Canada’s Indigenous and northern affairs minister wept as she apologized to Manitoba’s Sayisi Dene people for the government’s role in forcibly relocating them 60 years ago.Carolyn Bennett’s voice cracked as she delivered the government’s formal apology to survivors of the 1956 relocation on Tuesday afternoon in Tadoule Lake, Man., for a decision that led to hunger, violence and death.
“Today I stand humbly before all of you and offer the following words: We are sorry,” Bennett said.
Sixty years ago, the government of Canada made a tragic and fatal decision that continues to impact all Sayisi Dene First Nation members to this day.”
In 1952, the provincial government decided the Sayisi Dene were killing off too many caribou around Little Duck Lake in northern Manitoba and convinced the federal government to move the entire community away from its hunting grounds.
On Aug. 17, 1956, a government plane arrived in Little Duck Lake, loaded more than 250 community members and flew them to the barren tundra outside Churchill, Man.
Survivors of the Sayisi Dene First Nation who were forced to relocate listen as Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett issues a formal apology at a ceremony Tuesday in Tadoule Lake, Man. (Caroline Barghout/CBC)
They were promised food, shelter and the means to make a living there. Instead, the community had to build shelters from the nearby garbage dump and survive on food scraps.
There was no food or jobs. Alcohol-fuelled despair set in and deaths were commonplace. Some people froze, others were murdered or died in house fires. Female survivors said rape was common.
By the time the government agreed to relocate the people to Tadoule Lake in 1973, the damage was done — of the more than 250 members who were originally moved, 117 had died.
“It is unbearable to consider what you lost during the years in Churchill,” Bennett said Tuesday.
“No one, and no people, should have had to experience such treatment in Canadian society.”
It’s amazing how a country that is known for multiculturalism, and being The place of freedom during the international slave trade can treat is indigenous people with such contempt. The immigrants can keep their language, culture, and religion when they come to Canada. Immigrants are helped to settle, and people fight to get them here.
Yet when it comes to our native peoples, the opposite is true! They’re treated with disrespect, second class citizens, line third world conditions, and might as well be the immigrants with how so many view them with suspicion. Canada coyly be better, and we see Canada is better in many ways.
What’s even more infuriating about this situation, although I am happy to hear about the apology, is they were forced from their homes to save the caribou! Save caribou… our government was so quick to save animals, yet clearly don’t give a shit about animals living elsewhere if one is compare: Why aren’t people Toronto being forced to leave and move up north to save moose and nesting birds? Why are we not kicking fishermen off the coast to save the lobsters, or the dolphin that swim into their nets? Why isn’t Marine Land closed, and all its animals sent back to the ocean where they belong?
Exactly, none of that is done to the immigrants and their descendants. But of course, the natives who respect the land and nature more than anyone have got to move. While I don’t think we should stop bringing in refugees, I do think Canada needs to do more for its true founding fathers and mothers. After all, if this is how Canada treats its Native Canadians, why should we want others people to come over and make their home here? Shouldn’t we clean up a place before letting people come over?
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