Friday, May 18, 2007

Yeah $25 G's Sounds Just About Right

At the risk of offending some of my native fellow Canadians. I remark that the 'govie' is finally trying to bring some closure to the scandal of the Residential School system. Those 'affected' by the 'system' directly, or indirectly, will each recieve a settlement of at least $25 000 WITHOUT HAVING TO PROVE ANYTHING - if they give up any further right to sue the government. "Common experience payments", they're called. By the time the process is finished 5 to 6 billion dollars will be spent on an estimated 76 000 'survivors'.

Already the government is sponsoring 'courses' to prepare reserves for the sudden glut of money that will appear. Sharpies are already moving in to help the spending, one car dealer offering to put beneficiaries in the vehicle of their choice before the cheques come in. Just hearing about this should qualify every Canadian for a 'common experience' award, the same way hearing about grandpa's 'days with the longskirts' hurt somebody's feelings when they heard them.

Is it going to change anything? You bet. It's another of whitey's victimization schemes. Give everybody a few bucks to make a problem go away, the money causes a rash of of problems on reserves giving cause for more redress at some time in the future. If you hadn't give us all that money .....

And what a problem. Some people were abused at residential schools, no doubt. Some people are abused on reserves every day. Some kids have hellish lives in cities and towns all across Canada with parents who feel too bad about themselves to feel much about their kids. But I'd bet my share of the 6 billion that there are a lot more abused kids around to-day, than ever haunted the halls of residential schools.

When those residential schools were started, Canada was a far different place. Travel was nowhere near as easy or timely as it is now. Links to remote places were tenuous at best and virtually non-existent in others. An accident in the back country would get you a grave more often than a hospital bed. Native kids lived with parents, in some places, only moderately differently than their ancestors had when the first 'whites' showed up - times when a bad winter might decimate a whole village, or a european disease would change lives. The residential schools were an instrument of a government policy that could see little benefit in the native way of life. But if the government had encouraged 'the old ways', the accusations to-day might have been genocide instead of abuse. Being removed from family is tough on any kid, but there were kids who would refuse to go 'home' on holidays, for there was nothing to do there that compared with what the schools offered. Some kids were abused by the 'sickos' who find their ways into every organization and retribution should be available to them. But the notion of lining up for a hand out is demeaning.

And yet that is how we deal with our problems. Offer a 'freebie' to everybody, and silence those really hurt with years of litigation for being 'unreasonable'. It's called divide and conquer. Making the payout contingent on all signing-off would have been more effective but poorer optics. As it is, there will now be three classes of native people - the 'smart' who take their money, the 'stupid' who try to sue and the 'really stupid' who refuse to take part in a travesty.

To some people there was nothing good came out of the residential schools program This 'settlement' is just another one.

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