In the Guise of Converting the Heathens
INDIGENOUS RIGHTS, 20 Sep 2021
The Oppression of Indigenous Peoples in the Name of Religion
16 Sep 2021 – “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” are the famous words of a reporter, from the New York Herald, Mr Morton Stanley, who was dispatched to the Dark Continent: Africa, to search and locate Dr. David Livingstone, who was gone missing and found him in the city of Ujiji on Lake Tanganyika in 1871. Dr. Livingstone was a physician, journalist, explorer, and an empire builder. However, first and foremost he was a missionary who embarked upon the Lord’s work to convert the heathens in Africa to Christianity, the religion of the coloniser, which was his priority to eradicate the God of the “pagans” in Africa. This was the first attempt of the colonizer, in Africa, at identity, religious and cultural genocides. Globally, this initial intrusion into Africa, of the White man to convert heathens, was the beginning of a crusade by the Christian churches to set the stage of forcefully abducting indigenous children from their parents and placing them in Catholic Residential, Mission Schools, throughout the world from North America, through Africa to Australia and New Zealand, with the full knowledge and approval of the relevant governments of the era.
It is appropriate to begin by defining the word “Heathen”, trace its origin and finally the meaning of this ever changing, dynamic terminology. Followers of the old ways, be it Norse, Anglo-Saxon, or even further back in time, often do not know what to call themselves. Is it Pagan, Heathen, Asatruar, Wodenist or some other term that best defines one’s belief?
In these times, though everyone has an opinion on what is correct. “Heathen” is regarded a derogatory term and it should be avoided. If one searches the definition of “Heathen” in the dictionary, the implication is discriminatory, in the current era. Often individuals not belonging to a major Abrahamic religion, everything else is invariably classified as a “Heathen”. It is also a term used for someone uncivilised, lacking in culture and morality, or simply a “pagan”, connected to a definition, is a follower of a polytheistic faith.
Most individuals first come across the term “Heathen” in the bible, where it is used exceptionally negatively. Even when abandoning Christian ideas though, people still carry this derogatory meaning over into their new understandings. Some groups even use it exactly as defined in the bible, to designate an inferior mortal, destined to the deepest level of Hell, in the Biblical sense and attribute a behavioural pattern to this person, in a manner befitting the negative definition in the Holy Scriptures of the Abrahamic faiths. Therefore, in the early 19th and even in the 21st centuries, governments regard themselves as having the full authority and “Higher Blessings” to do what they need to do to these unfortunate community, by officially converting them and reprogramming them into a “civilized religion of Christianity, with impunity and in total disregard of any respectful, ethical or civil behaviour towards these “Heathens”. Hence, untold atrocities have been committed against the heathens, all in the name of religious purification and indoctrination by the Empire. This task was inevitably designated to the missionary churches, who were part of the colonization, often allocated government funding for the execution of the reprogramming tasks in children of the indigenous communities, in their formative years of their lives.
These individuals were defined as “pagans” essentially to mean anything not in the league of “big three” religions of Judaism, Christianity, or Islam. Therefore, this overarching classification included the beliefs of African pygmies, Australian Aboriginals, Maoris in New Zealand, Coolies in China and India, as classified by the Empire, to American Indians, during the colonial era. In Africa, the most insulting “K” word was used to systematically breakdown not only their self-respect but designate these citizens in their own land of origin, to the lowest levels of the societal hierarchy. It is to be noted that in India, the Brahmin caste classified the Dalit populations or Harijans as the “untouchables” giving them a status lower than that of animals, for the “Holy Cow” is revered as “Mother” because of the milk it provides for humanoid consumption. Similarly, in South West Africa, presently Nambia, the German colonisers severely discriminated against the Herreros, some of whom were executed, decapitated and their heads were sent to Germany for studies.
Noting that most of these definitions are rooted in the Biblical use, it is important to know what the bible actually stated. It appears that pagans are the most commonly translated as “heathens” in English bibles. In the Old Testament, the word heathen is normally a translation of “Goyim”, whereas, in the New Testament it is “Ethne”. Both these words basically mean “nation, or ethnic group”, Although the word Goyim does take on some more derogatory meanings by association in other Jewish texts, much as “heathen” has in Christian texts. What is important to understand, is that the word “heathen” is not the word used, as an interpretation. Some do believe that the word “heathen” itself originally comes via the Greek “ethnos” much like “ethne” in the New Testament. There is a strong case for this given that the Greeks themselves in later times began using the word negatively to talk about peoples from other lands, much like Jewish and later Christian texts did about non-Jewish believers. At the time Christianity was trying to conquer northern Europe, the word heathen, most likely like the word Ethnos was not seen as derogatory. The best place to find out what the word originally meant is from the old Norse, as in this crossover period, we have many copied down writings, not yet corrupted by Christian thinkers
The most common etymological understanding of the word “heathen” is essentially “heath-dweller”. In old Norse this is no different, where heathen is spelled, heiðinn, but is best seen in the term heiðnir menn, meaning “heathens” and literally translates as “men of the heath”. Although, as followers of the old ways, this word is familiar and important to us, there is an interesting deviation in the old Norse, compared to that of the English. The English word is said to originate from the old Latin “Honos”, whereas the old Norse, from a very different route. The proto-Germanic origin is “haiduz” meaning “Manner, character, rank, condition and kind”. Unlike the word “honour” as something to be earned, the proto-Germanic seems to suggest an original glory inherent in the man. The proto Indo European route of “Heiðr”(honour) is “(s)kayt-” meaning “clear, bright Shining”. This further highlights the idea of some inherent good in these so classified individuals.
In summary, the common definitions of the word heathen are influenced by Christianity. They place the word Heathen as an opposite to them, and make themselves all that is moral and just, thus the word heathen becomes all that is the opposite to the body of values and beliefs of Christianity.
Therefore, in a nondiscriminatory situation the “Heathen” stands on the edge of the “civilised” world, his honour and dignity intact, not yet demoralised, he shines like a beacon to others. He calls them back to the old ways, before the corruption, to a time of harmony with oneself and nature.
Another aspect which needs to be examined in this eternal campaign to rid the world of Heathens are the Crusades and the Crusaders, all fighting in the name of the Lord with large, red crucifixion, Holy Cross emblazoned on their flags and attire. The term “crusade” first referred to military expeditions undertaken by European Christians in the 11th, 12th and 13th Centuries to the Holy Land. The conflicts to which the term is applied has been extended to include other campaigns initiated, supported and sometimes directed by the Roman Catholic Church against pagans, heathens, heretics or for alleged religious ends. These differed from other Christian religious wars in that they were considered a penitential exercise, and so earned participants forgiveness for all confessed sins. The term’s usage can be misleading, particularly regarding the early Crusades, and the definition remains a matter of debate among contemporary historians.
At the time of the First Crusade, “journey” and “pilgrimage” were used to describe the campaign. Crusader terminology remained largely indistinguishable from that of Christian pilgrimage during the 12th Century. Only at the end of the century was a specific language of Crusading adopted in the form of crucesignatus “one signed by the Cross” for a Crusader. This led to the French croisade, the way of the cross. By the mid-13th Century the cross became the major descriptor of the Crusades with crux transmarina, “the Cross overseas”, used for crusades in the eastern Mediterranean, and crux cismarina, “the cross this side of the sea”, for those in Europe. The modern English “crusade” dates to the 17th Century, with the work of Louis Malmbourg. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem contains, according to traditions dating back to at least the 4th century, the two holiest sites in Christianity.
The terms “Franks” (Franj) and “Latins” were used by the peoples of the Near East during the crusades for western Europeans, distinguishing them from the Byzantine Christians who were known as “Greeks”. Saracen was used for an Arab Muslim, derived from a Greek and Roman name for the nomadic peoples of the Syro-Arabian desert. Crusader sources used the term “Syrians” to describe Arabic speaking Christians who were members of the Greek Orthodox Church, and “Jacobites” for those who were members of the Syrian Orthodox Church. The Crusader states of Syria and Palestine were known as the “Outremer” from the French outre-mer, or “the land beyond the sea”.
The Crusades were therefore a series of religious wars initiated, supported, and sometimes directed by the Latin Church in the medieval period. The best known of these Crusades are those to the Holy Land in the period between 1095 and 1291 that were intended to recover Jerusalem and its surrounding area from Islamic rule. Concurrent military activities in the Iberian Peninsula against the Moors (the Reconquista) and in northern Europe against pagan Slavic tribes (the Northern Crusades) also became known as crusades. Through the 15th Century, other church-sanctioned crusades were fought against heretical Christian sects, against the Byzantine and Ottoman empires, to combat paganism and heresy, and for political reasons. Unsanctioned by the church, Popular Crusades of ordinary citizens were also frequent. Beginning with the First Crusade which resulted in the recovery of Jerusalem in 1099, dozens of Crusades were fought, providing a focal point of European history for centuries.
In 1095, Pope Urban II proclaimed the First Crusade at the Council of Clermont. He encouraged military support for Byzantine emperor Alexios I against the Seljuk Turks and called for an armed pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Across all social strata in western Europe, there was an enthusiastic popular response. The first Crusaders had a variety of motivations, including religious salvation, satisfying feudal obligations, opportunities for renown, and economic or political advantage. Later crusades were generally conducted by more organised armies, sometimes led by a king. All were granted papal indulgences. Initial successes established four Crusader states: the County of Edessa; the Principality of Antioch; the Kingdom of Jerusalem; and the County of Tripoli. The Crusader presence remained in the region in some form until the fall of Acre in 1291. After this, there were no further crusades to recover the Holy Land.
Proclaimed a crusade in 1123, the struggle between the Christians and Muslims in the Iberian Peninsula was called the Reconquista by Christians, and only ended in 1492 with the fall of the Muslim Emirate of Granada. From 1147 campaigns in Northern Europe against pagan tribes were considered crusades. In 1199 Pope Innocent III began the practice of proclaiming political crusades against Christian heretics. In the 13th century, crusading was used against the Cathars in Languedoc and against Bosnia; this practice continued against the Waldensians in Savoy and the Hussites in Bohemia in the 15th century and against Protestants in the 16th. From the mid-14th century, crusading rhetoric was used in response to the rise of the Ottoman Empire, only ending in 1699 with the War of the Holy League.
In the early 19th Century, the Colonial invasion and occupation, was spearheaded by the religious organisations, mainly the Catholic Church, which embarked on a programme of religious indoctrination to eradicate cultural traditions, values social cohesion and created a new strategic initiative which the author terms “Identity Genocide” by actively deprogramming the minds of young indigenous children from their traditional teachings to what was regarded as civilized view based on the principles of Catholicism in certain countries, like Canada, Africa and Austrasia. This was a new kind of crusade, but analogous to the crusades of old. The result was that children of indigenous subjects were forcibly removed and alienated from their parents and community living domestic conditions to special residential schools and institutes where the government sponsored, and colluded reprogramming of these children took place as orchestrated by the Catholic Church at the time.
As a background, around 1883, Indigenous children in many parts of Canada were forced to attend residential schools in a forced assimilation program. Most of these schools were operated by churches, and all of them banned the use of Indigenous languages and Indigenous cultural practices, often through violence. Disease, as well as sexual, physical and emotional abuse were widespread. An estimated 150,000 children passed through the schools between their opening and their closing in 1996. The unearthing of mass graves in Canada, recently, of indigent children literally brought to the forefront as to how the Catholic Church was complicit in “Identity Genocide” conducted in the guise of converting the heathens,
The author has worked as a solo physician in Ituna, in the middle of Canada in Saskatchewan previously and knows the pace relatively well. It is a beautiful countryside in rural Canada, with an agrarian community and the region is considered the heartland of agriculture in North America. The residents mainly consist of retired, elderly community, with frail care homes and a single hospital. The summers are hot, humid and winters are harsh and cold. Some of the original settlers were people of Ukrainian descent who emigrated during the British Occupation of North America and were literally placed in the middle of nowhere by the British to settle there and progress with their lives, which they did working under extremely arduous conditions in harsh climatic conditions, often tiling the soil in frozen ground. In such conditions the Roman Catholic Church established itself and embarked on a mission to convert the heathens who they considered as such, the indigenous people of the “First Nation” residing in the land they occupied. While for decades, the senior oral historians amongst the elders of the First Nation, spoke about vanishing children, but no investigations were conducted until 2021, using Ground Penetrating Radar technology.
As early as 1886, German physicist Heinrich Hertz showed that radio waves could be reflected from solid objects. In 1895, Alexander Popov, a physics instructor at the Imperial Russian Navy school in Kronstadt, developed an apparatus using a coherer tube for detecting distant lightning strikes. The next year, he added a spark-gap transmitter. In 1897, while testing this equipment for communicating between two ships in the Baltic Sea, he took note of an interference beat caused by the passage of a third vessel. In his report, Popov wrote that this phenomenon might be used for detecting objects, but he did nothing more with this observation.
Radar (Radio Detection and Ranging) is a detection system that uses radio waves to determine the distance (range), angle, or velocity of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain. A radar system consists of a transmitter producing electromagnetic waves in the radio or microwaves domain, a transmitting antenna, a receiving antenna (often the same antenna is used for transmitting and receiving) and a receiver and processor to determine properties of the object(s). Radio waves (pulsed or continuous) from the transmitter reflect off the object and return to the receiver, giving information about the object’s location and speed.
Radar was developed secretly for military use by several nations in the period before and during World War II. A key development was the cavity magnetron in the United Kingdom, which allowed the creation of relatively small systems with sub-meter resolution. The term RADAR was coined in 1940 by the United States Navy as an acronym for “radio detection and ranging”. The term radar has since entered English and other languages as a common noun, losing all capitalization. Thanks to modern advances in age old radar technology. Ground Penetrating Radar was used to discover hundreds of graves of indigenous children in the gardens of these reprogramming Catholic residential schools in Canada. It is stated in the Bible that “Whatever is hid in the darkness will be uncovered by the light!” The expose was a great embarrassment to the Justin Trudeau Government who acknowledged the excesses of the church, in collusion with the Government of the time. Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) is a geophysical method that uses radar pulses to image the subsurface. It is a non-intrusive method of surveying the sub-surface to investigate underground utilities such as concrete, asphalt, metals, pipes, cables or masonry.
The original research was conducted by John J. Schultz, who on April 2012 published a thesis using porcine carcasses, as human proxies to establish geophysical techniques, such as ground-penetrating radar (GPR), have been successfully to determine the existence of clandestine graves in an area used by law enforcement agencies to locate graves and forensic evidence. However, more controlled research is needed to better understand the applicability of this technology when searching for clandestine graves in various environments and soil types, he concluded at the time. The purpose of that study was to determine the applicability of GPR for detecting controlled graves. Objectives for this project included determining how different burial scenarios (e.g., wrapping the carcass and placing items over the carcass) are factors in producing a distinctive anomalous response, determining how different GPR imagery options can provide increased visibility of the burials, and comparing GPR imagery between the 500 MHz and 250 MHz antennae. An electromagnetic induction (EMI) meter was also employed to determine the applicability of this technology to locate unmarked graves. Finally, the last objective was to provide basic guidelines for forensic investigators to utilize when conducting buried body searches involving these geophysical tools.
The research design included constructing a grid on secured land in a field area that contained a total of eight graves representing common burial scenarios in Spodosol, a common soil type of Florida. Six burial scenarios contained a pig carcass at a deep (1.00 m) or a shallow (.50 m) depth: a shallow unwrapped pig carcass, a deep unwrapped pig carcass, a deep pig carcass wrapped in a tarp, a deep pig carcass wrapped in a cotton blanket, a deep pig carcass covered with a layer of rocks, and a deep pig carcass covered with a layer of lime. Two blank control graves, one shallow and one deep were also constructed. Graves were monitored with EMI (24 months) and GPR (30 months) using both the 500 and 250 MHz antennae. Results indicated that the electromagnetic induction meter was not a viable option in the detection of clandestine graves for this soil type, as graves were never detected during the monitoring period. Conversely, GPR was shown to be a favorable tool for monitoring controlled graves for a 30-month period as many scenarios were still detected at the end of the monitoring period. Of the imagery options available, reflection profiles were the preferred option. Burial scenarios with grave items (rocks, lime, blanket, and tarp) produced a more distinctive response for a longer period of time compared to carcasses not wrapped. However, some months produced poor visibility of the imagery that was somewhat correlated with lower precipitation. Thus, dry soil or low soil moisture resulted in reduced demarcation of the graves.
Overall, the 250 MHz antenna results were more favorable than the results of the more commonly used 500 MHz, as the 250 MHz antenna provided increased visibility for large cadavers buried in deep graves while the 500 MHz results were more favorable for the shallow pig scenario. At the same time, detection of the deep blank control grave suggests that clandestine graves can be detected for a longer time in this soil because the soil disturbance will be detected. Controlled forensic geophysical research involving GPR has proven to be a valuable resource, and the information gathered from these studies has been applied to forensic casework. The probability of detecting a grave for a longer postmortem interval differs with the soil type and the materials added to the grave with the body. Also, since increased soil moisture may serve to highlight buried features, operators should be cautioned when performing GPR surveys during dry conditions. If time permits, both the 250 MHz and the 500 MHz antennae should be employed; however, if time is limited, the 250 MHz antenna is recommended for searches. Finally, the data should be further processed in the lab, and reflection profiles should be assessed, the research concluded.
Canadian journalists, Ian Austen and Dan Bilefsky reported in New York Times on 24th June 2021 and again on 30th July 2021 CALGARY, Alberta. For decades, the Indigenous children were taken from their families, sometimes by force, and housed in crowded, church-run boarding schools, where they were abused and prohibited from speaking their languages. Thousands of indigenous children vanished altogether.
Now, a new discovery offers chilling evidence that many of the missing children may have died at these schools: The remains of as many as 751 people, mainly Indigenous children, were found at the site of a former school in the province of Saskatchewan, an Indigenous group stated. The burial site, the largest one to date, was uncovered only weeks after the remains of 215 children were found in unmarked graves on the grounds of another former church-run school for Indigenous students in British Columbia. The discoveries have jolted a nation grappling with generations of widespread and systematic abuse of Indigenous people, many of whom are survivors of the boarding schools. For decades, they suggested through their oral histories that thousands of children disappeared from the schools, but they were often met with skepticism. The revelations of two unmarked grave sites are another searing reminder of this traumatic period in history. “This was a crime against humanity, an assault on a First Nation people,” said Chief Bobby Cameron, of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, the provincial federation of Indigenous groups. “The only crime we ever committed as children was being born Indigenous,” he said.
The discovery of multiple burial site also puts new pressure on the current government of Justin Trudeau, Canada’s Prime Minister, which even today relies on a set of laws that govern the lives of Indigenous people which dates to the 19th Century. Indigenous leaders say they hope the latest revelations will be a catalyst for their long sought-after self-governance. “We are tired of being told what to do and how to do it,” said Chief Cadmus Delorme, of the Cowessess First Nation. It is unclear how the children died at the schools, which were buffeted by disease outbreaks a century ago, and where children faced sexual, physical and emotional abuse and violence. Some former students at the schools have described the bodies of infants born to girls impregnated by priests and monks being incinerated. All the schools at which the mass graves were discovered, were part of a system started in the 19th Century that took Indigenous children from their families.
A National Truth and Reconciliation Commission, established in 2008 to investigate the residential schools, called the practice “cultural genocide.” Many children never returned home, and their families were given only vague explanations of their fates, or none at all. Canada had about 150 residential schools and an estimated 150,000 Indigenous children passed through the schools between their opening, around 1883, and their closing in 1996. The commission estimated that about 4,100 children went missing nationwide from the schools. But an Indigenous former judge who led the commission, Murray Sinclair, said in an email this month that he now believed the number was “well beyond 10,000.” Local Indigenous leaders on Thursday demanded an inquiry into what they called a “genocide,” and called for the church and the government to turn over all records related to the administration of the schools.
Chief Delorme who is recorded in a video also called for Pope Francis to apologise, stating that the Roman Catholic Church needed to address its actions. “The incredible burden of the past is still with us, and the truth of that past needs to come out, however painful,” Don Bolen, the Archbishop of Regina, wrote in a letter addressed to the Cowessess group. He apologized and pledged to “do what we can to turn that apology into meaningful concrete acts.”
The discovery in Saskatchewan was made by the Cowessess First Nation at the Marieval Indian Residential School, about 87 miles from the provincial capital, Regina. Chief Delorme said that his Indigenous community, spurred by the discovery at Kamloops and in conjunction with technical teams from Saskatchewan Polytechnic, began combing the area using Ground Penetrating Radar on June 2, hitting as many as 751 unmarked graves. He said he expected more bodies would be found.
While it is not clear how the discovery of the remains will be investigated, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Saskatchewan said that next steps, including the potential involvement of the force, would depend on the wishes of the Indigenous group’s leaders. “Our actions must be respectful of the immense grief the people of Cowessess First Nation continue to suffer. We know we have enforced racist and discriminatory legislation and policies,” a police spokesman said in an email
For Canada’s 1.7 million Indigenous citizens, who make up about 4.9 percent of the population, the finding of yet another mass burial site is a visceral reminder of centuries of discrimination and abuse, which has led to intergenerational trauma among survivors of residential schools and their families. “There’s no denying this: All of the stories told by our survivors are true,” Chief Cameron said. Florence Sparvier, 80, an elder of the Cowessess First Nation, said she attended two residential schools, including Marieval, the school where the unmarked remains were found. “They were very condemning about our people,” she said of the nuns at the schools. “They told us our people, our parents, our grandparents did not have a way to be spiritual because we were all heathens.”
Mr. Trudeau also called the discoveries in Saskatchewan and British Columbia “part of a larger tragedy,” citing the legacies of “systemic racism, discrimination, and injustice that Indigenous peoples have faced.” In September 2017, Mr. Trudeau acknowledged the nation’s past “humiliation, neglect and abuse” of Indigenous people, and vowed in a speech at the United Nations General Assembly to improve their lives. Fifty years of patient advocacy, including the shocking discovery of a mass burial site at Kamloops, have secured once-unthinkable gains. Hence, the Indigenous people of Canada advanced a dramatic goal in reversing colonialism.
When an Indigenous community in Canada announced recently that it had discovered a mass burial site with the remains of 215 children, the location rang with significance. Not just because it was on the grounds of a now-shuttered Indian Residential School, whose forcible assimilation of Indigenous children a 2015 truth and reconciliation report called “a key component of a Canadian government policy of cultural genocide.” That school is in Kamloops, a city in British Columbia from which, 52 years ago, Indigenous leaders started a global campaign to reverse centuries of colonial eradication and reclaim their status as sovereign nations. Their effort, waged predominantly in courts and international institutions, has accumulated steady gains ever since, coming further than many realise. This move has brought together groups from the Arctic to Australia. Those from British Columbia, in Canada’s mountainous west, have been at the forefront throughout.
Only two years ago, the provincial government there became the world’s first to adopt into law United Nations guidelines for heightened Indigenous sovereignty. Recently, Canada’s Parliament passed a law, now awaiting a final rubber stamp, to extend those measures nationwide. It was a stunning victory, decades in the making, that activists are working to repeat in New Zealand and, perhaps one day, in more recalcitrant Australia, Latin America and even the United States. “There’s been a lot of movement in the field. It’s happening with different layers of courts, with different legislatures,” said John Borrows, a prominent Canadian legal scholar and a member of the Chippewa of the Nawash Unceded First Nation. The decades-long push for sovereignty has come with a rise in activism, legal campaigning and historical reckonings like the discovery at Kamloops. All serve the movement’s aim, which is nothing less than overturning colonial conquests that the world has long accepted as foregone. No one is sure precisely what that will look like or how long it might take. But advances once considered impossible “are happening now,” Dr. Borrows said, “and in an accelerating way.” This was a “Generational Campaign” with the Indigenous leaders who gathered in 1969 had been galvanised by an array of global changes.
The harshest assimilation policies were rolled back in most countries, but their effects remained visible in everyday life. Extractive and infrastructure megaprojects were provoking whole communities in opposition. The civil rights era was energising a generation. However, the greatest motivators of the change were gestures of ostensible reconciliation. In 1960, world governments near-unanimously backed a United Nations declaration calling to roll back colonialism. European nations began withdrawing overseas, often under pressure from the Cold War powers. However, the declaration excluded the Americas, Australia and New Zealand, where colonisation was seen as too deep-rooted to reverse. It was taken as effectively announcing that there would be no place in the modern world for Indigenous peoples. Then, at the end of the decade, Canada’s progressive government issued a fateful “white paper” announcing that it would dissolve colonial-era policies, including reserves, and integrate Indigenous peoples as equal citizens. It was offered as emancipation.
Other countries were pursuing similar measures, with the United States inauspiciously named “termination policy.” To the government’s shock, Indigenous groups angrily rejected the proposal. Indigenous leaders gathered in Kamloops to organize a response. British Columbia was a logical choice. Colonial governments had never signed treaties with its original inhabitants, unlike in other parts of Canada, giving special weight to their claim to live under illegal foreign occupation.
“It is really Quebec and British Columbia that have been the two epicenters, going back to the ’70s,” said Jérémie Gilbert, a human rights lawyer who works with Indigenous groups. Traditions of civil resistance run deep in both these communities. The Kamloops group began what became a campaign to impress upon the world that they were sovereign peoples with the rights of any nation, often by working through the law. They linked up with others around the world, holding the first meeting of The World Council of Indigenous Peoples on Vancouver Island. Its first leader, George Manuel, had passed through the Kamloops residential school as a child. The council’s charter implicitly treated countries like Canada and Australia as foreign powers. It began lobbying the United Nations to recognise Indigenous rights.
It was nearly a decade before the United Nations so much as established a working group. Court systems were little faster. But the group’s ambitions were sweeping. Legal principles like terra nullius, “nobody’s land”, had long served to justify colonialism. The activists sought to overturn these rulings, while, in parallel, establishing a body of Indigenous law. “The courts are very important because it’s part of trying to develop our jurisprudence,” Dr. Borrows said. The movement secured a series of court victories that, over decades, stitched together a legal claim to the land, not just as its owners but as sovereign nations. One, in Canada, established that the government had an obligation to settle Indigenous claims to territory. In Australia, the high court backed a man who argued that his family’s centuries-long use of their land superseded the government’s colonial-era conquest.
Latin America has often lagged as well, despite growing activism. Militaries in several countries have targeted Indigenous communities in living memory, leaving governments reluctant to self-incriminate. In 2007, after 40 years of maneuvering, the United Nations adopted the declaration on Indigenous rights. Only the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Canada opposed, saying it elevated some Indigenous claims above those of other citizens. All four later reversed their positions.
“The Declaration’s right to self-determination is not a unilateral right to secede,” Dr. Claire Charters, a New Zealand Māori legal expert, wrote in a legal journal. However, its recognition of “Indigenous peoples’ collective land rights” could be “persuasive” in court systems, which often treat such documents as proof of an international legal principle. Few have sought formal independence. But an Australian group’s 2013 declaration, brought to the United Nations and the International Court of Justice, inspired several others to follow. All failed. But, by demonstrating widening legal precedent and grass roots support, they highlighted that full nationhood is not as unthinkable as it once was.
The Bottom Line is that since the Europeans embarked on a mission to convert the heathens from the time of Dr David Livingstone and prior to that, by the Spanish conquest of South America, under the Catholic King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, there has been systematic discrimination, concerted attempts at erasure of religious and cultural identities of the indigenous people throughout the world from mainland China to Goa in India where the Jesuit priests were involved. However, there was a hidden agenda of subjugation and the strategy used was to forcibly remove the children of the indigenous people, literally “The First Nation” in different parts of the world and force upon them the philosophy of the invader and colonial occupier, brainwashing them that they are inferior, their culture, values, tradition and even their religion is inferior while that of the colonizer is superior and should be subscribed to. These officially abducted children, as approved by the government of the time, were housed in residential schools under horrendous conditions with malnutrition, disease, and abuse, often of a sexual nature by the very priests who espoused the word of the “New God” to these poor, helpless and defenceless children, who perished in the harsh climatic conditions. These horrific stories were narrated as oral history by the elders of the First Nation but were ignored by the government of the time. Presently. thanks to Ground Penetrating Radar and a liberal government of Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, the unearthing of mass graves has revealed the true nature of the atrocities committed by the Roman Catholic Church all in the name of religion, not God. Even the United Nations erred in their declaration, it implied that colonial-era conquests were to be accepted as forgone. The unhappy coverup by the Catholic Church is certainly warrants a formal statement of apology by His Holiness Pope Francis, which is the minimal that could be done to heal the indigenous people, worldwide.
Essentially, activists focused especially on Canada, Australia and New Zealand, which each draw on a legal system inherited from Britain, “His Master”, laws and rulings in one can become precedent in the others, making them easier to present to the broader world as a global norm of “The Empire”. Irene Watson, an Australian scholar of international Indigenous law and First Nations member, described this effort, in a 2016 book, as “the development of international standards” that would pressure governments to address “the intergenerational impact of colonialism, which is a phenomenon that has never ended.”
It is interesting to note a reactive sympathetic response even in the United States, under the Christian, foundational, Biden Administration. The recent unearthing of remains of forcibly removed children of the “First Nation” in Canada, has reverberated globally, including in the United States, where Ms Deb Haalen, the Interior Secretary confirmed that the country would search federal boarding schools for “possible burial sites of Native American children”, under clandestine and suspicious circumstances. Hundreds of thousands of them were forcibly taken from their communities to be culturally assimilated in the schools for more than a century.
Sad to note that it took an entire century for official recognition of the atrocities committed by the supposed civilized nations who had embarked on a new crusade of Identity Genocide” akin to the physical massacre in Constantinople by the invading Christian forces all in the name of religion, to at least reconcile the justifiable anger generated by the elders of the “First Nations’.
 Constable, Giles (2001). In, The Crusades from the Perspective of Byzantium and the Muslim World, edited by Laiou, Angeliki E. and Mottahodeh, Roy P. “The Historiography of the Crusades”
 Tyerman 2006, p. 894, The Later Crusades.
 Maalouf 2006, pp. 3–18, Chapter 1: The Franj Arrive.
 Murray, Alan V. (2006). “Outremer”. The Crusades – An Encyclopedia. pp. 910–912.
Professor G. Hoosen M. Vawda (Bsc; MBChB; PhD.Wits):
Director: Glastonbury Medical Research Centre; Community Health and Indigent Programme Services; Body Donor Foundation SA.
Principal Investigator: Multinational Clinical Trials
Consultant: Medical and General Research Ethics; Internal Medicine and Clinical Psychiatry:UKZN, Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine
Executive Member: Inter Religious Council KZN SA
Public Liaison: Medical Misadventures
Activism: Justice for All
Tags: Canada, Catholic Church, Child protection, Children, Christianity, Education, Genocide Convention, History, Indigenous, Indigenous Culture, Indigenous Rights, Islam, Judaism, Native Americans, Religion
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 20 Sep 2021.
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