A couple of years ago, here at the University of Lethbridge, we went from a thirteen week semester to twelve, and so from 32.5 hours of instruction per course to 30. Much of what counts as instruction at the primary and secondary levels is so lame that the loss of two and half hours would arguably be an improvement. But presumably 32.5 hours of instruction, as distinct from babysitting, from people with a decade of post-secondary education and an active research program, cannot be delivered in 30 hours. If it could be, there’s been one helluva con all these years, has there not? So some content had to be dropped. And so it was.
But offer anyone two and half hours of unfettered free time, and it’s no surprise that no one’s complaining. So neither is anyone complaining – least of all me – about what the Administration just announced today. And what was that? Well, last June Parliament declared that September 30 would henceforth be national Truth and Reconciliation Day, and that T&R Day would henceforth be a national holiday.
This year that falls on one of my teaching days. So for this fall – but for this fall only – my courses are down to 28.75 hours. (Unfortunately, in 2022 the schedule will be adjusted for T&R Day.) Still, it remains to be seen – though I’m pretty sure it will be seen – that if September 30 falls on a weekend, T&R Day will be celebrated on either the previous Friday or the following Monday.
No matter how specious the reason, another day off for some of us – or time and a half for others – is hardly grounds for protest. But why only three weeks after Labour Day? Or only a week before Canadian Thanksgiving? Too late for the beach and too early for the slopes. What committee of halfwits thought this one up?!
How many Canadians know what they’re honouring on Labour Day, other than that it’s a day they don’t have to labour? Or to whom they’re giving thanks on Thanksgiving? Or who they’re remembering on Remembrance Day? Or why January 1st is New Years rather than March 1st, which would make far more sense of September, October, November and December? Or what was so good about Good Friday? Or who the hell was Victoria?
Likewise, then, how long would it take before Canadians think that T&R Day is just the secular version of Yom Kippur, the day on which we Jews fess up to our shortcomings and try to make it right with those we’ve shorted? And then cease to think even that? That it was originally about residential schools – “What’s to be fessed up and reconciled about that?”, they’ll ask – will be as relevant to coloured eggs and stuffed bunnies as that Easter had something to do with some blasphemous carpenter who got his comeuppance a couple thousand years ago.
In short, T&R Day is as transparent and shameless a case of virtue-signalling as there can be. For which I can only express my gratitude. This fall I’m teaching Tuesdays and Thursdays. Normally I get four consecutive days off every week. For the last week of next month I’ll get six. No doubt both our Prime Minister and our University President will be spending that time on a self-flagellation tour of all those unmarked graves. I’m tempted to join them, but I think I’ll catch up on my yard work instead.
Categories: Everything You Wanted to Know About What's Going On in the World But Were Afraid to Ask, Social and Political Philosophy, Why My Colleagues Are Idiots
T & R Day is a spin-off from Orange Shirt Day, a day so-designated because it falls during the time of year indigenous students were sent to residential schools.
It’s funny, or perhaps I find it so because I should have been in bed a couple hours ago, that a remembrance of compulsory education is being enacted by a compulsory holiday. Maybe a Stay-home-if-you-want-to Day would be more apt.
“Compulsory holiday” sounds Orwellian…although employers who have to pay their staff for yet another day of no work will see it as literally true. And why does the settler workforce get a day off for T&R anyway? I suppose there will be generous funding for the grievance industry to mount condemnatory projects and scolding memorials, which given that Canada has passed “peak indigenous” will be studiously ignored by the rest of us, save the CBC and a few Antifa thugs who manage to turn up from Portland now that the border has opened…and a few impressionable schoolchildren.
Since sitting on the beach, the porch, or the couch is how most of us spend our long weekends, how about Idle-we-were-and-idle-we-remain Day? Has a nice ring to it. Can’t quite think where I might have heard it before.
While we are all sitting on the couch, we could start reading that satchel of books that Prof. Viminitz proposed be left on everyone’s doorsteps a dozen or so posts ago.
Viminitz made this proposal, to have a satchel of books left on everyone’s doorstep, in his blog post entitled “Stupid Idea #416”:
Viminitz “admits” of his stupid idea #416:
“I’m probably wrong about this. Anything that costs so little couldn’t possibly work. So let’s instead continue to throw good money after bad. After all, what we’re doing provides plenty of settler jobs. And isn’t that the whole point of (what Frances Widdowson has called out as) the ‘aboriginal industry’?”
I commented on that post with an excerpt from an interview with Tomson Highway who says,
“Only we can solve the problem and the only way we can do it is to go to school, get a fantastic education, and just do successful things. We need young native people to grow up believing that they can be brilliant and successful. That’s the only way we can fix things: elevate the level of education, elevate the level of literacy, and it will elevate the frequency of success.”
Joshua Ostroff, “Tomson Highway Has A Surprisingly Positive Take On Residential Schools”, Huffpost, 12/15/2015. https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/12/15/tomson-highway-residential-schools_n_8787638.html
I have much to say in the vein of Highway and Viminitz, perhaps in another guest post. But here I propose my own stupid idea.
Rather than designate a holiday in memoriam of residential school students try this. Pair the name of each child who attended residential school, making up a representative name if need be for unidentified students, with an willing indigenous student currently enrolled in school. The aim is for the “two” students to graduate together. This idea might encourage retention in school to graduation, and the “relationship” might then continue throughout post secondary degrees. Designate the day the last child graduates a day for a huge celebration. Eat a lot of food and make a lot of noise. Erect a monument in the shape of a middle finger, a fuck-yeah as much as a fuck-you. (See you tube for Toby Keith’s, “How do you like me now?”)
Some might complain my stupid idea is a “settler colonial” vision. So? What’s the downside for the kids?
Viminitz went to Hebrew school every day after public school. There he learned something akin to, “Look what those bastards did to us and don’t let it happen again.” The T&R Day might similarly put indigenous kids on notice. Is this tactic more likely to encourage indigenous students to embrace life and flourish or to perpetuate hatred and mistrust? Maybe the two are not mutually exclusive. We’ll find out since the experiment is being tried.
An experiment was tried with residential students in the lives they were born into. I wonder which of the stupid ideas proposed here, including the T&R Day being enacted, is (are) most likely to help contemporary indigenous students flourish in the lives they’ve been born into?
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Great idea, Pam, …for the contemporary indigenous students who don’t have fetal-alcohol syndrome. As with chronic lead intoxication during childhood, it permanently blights a child’s cognitive development and impairs her capacity for empathy and social development. Two recent cases from the news:
A man in Nfld is beaten to death while in custody awaiting trial for murder. The trial of two jail guards is told that the deceased had been “looking forward to getting this [his own murder trial] behind me so I can get on with my life.” (With Gladue he could hope realistically for a short sentence.). I don’t know what the accused guards’ defence is. I’m not excusing the perpetrators. It’s just that’s how the info about the deceased’s thinking processes came to be public knowledge.
A man in Alberta is having a pre-sentencing hearing after conviction for aggravated assault. While high on meth he had whacked a stranger in the head with a carpenter’s hammer as the latter was leaving a coffee shop. The handle of the hammer had broken from the force of the blow leaving the head embedded in the victim’s skull and brain. The assailant had stomped off still brandishing the broken handle, leaving the victim lying on the sidewalk now with life-altering brain injuries and is dependent on others for care. At no time in the proceedings did the accused ever voice remorse for his actions to police or justice system officials or to the victim’s family. Crown wanted 12 years in the pen, the defence was proposing seven. Both agreed that FAS and residential school legacy were to blame. Speaking on his own behalf, the assailant said he thought even seven years was a little steep. “Like, I mean, the guy didn’t even die, right? I know guys who’ve killed people and gotten less time than seven.” (Paraphrasing from memory.)
FAS is an unfashionable disorder to study because even to acknowledge its existence reeks of colonialism. (Strange, because of all the evils brought from Europe, liquor was surely the worst — the gift that keeps on giving.). Native children who go bad do so, we are now told, because of inter-generational trauma from residential schools, the Indian Act, racism, and cultural genocide, not because their mothers drank heavily from conception to delivery (and beyond, but that’s another story.). To be fair, since many conceptions occur during sexual assault while blacked-out drunk, some women may not even realize they are pregnant for a long time while all those embryonic neurons aren’t multiplying and connecting.
I bring this up now because some idiot in the National Post seems to think Justin Trudeau is vulnerable electorally because of his string of failures on indigenous affairs, “the defining issue on the political agenda of our time.” (So said the columnist, though Trudeau used to say the same during Sunny Ways.). This is nonsense. Everyone knows these problems are insoluble by “outsider” politicians, however sincerely well-intentioned, so to write that a government will be defeated or returned on its indigenous record is just silly virtue-signalling, akin to taking down statues of Sir John A. Now, if their management of the indigenous file made life more miserable for the rest of us, that would make them vulnerable but that’s not what the Post columnist meant.
So Thomson Highway and Pam are no doubt correct: the future lies in an internally motivated embrace of education. Stay in school and do fantastic things. But this is where the rubber meets the sky: are there enough undamaged children who can excel? And does the Taliban of entrenched native activists want to see their foot soldiers graduate from college and go on to better things than providing muscle at barricades? After all, an abundance of poorly educated young men with limited prospects in the wider economy is a sine qua non for the success of any insurrection. That’s not a “problem” to be solved. It’s a resource to be cultivated.
Thank you for the sobering reminder, Leslie. No pun intended.
I’m posting two separate comments in response. Here’s the first.
I’m not well-versed enough to make a substantive comment on the matter of FASD. But the following links are a place to start.
1) CanFASD, Indigenous (The Canada FASD Research Network): https://canfasd.ca/topics/indigenous/
and, 2) TRC Call to Action #34: https://canfasd.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/TRC34-A-Framework-for-Action.pdf
“34. We call upon the governments of Canada, the provinces, and territories to undertake reforms to the criminal justice system to better address the needs
of offenders with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), including:
i. Providing increased community resources and powers for courts to ensure that FASD is properly diagnosed, and that appropriate community supports are in place for those with FASD.
ii. Enacting statutory exemptions from mandatory minimum sentences of imprisonment for offenders affected by FASD.
iii. Providing community, correctional, and parole resources to maximize the ability of people with FASD to live in the community.
iv. Adoption of appropriate evaluation mechanisms to measure the effectiveness of such programs and ensure community safety.”