Chen-ou Liu's Translation Project: First English-Chinese Haiku and Tanka Blog

Friday, June 25, 2021

Unmarked Children's Graves Tanka

This Brave New World, XI

to Justin Trudeau who feels sorry about the "terrible mistakes [Not Crimes] of the past."

unmarked children's graves
found in summer heat ...
another report on racism
waiting to to be written

FYI: CBC News, June 24: Sask. First Nation announces discovery of 751 unmarked graves near former residential school And CBC News, June 27: Why criminal charges for deaths at residential schools would be unprecedented — and enormously complex

Cowessess Chief Cadmus Delorme said he is treating the site of 751 unmarked graves at the former Marieval Indian Residential School "like a crime scene."

Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) Chief Bobby Cameron said the deaths of children at the school was "a crime against humanity."

And yet, after the second discovery in less than a month of hundreds of previously unknown burials at former residential schools, there is no indication that criminal charges of any kind will be laid in connection to those deaths. ...

Note: ... The buried children died afraid and alone—away from their families—in “schools” that were more akin to re-education camps, run by the Canadian government and the Christian churches from the 1830s to 1996. Many could have survived if public will had forced Ottawa to implement the life-saving reforms posited by Dr. Peter Henderson Bryce, the chief medical health officer of the Department of Indian Affairs in 1907. Bryce found that tuberculosis was ravaging the malnourished children at 20 times the rate of others, fuelled by dramatically unequal “Indian” health funding and poor health practices. As the 1907 headline of the Evening Citizen reported, there was “absolute inattention to the bare necessities of health” and the schools were “veritable hotbeds of disease.” Other newspapers wrote that the children were “dying like flies,” compelling lawyer Samuel Hume Blake to say in 1908, “In that Canada fails to obviate the preventable causes of deaths, it brings itself into unpleasant nearness to manslaughter.”

Canada refused to implement Bryce’s reforms and pushed him out of the public service in 1922 for refusing to stay quiet. That same year, Bryce walked onto the premises of Ottawa bookseller James Hope & Sons with his pamphlet, “The Story of a National Crime.” More headlines followed, but then the story died—and so did the children. Bryce died in 1932 and he was erased from Canada’s history. His family says his greatest lament was that “the work did not get done.” He must have felt like he, too, was screaming into silence.... 

-- Cindy Blackstock, "Screaming into silence," Maclean's, June 30