The Cultural Genocide of Native People

Cross Posted at FeminismFriday - The Blog

During the last week in Thunder Bay a young native boys hair was chopped off by his teacher's assistant. Since this time the Crown and police have refused to charge the woman accused. Some people may not understand why this is such a big deal, so let's break it down.

The child was touched without permission, during this time the assailant was holding what we can easily refer to as a "deadly weapon" given that you could hypothetically be killed by a pair of scissors. In fact, it is not a stretch to imagine this happening.

The child is native and therefore having long hair is not simply a fashion statement but rather something tied to the child's culture. Cutting off the hair of male native children was regularly done at residential schools, where the goal was to "kill the Indian and save the child".

Based on these facts I would say it would be fair to charge the teacher with assault using a weapon or causing bodily harm. It would be a stretch but I also think this is a race based hate crime.

The point of this post is to spread the word about this horrific action and to encourage people to contact their local politicians and demand that action be taken in this seriously. You may also want to write the school officials and express your opinions to them.

*** See original site for corresponding youtube video and links to references. ***


Hi ya feminismfriday

Thanks for posting! Welcome to ACR. :)

Re: The Cultural Genocide of Native People

Where I understand that this post is well intended-in terms of reprimanding the teacher's assistant for her actions, I also find this law-based response colonial, and in fact very Romanesque, very European. The intensity of the discussed action has a certain feel - it appears to be highly inappropriate and perhaps overindulgently puritanical for the teacher's assistant to have cut the boys hair. However, here are some questions to be asked: Why did the teacher's aid do it? And if it was for suspected reasons how can this be best dealt with?
Moments like these are difficult, but how can they best be used for the advantage of compassion and recovery vs. war and administration? Is there a local healing ceremony that is practiced to make apologies? Would all parties be willing to participate? Can there be a healing circle for the boy where all of his community members say something they appreciate about him, and where they can assure him that his sacrifice of hair was worth the bridging that can take place now? Or at the very least the bridging that is happening between the boy and his community.
The Roman-based civil law of Canada is based on a negative punitive approach that is much more likely to cause damage and trauma in peoples lives rather than actually support the people involved in the conflict and the waves created in the community. Rather than slotting the teacher's aid into ill-fitting criminal categories (just because we feel she needs to be reprimanded for her actions), is it possible to build stronger community through this conflict and build cultural awareness within the education system as a whole?
Thank you for hearing a different approach.