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Film: Horror in Canada

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"Hidden from history: the Canadian Holocaust" link

Documentary Exposes Ugly Secret of Colonialism in Canada
By Joan Delaney
Epoch Times Victoria Staff Jan 27, 2007

Native Elders stand before a church demanding an answer to the
question, "Where is Maisie Shaw?" Maisie Shaw was a young girl
witnesses claim was murdered at the United Church's Alberni Indian
Residential School in 1946 by its Principal, Alfred Caldwell.
(Ayesia Moarif 2005)A hard-hitting documentary that made its debut
at the Gabriola Island Film Festival last weekend dwells on a theme
that would surprise and shock most Canadians: Canada's genocide.

Even the words sound strange. Who knew that a genocide lurked within
Canada's relatively civilized history?

According to Kevin Annett, co-writer and producer of Unrepentant:
Kevin Annett and Canada's Genocide , the time has come for Canadians
to learn the truth about what really happened to the aboriginal
people from the start of colonialism until today.

It's not a pretty story. Unrepentant documents the "deliberate and
systematic extermination" of non-Christian indigenous people within
the Indian residential school system by the Catholic, United,
Presbyterian and Anglican churches, in collusion with the federal

The film, which made its American debut last November at the New
York Independent Film and Video Festival where it won Best Director
of an International Documentary, is based on Annett's groundbreaking
book, "Hidden From History: The Canadian Holocaust." Unrepentant
will also be screened at various film festivals around the world.

"We want to generate international pressure on Canada and the
churches to start to have full disclosure about what went on so that
there can be some healing; real healing can only happen when there's
been that kind of complete disclosure," Annett told The Epoch Times
from his home in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island.

First-hand testimonies from residential school survivors are
interwoven with Annett's own story of how, as a United Church
minister in Port Alberni, he was fired, publicly defrocked, and had
his reputation maligned by church officials after he uncovered
evidence of murder and other crimes committed by the church through
its Indian boarding schools.

Around 1929, the churches were given legal guardianship of all the
children who attended the schools, and Annett says this gave school
staff free rein to perpetrate any atrocity upon their wards without
having to answer to anyone.

The list of crimes is long, and includes beatings, electric shocks,
forced sterilization, medical experimentation, starvation, rape as
well as various other forms of sexual abuse, and murder.

As the residential school survivors in Unrepentant tell their
stories, the pain evident on their stoic faces, an understanding of
what went on in those institutions gradually emerges.

Some spoke of young girls becoming pregnant as a result of rape, or
nuns becoming pregnant after sexually abusing boys; some described
being made to dig graves for the babies who would be killed after

Rick Lavalee talked about hearing the agonized cries of his only
brother as he was being tortured with a cattle prod. The boy died on
the spot. Belvy Breber recounted how her brother was hanged in the
gym of the Kuper Island school. She was told he'd committed suicide,
but she didn't believe it. While the boy was still hanging, the
other kids were paraded through the gym as a warning that this could
happen to them if they didn't behave.

Of the 100,000 who went through the schools, it is estimated that at
least 50,000 were killed. Many of those who died were buried in
unmarked graves on or around the school grounds; none of the bodies
were ever returned to the families.

Harriet Nahanee, who spent five years at the Alberni Residential
School, said she remembered the RCMP arriving at her village in a
gunboat to round up the children who were to be taken to the school.
Children as young as three were often taken even though the schools
weren't supposed to accept anyone under the age of seven.

If the parents fought this abduction of their children, they were
liable to be arrested under the provisions of the Indian Act,
something Annett calls "a piece of race-based legislation" in that
it almost completely took away the rights of the native peoples.

Germ warfare was also used. Narrator Lori O'Rorke said deliberately-
spread smallpox epidemics in the 1700s and 1800s killed "untold
millions" of the world's indigenous people and wiped out many
Canadian aboriginals even before the residential schools began
operating. Annett says approximately 98 percent of native
populations on the west coast were decimated by smallpox.

Survivors in Unrepentant describe how, during a tuberculosis
outbreak, they were made to play and sleep with infected children so
that they too would become infected with the highly contagious

While most of the schools had closed by 1984, the last federally run
facility, the Gordon Residential School in Saskatchewan, closed in

The legacy of Canada's residential schools, says Annett, is evident
in the high rates of suicide, substance abuse and poverty seen in
aboriginal communities across the country. He believes he can help
change this by "raising an awareness of what actually happened here
and the long-term effects it's having on aboriginal people."

"The aboriginal people need recognition and to be treated with
dignity and respect, and that's not happening right now. Anyone
who's been abused in any way needs the crime to be recognized and
named, and it really hasn't been."

Unrepentant: Kevin Annett and Canada's Genocide is written by Kevin
Annett and Louie Lawless, directed by Louie Lawless, and produced by
Kevin Annett, Louie Lawless and Lori O'Rorke. For more information
go to: www.hiddenfromhisto ry.org