Stolen Lives

Before the documentary film Unrepentant debuted at the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival in 2006, few people other than Canadian Indians knew about the atrocities committed by the Canadian government and mainstream churches against Indian children in the church-run, government residential schools. Even fewer knew about the campaign of harassment waged by the Canadian government and church hierarchies against the church pastor who documented and exposed these atrocities to Canadian media.

Last fall, that pastor and a group of Canadian Indian residential school survivors bore witness to this atrocity in front of the Vatican, and plan to seek an audience with the Pope in 2010. Last week, in the runup to the planned civil disobedience by these survivors during the February Vancouver Olympics, Reverend Kevin Annett was assaulted and beaten. As Annett and his friends continue pushing for accountability by government and church authorities responsible for the deaths of 75,000 Indian children, it is not hard to imagine church and state once again colluding to cover their crimes.

In addition to demanding the return of the remains of these thousands of children buried in mass graves, the survivors are insisting that the perpetrators — past and present —  of sexual abuse, including church and government officials involved in pedophile rings, be brought to trial. They are also seeking UN support for an investigation into these deaths as crimes against humanity. Something to keep in mind as the survivors interrupt the fun and games of televised sports spectacle to remind us that it wasn’t just stolen land that made the Olympics possible, but stolen lives as well.

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~ by Jay Taber on January 12, 2010.

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