Jody Vance: Canada must recognize the crimes of the past, honour the victims and survivors, name the perpetrators, and make whatever amends we can.
I know that, as a non-indigenous person, my words might seem hollow. However, in my want to become a humble learner and ally, I can only use my platform to amplify what should be a changing time in Canada.
I paused for a long time, resisting the urge to leave this page blank. But that would be a cop out.
My age shows I didn’t even have a vote in the atrocious practice of taking children from their families in the name of reprogramming — and yet, I feel incredible shame. But that struggle for words must not equal silence.
You might have heard our Provincial Health Officer address the discovery of a massive unmarked burial site in Kamloops, and that the horror must not be brushed aside by a busy news cycle.
Using all my platforms to draw attention to the need for transparency in Truth and Reconciliation – that’s where I can help affect change.
A few years ago, I wrote a piece about Gord Downie and his words that “we are not the Canada we think we are.” He saw the big picture. It’s astounding to see politicians stand with hand over hearts pledging to heal the horrors — while quite literally blocking victims from the information that might be the only way to help ease their pain.
The crimes must be unpacked. The names of those who abused and murdered children must be said aloud. No more fighting to keep documentation of Residential Schools hidden, no more redacting names. This must be the moment where the truth sees daylight. All of it.
Because even if you weren’t around then, right now, this is happening on our watch. This is on all of us. The Middle this week is a call to action, and a demand for accountability.
While millions of Canadians are shocked today, none of this is a surprise to generations of victims. The horror stories associated with residential schools have been shared for decades. The gross reality is that Canada needed a commission to even listen, never mind believe victims.
Can you even imagine if a unmarked burial site was found at a school for non-Indigenous children? What would happen? The world would have stopped.
This didn’t happen hundreds of years ago; the Kamloops Residential School closed in 1978. I was 11.
This is on my parent’s watch, my grandparents. We allowed this horrific scooping of children to be abused, starved, murdered. It’s the stuff of nightmares for millions and yet a diabolical nightmare for millions more who were punished by simply being.
There are no words to fix this. No apology large enough, no dollar figure. No way to heal the generational trauma that is very real in communities across Canada.
As a born and raised Vancouverite, daughter of an immigrant, member of a mixed race family and wife of a Metis man, I feel lost in this. My middle is a demand that my government do more than speak to the horror. Action is required.
The idea that our federal government might block the full disclosure of names of missing children is beyond me. Instead, there should be widespread calls for responsibility from the churches who ran the schools, names of those in charge — all of them — who had a hand in the death of children as young as 3, and some massive reparation to every single solitary last human who experienced the disgusting reality of Residential Schools.
As Gord Downie said, “we are not the Canada we think we are.”
He was right. It’s on us now.
Jody Vance is a born and raised Vancouverite who’s spent 30 years in both local and national media. The first woman in the history of Canadian TV to host her own sports show in primetime, since 2011 she’s been working in both TV and radio covering news and current affairs.
- Last week, Jody Vance said when contacting a major organization, it should be possible to speak to a living, breathing human being.
- Rob Shaw: Many of the old-growth trees felled on Vancouver Island have been made into…acoustic guitars.
- Rudy Kelly on trauma, the horror of children removed from their families, and why nobody can or should “get over it” anytime soon.