Hidden from History:
The Canadian Holocaust
Letter to Editor from Daughter of Church Minister
This letter to the editor of The Ubyssey was written in response to a letter published the previous week that clearly towed the official United Church line (same wording that shows up elsewhere) on Kevin. My letter was not printed by The Ubyssey. It was however picked up by the Radical, and I encourage its publication elsewhere.
(As printed in The Radical, Oct. 2001 (Quesnel, BC)
DAUGHTER OF CHURCH MINISTER
SUPPORTS REV. KEVIN ANNETT'S CLAIMS
Letters to the Editor
Room 24, Student Union Building
University of British Columbia
I am writing in response to Adam Weathermon's letter (Sept. 28) questioning the validity of the statements of the Rev. Kevin Annett in his letter (Sept. 25) in regards to the 50,000 deaths that occurred in church-run residential schools and his claims that the trauma forced on our First Nations Peoples amounts to mass murder and genocide.
You ask, Mr. Weathermon, if "any of these claims" could "be correct?" I, too, come from a United Church background. My father is a minister of that church and I have through much of my adult life attended United Churches. So, if anything, I have had a bias in favor of the United Church.
I first became aware of the Rev. Annett during the time of his de-listing hearing back in 1997, as a friend of mine, a person of very sound judgment (and of United Church background), had heard of and was attending this hearing. Her reports expressed shock and outrage at the way the United Church officials were treating this young man who they, themselves admitted, was an exemplary minister. The United Church officials, at the hearing, stated that there were no charges against him, and yet they insisted on carrying on with what viewers called a mockery of justice, a kangaroo court.
By the time I actually met Rev. Annett two years ago, I had read a little about the residential schools, like most people, but did not know much. I sat down with Rev. Annett and asked him to tell me his story. What I learned took me by surprise and shook me deeply. Anyone who sits and hears his story will be impressed by his courage (in challenging the powers that be), his compassion (for those the churches have sought to destroy in the name of Jesus) and his honesty. He speaks with an integrity that is very rare in our world.
Since then I have heard story after story from survivors of the residential schools that validate what Rev. Annett says. I have also seen the fear in their faces when they talk about how some band council members continue to terrorize those who would speak out with the truth: that those band council people have learned the white man's ways and will kill to gain and keep their power. They are working side by side with the officials of the churches, the RCMP and government, to keep buried the truth of what was happening in the residential schools, and what continues to happen as a result of the schools. Groups which cut their ties with Rev. Annett, do so usually as a result of intimidation, misinformation, bribery or a combination thereof.
I have also read documents in the Indian Affairs archives, here on campus, that show that there was a death rate of around 50% at residential schools; that parents were forced to sign over custody of their children to the schools' principals; and that it was the churches that insisted that the schools be church run. The sense that I get reading these documents is that the churches felt that they were the best people to "beat the savage out of the Indian." These schools were not about education as we know it. They were about teaching the Indian who was boss, and getting rid of those who would not accept European supremacy. And that, Mr. Weathermon, is the foundation for genocide.
I am deeply sorry that the officials of the United Church, and the Anglican and Catholic Churches are so tied to their need for power that they are unable and unwilling to look inside and face the real truth of their shadows. The "apologies" and "healing path" that they offer are superficial; they are offered as gifts from a tyrant slave owner to slave, and do nothing other than let them pat each other on the back for their good deeds.
Meanwhile, the churches continue to send out letters like the one you quote to destroy the reputations of the honest souls who are really doing God's work. If Rev. Annett's claims were not true, why would the churches (and governments) want so badly to destroy him? Like you, they never address the issues he raises, the issues that need our very best attention.