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1497 and So On: A History of White People in Canada
Kevin Daniel Annett Salem-News.com
OR... The Caucasian Healing Fund
(a clearly disloyal 7th generation Canadian and a resolutely faithful member of the Republic of Kanata)
Republic of Kanata
(NANAIMO, Vancouver Island) - In the Beginning
John Cabot stumbled across Canada and he wasn't even an Englishman but he called himself one, which tells you something.
Unable to hitch a ride with Columbus, the Italian seaman headed west in an English sloop and found himself stuck in a shoal of cod a hundred miles wide.
Somehow King Henry (not the wife killer, but his Dad) found out and granted John title to all that fish as well as to anybody's land he found, employing a trick he learned from Pope Alexander VI, who in 1493 told everyone that he owned the world and naturally they all believed it, since everybody was still Catholic back then.
Pope Alexander actually was a hit man for the Borgia mob, had thirteen mistresses and fathered a child off his own daughter Lucrezia Borgia, thereby proving his moral superiority to all the heathen savages in the New World. But that's a pig of a different color, as they say, and besides, let’s not upset the McNally kids before their first communion.
So meanwhile out west, John Cabot and his merry crew of sex starved, small pox laden civilizers landed in what's now Labrador and found a whack of obliging brown people called Beothuks waiting for them on the beach. Captain John was invited to kiss the local Beothuk Indian chief, which he did, and then promptly ordered the guy's murder. Apparently, John just couldn't tolerate the chief's outrageous Newfy accent.
Actually, none of the Beothuk people hung around for too long to kiss anymore of the Europeans, but resettled themselves somewhere else so effectively that none of them were ever seen again, leaving the land wide open and Terra Nullius for the Civilizers.
Word got back to King Hank that there were no Spaniards in sight in the new land, so John Cabot (who was appreciatively nicknamed Cap'n Crunch by his men for his manner of dealing with brown strangers) was given the green light to keep heading west, young man.
Maybe it was all those fish sticks he could eat, or the down home spoon-playing manner of life in Newfoundland, but John Boy never made it much further than the island, relinquishing the discovery of all those other brown people to guys like the Frenchman Jacques Cartier so he could go home to Italy.
Anyway, Cartier showed up years later down the coast at the mouth of a mother of a river that he naturally mistook to be the passageway to China. But Jacques was annoyed as hell to come across more brown skinned people who couldn't speak French, so he whipped out his cannons, had them blessed by the on-board priest and bombarded the Indian villages with bits of iron, glass and stones: a practice known in Catholic church circles as "administering canon law"
The survivors of this holy cannonade quite sensibly offered no resistance to what is commonly known as conversion, and soon they were all bowing and genuflecting and praying to invisible saints when they weren't picking smallpox scabs off their kids' faces.
Jacques Cartier was actually quite the sentimentalist. Commenting on his new friends, the seafarer wrote,
"They are a people utterly unconcerned with wealth, and they share what they have with one another freely and naturally. Although they have not five Sous between them they are well fed and happy, and do no harm to anyone. They are far better Christians in that sense than are many of my own countrymen."
Naturally, such real living examples of Jesus Christ posed an obvious threat to organized Christianity, and had to go. So none of these Christ-like brown people hung around for long, either. But before they passed on to where aboriginal converts to "the Faith" seem to go, one of the natives showed Jacques the pelt of a furry little creature, and the Frenchman suddenly saw big Sous signs.
The fur trade was on.
A couple of centuries and a million or so brown folks later, Madame de Pompadour - one of French King Louis' bed friends - said,
"Canada exists solely to provide me with furs"
That pretty much says it, although Pompy the Romper left out the necessary religious rationales provided by her fellow fur trading monopolists, the Jesuits, whose gun-running priest Jean de Brebeuf aptly said, before being barbecued slowly to death by some smug Iroquois guys,
"We must govern this country only according to what is of service to the Catholic Faith and the Fur Trade".
Things, of course, were not all bad. The French learned how to play hockey and lacrosse from the brown people who were still around, and went on to excel as goaltenders and inventors of muffins and the snowmobile. So I guess, no, things were that bad.
Never content to let anything remain French, the Brits showed up in Canada soon after Cartier shuffled off to that big shooting gallery in the sky. The poms arrived from south of that border that still wasn't there, where they had been killing off Indians with funny names like the Pequots and Narangassats by making them eat cold, greasy food, preaching to them a very dry kind of Puritanism and not allowing any of them to dance, since dancing of course is derived from sex. Or did I get the order right?
Naturally, the French couldn't tolerate such austere aesthetics and decided to go to war over it.
Okay, so of course the fight was also about who controlled the mega profits of the fur trade, which worked like this: the Indians did all the work and were given a mirror or a knife for a hundred beaver pelts. The European traders then sold the pelts to companies set up by some royal fop somewhere who garnered an average 1000 per cent profit or something ridiculous like that on the whole transaction. Sound fair to you?
Naturally, anybody who tried chiseling in on this mobster action got the business end of a bayonet pretty quickly.
This was commonly known as Civilizing the Wilderness.
The Frenchies liked the Huron Indians because they seemed to welcome Catholicism, when in fact they just appreciated the free communion wine which was so much better than the cheap grape juice the Prohibition Presbyterians pushed.
The Brits, contrarily, sided with the Iroquois because the latter went to war so much and had really macho chiefs with cool war clubs the size of a Scotsman's pudenda. So each side armed their own Indians for a battle to the death over who would get to kill and skin all those cute little beavers.
The Hurons lost, which is why you don't see any of them selling cigarettes on southern Ontario Indian reservations nowadays.
Well, the Brits were feeling pretty smug about the whole thing, as usual, having whipped their old enemies Les Francais once again. But just then a revolution broke out back in Old Blighty and the dour Puritans chopped off King Charles' empty head, giving the Frenchies a breathing space. So the fight for who would run Canada went on and on.
Inter Imperial Memo: September 1, 1749
Port Royal, Nova Scotia
From Governor Charles Lawrence
To King George Number Whatever, London
About this little matter of the blankets.
General Jeff Amherst is really getting on my bunions. Not content with banging every Mic Mac Indian maiden he can lay his grubbies on, he's now ordered Major Bouquet, who's no fragrant bed of roses himself, to grab all the blankets off his troops who are knocking off from smallpox, and send the stuff as presents back with his pregnant Mic Mac girlfriends when they wander home to their villages.
Now I appreciate a practical joke as much as the next man, but this disease is no respecter of skin color. The smell from across the river is getting to be too much. And we've had smallpox scabs ending up in our lunch buckets and drinking mugs. This has really got to stop.
Will you talk to the Amherst lad? He is related to you I think, and has plans to name some colleges and towns after himself. But he gets his wig in a tangle whenever I even suggest that he lay off all the Mic Mac Whacking.
So anyway Majesty, good luck with all that, and with your English lessons.
p.s. I've enclosed the latest law that I just signed into effect authorizing a pound sterling for every Mic Mac scalp the boys bring in. Two pounds for the women. It's sure bucked up morale around here.
The Seven Years War over Nothing, Really
The German Georges never did master the English language, although they sat on the British throne for well over a century. George No. 3 was the worst: a nasty, bigoted little creep who was also a genuine nut-bar who wandered the halls of his London palace at night screaming orders in German to imaginary people. No wonder he lost the American colonies, eh?
To make matters even worse for the Brits, the furs from Canada were running out by 1756, and those uppity English colonists around Boston were talking about their unalienable rights and threatening to dump all the imported tea in the ocean, making it quite undrinkable, even for Americans. So the Crown needed something to get everybody forgetting about their nutty King and uniting around God and Country again, and so bingo! Wag the Dog! Along came The Seven Years War.
The French lost that one, big time. A few years later, their own king got his head chopped off, too. Wars will do that.
Canada went officially British after that, to the eternal ruination of the sexual and intellectual life of most Canadians. And jolly old Quebec remained an enclave for poodles, priests and outrageous accents. But America went officially un-British thanks to help from the French and their navy, so things sort of evened out.
Now that a border existed next to Canada, lots of immigrants starting showing up, running away from life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness down south. They called themselves the United Empire Loyalists, but the Yanks had a less complimentary term for them. Fearing political freedom and happiness, they sought out Canada, and built a society there quite free of both.
All these newcomers started seriously crowding out those Indians who weren't rubbed out by then, so the latter were given by a beneficent Crown the kind of choice Empires love to offer: surrender or die. Quite sporting, when you think of it: giving the savages a choice, like that. Well done, I say.
But remnant Indians were only some of the headaches facing the Brits. A few Anglican Bishops, colonial governors and bankers ran the country, which they'd divided into Lower Canada (being filled with French, hence, lower) and Upper Canada (where the Anglos gathered, as in, over and above). This little clique of governing fops were derogatorily known as The Family Compact, especially by their political nemesis, a bald little Scotsman with a fiery tongue named William Lyon MacKenzie.
Let me bow out briefly and allow my Dad and co-author, Bill Annett, to tell this tale, in an extract from one of his works entitled:
About the same time in Montreal, Louis-Joseph Papineau, who was a lawyer, offered to lead the rebellion there pro bono. He did a littler better than MacKenzie, defeating the British at the Battle of St. Denis. But in two successive battles over the following three weeks, the British disbursed the rebels and re-established the sovereignty of the Crown and North Toronto.
Canada: Rebels with No End of CausesJust when most Canadians thought there wouldn't be any more wars, two rebellions were held in 1837, one in Toronto and of course, a similar one of equal time in Montreal.
by William S. Annett
It's important to note that the 1837 uprising was led by a diminutive Highlander named William Lyon MacKenzie, who usually wore an outrageous red wig. He and his rebels faced a formidable opponent in the person of Sir Peregrine Maitland, a corpulent aristocrat who pretty well ran all of what was then Canada, stretching from at least Yonge street to the farmlands a hundred miles west of Mimico.
The whole colony or country was owned by a few families called The Family Compact who bore little resemblance to modern-day Conservatives, other than that they were inbred, narrowly imperialistic and read nothing but the Globe and Mail and the Bible, not to mention being intolerant of what at that time passed for a Liberal party. On second thought, perhaps they did bear some resemblance to modern-day Conservatives.
They also ran the Church - of which only the Anglican variety was allowed to operate - and they owned most of the land, the banks, the law courts and what taverns there were in Toronto.The farmers were routinely outraged, just as farmers are today over issues such as freight rates or ethanol prices. But they were joined by equally annoyed Quebecois who didn't like living under a foreign king unless it was the King of France.
Upper and Lower Canada were ripe for revolution, and if a vote had been taken and included Indians and Quebec women, there would have been a landslide in favor of war, which was unusual for Canada. Unfortunately, the vote at the time was restricted to rich English speaking white men, similar to those who had forged the American Constitution.
Philip Annett, the great-great grandfather of the present writer, who was a farmer and blacksmith from rural Ontario, picked up the family flintlock and joined MacKenzie in this great endeavor, being an inspired nationalist. Actually, Philip's wife was a bit of a battle axe, and he got out of the house as much as he could. When he left in 1837, his wife was angrier than ever, because he took the only gun they owned, leaving her defenceless against marauding Indians and Mormon missionaries. Perhaps intentionally.
Anyway, the rebels lost.
One of the more noteworthy facts about William Lyon MacKenzie was that he was crazy. As a result everyone, farmers and townspeople alike, considered him normal compared with the rest of Toronto at the time.
Little Mac, as he is sometimes referred to by historians, to distinguish him from Big Mac (the much later first Prime Minister, John A. MacDonald) began to store up - instead of treasures in heaven - gunpowder and muskets in his basement.
At the same time, Papineau, the Montreal lawyer, sent a lengthy brief to MacKenzie, deposing that, whereas he was prepared, notwithstanding or precluding the necessary legal formalities, and in no way limiting the generality of the foregoing, to act, promulgate and proceed, subject to it being - and deemed to being - the case that the time had come for hostilities.
In other words, if it pleased the court, he would move to strike.
Having no legal background and being five feet in height, Little Mac had both a lack of legal verbiage with which to respond and also an inferiority complex. Besides, he hated waiting for people, especially legally-trained French Canadians.
So Little Mac gathered a small army at a pub known as Montgomery's Tavern, north of York. As it turned out, Sir Peregrine happened to own Montgomery's Tavern along with every other bar in Toronto, so he was aware of Little Mac's plans. Unfortunately, Sir Peregrine had also learned of Papineau's plot and had already dispatched all of his troops to Quebec.
The local armory stood open and unguarded, as was Sir Peregrine himself. Little Mac immediately incited his troops to action, with the objectives of seizing the Governor, occupying Fort Henry, flying in the face of the Family Compact as well as the English monarchy, and declaring a Republic.
With Little Mac, they were led by a former Dutch army officer named van Egmond, who had fought with Napolean, and had been severely reprimanded for it. They had marched half way down Yonge street when, somewhere near Bloor street viaduct, they wee suddenly confronted by a dozen or so figures approaching through the early morning mist.
This scant handful of locals had taken up arms to defend Sir Peregrine, the Crown and the established order. Now, confronting the rebels, they let go a volley of musket shot at the opposing farmers, and immediately turned tail and ran away.
Mackenzie's men returned their fire, but then tragedy struck, snatching defeat, or at least stalemate, from the jaws of victory. Colonel van Egmond, in the best fusilier tradition, had ordered the front rank to kneel, providing the second rank with a simultaneous field of fire.
Unfortunately, the Colonel had not had the time to instruct the men in infantry tactics. Seeing the front rank drop, those in the second rank concluded that those in front had all been killed by the Tory fusillade. Immediately, most of Little Mac's army turned and rank back in the direction of Unionville.
And that was pretty well the end of the Rebellion of 1837. Sir Peregrine's government exacted a terrible revenge on the revolting Canadians by deporting 100 of them, sentencing them to life in Australia. That was judged to be a fate worse than capital punishment.
Two of the rebel leaders, Peter Matthews and Samuel Lount, were actually hanged, although MacKenzie managed to flee to the United States, which he viewed as marginally preferable to the gallows.
My ancestor Philip Annett somehow managed to escape and return to the farm, deciding that there are some things in the affairs of men worse than putting up with one's own wife, however ballistic.
Canada was launched down a road over which historians are still divided, some viewing it as "law, order and good government under the Crown", while others consider it a road of servile dependency. Still others say that the two descriptions amount to the same thing.
More Mac Attacks
For some odd reason, white Canadians prided themselves on their staunch Britishness even more after the aborted 1837 rebellion, and a silly conservative smugness and desire for afternoon tea descended on the people of what then comprised Canada.
Fortunately, all that banal Rule Brittania bullshit didn't extend to the burgeoning territories west of those Great Lakes, a vast land peopled by Indians and Metis: those mixed-blood buffalo hunters who were the offspring of Scottish and French trappers and Cree Indian babes doing what comes naturally during those long, cold prairie nights.
West of the Great Lakes was a huge unsettled territory in 1840, owned by nobody, except in the minds of a few London businessmen who possessed something called the Hudson's Bay Company: one of the the biggest illegal land grabs in history, founded by a royal ripoff artist named Prince Rupert. (Hey, who the hell ever elected him?)
After disgracing himself back in England by helping lose the Civil War for his uncle, King Charlie the Headless, the young bozo Prince Rupert got handed millions of acres of other peoples' lands in 1670 by his convenient cousin, King Charlie the Second. And Rupert wasn't even a Pope! The stolen acreage stretched from Lake Superior to the Pacific Ocean. Wow. That's a hell of a lot of buffalo dung, and quite the reward for being a loser.
Anyway, after they'd hanged or exiled the 1837 rebels, the bankers and bishops in Canada East gazed longingly at all that land and decided it had to be British, too. So they promptly handed over all those millions of acres to a single company - you guessed it, Rupert’s HBC. And then, as usual, they shipped some Anglican missionaries out west to soften up and make stupid the savages and the half breeds.
For one thing, those western hombres were tough dudes who didn't want to be converted, especially to Anglicanism, of all things, particularly since the first thing the priests ordered was for an end to any rolling in the hay or conjugals with Indian women. Bummer!
Not surprisingly, it soon became open season on Anglicans around the main Metis hangout in what's now Winnipeg, in no small part because Catholic missionaries were already out there stirring the pot (Shit, those black robed little bastards do get around, don't they?). So naturally, all those half breed gunsights were also trained on the Canadian government that just didn't comprendo the desires of the mostly French speaking Metis to be left alone with their Cree babes and buffalos. (Oops. Did I say that right?)
Things went from bad to worse, and naturally, a little war broke out. The trouble for Les Anglais was that there was no fast way for them to get their troops out west, since the country lacked a national railroad.
Enter the Canadian Pacific Railway, affectionately known as the Government On Wheels, since so many prime ministers and cabinet members of the new government were its lawyers and shareholders. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention: during the on again, off again dispute out west, Canada was officially declared a nation by some more white skinned rich guys, in 1867. But it wasn't really Canada yet, just four eastern provinces: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario.
But back to the railway. It needed lots of cash and land grants. So enter its chief lawyer and lobbyist, John A. MacDonald (remember, Big Mac?), a notorious drunkard and corporate bag man who also and just coincidentally of course became Canada's first Prime Minister.
Big Mac tried to foment a war right away with the Metis through his agents and the ever-obliging Roman Catholic church, which loves to play both sides of the Game, and held their usual We Are God sway over the Metis gun toters. But the war didn't come off, which was too bad for the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) shareholders. For they’d been promised rapid funding from the government once the war erupted and the dashing red coats required railroad construction to get out west and save Canada from all those bearded and smelly Catholic Terrorists.
Even worse, in 1870 a zany prophet named Louis Riel emerged from out of the Metis hordes to proclaim a provisional government in Winnipeg consisting of woolly faced guys who definitely didn't drink tea and read Chaucer. Louis spent some time afterwards in a Montreal looney bin and claimed to hear instructions directly from God, which of course didn't make him a very good Catholic. But for awhile he out manuvered Big Mac brilliantly, even though he didn't even speak English very well. Weird, eh?
The whole thing got smashed, partly because the Metis soldiers who guarded Riel tended to wander off in search of their babes and bulls. (I know what you're thinking, but don't). An unrepentant Louis Riel got out of town one step ahead of the hangman (who eventually got him, but wait), and Law, Order and The Stiff Upper Lip set up shop in the Red River settlement.
The Metis bided their time, and Riel actually got himself elected to the Canadian Parliament until the cops tried arresting him for being impertinent like that. They didn't catch him, of course, since he ran away from the House of Commons faster than they did, proving that even back then, cops were fat, stupid and hung around in donut shops too much.
The pause between all these Metis shenanigans gave Big Mac and his CPR backers time to think, and plot. What we need, they muttered, is a Master Plan, like, you know, a way to lock up all those savages once and for all so we can build trading posts and cities and strip malls that sell shit.
I've got it! someone yelled (although probably not Big Mac, who was usually passed out drunk). How about we do a law called the Indian Act (which is still around, by the way, just in case you holier than thou Canadians are tempted to feel smug), which made every Indian and Metis, note, "wards of the state in perpetuity": in other words, legal prisoners of the "Crown" for eternity.
And how about a national military force to keep them all in their place, called something like the Royal North West Mounted Police? And special camps to isolate all those brown people, called Indian Reservations?
And - here was their piece de resistance - let's finish off their kids with special "industrial schools" where the savage young uns could be turned into miniature British geeks at a tender age, and provide lots of after hour fun for horny priests, as well.
Enter the G word. Not just extermination, but a plan of how to go about it legally and systematically, and guarantee its eventual success.
That's Genocide, boys and girls.
By the time the Metis revolted again in 1885, all of those laws had been approved by a compliant, lily-white Canadian Parliament. And yes, you guessed it: so had millions of bucks in interest-free grants to the CPR, and oodles of free land, to build the railway that would send the ready and waiting troops west in the next contrived war with the Metis, known as the Second Rebellion.
Big Mac had a big mouth and he couldn't keep anything a secret, which of course comes with being a drunkard. No Alcoholics Anonymous back then. But MacDonald did have a good knack at comebacks. In a drunken state, Mac once threw up all over the stage when he was debating a political adversary, and without missing a beat, he exclaimed to the shocked crowd,
"You must excuse me, ladies and gentlemen, but whenever my worthy opponent speaks, I can't help but become sick to my stomach!"
Big Mac used the same rhetorical skills to bamboozle the Canadian public to support the War against Terror out West, which of course was needed by a badly debt-plagued CPR. And he got a lot of help from Louis Riel himself, who had returned to Winnipeg by then with a zealot's fire and incited the Metis to take up arms and arrest any settler who wasn't with them.
Naturally, under orders from Rome, a local Catholic Bishop named Tache did all he could to stir up Riel and promise him backing from the church, which of course never materialized.
One of the unlucky sods who raised Riel's ire was a fervent Ulster Protestant (yeah, one of those guys) named Thomas Scott. He denounced the oath of allegiance to the second provisional Metis government demanded of all Winnipeggers, saw catholic conspiracies under every bed, and even announced that he would personally take a pot shot at Louis himself the next time he saw him.
Bad thing to say, boyo.
Scott was the one who was shot, naturally, and that was exactly what Big Mac needed. The second Metis war was on.
Louis Riel and the boys
A whack of troops plus every honky red neck with a home made rifle soon climbed aboard the CPR and chugged west on those convenient new rail lines, cheered on by most Canadians outside of Quebec, where naturally everybody was rooting for Riel. Tabernac!
The entire contingent was led by an aging Colonel Blimp character pulled out of military retirement named General Thomas Middleton, who didn't know his ass from an infantry training manual.
Defying all military logic, and like another brilliant strategist, General George Custer, Tom split his force into three columns and chugged off into unexplored hostile territory. Once General Blimp got to Winnipeg, he set out to hunt down Riel on horseback and foot. Gee, can you guess what happened next?
Middleton and his green troops got their collective Orange butt kicked almost immediately by the Metis sharpshooters, who tended to hit and run during the night, and the General went into a profound sulk that almost lost the government the war at the outset.
The Metis were led by a Che Guevara character of natural guerrilla warfare cunning named Gabriel Dumont, an enormous buffalo hunter who could take the smug look off a Brit at two hundred yards with his rifle that he affectionately called Le Petit. Gabe continually out generaled Middleton and made a bigger ass of the General than he already was. Unfortunately, Dumont and Louis Riel didn't see eye to eye on how to fight the biggest Empire in the world.
Riel, by then, was quite insane, being devoutly religious and the recipient of many cryptic messages from the Almighty, including, it seems, on how to do battle against the British. (Of course, we only have Riel's word on that one, as in "Hey trust me! I've just spoken with the Big Guy!")
Thus divinely inspired, Louis instructed Gabriel to cease his guerilla tactics and stage a face to face, "honorable" war against the cannons and gatling guns of the Brits. Um, yeah okay Louis, replied Gabe, who must have figured that advice that crazy had to come from heaven.
So the showdown that tested God's ability as a military tactician happened at a little place in Saskatchewan called Batoche. The Metis soldiers, clearly not as impressed with Louis and God as Gabriel Dumont was, dug rifle pits rather than attack the Brits head on, as Saint Louis ordered them to do. Riel actually made a total ass of himself during the battle, running around with a cross and commanding the bullets to drop to the ground. They didn't, unfortunately.
On the other side, General Middleton still hadn't overcome his lethargy and was so bored or demoralized, or both, that he didn't even use his heavy ordinance against the scattered Metis riflemen. He actually sat in his tent and wrote letters home to his wife. Eventually, a pissed off junior officer took matters into his own hands and ordered a bayonet charge against the Metis, and the field was carried by Rule Britannia, undoubtedly to the stirring refrains from a Gilbert and Sullivan chorus.
Louis Riel had chosen a martyr's end by then, which may explain his weird behavior during and after the battle. For rather than take off south with Dumont and the boys, Riel immediately surrendered himself to General Middleton, who had finally emerged from his tent after the fight was over.
Louis expected a divine intervention to vindicate him, but naturally it didn't arrive. The Metis Messiah obviously didn't get the hint.
Riel’s own lawyers argued in the kangaroo court set up to try him that the poor guy was clinically insane and so should be reprieved. But Big Mac and his buddies back east needed a corpse, and the verdict was already in. Besides, Riel helped his enemies once again by sacking his own lawyers and arguing that he was perfectly sane and deliberately treasonous to the “perfidious” Crown of England. So take that, you English pig dogs!
So that was that. Goodbye Louis Riel: the first and unfortunately only Member of the Canadian Parliament ever to get strung up.
And just in case all you sauve history majors think that Canada ever outgrew the sentiments of that "dark chapter", the rope that hanged Louis was proudly displayed in a front hall glass case at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police headquarters in Regina until the spring of 2007.
The big winners of the whole charade, of course, were the MacDonald Conservatives and their buddies, the CPR shareholders.
Stuffed to their greedy little gills with all the cash and acreage they wanted, the Canadian Pacific Railway honchos went on to own most of the land around their rail lines, which reached the Pacific Ocean shortly after the rebellion was squashed. And with that property, CPR real estate companies ended up owning the best property and politicians in most western Canadian cities, and raking in their mega profits to the present day.
And that, of course, is what the whole thing was all about.
Canada Comes of Age, Sort of
Well, as you can imagine, all this flag waving, railroad building bullshit swelled British patriotism enormously across the country, and every oddball with a Union Jack did his best to grab all that immensity for himself and kill off even more Indians ... especially if those invading oddballs were missionaries.
One Church of England cleric named Reverend John Sheepshanks personally killed off most of the Chilcotin Indian nation in what became British Columbia by poking smallpox bugs into their arms. John just happened to also be a shareholder in the company that had illegally bought up all the Chilcotin land while all the red skins were still breathing. And so for securing all that land for his fellow shareholders in the Hudson's Bay Company, Pastor John got a seat in the House of Lords in London as a reward. He also became the Bishop of Norwich and undoubtedly gave great sermons about the love of Jesus.
But then again, being an Anglican, probably not.
The whole thing just makes one gosh-darn proud to be an Englishman, you know?
One Canadian prime minister who wasn't a drunkard, Wilfred Laurier, felt the same way, and around 1910 declared,
"I am a British subject and shall always be one. It is my pride and my salvation"
Whew. But the truth is that all those John Bull wannabees were so jingoistic after killing Louis Riel because they were scared shitless about the evil Yankees grabbing the west coast and more of "their" newly acquired territories. And knowing Americans, it wasn't an idle fear. Politicians in Washington during the 1860's had been bandying about the slogan "Fifty Four Forty or Fight!": that number was the latitude up somewhere near Alaska.
Of course, little colonies of Brits had stationed themselves with typical Albion Pluck all along the west coast of the continent as early as 1850, especially after massive coal deposits were found on Vancouver Island near Nanaimo (Hey, I live there!).
"Mine! Mine!" went up the cry from Whitehall and Ottawa, and not just over the coal deposits pointed out to them by a particularly masochistic Indian. All those massive cedar trees just cried out to constitute the hulls of Royal Navy warships. And so the CPR boys came in quite handy in getting more Brits out to the coast.
But before the railway linked east to west in 1886, Canadian politicians and businessmen had a lot of sleepless nights. How can we grab all of it? they wondered. Bingo! Around about 1880, they came up with the solution. We'll fill the whole place with farmers and settlers!
Thus began the biggest immigration in Canada's history, once the CPR got their way.
Suddenly posters appeared all over the right parts of Europe - no Italians or Poles need apply, quite yet - inviting the unwashed, hungry masses of England and Scotland (and there were lots of them) to receive 160 acres of free land in the Canadian west, provided they camped out there and built on it and hung around for a year. None of the erstwhile immigrants knew anything about the bone-chilling prairie winters, of course; or even worse, about what tedious conversationalists Canadians tend to be.
Soon, little towns with cute Anglo-Saxon names were popping up all over the land formerly inhabited by Crees and Metis: a tidy bulwark of Englishness erected against guys with Tennessee accents, and everybody else as well.
All this Britishness made Canada a hot spot for weirdos in white sheets and pointed hats. The Ku Klux Klan swept local elections all during this time throughout the west, hanging the Union Jack alongside their burning crosses at their snug fests. But of course most white Canadians didn't go to that extreme. They didn't need to, since the land had already been ethnically cleansed and bleached quite white.
Still, even with all this race killing going on, white Canada was suffering from a profound identity crisis as the 20th century dawned. Something irked us inside when we snuggled too close to the British monarchy, as if another spirit bobbed around inside us, trying to worm its way out. The writer Pierre Berton said that’s because all Canadians (his kind, at least) are burdened with the heart of a Gaelic bard and the mind of a Scottish banker, and can't decide who the hell to be.
Could be. Or maybe we're just too fucking banal to overthrow anything or anyone, starting with ourselves. After all, we had our kick at the revolution can, back in 1837, and we missed. Even Little Mac had commented back then on the lethargy of his fellow insurrectionists, who "even while fighting the enemy seemed more concerned with their estates and cow pastures".
But as usual, a big bloody war came along to counterbalance all that, and help us pale Canucks find an identity, of sorts, in the mangled fields of Flanders.
Funny that, eh? How it took twenty million more corpses for Canada to come into being in its own mind? And all those more recent dead people weren't even Indians, but solid German folks, many of whom might have immigrated to the west and been our good down home neighbors, if only that evil Kaiser Wilhelm of theirs hadn't have personally raped so many Belgian nuns and boiled up and eaten tiny French babies like he did.
The War that didn't end a Single War
My grandfather Ross Annett got gassed, won a permanent limp and lost his only horse in 1915 when he finally made it over to France to discover that all of his taller friends who'd enlisted before him were as dead as the Pope's nuts. But I'm proud to say that Grandpa personally participated in the Big Canada Formulating Event known as the Battle of Vimy Ridge two years later, which I guess makes me more of a Canadian than all of you losers whose forebearers stayed at home shoveling horse shit and banging the neighbor's daughters.
Vimy Ridge made Canada: isn't that what you got crammed into your bored and vulnerable little brains when you were at school? So how come we got made then? (Hold that expression). Well, because soldiers like my Grandpa served there for the first time under a Canadian General, and their own real Canadian officers!
Now that wasn't such a big accomplishment, when you think of it, since none of our guys would salute or obey the order of a British officer if they knew what was good for them. The Brits have always used us "colonials" as bullet catchers on impossible missions, like in August 1942, when that moron Mountbatten told our South Saskatchewan boys to go scale a cliff in France called Dieppe crammed with German machine gunners, from a beach bracketed on three sides by artillery and barbed wire. Brilliant move, Mounty. That IRA bomb in 1979 was the nicest thing that ever happened to you, you pomy schmuck.
Yeah, we got made all right, at Vimy Ridge. That's what mobsters call it when they get officially accepted into the inner circle of the Mafia after loyally whacking whoever the Big Boss tells them to, without scruples or hesitation. The mark of a true soldier.
So after we stormed the Ridge in an hour (the French couldn't take it at all, nah nah!) and slaughtered every German lad in sight, and we did it not under the duress and command of some inbred Limey aristocrat but willingly, and bearing our own Flag, we had been made.
Now I get it.
1919: We Try Another Brief Revolt
Lots of pissed off soldiers crippled by wars tend to make revolutions. Trust me. It worked in Russia, and nearly in Germany, Italy and lots of other places after the War that Didn't End Any Wars. The potency of the mixture even made Canada boil for a minute with some radical impulses, on the streets of Winnipeg in the summer of 1919.
Hey, I grew up on those streets, so I can concur that trying to navigate Portage and Main on a Friday night is enough to piss off anybody.
But back in the hot days of 1919, some printers in the Peg went on strike for better wages, and that somehow morphed quickly into a General Strike, because - if you believe the government and churches of the time - a bunch of no-good-nik Russian Bolsheviks infiltrated the Printers Union and made them all speak Slavic and hate the King and join up with hordes of unemployed ex-soldiers.
"Let's overthrow the state, comrades!" whispered the Outside Agitators, and Bingo! All the workers of Winnipeg stopped work. I guess their unpaid overtime, starvation wages and lack of union rights had nothing to do with their decision.
Low and behold, our Boys in Red showed up, fresh from killing off remnant Indians, and they smashed the strike to pieces. The RCMP galloped up and down Main street and managed to shoot to death two strikers and a little kid who was nine years old. And all the strike leaders got a one way trip to Stoney Mountain Penitentiary.
Actually, the ringleaders got out of the slammer eventually, and having received their lumps, some of them went on to remain somewhat pissed off enough to form Canada's first quasi-socialist party, the CCF: a sort of tepid "let's be fair" Canadian version of Britain's Labor party, minus all those angry red flag-waving miners and dockers. And one day the CCF would become something even milder called the NDP, a funny concoction of cautious "liberals in a hurry", to quote one derogatory Prime Minister: a sincere group of nice Canadians who are still trying to make Canada an even nicer place than it already is.
The Ennui and We
The roaring twenties never roared much in Canada, except among all those odd foreigners who kept invading our lovely little slice of England because we needed their cheap labor. Yeah, okay, but not their cuisine, eh?
Ukrainians and Poles and Italians started showing up and adding onions and garlic to our food and making it actually tasty, which of course is the ultimate insult to us bread and porridge Puritans. And there were the Jews, too, of course, although we don’t like to talk about them much except on Holocaust Memorial Day. Up until the 1960’s, us good ol’ boy Canucks even had a quota at many of our universities allowing only 1% of the student body to be Jewish.
But one of the immigrant Jews we let in named Bronfman made the news and a huge fortune by running whiskey across the border to Al Capone and Joe Kennedy senior all during Prohibition. But that was about all the excitement we had until the Depression hit us.
Most of the western farms and their families got trashed by the double punch of a years-long drought and a bank crash that didn't hurt any bankers, naturally. Over half of western Canadians were on relief. But the country was run, as usual, by a fat cat Easterner named R. B. Bennett, another railway tycoon (gee, that's odd, eh?) who told all the poor Canadians to go dig ditches and stop having children.
Enough's enuf, said a bunch of unemployed guys in Vancouver, and in the spring of 1935 they jumped on freight trains and headed east to shove a bit of something up Prime Minister Bennett's fat ass. They called themselves the On to Ottawa Trek, and they got as far as Regina, where once again, the Boys in Red killed some people and stopped free speech faster than you can say "Oh, Canada!".
A few of the survivors did make it to Ottawa, and Bennett met with them for ten minutes just to be able to say he did, and he politely told them to kiss his fat ass, which none of the guys did, of course.
Meanwhile, back on the Indian reservations, the brown skins kept on dying, especially their kids: 50,000 of them, in fact, jailed by law in the Christian residential schools where some of the little savages were processed into civilized consumers through such charming methods as routine gang rape, electric shocks and slave labor. But we've apologized for all that now, I hear, so it’s all fixed.
Kicking Butt Again
With all that blood and gore staining our lovely land, Canadians started sniffing around hungrily for another war to go to. Sure enough, old Adolf was strutting that stupid little walk of his around Europe and threatening Mother England, and, despite Winston Churchill's personal admiration for the little corporal, Britain, and thus Canada, hit the trenches again on September 3, 1939 in yet another Final War against Germany.
It was a Good War this time, except to guys like my Uncle Bob who at age 19 got torpedoed and drowned in the English Channel in order to make the world safe for Exxon and General Motors.
For helping defend old Blighty during the dark hours of 1940, Canadians got the personal thanks of King George the Stutterer and that nice old drunkard, his wife, who's never called anything but The Queen Mother. Woopie, eh?
But then, worse the luck, our boys got their asses shot off at Dieppe and other useless excursions dreamt up by pommy twits in bright uniforms who got buggered at a young age in elite boarding schools, hence their complete absence of intelligence. And us loyal Canucks also were outshone at D Day by all those overfed, over sexed and over there Americans who keep claiming they beat Hitler all by themselves. (What, no Red Army?) So World War Two was kind of a draw in the Glory for Canada department.
No worries. The world was so appreciative of us for saving England's collective ass and Fair Play that we got our undeserved but gratifying post-war reputation of being the most decent country on earth. Maybe that was just because we weren't Americans or Nazis, even though we sure let in a hell of a lot of the latter after 1945. But Canada, it seemed, had earned its spurs.
Wow, we said. You mean us here in like, Canada eh, we belong to our own, real live, like sovereign nation?
Get the Heck Out, eh?
The Brits may have gone - bankrupted by the war, stripped of most of their colonies, and just generally out of it - but Oh Say Can You See who took us over after John Bull-shit pulled out?
There was actually one Canadian Prime Minister who did sort of stand up to the Yankees, once: old John Diefenbaker, a die hard Brit-loving Tory from the prairies, who in 1962 told JFK that he couldn't station Bomarc missiles in Canada. Like, take off, you catholic hoser! So Jack Kennedy told the CIA to get rid of the inconvenient Prime Minister, which of course they did in the next election. But Dief didn't have any imitators, so don't worry: you won't be seeing US Marines patrolling on Granville street and spoiling your afternoons, you sorry bunch of west coast latte-sipping, sun-bathing diletanttes.
So in our nice sort of way, after 1945 we settled right in to being resource whores for the Americans, and other nations who paid of course, shipping off all our raw logs and water and oil and uranium and jobs to the United States, and Japan, and now China. We didn't want to cause any controversy, after all. Very un-Canadian, you know.
Something in this prostitution didn't feel quite right to us, however - that funny Canadian split-thinking again - so a mild sort of nationalist movement took hold during the 1960's, on both sides of the English-French divide. (I haven't mentioned the French much recently, but hold your tortieres).
The Parti Quebecois started gaining ground in Quebec, duh, and eventually got as much as 35% of the vote for outright separation (gasp) from lovely old Canada. What the heck? That made us Anglos fighting mad - we had whipped frog butt at the Plains of Abraham, after all - and caused many of us back then to pull out our Maple Leafs (leaves?) from mothballs and wave them around a bit.
But it was all mostly show, because we ended up giving Quebec anything they wanted just so they wouldn't end our beautiful relationship together that went back to all those throat-slitting, bayonet-gouging days.
Somebody's called that arrangement Canadian Federalism in action.
It must have worked. We're all still together, formally speaking. But if you're like me, some part of you secretly and treasonably hankers to see the fleur de lys waving by itself over Montreal and a million Quebecers lining up on the Ottawa river waving their bare derrieres in the direction of the Cochons d'Anglais who they will have outsmarted once again, eh! Those silly English persons whose mother was an elderberry bush and father was a hamster, n'est ce pas?
Okay. So, speaking of the French, I forgot to mention the War Measures Act.
Troops on Montreal streets in 1970
Some of the Westmount crowd got panicky when Rene Levesque and his Pequistes began climbing in the polls, and they asked the Boys in Red to do something about them, and fast.
So low and behold, early in 1970 a tiny band of mercenaries sprinkled with paid provocateurs calling themselves the FLQ showed up out of nowhere and kidnapped a Quebec cabinet minister, Pierre La Porte, and a Brit named James Cross. Somebody shot Laporte through the head and stuffed him in the trunk of a car - the guy did have strong Montreal Mob connections, but of course that was never mentioned by anybody - and then a well crafted hell broke loose.
Enter that paragon of liberal mythology, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau (Jesuit educated, just like Adolf Hitler), who promptly called out the troops, literally, while trashing all those bleeding heart liberals who worry about such silly things as civil liberties and a fair trial.
"Well, go ahead and bleed" Pierre admonished them on the public airwaves, with his usual aristocratic sneer.
Welcome to the War Measures Act.
Pierre Trudeau had a real sexual identity problem, which is why he used to beat up his sweet wife Margaret in public, including once at the Chateau Laurier when he shoved a salad bowl in her face after blackening one of her eyes. I guess Jolly Pierre (his last name is Waterhole in English, by the way) had to keep proving what a real man he was, or something. So bingo! In came the Canadian army and out went civil liberties and the rule of law in order to deal with twelve guys carrying pop guns.
Hundreds of us got arrested and jailed without trial, and not just in Quebec. That particular reign of state terror went on for weeks. But it had its funnier aspects. The Boys in Red, not known for their artistic sensibilities or brain cells, once gathered up a "subversive" suspect's entire collection of art books on Cubism because ... you know, Cuba. Cubism. Duh.
Well, that's the Arsee Empee for you. Their top officials are getting sued by their own female officers nowadays for sexual harrassment and on the job rape. Go figure.
So who says Canada is boring?
Peter Waterhole kind of faded in and out of the Canadian political scene after doing his early version of Homeland Security. We just didn't trust him anymore, I guess.
I know I sure as hell didn't. Once me and my highschool buddy Mike Helmer and fifty other protestors showed up at a Burnaby mall where Pierre and Maggie were doing some stupid photo op and I started yelling at them, "Capitalists out of government!", and then when that moron Helmer got close enough to Trudeau to confront him, all he said to The Turdo was, "When are we going to get a French language TV station in Vancouver?"
Now, I don't think I'm projecting too much when I say that this kind of serious letdown characterized the 1970's for Canadians as a whole. And the times tended to sag for us even more when those wily Arabs raised their oil prices and we hit our first real economic depression since the war, sometime around 1973.
As our manufacturing infrastructure (there was a little bit of it) headed south and to warmer tropical climes offering such business incentives as military dictatorships and starvation wages, all we had to sustain ourselves with was the selling off of ever more chunks of Indian lands and resources ... and setting up fast food chains and tourist meccas for rich Yankees.
The Indians weren't a problem, as usual. Their "chiefs" kept faithfully signing over everything in their territories to whatever corporation gave them a blow job. The government chiefs still call that being "partners in development", or something.
But don't be too hard on the Injuns. A lot of them lived then, as they still do, in third world poverty. Well, not the chiefs, but you know what I mean. Indians had just got the privilege of voting in Canada, but their women still couldn't, and those wonderful charnel camps called residential schools were still fucking up future generations of potential placard-waving and road-blockading Red Power activists - those that survived. But hey, I won't get preachy on you.
As the 1970's stumbled on towards those icky Mulroney years, things started looking ever more bleak for the rest of us, too. In the summer of 1976, Peter Waterhole decided to freeze everybody's wages - but not prices, naturally - and a million Canadian workers got mildly upset and did a "militant" General Strike across the country for a whole day, which changed nothing, of course. And those defeated hopes set the stage for the moribund 1980's, and the most hated politician in Canadian history:
Lyin' Brian Mulroney.
The guy was a corporate sleeze ball from English Quebec who was Canada's answer to Ronnie Raygun and Maggie Snatch-The-Children's-Free-Milk-Program Thatcher. And Mulroney talked and looked like a sleeze ball too, the kind of greasy smooth-talking creep who flashes porn at you from an alleyway.
What Mulroney flashed was gross corruption, even by Canadian standards - he used to openly accept bribes from corporate lobbyists, and his Prime Minister's Office had an unofficial policy of tacking a 15% surcharge on all government contracts for the sake of you know who's private bank account.
But at the bidding of his bosses in Washington and the International Monetary Fund, Mulroney also smashed the protectionist tariff structures that had safeguarded Canadian jobs for generations, and he forced Canada into its first major Free Trade Agreement - again, through incredible corruption, manipulating judges, stifling the press and bribing everybody in sight.
Take water exports, for instance - and the Yankees sure have taken them.
Against the will and knowledge of Parliament and anybody else, Mulroney snuck into the Free Trade Treaty a secret provision that allowed bulk water to be shipped right out of Canada, mostly to California. Like any creative corporate accountant, Lyin' Brian had one set of records for the public and its politicians, and an actual deal that he kept locked away in his own private safe.
Some pesky Parliamentary assistant named Shelly Ann Clark did the unusual thing for a Canadian and spilled the beans, and somehow got a copy of the real Free Trade deal. She was canned, demonized and blacklisted, naturally, but The Boys in Red stopped raping their colleagues for a moment and tried sticking Shelly in a psychiatric hospital in Ottawa. They blew it, of course, being Mounties, and Shelly told the world.
Canadians got mildly upset for awhile after that came out, and Mulroney's popularity sank to far less a percentage of the people than those who believed that Elvis was still alive ... about 8%. But that massive unpopularity didn't change anything, this being Canada.
Remember that odd bi-polarity in our self conception as a people I mentioned? It shows up in our national voting patterns: either blue or red, tory or liberal. So eventually we dumped Lyin' Brian - gone in body, at least, to some corporate sinecure, though not in spirit - and we brought in various pale facsimiles to run our sinking boat: not out of anger or conviction to do something different, but in the lazy and unconscious reflex action that we like to call choosing "responsible" government.
We're a frightened people, I guess. And oh, so careful.
Cautious folks like us Canucks worry about our credit rating. And around about 1990, the banksters let it be known that Canada had dropped slightly in its standing with the International Monetary Fund.
For one thing, bemoaned the Gnomes of Zurich, more of those dirty Indians of yours are occupying resource-rich lands and talking about their sovereignty. Like, they want to own the whole place again? Now that's not good. It's very bad for investors, you know, to have a bare chested Mohawk stud waving a gun at the Canadian army, like what happened at a little place called Oka in Quebec that same year.
Do something to fix your image, and fast, ordered the guys in charge.
So low and behold, the same year that the world press flashed images of Mohawks going to war with the 22nd Van Doos Regiment over a piece of traditional sacred land that some greedy white prick wanted to turn into a golf course, can you guess what happened, boys and girls?
The Spin Set In.
Soon after the Oka crisis, and adorned in the standard silver jewelry and pleasantly plump look of your typical government-bought Indian chief, Head Apple "Flying Phil" Fontaine of the misnamed "Assembly of First Nations" (AFN) - a wholly owned subsidiary of the Crown of England - stood up in front of TV cameras and announced that he had been "abused" in an Indian residential school.
Abused, please note. Not raped. Not tortured, or soul murdered. Abused.
Damn, what a perfect Canadian word: abuse. How it evokes images of a not very nice but basically benign incident where somebody spoke harshly to somebody else, and hurt his feelings. As in, "Gee, you've abused our relationship. Now say you're sorry!"
Phil Fontaine was handed his script, and he pressed that mental template of mild aggrievement over the whole genocidal horror of the residential schools, from where 50,000 kids never made it home. And what followed was the kind of shabby and corrupt self-exculpation that we Canucks excel in.
Well, the corporate press climbed all over Fontaine's words quicker than a priest can leap on some unsuspecting little kid.
"It's time for healing! Let's all be reconciled!" the pale pundits started to squawk, rushing past the scene of the worst crime in Canadian history with their worried blinders firmly on, and trying not to trip over all those little brown corpses in the process.
But then nothing happened, of course.
A secret deal had been quickly struck with any Indian leader within easy reach of a government pay cheque, and that was simply to leave those murdered kids in the ground and stay quiet about everything.
Most of the chiefs went along with the deal, like Around the Fort Natives (AFN, remember?) always do. And the churches that did the crime - no, not just the catholics - started shredding documents quicker than you can say litigation, and relied on their buddies in the press and in Ottawa to shield them from the consequences of their own shit. And it worked, for awhile.
To add insult to everything, some bright boy in Ottawa came up with something he called The Aboriginal Healing Fund.
Money fixes everything, right? said Bright Boy. So let's just throw a bit of it at a few Indians who are still breathing, somehow, after getting ass fucked or cattle prodded for years at a tender age. But the poor sods can't sue anybody once they take the dough. And we get off the hook by buying our way out of everything: even murder.
The arrangement should have more accurately been named The Caucasian Healing Fund, since all that it fixed was our own guilt and legal liability. But to quote British General Kitchener after his long range artillery had slaughtered from a distance over 10,000 Mahdi warriors in the Sudan,
"It's not cricket, I grant you, but there you have it."
Fortunately, as somebody once said, Murder most foul will out ... that was Shakespeare, dummy ... and it sure has, thanks to another pesky and unusual white Canadian - yours truly - and a host of unbought and unbossed real live Indians who began talking in public about what they went through in Canada's Gulag.
Like a tiny boat battling against the current at the top of Niagara Falls, our efforts have seemed pointless and even suicidal to many Canadians, who after all are very careful people, and just don't like their nice churches being publicly accused of gang raping and sterilizing little brown kids - even when they did. After all, saying those things might upset our dear Aunt Bertha, who's a loyal United Church member and helps support the local food bank.
But meanwhile, in the real world, less frightened people starting listening, and looking at the evidence, and somewhere a critical mass went click and suddenly, there stood lovely Christian Canada, with blood all over itself.
Holy crap! came the cry from Bay street and beyond: Apologize! That way, you get the last word.
So the ghost of Lyin' Brian Mulroney stood up in Parliament in June of 2008 in the form of another Supposed Tory (a suppository, get it?) named Stephen Harper, a weird little drone from Alberta with lizard eyes who somehow got to be Prime Minister. And with the kind of sincerity you can imagine coming from a lizard, Harper said he was sorry, if not for genocide, then at least for not being nice to Indian kids by taking them away from their moms and dads.
Not enough, Steve. Even with all the right cliches, the crime didn't go away. Graves started getting unearthed, and "Canada's Holocaust" made it to the agenda of the United Nations, thanks to our intrepid band of brown and pale shit kickers who started to occupy churches during Sunday services displaying banners declaring "All the Children Need a Proper Burial".
Drastic measures were needed. So Steve called in the latest clutch of Apples and said, Let's bury this whole mess with another Big Spin. And we'll even call it a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, you know, like from South Africa. Brilliant, eh? Casting ourselves in the afterglow of Nelson Mandela like that!
Lying, Big Time
OK, there I go preaching again. The occupational hazard of a clergyman. But there's a method to my madness, namely to show how lying to ourselves is the occupational trait of being a successful White Canadian.
Indulge me for a moment while I share a story about that, from my days as a nice clergyman among nice mostly white folks in the not very nice lumber mill town called Port Alberni, not a mile from a mass grave, still unexamined, of residential school kids who got put there by very not nice (former) United Church colleagues of mine.
The parishioner's name was Mike, and having a vestige of Canadian caution still wired in to me somewhere I won't mention his last name. He came to me in my church office one morning before worship and asked for my advice.
Mike was a self-described happily married man with a really decent wife named Esther and three terrific children who graced our congregation. He was intelligent, considerate, and politically correct right down the line. But he was also fucking several local women.
The guy asked me if I thought it was okay.
After staring at the guy dumbfounded, I simply asked him if he thought it was.
"Sure" he said, his eyes as clear as his apparent conscience. "I keep my underwear on the whole time we're doing it"
"Oh" I replied, wondering if Mike fully understood the architecture of your standard pair of male jockey shorts.
"I just had to see what you thought" he voyeuristically concluded, before hurrying off to sit with Esther and the kids in their church pew.
Esther found out, of course, although not from me. But she stayed with him, being a Canadian.
I see my culture right now as one big Mike.
Which brings us back to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
Like Mike undoubtedly does every night before lights out with his sad wife Esther, the church going folks who did the residential school nightmare have tried soothing their victims, most recently by setting up their own self-inquiry to reassure us all with honey coated words like "reconciliation" and "truth telling", the two, somehow, going hand in hand. Like, not.
At the TRC sessions, big, glitzy shows set up to impress the world to the tune of $68 million, the Indians who survived get to sit in front of their rapists and torturers, and those who cover for them, and listen to their self-justifications for slaughter. The Indians, if they behave, await the ten whole minutes allotted them to read from their monitored and censored "stories" that will have absolutely no legal consequence, even when they refer to killings of children.
The survivors can't name the names, or even discuss the nitty gritty of what really went on in, anymore than can Esther, if she wants to keep everything nice and "reconciled".
Some nasty catholic critic of mine who likes to pretend he's a real live journalist once accused me of "jeopardizing healing and reconciliation" in Canada.
Looking Forward to the Rosy Dawn
I didn't mean to end this tour down memory lane on such a Negative note. I wouldn't be a real Canadian if I did.
It's been an odd 515 years here for my people, often because I know how as mixed up us pale Canadians are as was French-originated John Cabot who found himself working for the Brits. We rarely do follow our better angels, as a people, although as persons we are an unusually decent lot. We just have to be, after all.
I actually like most of my fellow pale Canadians, despite their generally taciturn humor. On the prairies, I grew up around their solid if limited decency, and amidst all of their dull conformity and smug political conservatism, I always felt reaching out to me from somewhere in those lives an unspoken and transcendent spirit that keeps briefly surfacing now and then in a William Lyon MacKenzie or a Gabriel Dumont. The unafraidness that keeps the real Kanata going.
Kanata: it was a Haudenosaunee Indian word, meaning Our Village. White Canadians are best in their own villages, and not striving to become grasping big city idiots or Americans or evangelists. It's there in the small places that we lived peacefully alongside the Indians and made the Metis nation together and fought for our rights against the railroad owners and bankers and priests. A hard stream of romance runs through us, but we are cautious of adventure, which is our biggest tragedy, almost.
I know this to be true, for when I was barely six years old and just awakening to the vast wonder of the Manitoba sky, a pulse of excitement led me out into the country on my bicycle where I tore along the dirt roads and explored long abandoned homes of former settlers, still scattered in the occasionally unplowed land southwest of Winnipeg.
All of the lives of those long-gone people lay strewn about me in their decaying homes, in bits of letters and school reports, family photos and World War medals and citations for valor kept safe behind broken glass, along with the assortments of lives that were devoted to one another, in the small family groups that gathered together around the fires of love stoked against the long, unpredictable nights.
And from those remnants of other lives, my child's heart drew something that has never left me, namely the glory of doing what is right for our neighbours: perhaps not an original impulse but one without which I would have blown away like so much dry prairie thistle. The same impulse that is still the fiber of our real country.
After surviving mustard gas and Vimy Ridge, my grandfather Ross Annett captured that real Canadian spirit in his Depression era stories that he wrote for The Saturday Evening Post, about a widowed farmer named Joe who refused to abandon his dust bowled land but fought to keep it a home for his daughter Babe and son little Joe, against every conceivable odd.
Maybe a corny premise for a modern tale, the Babe stories were among the most popular ever read by the Post's vast audience, for in every simple tale the courage and decency of the walked-over characters shone through, and gave farmer Joe and his children more glory than any prince of the realm.
"We got a Princess too" Joe remarked to the visiting Queen of England in one of Grandpa's best tales, as the farmer placed his worn and adoring hand on the golden hair of his little Babe, and stared unashamed at royalty and posterity, unbowed and unconquerable.
That image of Joe and little Babe is my real country of Kanata. And I know we'll get there again, once we cease being afraid, and stop fooling ourselves.
So good luck to all of us. And long live the Republic!
See the evidence of Genocide in Canada and other crimes against the innocent at www.hiddennolonger.com
and at the website of The International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State at www.itccs.org
Messages for Kevin Annett can be left at 250-591-4573 (Canada). Watch Kevin's award-winning documentary film UNREPENTANT on his website www.hiddenfromhistory.org "I gave Kevin Annett his Indian name, Eagle Strong Voice, in 2004 when I adopted him into our Anishinabe Nation. He carries that name proudly because he is doing the job he was sent to do, to tell his people of their wrongs. He speaks strongly and with truth. He speaks for our stolen and murdered children. I ask everyone to listen to him and welcome him." Chief Louis Daniels - Whispers Wind Elder, Turtle Clan, Anishinabe Nation, Winnipeg, Manitoba
A Canadian clergyman, Kevin Annett has for nearly twenty years led the movement to bring to light and prosecute atrocities in Christian “Indian residential schools”, and win justice for survivors. Expelled in 1995 from his former United Church of Canada for exposing murders in that church’s Indian residential schools, and persecuted and blacklisted for his efforts, Kevin is now an award-winning film maker, author, social activist and public lecturer who works with victims of church violence and genocide all over the world. In 2009, he helped to establish the five-nation International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State, which is seeking to indict church and government leaders for crimes against humanity.
As a result of Kevin’s tireless efforts on behalf of native people, the Canadian government was forced to issue a public “apology” and reparations program concerning Indian residential schools, in July of 2008. In giving him the name Eagle Strong Voice in 2007, Anishinabe elder Louis Daniels declared, “Kevin Annett is doing what few of his people have done, and that is to speak about the crimes they committed against many of our nations and their children. He has earned a place forever in our hearts and history. He is a brave and prophetic man. I ask everyone to welcome him and heed his voice.” And scholar Noam Chomsky wrote in 2006, “Kevin Annett is more deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize than many of those who have received it.”
For more information on Kevin and his work, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, and see these sites:
Special thanks to Bill Annett
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