Call and response:
“Lest We Forget”
Canada’s Indian Residential Schools?
“Why don’t you just get over it?!”
The above is a rephrasing and expansion of something Justice Murray Sinclair, Chair of the Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission gently pointed out as he began the closing day of the Commission’s final National Event in Edmonton. Justice Sinclair did not have any anger in his voice or his words as he told the story of being in New York last September for the commemoration of 9/11 and hearing the words “Never forget”. He did mention Remembrance day, but the above reference to the Holocaust is my addition. He was directly addressing his expectation that many at the Event had heard the words “Get over it” in conversation about the Residential School experience.
Why is it, I wonder, that so many can say “Get over it” to victims of childhood sexual abuse, victims of rape, survivors of attempted genocide, and those struggling to be parents when they never knew parents of their own? Why is it that so many Canadians can say “Get over it” to aboriginal people when they would never imagine saying “Get over it” to survivors of Rwanda, Bosnia, Apartheid or the Nazi death camps?
Is it simply racism?
I suppose Canadians like to think that “We” helped to bring down the Nazis, “We” refused to play Sun City, “We” were peacekeepers in Bosnia, “We” and our General tried to stop the genocide in Rwanda. . .
But “We” stood by as the children were taken to the schools. “We” were the police who forced them from their parents’ arms. “We” were the staff who ate well while the children starved. “We” sent the children out to the unmarked graveyard to bury their schoolmates.
Maybe many of us say “get over it” because we have barely begun to confess to ourselves our own complicity in the catastrophe.
It’s long past time for the rest of us to acknowledge our own guilt and racism. Once we have done that, maybe we can ourselves work to get over it.