End extinction of Aboriginal people
By Catherine Montour

I am not surprised at the way the Government of Canada has pushed aside the Native peoples' claim of abuse they have suffered at the many residential schools across Canada.

If I were to compare it to anything, I would have to compare it to the Holocaust. Native People were treated in very much the same manner. Native children were taken from their parents, rounded up like herds of sheep going to slaughter. They were forbidden to use their original names (Native or otherwise) and they were given numbers as names. They were also forbidden to use their language or practise their religion. Far too many children were physically and sexually abused, some at five years of age, by the very priests and teachers into whose hands the children had been placed by the government. Some children even died as a result of that abuse.

According to the newspaper, The Montreal Gazette, dated March 26, 2002, "Jean Chretien created the special committee after last year's throne speech in which the Liberals pledged to better the lives of Canada's 1.4 million Aboriginal people."

If this is so, then where is the justice? The message is clear.

As stated in The Gazette, "The Government spends more than $400 million each year negotiating Native agreements but is unhappy with the results, according to notes prepared for a special cabinet committee."

Huge amounts are spent to avoid responsibility of Native people's abuse and repression.

Maybe if Jean Chretien's father was taken away at an early age, forbidden to speak French and practise his religion, and was sexually abused, he would not be a prime minister today. His father would have felt worthless, unable to care for or love his children. He would probably have been an alcoholic because he had to try to forget all that has happened to him. Jean would have suffered along with his father, feeling the same self-worthlessness. This would have carried on for generations.

Since my father's passing, the message from the Government is clear. Wait and stall until more residential school survivors are dead and buried and all other claims will die along with them. In my mind, there will be no justice for my father, or for his children and the generations to come. There will be only feelings of self-worthlessness.

The world should sit up and take notice of the silent and slow extinction of Aboriginal people by their country's governments. Write your government today to protest the extinction of our language, religion and nationhood.

Catherine Montour is a Kahnawake Mohawk who wrote this piece for her fellow Natives to read in The Eastern Door newspaper where it was first published.
Editor's note: The opposing attitudes and views of these two Mohawk women (see Ms. Deom's article in this issue: A journey of the spirit) provides interesting insight. They and other articles are printed here to assist in our understanding of the needs of Aboriginal people and to help us to find ways for all of us to live together in peace and co-operation.