Tag Archives: indigenous

On the Pope’s visit to Canada in 2022, and more

The Pope was recently in Canada to apologize for the role of the Catholic Church in the residential school system and the suffering that was inflicted on indigenous people within Canada. Here’s the  NYTimes on the visit. Here’s NCR onlineEven our Prime Minister weighed in.

When it was over, we got follow up stories from the NYTimes, from America Magazine and from NCR online, each assessing the visit, as well as highlighting statements like: Pope Francis Calling the Abuse of Indigenous People in Canada a “Genocide”.

Overall, many seemed unsatisfied with it, as you can see from this piece, Why Pope Francis’ Canada school apology isn’t enough, and this piece, ‘Indigenous representatives had no voice’ at Quebec City Papal event. Even during the events, some indigenous people expressed their negative feelings towards it all, as this story showed, ‘I couldn’t stay silent ‘ says Cree singer who performed powerful message. It didn’t help that some  bishops seemed to be raising money from it.  Even prominent Catholics did not see it as a success, though for different reasons than indigenous people did: 3 views on pope’s visit to Canada.

During the time he was in Canada, there was much focus on certain Papal Bulls from the 15th century. It came up in this tweet from cblackst. At first I could not figure out why this was an issue. I was ignorant to the fact that indigenous people have been demanding revocation of the 1493 papal bull since at least the year 2000. As far as some Catholics are concerned, the Catholic doctrine of discovery is already null and void.

I am not sure what revoking it would accomplish. Papal Bulls are weird documents. During times of good popes, they could be good. During bad popes, they could be evil. Anti-semitism drives many of them. If you want to read more on them, here’s some links that could be helpful: Papal Bulls – Doctrine of Discovery, and Dum Diversas – Doctrine of Discovery, and finally, Sublimus Dei On the Enslavement and Evangelization of Indians.

While the Papal Bulls got a lot of focus, what seemed to get less focus was money that the church had pledged but failed to deliver. The church failed to provide $25 million in compensation for the victims of residential schools, as this story showed. Despite claiming they could not raise the money for their sins, the Church did manage to raise much more than that amount for their properties. It was maddening to me that the media did not focus enough on that. (Later on they did report on a deal the government made freeing Catholic entities from $25M campaign for residential schools. You can read about that here and here. That would have been useful to know about before the visit.)

I had hoped for more from the Pope, the Church, the media, even activists. I hope at least the victims of the residential school system benefited from the visit and the actions of the Pope.

On a different topic, one thing I think everyone will benefit from is the appointment of Michelle O’Bonsawin to Canada’s Supreme Court. We need more indigenous leadership in the justice system, and she is in one of the key roles to provide that. You can read more about that here and here.

Finally, this New York Times interactive study on Benjamin West’s painting on the death of General Wolfe is relevant in many ways to the topic of this post. I recommend you check it out.

(Image: link to an image from one of the NCR Online pieces)

On June being National Indigenous History Month in Canada (and other links)


June is National Indigenous History Month in Canada. Here are some pieces I’ve been collecting over time that I thought worthwhile sharing.

Drinkable water for indigenous people in Canada is a serious problem that is ongoing and needs more focus from everyone. Here’s how the Government of Canada is investing in sustainable water infrastructure for Iqaluit. That’s some progress. And here’s a story on how one indigenous group solved their own drinking water problems. That’s promising. Also promising is this story on how one community at Shoal Lake that was on water advisories for 24 years now has its own award winning treatment plant. All good. We need more of this.

This piece on 5 Anishinabek First Nations in Ontario who have signed an agreement with Ottawa that would allow them to self-govern is also good to see.

The Pope will be coming to meet some of those who suffered as a result of the Residential School system. Here’s more on that from the CBC. Let’s pray for progress.

Finally, here’s a story on a fine initiative showing how one group of indigenous people are using technology to foster and maintain their culture. More on that here.

(Image link of a worker at the Shoal Lake water treatment facility.)

Seven links on Indigenous people within Canada


I continue to read and collect stories on Indigenous people within Canada. I think these ones are worth sharing.

Here is a piece on the search for the unmarked graves of Indigenous Children published in the New York Times in October. Relatedly, here is another piece: Genocide In My Own Backyard.

Reconciliation and drinking water are also two things I try and gain a better understanding of. This lead me to this piece,  A 2020 Status Update on Reconciliation,  and this Canada to Pay Billions to Indigenous Groups for Tainted Drinking Water

I thought this was a good development for Mi’kmaw students, being provided by my employer: IBM opens school for Mi’kmaw students in Cape Breton . Likewise, I enjoyed this: Indigenous artists featured at a recent Toronto art fair. Back to tech, I thought this was fascinating:
How AI and immersive technology are being used to revitalize Indigenous language preservation.

What I found worthwhile reading regarding indigenous people in Canada, summer 2021


I am always trying to find ways to better understand the indigenous people of Canada and as a result I try and keep the better things I come across that help me with that understanding. I tend to be haphazard in how I research things: that shows in the almost randomness in what I have collected below. I think these links are worth reading, though.

On Residential schools: Recently there has been a strong focus on Canada’s Residential school system. Some people wrote about how people didn’t know this was happening back then. However this piece gives some important historical context as to what people knew at the time. As well, this piece gives more context as to how TB affected Aboriginal people.

Alot of what has been driving the focus has been the use of technology to find unmarked graves. Here are two good pieces on that ground radar technology. This piece gives a good introduction to it and this piece provides much more detail on how it works. For example, I naively expected the images to be more like an X ray or an ultrasound. It’s not quite that straightforward. Instead the images look like this:

(Image via CBC site)

As the use of the technology spread to other schools, some believed we would find graves at every residential school. However despite a lot of effort, there is no evidence found of unmarked graves related to Shubenacadie Residential School. I suspect this examination of schools will go on for a long time, and we will find more graves, but it will take time and not always come up with clear results.

As for why this is suddenly going forward, this story gives some context on how the search for the missing graves is being funded. Better late than never from the Federal government, but the lateness is still bad.

Finally, this is shameful: How the Catholic Church raised nearly $300M for buildings since promising residential school survivors $25M in 2005 . More on that story here.

History: My knowledge of indigenous history is weak. However, I found this helpful: More history: on the Iroquois as well as this: Military history of the Mi’kmaq people.

I need to go to Indigo bookstore and read more books and get a better sense of indigenous and Canadian history. If you feel the same, here’s a good list of what they have. Libraries are also good to go to and check out these books.

Other items:

Finally, if you want to learn more about Indigenous people in Canada, I’ve seen some indigenous people say that link was worthwhile.

(Top image of Shubenacadie Residential School via Wikipedia. Bottom image is of Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary May Simon, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada taken by Sgt Johanie Maheu, Rideau Hall © OSGG-BSGG, 2021)

On clean water, Canada, and the First Nations


We will soon enough have an election in Canada, and I hope this is a major topic during the campaign. No one should have undrinkable water in Canada. We need to do better as a country.

  1. If you want to read more about it, here are three links:What Would It Look Like to Take the First Nations Water Crisis Seriously? | The Walrus
  2. Liberal government will miss drinking water target by years, CBC News survey shows | CBC News
  3. Globe editorial: Since 1977, Ottawa has spent billions trying – and failing – to bring clean water to every reserve – The Globe and Mail

(Photo by manu schwendener on Unsplash )

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One of my favourite works at the AGO is Lisa Reihana: in Pursuit of Venus [infected]

It’s a great work for many reasons, not least is the technically superb use of Audio Visual technology. It’s well worth seeing and experiencing. Do so soon: it ends May, 2020.

For more on it, see: Lisa Reihana: in Pursuit of Venus [infected] | Art Gallery of Ontario