UK faces reckoning after unmarked Indigenous graves discovered in Canada

The United Kingdom is facing growing calls to re-examine the troubling legacy of its colonial history in カナダ after the discovery of more than 1,000 unmarked graves at former residential schools for Indigenous children.

少なくとも 150,000 Indigenous children were forced to attend such church-run schools as part of the campaign to strip them of their cultural identity, and amid anger over Catholic church’s role in operating the institutions, churches across the country have been set on fire.

But activists have also pointed the finger at Canada’s colonial ruler, demanding greater recognition of the British empire’s role in establishing policies that aimed to erase Indigenous culture, and a system whose effects are still felt today.

先週, protesters toppled statues u Queen Victoria and Elizabeth II, and another – of the explorer James Cook – was hurled into the sea.

“The wresting of lands away from Indigenous peoples was permissible because it was done in the name of the British Empire,” said Sean Carleton, a professor of Canadian and Indigenous history at the University of Manitoba. “And so statues and street names in the country have become targeted because they are symbols of that legitimacy.”

Countries that enslaved people and dispossessed Indigenous nations have in recent years been forced to reassess legacy figures once held up as national heroes.

In the United States, more than one hundred statues have been removed, of Confederate generals and explorers such as Christopher Columbus. In the United Kingdom, statues of the slave traders Edward Colston そして Robert Milligan have been torn down.

“The history of empire-making was connected around the globe in different ways,” said Carleton, pointing to similarly brutal strategies of violence and discussions used by colonial powers. “But the unmaking of empire is also a similarly connected global phenomenon.”

In Belgium, a statue of King Leopold II was recently defaced and then removed. オーストラリア, Barbados, Chile and Colombia have seen similar pushes to tear down colonial figures.

That movement has now reached Canada.

“This is part of a broader push by Indigenous peoples, who experienced similar types of erasure by the crown and colonial powers, for liberation” said Courtney Skye, research fellow at the First Nations-led Yellowhead Institute. “Why did residential schools happen in Canada? Why are children being found in unmarked graves? This is all part of telling the story of how Canada came to exist.”

Days after 215 unmarked graves were found at the side of one former residential school, a crowd pulled down a statue of Egerton Ryerson, which stood before the university bearing his name. Ryerson is seen as one of the architects of the school programme, and the statue’s head now sits atop a metal pole on the territory of the Six Nations of the Grand River.

“Statues are a symbol of how colonial countries like Canada engage in mythmaking and a retelling of their history. Only a certain part is taught and the rest is erased,” said Skye, a member of the Mohawk Nation’s Turtle Clan. “Elevating figures that were responsible for implementing policies that contributed to the genocide against Indigenous peoples in Canada – suggesting in 2021 that they deserve recognition – is frustrating.”

For some, the now toppled statue of Victoria that stood for more than a century outside the Manitoba legislature represented Canada’s status as a constitutional monarchy.

But for others, it was a grim reminder that Victoria was the reigning monarch when the Stone Fort treaty was signed between the British crown and the Anishinabe and Swampy Cree nations – an agreement that many within those nations feel was never honoured.

Victoria was also in power when the country’s residential school system was formally established. A crowd chanted “no pride in genocide” before pulling down the statues of the monarchs – an act quickly condemned by Boris Johnson’s office.

“What we allow in the public memory and what we allow to be erased is a very political project,” said Veldon Coburn, a professor in Indigenous studies at the University of Ottawa. “The goal and history of colonialism is to just not wipe out the people, but wipe out whatever we might remember of them.”

Hours after the Victoria statue was brought down, an Indigenous totem pole was found burning outside the city, with the warning “one totem – one statue” spray-painted nearby.

だが muted Canada Day celebrations this year and the tributes to the victims of the residential school system suggest a shift in the national mood, said Coburn.

“People were showing how superficial the image of Canada is when it’s laid overtop the suffering of Indigenous nations," 彼は言った. “They showed there are cracks in the facade.”

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