Senator Murray Sinclair Sinclair, who was the chief commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission,says preserving the record of the wrongdoing committed under the Indian residential school system is the best way to fight back against those who deny its negative impact on Indigenous people.
“If we can preserve that record for future generations, then these deniers will have a diminishing population of people who will believe them,” Sinclair said.
“There are still some people resisting — not just in the Senate, but elsewhere,” Sinclair said.
“People tend to forget that there have always been those who are deniers of history and they deny history for their own reasons. They deny, perhaps, because they’re slow-minded and dim-witted, but more importantly it’s because I think they believe in a certain delusion about our history that they are unwilling to give up.”
Sinclair’s comments follow a firestorm of controversy around Conservative Senator Lynn Beyak, who sits on the Senate’s Aboriginal people’s committee.The Ontario senator spoke in defence of the “well-intentioned” people who ran the residential school system and said the commission’s report was negatively skewed and “didn’t focus on the good.”
Sinclair offered an explanation as to how he responds to people who ask why Indigenous people don’t “get over” the residential school experience.
“My answer has always been: Why can’t you always remember this? Because this is about memorializing those people who have been the victims of a great wrong. Why don’t you tell the United States to ‘get over’ 9/11? Why don’t you tell this country to ‘get over’ all the veterans who died in the Second World War, instead of honouring them once a year?” he said.
“We should never forget, even once they have learned from it, because it’s part of who we are. It’s not just a part of who we are as survivors and children of survivors and relatives of survivors, it’s part of who we are as a nation. And this nation must never forget what it once did to its most vulnerable people.”