Hidden from History:
The Canadian Holocaust
"He can't defend himself from inside a prison cell"
What it's like being an unofficial political prisoner in lovely old Canada
by Kevin D. Annett
Yesterday, the wife of a native man who is being illegally held on a frame-up charge in Vancouver asked me to help get him out of jail.
She implored me to do so with these words:
"We have no money and no supporters. We're on our own. And he can't defend himself from inside a prison cell."
Her tearful words cut straight to my heart, for like my native brother, I have been staring out from behind solid bars of injustice and unlawful confinement for nine years.
There are lots of prisons in our sad little world, but the most insidious kind is not the one of stone and metal, but the social isolation and denigration imposed on those like myself who expose the crimes of those in power, and who must pay for our voice with our lives.
The result is the same. Both my native brother and I are impoverished, unable to find work, and treated like social outcasts. You don't take on the United Church of Canada, its corporate funder MacMillan-Bloedel/Weyerhauser, the RCMP, and the government of Canada - as I have done - and walk away from the encounter intact.
Since October, 1994, when I first challenged my ex-employer, the United Church of Canada, over its theft of native land and murder of native children on Vancouver Island, I have known what it is to be fired, expelled from my career and livelihood, blacklisted, prevented from building a new life, legally and physically assaulted, and thrust into a social and spiritual isolation as bad as any jail cell.
During those long nine years, I have seen more and more sympathetic people turn away and give up from supporting my struggle to survive, tell my story, and raise my family, simply because what I was and am exposing was too horrifying for them.
I have survived in prison, like my native brother is doing, but at a tremendous price. Political prisoners in Canada - and there are many of us - must fight the constant self-hatred that comes from thinking: "This can't be happening to me! This is Canada, a democracy! We're not in China or Uganda or (now) the USA! I must have done something wrong to deserve what I am getting."
It's an uphill struggle, every day, to go on believing in yourself, and in what you know is true, as an unofficial political prisoner and internal exile in a place like Canada, where (to quote my native brother): "Everyone is walking around in a big fucking slumber."
If I was a citizen of a repressive third world country, or if I had have taken on the Roman Catholic church, even, I would probably have international publicity by now, along with the cause I am part of. But sadly, I am a prisoner of a liberal democracy and its ultra-liberal church. And that has made my work and person an uncomfortable "inconvenience" for many so-called progressive people and groups - and has kept me in prison.
Let me tell you specifically what this means for me, in a week:
1. I cannot find work. Whenever I apply for a job, and I reach the interview phase, I am told either that a) my "history" of "trouble" with the United Church prevents my hiring, or b) "concerned parties" have spoken to the employer about so-called "problems" they would have hiring me.
These "concerned parties", I have learned, are members of "E" Division of the RCMP and officials or lawyers of the BC Conference of the United Church, including Jon Jessiman, Stuart Lyster, Debra Bowman, and Inspector Peter Montague of "Our specialty is smear campaigns" Gustafson Lake infamy.
For instance, last February, I was invited by a sociology professor at the University of BC to give an extended lecture series to his classes that would have brought in considerable income for me, and opened up new job possibilities in the academic world.
After one lecture, an unnamed United Church minister phoned Neil Guppy, vice-president of UBC, and UBC President Martha Piper, and arranged to have my lecture series cancelled, which it was. I was never paid for even the lecture I gave, as I had been promised, and the prof who invited me was unofficially censured and put on departmental review.
This is how the church and the feds not only keep me isolated and stigmatized, but punishes those academics and others who would dare to support me and the efforts to document religious and state-sponsored Genocide in Canada.
2. I cannot find sustained support in the community. The average involvement time of people in our Truth Commission is from one to three months. Overt threats, harrassment, the smear campaign against me being led by the state-funded native "leaders" like Ed John and his Port Alberni associates, and the huge and frightening nature of our work, deters most people from sticking with this cause, which after all is so close to home and more of a personal threat to one's safety than, say, the war in Iraq.
3. I cannot find public or media exposure. The editor of the Vancouver Sun admitted to a friend of mine in August, 1998, that an "unofficial blackout" exists on Kevin Annett and the issue of the murder of native children, across Canada. This has been confirmed time and again to me by individual reporters of the mainline press, who try to cover our evidence of murder, sterilizations and so forth, only to have their work stopped by their editors, without any good reason.
This isolation is not accidental; it's the way that dissidents from the dominant culture, like me, are treated. If I was an Indian, I'd be dead by now; but a white man who has named names is executed in Canada through a three-fold process of isolation, denigration and slow but sure economic strangulation.
I know this is true, because it's happening to me, right now. And to my family of four.
Where does this leave me, and you, the reader?
This isn't meant to evoke guilt, self-justification or anger on your part. This isn't yet another request for funds. None of that helps anything, in the long run.
This is an appeal to help break me out of prison.
Some of you have helped me, consistently. But your efforts are not getting my story or the wider truth of Genocide of so many innocents into the public eye, and into international forums of justice.
We need new methods, new tactics, and new resources. The old ones have not worked.
Before anything else, I need to speak with all of you, personally, directly. The social isolation must be broken down.
I write this with some urgency, because my health is failing me more, and I don't want the enormous knowledge I carry in me to die with me. Too many eyewitnesses have died up to now. One of our key witnesses to the secret burial sites of murdered Indian people in south central BC just died suddenly a few weeks ago in Kelowna. And with her vanished the knowledge of where those physical remains lie.
That's what the criminals want. And they'll get their way, again and again, unless we who have the knowledge that can put them away are armed, and allowed to speak and act, free of this prison.
I can only get free by having public meetings and other venues in which I can speak, and share the evidence and truth I am carrying. I need your help in organizing such forums. I need your help to carry this burden Creator has given me.
Will you help me, and the silenced innocents?
With hope and thanks,
Canada V9R 2H8
For direct bank deposits to help sustain me, my family, and our Truth Commission into Genocide in Canada, please deposit (regularly?) to:
Scotia Bank, City Centre branch
65 Commercial Street
Nanaimo, BC, Canada
Account of Lori O'Rorke
Account No.: 40220 00189 29