It was a horrific chapter in Canadian history. Aboriginal youth forcibly taken from their families, sent to residential schools to be "assimilated," to have their culture and heritage literally beaten out of them. These residential schools were the sight of horror, the sight of physical, emotional and sexual abuse.
It was encouraging to see the Prime Minister and Parliament unite behind apologizing for this shameful chapter in Canadian history. I have personally known and worked with Aboriginal friends so I've heard some first hand accounts of the ordeals they face. I truly hope that nothing horrible like the residential schools ever happens again.
Unfortunately though, something similar is now happening in Afghanistan. There is an attempt to change the values of another culture and enforce a foreign set of values on them. In Iraq, the United States is doing a similar thing where they have now created a military quagmire.
We just cannot invade a society and try to impose our values on them. Democracy is an important principle, but this is not the way to spread it. The way to spread democracy is through example, through inspiring respect among people in developing countries. Through aiding them, helping them overcome disease and hunger, and through good works. That way we can inspire people. This is much more effective than violence, coercion, or war.
In short, imposition of values from outside is anti-democracy.
For democracy to succeed, it must come from the people itself, a people who are inspired by positive examples. This happened in Indonesia where people took to the streets and overthrew their country's dictatorship. This is happening now in Pakistan where dictator Pervez Musharraf is increasingly finding his back against the wall.
In India, Mother Theresa's good works had more influence on the people than two-hundred years of British rule. A few hundred Mother Theresas, saints and reformers can make everlasting changes for the better in human history, and can be more effective than any mighty army. A lot can be achieved through positives example where coercion and mighty armies fail.
Changing the mind-set of people is very essential to avoid prejudice and oppression. A good example is Pierre Poilievre, who made disparaging remarks about Aboriginal peoples on the same day as Harper’s apology -- Poilievre ignored the suffering facing Aboriginal peoples, attributing their problems to lack of "hard work and independence and self-reliance" rather than to centuries of systemic discrimination and oppression.
Let's stop the violence, stop the oppression, and stop the slaughter.P.S. In response to Scott Tribe here is my take on Pierre Poilievre: Recommend this post