Read Part 2 Here.
In her interim report, Special Interlocutor for Missing Children in Unmarked Graves and Burial Sites Associated with Indian Residential Schools Kimberly Murray asks: “What does the truth about Canada’s genocidal actions mean for Canadian society and Canada’s relationship with Indigenous Peoples?”
Notwithstanding the serious problem of conviction without trial. it means, for one. reparations in the form of “Land Back.”
Former Justice Minister David Lametti appointed Kimberly Murray to her current position with a directive to be non-partisan and impartial. She has since repudiated this directive, stating that her vision of her role “is not to be neutral or objective.”
“(T)here is an urgent need to document the complex history and current land ownership of burial and cemetery sites associated with Indian Residential Schools. Some sites are now privately owned, and others are endangered by land development projects. There is an urgent need for governments and churches to take proactive steps to return these lands to Indigenous communities. Although repatriation of cemetery and unmarked burial sites associated with Indian Residential Schools may be possible through existing legal mechanisms, emerging practices should be explored and more timely, creative approaches should be put in place to return these lands.”
Disturbingly, Murray, an appointee of the Federal Government, claims that the “violence of denialism” is “prolific and takes place via email, telephone, social media, op-eds and, at times, through in-person confrontations.”
Murray is suggesting that it may be necessary for the federal government to expropriate private land where unmarked burials and abandoned cemeteries are suspected to exist and to create new laws to enable this expropriation if needed. Citing the case of a private campground owner in Manitoba, Murray argues that there needs to be new laws compelling private landowners to grant access to their property for the sake of searching and recovering missing children in unmarked burials and graves. Given the specious method of how some of the locations of alleged unmarked burials are derived, the rights of private landowners could be easily abused.
The truth about Canada’s genocide also means a new legal regime including a new tribunal with its own laws and judicial powers to prosecute “perpetrators.” After conceding the fact that the International Criminal Court will not be investigating or prosecuting Canada for “crimes against humanity,” Murray remarks that the ICC’s refusal ‘does not preclude Indigenous Peoples from exploring other potential avenues of investigation using international legal options, including establishing an ad hoc or hybrid tribunal.”
Murray elaborates: “Domestic and international legal mechanisms must be utilized to hold individual perpetrators and institutions accountable for harms they committed against the missing children and Survivors of Indian Residential Schools, and other institutions. This may include reform to existing legal processes and/or the creation of new laws and bodies with authority to prosecute wrongdoing.”
What Murray is suggesting above could mean an independent Indigenous judiciary that could possibly include foreign Indigenous parties adjudicating cases of crimes against humanity and genocide according to Indigenous law that has yet to be codified much less rectified given the potential for variance Murray acknowledges amongst so many different First Nations. Consider how such a tribunal and its justice might work if Murray is already stating that Canada committed “mass violations of human rights and genocidal harms.” Her presumption is one of guilt rather than innocence.
Unfortunately, Murray can base her call for a supra-judicial body on the extrajudicial pronouncements by the TRC, MMIWG Inquiry, Pope Francis, the Prime Minister, and the House of Commons, all of whom have declared Canada guilty of genocide in one form or another. However prestigious or voluminous those opinions might be, they are not legal opinions. It is easy to obtain a guilty verdict in the court of public opinion; all that is required is credulity.
Adding to the potential for judicial abuse, Murray strongly emphasizes that “Urgent consideration should be given to legal mechanisms to address denialism, including the implementation of both civil and criminal sanctions.” After characterizing denialism as violence, Murray states that “Denialism is a uniquely non-Indigenous problem.” So, if denialism is like a violent crime and should be treated as such, it is a violent crime that only non-Indigenous people can commit. In the abstract, that would mean that only certain races of people can commit certain crimes. What Murray is recommending amounts to racial jurisprudence.
“The burden of Canada” as Murray sees it, is “the ongoing impacts of colonial violence, genocide and mass human rights violations relating to the fact that children are still missing and there are unmarked burials of these children that still need to be located.” As a comprehensive response to that burden, Murray is calling for a “Reparations Framework that will focus on the following ten interconnected and necessary elements of reparations: Indigenous Laws, International and Domestic Laws and Tribunals, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity Laws and Processes, Truth-finding, Accountability and Justice, Repatriation, Healing, Apology, Commemoration, and Denialism, Bystanders, and Public Education.”
An independent, domestic Indigenous tribunal, especially one adjudicating under its own laws and possibly including foreign Indigenous groups and their laws, would be a de facto assertion of Indigenous sovereignty. Delegitimizing Canada by accusing it of genocide has been a long-standing strategy of Aboriginal nationalists:’’(L)ong before the TRC, Indigenous people have used the term genocide to describe the violence and oppression they have experienced for many generations at the hands of government, churches, and Canadian society.”
Alluding again to Article 6(c) of the Rome Statute, Murray claims “there is a need for governments, churches, and other entities to adopt an anti-colonial approach, to take responsibility for their role in creating the conditions leading to the existence of the missing children and unmarked burials, and to make reparations.”
Murray indicates what an anti-colonial approach might mean: “At the domestic level, investigations of crimes against humanity should not be conducted by the RCMP, provincial or municipal police services who have failed to sufficiently investigate reports of abuse and deaths in Indian Residential Schools. Indigenous Peoples have little reason to trust national, regional, or local police services that were themselves complicit in the Indian Residential School System.”
Defrocked United Church minister and noted conspiracy theorist Kevin Annett was among the first to claim that the Residential Schools were genocidal. He also claims to be part of a “sovereign nation” called the “Republic of Kanata”. Under that banner, he gave sentences of “life imprisonment” to numerous world leaders including Queen Elizabeth, Prime Minister Trudeau, CCP President Xi Jinping, and Pope Francis.
Murray undermines public confidence in all of the nations’ police forces and she is vague on who would then be tasked with investigating the alleged crimes against humanity. The search and recovery of allegedly missing and murdered children seems like it would fall into the hands of local First Nations as was the case for a cemetery related to Brandon IRS. Presumably, it would be up to that First Nation to undertake an investigation and determine if there are grounds for presenting the case to the Indigenous Tribunal. It follows that if an anti-colonial approach is needed for investigation, then the same approach is required for prosecution. Arrogating the law to oneself is another way of saying you are above the law.
“The colonial underpinnings of Canadian law still exist and continue to violate the inherent, Treaty, Constitutional and human rights of Indigenous Peoples,” notes Murray. “The source of these injustices can be traced back to the arrival of Europeans in North America and the eventual displacement and marginalization of Indigenous governance and legal systems that was and is part of the ongoing colonization process.”
In other words, the Canadian genocide began with the arrival of Europeans. If colonization is an ongoing process, what stops it or is it inherent in the continued presence of Europeans? Would a separate Indigenous judiciary with its own legal system be enough to arrest the ongoing colonization/genocide? Would even separate nation-states be enough?
The fiction of unmarked burials is a Pandora’s box that Kimberly Murray wants to turn upside down and see what tumbles out. Her statements indicate an ideology of Aboriginal sovereignty and her ability to fulfill her actual mandate must be questioned.
In contemporary activist polemic, Sir John A. Macdonald and Bishop Vital-Justin Grandin are referred to as “architects of the residential schools.” It is another in the string of thefts from the Holocaust lexicon: Himmler and Heydrich are referred to as the “architects” of that genocide. Conspiracy theorist Kevin Annett is the real architect of Canada’s genocide; now Kimberly Murray is trying to build the gallows where the imaginary perpetrators, and the equally vile “denialists,” will hang.