U of M profs respond to TRC editorial
A group of University of Manitoba professors is taking issue with an editorial in the National Post that suggests the Truth and Reconciliation Commission exaggerated the harms of residential schools in its summary report. The U of M scholars have composed a letter outlining their objections to the original National Post editorial written by Hymie Rubenstein and Rodney Clifton.
The following is an excerpt from that letter:
“Rubenstein’s and Clifton’s remarks echo the insensitivity and moral inattention the TRC is attempting to redress. They lean on a half-baked understanding of what genocide is and show little evidence of having read the TRC’s report. They assume the role of arbiters in an unsavoury competition for the mantle of true victimhood and bizarrely equate the boarding school experiences of Indigenous children with those of immigrants and the wealthy. Their editorial also ignores the substantial historical record and places heavy weight on the authors’ own anecdotal experience from late in the IRS era. It also minimizes the high death tolls and abuse occurring in IRS as simply common features of an earlier era of schooling and portrays the stripping away and denigration of indigenous languages, beliefs and cultural practices as somehow good for Aboriginal children. To suggest that others are reinforcing half-truths is to misunderstand the concept of truth itself. It also shows a lack of willingness to engage in a process of reconciliation by accepting the truths of others or truths that may be difficult to admit.”
The full letter has been published by the Centre for Human Rights Research.
I am a student at the U of M and I am disgusted that these professors still have positions at the U of M. It makes me sick to know that there are people like this with such hateful and uncompassionate hearts that are in the position to “teach” others. Shameful. I am disgusted by the words of these two people, and I know that there are many more people out there who share the same close minded views as Rubenstein and Clifton. They should resign or be fired.
As an alumnus, I was both shocked and embarrassed by the editorial in the National Post written by Dr. Rodney E. Clifton and Dr. Hymie Rubenstein, self-identified professors emeriti from the University of Manitoba.
In their opinion piece, Drs. Clifton and Rubenstien very selectively presented facts and used person observations and anecdotes to counter the body of evidence presented by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. They implied that the well-documented systematic abuses of human rights at residential schools were overstated by the TRC. Instead, they suggested the schools and education designed to assimilate aboriginal children were “a right requested by aboriginals and entrenched in the treaties they signed giving up their sovereignty”.
I have since learned about the very eloquent rebuttal by Dr. Andrew Woolford and 48 other faculty at UofM. I am grateful to know so many colleagues at my alma mater were also outraged and are speaking out on this issue of national and historic importance – thank you.
Dr. Lori Daniels
Associate Professor, Forestry, UBC-Vancouver
UofM Class of 1991
I find it funny that you say that these professors have ‘such hateful and uncompassionate hearts’ yet you say they should ‘resign or be fired.’ Who’s is the hater lacking compassion?
You assert that the views of the two are ‘close minded’, which is also hilarious because these people are openly looking at the TRC report. Yes, they are critical; closed minded people can only see one side. These authors noted very clearly that there were horrible things that went on at residential schools, but they challenged some of the positions of the TRC report. Challenging is neither hate nor close mindedness. Have you even read the article or the TRC report carefully?
The article by professors Rodney Clifton and Hymie Rubenstein is a valid critique of a report they view to be flawed. In the Canada I grew up in, such discussion was welcomed as part of the search for truth. It is sad to see personal attacks upon these people for their careful expressions of disagreement. I applaud them for speaking out in this poisonous atmosphere of political correctness, which is stifling free speech.
Brad Bird, MA (Political Studies)
Class of 2005