” while the actual political content and nature of their actions is hidden.

The “apology” of Harper, along with the entire “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” project, must in the end be understood in this context. For example, we are being asked to engage on the level of accepting whether the apology is “sincere” or not and whether the settlement money is “enough,” and to welcome the “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” as a meaningful space in which to heal.

This is a direct attempt to reframe the direction of Indigenous struggles by looking for solutions, or at least dialogue, within the framework of the Canadian settler state as it exists today. Could there be a more fundamental attack on Indigenous sovereignty than this, given the direction in which many Indigenous struggles are heading all across Canada?

aus: Roland Chrisjohn/Andrea Bear Nicholas/Karen Stote/James Craven (Omahkohkiaayo i’poyi)/Tanya Wasacase/Pierre Loiselle/Andrea O. Smith: An Historic Non-Apology, Completely and Utterly Not Accepted

We don’t know about you, but we’ve been unable to swing a dead cat since Wednesday without whacking someone telling us about how the “apology” has “closed a painful chapter” and signals “a new beginning in relations” between “Canadians and Indian-Canadians” (sic). Like someone tearing apart a picture of a former boyfriend or girlfriend, spitting on it, and walking away from the pieces tossed over the shoulder, however, we’ve been witnessing a made-up ceremony, one where the participants, for various reasons, are trying more to convince themselves they’ve dealt with all the serious issues rather than actually putting an end to them.

Canada has, once again, missed a truly historic opportunity, putting paste on display rather than an authentic diamond, because the diamond, in someone’s estimation, would have been far too expensive. Already, after the patina of ceremony has worn off, there have been some rumblings, primarily around the fact the Mr. Harper’s statement was long on being sorry and short on being active. And as we pointed out at the start, a real apology promises to undo, as far as possible, the damage done. But now that the statement is revealed as just another evasion, we must caution against whatever action the governments of Canada would propose; as we’ve tried to make clear, the “action” Mr. Harper’s statement endorses, the “Truth” and “Reconciliation” Commission, is no action at all. And someone who steals your car, wrecks it, and is unrepentant about his/her actions is most definitely not the person you’d choose to repair it or replace it.

But that person most certainly at the very least would be responsible to pay the costs of repair or replacement. If this be genocide, the role of Canada’s government (and churches) is to make it possible for us to once again make ourselves whole, nothing more and nothing less. How should we do this, how long it will take us, where do we start… these questions and more crowd in on us all. But they are questions we must identify, discuss, and answer ourselves.

Those of you who saw clearly and immediately the farce that was being played out; those of you who felt in your heart of hearts that the whole orchestration was out of tune but couldn’t identify the offending instruments until now; and those of you who were misled until you brought the powers of your own intellect to the examination of this exercise in rhetorical excess; whatever your history is that led you to complete this overlong commentary; we invite you to join in the task of building what ultimately must replace this charade, some kind of response authentically committed to truth in this history and justice in its resolution.

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