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What do we really know about 'the true history of Canada'? – CTV News

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TORONTO —
When the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation said in May that ground-penetrating radar had detected the remains of 215 children buried at the site of a residential school in Kamloops, B.C., many Canadians were shocked.

When, a few weeks after that, the Cowessess First Nation reported finding an estimated 751 unmarked graves outside a school on its territory, many Canadians were again astonished.

But they didn’t have to be.

While the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) has identified 4,100 children who died while attending residential schools, it estimates that the overall death toll from the schools could be as high as 15,000.

The commission’s final report, issued in 2015, details many of the horrors that are only now catching the attention of many Canadians.

But those stories weren’t new.

Among Indigenous Peoples, these tragedies have been well known since they occurred, passed down through the generations via oral histories.

“Most Canadians don’t actually know the true history of Canada,” Gabrielle Fayant, co-founder of the Indigenous youth organization Assembly of Seven Generations, said Tuesday on CTV News Channel.

That view was echoed on Wednesday by Matthew Hayday, a history professor at the University of Guelph in Ontario.

“This has been long known by the Indigenous community … but to the mainstream society, this is coming as a shock – and I think it is possibly causing them to question what other received ideas or commonly held beliefs they have that might also need updating,” Hayday told CTVNews.ca on Wednesday via telephone.

Several communities across Canada have cancelled local Canada Day celebrations this year, citing concerns about the appropriateness of praising Canada at a time when some of the country’s worst actions are so prominent. Some cities have asked their residents to wear orange on Thursday and reflect on Canada’s colonial history, rather than partying and celebrating.

“Take this day and really think about what Canada means, how Indigenous people have been treated by the state of Canada,” Fayant said.

“If you really look at the true history of Canada … and you come out of that introspection and reflection and say ‘Yeah, this is a good place to celebrate for Indigenous Peoples,’ then there’s not really much I can say to those people.”

Grand Chief Reg Niganobe of the Anishinabek Nation, which represents 39 First Nations in Ontario, recommended on Tuesday that all Canadians spend Canada Day learning more about the past than they already know.

“Take the time to learn about Indian Residential Schools and Indigenous history in this Canadian Nation,” he said in a press release.

“As treaty partners, learning about the history of the Canadian Nation is a shared responsibility that takes initiative and accountability from every individual occupying these lands.”

WHAT ARE WE LEARNING?

Most Canadians have never heard the oral histories that reverberate in Indigenous communities.

For most Canadians, knowledge of residential schools or any other aspect of our history is first framed by what we learned in school.

Charity group Historica Canada released a report this week assessing the state of history and social studies curricula in Canadian schools, awarding them marks that would be good enough to pass a class but not much more – an average of 67 per cent. Ontario was the only province to earn an A mark, while Quebec and Alberta brought up the rear with marks of D+ and D- respectively.

Overall, the charity said, provinces and territories “are falling particularly short in teaching Indigenous history.”

Teachers and First Nations leaders in Quebec are pushing the province to revamp its history curriculum to include more Indigenous perspectives and to be more critical of past actions of the provincial government.

The province introduced new history textbooks in 2016 that were pulled two years later due to use of the term “Amerindian” and stereotypical depictions of Indigenous Peoples.

Despite their seeming shortcomings in the classroom, there are signs that educational institutions are themselves learning more about residential schools and rethinking whether they should celebrate the architects of that system.

Catholic school boards in both Edmonton and Calgary voted this week to rename schools that had been named after Vital Grandin, a Catholic bishop who played a prominent role in the development of residential schools in Alberta.

In Ontario, a public school in Hamilton no longer bears the name of residential school proponent Edgerton Ryerson. Ryerson University in Toronto is also reconsidering its name.

A HISTORY OF OPPRESSION

Residential schools were termed a cultural genocide in the final report from the TRC, which was not authorized to determine whether the system amounted to a physical genocide.

The word genocide returned without the “cultural” qualifier in 2019, when a national inquiry released its report on the disproportionately high rates of violence faced by Indigenous women, girls and LGBTQ2S+ people.

Indigenous populations also face higher rates of incarceration, poverty, child welfare involvement, food insecurity and poor health outcomes than settler Canadians do – all, experts say, as a result of Canada’s long-standing policies and attitudes toward Indigenous Peoples.

Some of those injustices date back to before Canada’s creation. Others, such as the court battle over compensation for First Nations children who were unnecessarily taken into foster care, are still playing out today.

Buried within those larger aspects of Canada’s discrimination against Indigenous Peoples are countless examples of colonialism and assimilationism. For decades, Indigenous people were not allowed to leave their reserve without government permission. Many traditional Indigenous ceremonies and festivities were banned until 1951.

On an even smaller scale, Hayday points to the example of the July 1 celebration on Parliament Hill in 1965.

For the most part, the festivities would look familiar to anyone watching them through 21st-century eyes. The Dominion Day event – it wasn’t called Canada Day yet – was broadcast on national TV, Hayday said, with a young Alex Trebek as host. The Liberal government of the day wanted to show off the country’s multiculturalism, and therefore there were plenty of French-language performances, European folk dances, and so forth.

To represent First Nations, though, the festival’s organizers opted for something that had nothing to do with traditional First Nations culture: a group of girls from B.C., wearing Scottish tartans and performing bagpipe music. They were known as the Cariboo Indian Girls Pipe Band, and were recommended for the occasion by the principal of their residential school, who said they represented “the better side of our Indian people.”

“It’s just this starkly assimilationist image, when you see a group of First Nations teenage girls wearing Scottish tartan and playing the bagpipes,” Hayday told CTVNews.ca via telephone on Wednesday.

The concept of young Indigenous girls playing traditional Scottish music was thought at the time to represent Canada so well that the band was asked to perform again at Expo 67. Decades later, Hayday said, it emerged that some of the girls had been sexually assaulted by school staff members while they were there. Two staff members were convicted.

WHERE TO LEARN MORE

Stories like that of the Cariboo Indian Girls Pipe Band may be new to most Canadians, but the horrors of residential schools and other aspects of Canada’s genocide against Indigenous Peoples are well-documented. It’s just a matter of knowing where to look.

Hayday recommends these resources as a starting point for anyone interesting in learning more about Indigenous and Canadian history:

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Fauci says prospect of open border for fully vaccinated Canadians part of active U.S. talks – CBC.ca

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U.S. President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci says the prospect of opening the U.S. border to fully vaccinated Canadians is part of an “active discussion” in the White House.

“I can tell you that the border situation and letting Canadians in who are fully vaccinated is an area of active discussion right now in the U.S. government,” he told CBC News Network’s Power & Politics in an exclusive Canadian interview.

“As a public health official, sometimes it’s difficult to figure out why policies haven’t changed.”

Earlier this week, the U.S. government issued a renewal order keeping the borders with Canada and Mexico closed until August 21.

According to U.S. Homeland Security officials, the move is part of the government’s efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 and the more contagious delta variant.

The delta variant has been wreaking havoc south of the border, where infections and hospitalizations are up in nearly all 50 states.

Fauci said the delta variant now accounts for 83 per cent of cases in the U.S. Those cases are concentrated in southern states, where vaccination rates are lower than the national average.

“In some of the southern states where the level of vaccination is very low and the level of the transmission of the virus is very high, we’re seeing a significant surge in cases,” Fauci said. 

“This virus has an extraordinary capability of efficiently spreading from person to person.” 

The White House has enlisted the help of celebrities and athletes to encourage Americans to get vaccinated, particularly in states led by Republican governors. In recent days, high-profile conservative figures such as Fox pundit Sean Hannity have encouraged Americans to get vaccinated.

Fauci said the U.S. must increase its vaccination rate to end current outbreaks of COVID-19.  

“We’re seeing some of them starting to come around, which is a really good thing, because we’ve got to realize and act on it, that the common enemy is the virus,” he told Power & Politics.

“The virus doesn’t have any idea who’s a Republican or a Democrat or an Independent.” 

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Permanent residents in limbo waiting to immigrate to Canada – CBC.ca

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Aashray Kovi refreshes his email several times a day hoping for good news from Canadian immigration officials.

The 28-year-old computer programmer who lives in Bangalore, India, is one of about 23,000 aspiring immigrants with expired or soon-to-be expired documents waiting to enter Canada.

“It’s really depressing for all of us,” said Kovi, who plans to settle in Ottawa but can’t travel because his confirmation of permanent residency (COPR) document expired in early June, prior to travel restrictions being lifted.  

Late last month, the federal government lifted some COVID-19 restrictions, allowing anyone with a valid COPR to enter Canada, but that didn’t help Kovi’s case.

Despite having started the immigration process in 2018, Kovi says he’s never struggled to get clear answers from the government until this point. He says he’s been emailing and calling for weeks, waiting for the documents to be reissued, but has had no luck getting an answer on when he can expect to arrive in Ottawa.

WATCH | Waiting to enter Canada:

Sophie and Carlos Ballesteros got ready to make a move to Canada months ago, lining up jobs and bank accounts in Halifax. But border closures prevented the couple from moving and their confirmation documents expired in June. 1:14

“I know it is not simple, there is COVID, the only issue with all of this is a lack of communication,” said Kovi.

“If provided with better communication, I could wait till 2022, but this is putting my life in limbo.” 

Sameer Masih, his wife and son are similarly stuck in a mostly empty apartment in New Delhi, seven months after they got their initial approvals and started selling their belongings. 

“I am actually surviving on a bare minimum setup,” said Masih. He says the wait cost him a job at his employer’s Toronto office.

‘It’s hard for my family’

Sophie Ballesteros, from Barcelona, had a job lined up in Halifax and her husband, Carlos, quit his in January to ready himself for the move to Canada. The delay has been devastating for the couple, who started their immigration process in November 2019.

Carlos says he left his job because the permanent residency invitation told him to get his affairs in order, and he felt he had just a certain amount of time to immigrate or else he’d lose out on his dream of moving to Canada.

Aashray Kovi, a 28-year old from Bangalore, is stuck in India until his permanent residence documents get renewed. (Submitted by Aashray Kovi)

Their COPR documents also expired in June and there’s been no word yet on when they’ll be renewed.

The only communication they’ve received from the government was in March, when a generic email advised them that a previous communication of theirs had been received and that they would need to continue waiting.

“This is the first time in my life that I am unemployed,” said Carlos. “I don’t sleep at night.”

Sophie says she is struggling to immerse in her new digital marketing job in Canada while staying physically in Barcelona, and also trying to find a preschool for her four-year-old daughter.

“I have to work within the time zone of Canada and sometimes there are some clients that are from Vancouver,” she said. “It’s hard for my family.”

A spokesperson for Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino acknowledged that global migration has been a nuisance for many people and that officials are working to help permanent residency holders into the country.

“We know that these disruptions have had a significant impact on many people hoping to start a new life in Canada, and we thank them for their patience at this difficult moment,” Alexander Cohen said in a statement.

Sophie and Carlos Ballesteros hope to resettle in Halifax, but the Spanish couple doesn’t know when their expired permanent residence documents will be renewed. (Supplied by Carlos Ballesteros)

Holding pattern

Immigration lawyer Kyle Hyndman, in Vancouver, estimates more than half of those holding expired COPR documents are skilled workers who were chosen “to contribute to the Canadian labour market.”

He says communication from the federal government has been messy. He says sending documents that would expire to incoming residents, with directions to get their affairs in order, created a sense of working against the clock.

“These people are kind of in a holding pattern … you do a bunch of things to get ready to move that are kind of hard to undo,” Hyndman said.

Cohen says the pandemic has significantly impacted immigration processing times, and that the government will be contacting individuals with expired papers in the “weeks and months to come.” 

Canada permitted 184,000 immigrants last year — the fewest since 1998 — compared to 341,000 in 2019. The government is aiming to jump-start immigration with 400,000 new residents per year for the next three years.

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India flights to Canada: When will they be allowed? – Canada Immigration News

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Published on July 24th, 2021 at 01:00am EDT

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Earlier this week Canada extended its ban on flights from India until at least August 21.

The extension of the ban comes amid Canada continuing to ease its coronavirus travel restrictions for the rest of the world.

Denying flights from India is extremely disruptive to both Indians and Canadians alike. India is one of Canada’s most important allies and by far the largest source of new immigrants and international students. Some 20 per cent of Canada’s new permanent residents come from India. Indians comprise 30 per cent of Canada’s new international students. In Canada’s 2016 Census, nearly 1.4 million respondents identified themselves as being of Indian heritage.

Hence, it goes without saying that the flight ban is currently a major challenge for Indians, Indian-Canadians, families, and the Canadian economy.

The Canadian government first introduced the travel ban on India on April 22 due to its concerns about COVID-19 variants which public health officials said showed higher rates of transmissibility.

While health is the main reason Canada introduced the ban, the decision to lift it will likely be influenced by other factors as well.

Discover if You’re Eligible for Canadian Immigration

Health factors

When making its COVID-19 travel policies, the Canadian government looks at factors such as domestic case counts, the rate of vaccination, as well as case counts and vaccination rates in other countries. It also evaluates variants, their transmissibility, and whether existing vaccines are proven to protect against variants.

In a written statement to CIC News on July 22, the Canadian government explained “While progress is being made, the situation in India is still very serious. This extension of the travel ban is based on scientific evidence and has been put in place to protect Canadians from an increased introduction of the Delta variant, which is prevalent in India.”

While health is the main consideration, an argument can be made that the Canadian government is also influenced by other factors, namely the impact of restrictions on its economy. Canada has stated it will begin to welcome fully-vaccinated tourists from the United States beginning on August 9. This decision comes amid rising COVID cases in the U.S. and that country’s vaccination rate stagnating.

On the other hand, the U.S. has extended its ban on Canadian tourists driving across the border. This means that it was not political pressure from the U.S. that caused Canada to decide to welcome American tourists again, but rather a combination of health and economic considerations.

As mentioned, the rising case count in the U.S. is cause for concern and has resulted in some Canadian media commentators questioning the decision to lift restrictions on American tourists. Conversely, the decision is being celebrated by those with an economic interest at stake, namely the Canadian tourism industry. Prior to the pandemic Canada welcomed 15 million American tourists per year and tourism supported about 10 per cent of Canadian jobs. Given the pandemic has decimated the tourism industry, the Canadian government likely felt significant pressure to reopen its border to U.S. tourists even if there were compelling reasons to keep it closed.

This should give us reason to believe that non-health reasons will play a role in Canada’s decision on India flights.

The pressure will be on from Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs)

Canada does not have any strong special interest groups that lobby on behalf of immigrants. This explains why groups such as Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) holders have faced significant challenges throughout the pandemic. Temporary foreign workers, however, are backed by the Canadian business community while Canadian designated learning institutions (DLIs) advocate on behalf of international students.

International students are a major source of revenue for Canada’s colleges and universities. DLIs played a crucial role in getting Canada to lift its travel restrictions on international students last October. Given that Indians are by far the number one source of new international students, DLIs will remain vocal as they seek to obtain concessions from the Canadian government by August 21, ahead of the start of the academic year when the fast majority of new study permit holders arrive to Canada.

There may also be political pressure

It appears likely that prime minister Justin Trudeau will call a new federal election in the coming months as he seeks to obtain a majority government.

The stakes for the India flight ban may be higher than usual going into the election given the significant influence of Indian-Canadians, who tend to live in the country’s most vote-rich cities. Courting their votes will be key to Trudeau’s electoral ambitions, and he may feel it is worthwhile lifting flight restrictions on India to further encourage them to vote for him.

Discover if You’re Eligible for Canadian Immigration

© CIC News All Rights Reserved. Visit CanadaVisa.com to discover your Canadian immigration options.

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