Canadian Academia’s Betrayal and Abandonment of Historical Scholarship Relating to Aboriginal Peoples in Favour of Present-Purposed, False-Narrative Propaganda- Academia’s Betrayal of Aboriginal Peoples Themselves- A Case Study.

At times of great cultural catastrophe, an intellectual’s task is not to offer consolation, but to secure the foundations of humanity endangered by ideological lies, to find anew seeds of good sense, ethical norms with which to resist despondency. –Czeslaw Milosz[i]

The book of the world, so richly studied by autodidacts, is being closed by the “learned” who are raising walls of opinion to shut the world out. -Saul Bellow[ii]

It is virtually impossible today for a student enrolled in any Canadian University history program that relates to Aboriginal studies to receive a proper education. The level of scholarship today is so low as to be non-existent, as the recent article discussed below, Reckoning with the History of Public Schooling and Settler Colonialism, by Associate Professor Sean Carleton of the University of Manitoba, (“the Carleton article”), amply illustrates.

 Where once in this important area of academic study there was objective, rigorous enquiry and exposition based on primary sources and credible secondary sources, now there is only intolerant, victimhood-fetishizing, context and nuance-free, comic book-level, educational activity, obsessed with the alleged evils of “settlers” and “colonialism” and determined to portray the ancestors of present-day non-Aboriginal Canadians as nothing more than racist, genocidal,  land and culture thieves.

With the rise of identity politics in the 1960’s, where citizens care more about the race, ethnic or sexual group they identity with than about the country as a whole, Canadian academic standards began to drop precipitously. A sense of history and historical continuity vanished. As playwright Arthur Miller wrote:[iii] “Cancellation was the beginning of the sixties for me, the great disconcerting wipeout of all that had gone before”. What was “cancelled” was either the actual learning and proper use of historical facts, or the long-settled, reasonable interpretation of those facts, with, in the latter case, no scholarly, cogent and cohesive re-interpretation of them. Again, the Carlton article amply illustrates this.

A solid example of serious, “pre-cancellation” scholarship is Dr. Diamond Jenness’ The Indians of Canada, first published by The National Museum of Canada in 1932. This work went through five subsequent editions and was last reprinted in 1972 (not coincidentally, just about the time that identity politics was kicking into high gear). For forty years it was regarded by and used, in universities, government and elsewhere, as the authoritative word on this subject.

The Indians of Canada makes for enlightening but grim, pathos-filled reading. It reveals the slow and then, towards the end, the quickened pace of Aboriginal cultural collapse.  In addition to describing the usual, fatal incidents of pre-contact, paleolithic life: constant warfare, slavery, kidnapping and forced adoptions, ritual torture and murder, frequent starvation, accidents, disease and female infanticide, Dr. Jenness describes the effects on pre-contact Aboriginal culture of European-introduced weaponry, life-easing material goods, the capitalist/mercantile fur trade, Christianity, and alcohol. By the mid-1880’s the combination of these usual and introduced incidents of Aboriginal life, together with the destruction of the beaver resource and the buffalo herds (in which Aboriginals enthusiastically participated), brought this collapse to its tragic completion.

The result of this “transformational trauma” was epitomized by a comment made by Chief Plenty Coups of the Crow Nation to the effect that after the buffalo disappeared, “Nothing happened”. “In other words, Chief Plenty Coups was saying that once the buffalo were gone, his people became like the living dead”.[iv]

Dr. Jenness, as required by the principles of scholarship at the time, cited proper authorities for everything he wrote: other scholarly works, first-contact journals of explorers, (Champlain, Hearne, Thompson), the Jesuit Relations. The reader acquires a feeling of confidence in the competency and objectivity of the writer, and, in reading the book, is led to understand well why it was considered for decades the gold standard in scholarship on Aboriginal matters.

The Indians of Canada is hard to find now and is rarely referred to because it’s fact-driven – suffused with now inconvenient truths – rather than, as are most current works on the subject now, ideology-driven and replete with omissions and distortions.

An example of such a modern, “post-cancellation” ideology-driven work is Arthur Ray’s An Illustrated History of Canada’s Native People.[v]Dr. Jenness wrote at length about the Aboriginal shorter life span-higher death rate reality in pre-contact, Canadian Aboriginal cultures, describing it matter-of-factly as something inherent in every paleolithic culture. Mr. Ray, with no cogent reasons given and no authorities cited, states that on this point Dr. Jenness was “plainly wrong …We now know that that wasn’t the case.” The reader thinks: “We do? How do “we” know? On whose or on what authority, other than this writer’s mere say-so, is Dr. Jenness wrong? Mr. Ray never says how “we” know or who “we” is. A serious scholar would cite his authorities. In Dr. Jenness’ day review peers would have demanded it. “In fact”, Arthur Ray says, “some anthropologists suggest, (none cited, as in Dr. Jenness’ day they would have to have been), that pre-contact aboriginal societies were the original affluent societies”. No authority or elaboration is offered for this astounding, incredible statement. He then blames low aboriginal populations on colonialism and Europe-originated epidemics, conveniently ignoring the fact that Dr. Jenness was confining his analysis to pre-contact Aboriginal societies.

The Carleton article, also representative of the current, amateurish norms of Canadian historiography in this crucial area of our national life, repeats this kind of intellectual shoddiness but then takes it to a new low.

The word “reckoning” in the title, “Reckoning with the History of Public Schooling and Settler Colonialism”, suggests that the author is going to inform the reader of something shameful, something Canadians will have to come “to terms with” in our history concerning Aboriginals and public schooling- something to do with “settler colonialism.”

The Big Reveal, a few paragraphs later, under the heading “Building a capitalist settler society”, turns out to be that “various kinds of schooling (day and residential schools, yes, but also public schools), supported the creation of a capitalist settler society in Canada’s westernmost province between 1849 and 1930,” and that these schools imparted “lessons in legitimacy- the formal and informal teachings that justified colonialism and normalized the unequal social relations of settler capitalism.”

Schools in general, also, according to Mr. Carleton, engaged in the apparently dastardly conduct of serving as “laboratories for learning (sic) colonial legitimacy and training students to contribute to the capitalist economy in British Columbia, throughout Canada and across the British Empire.”

In other words, schools tried to equip students, including Aboriginal students, with the training and skills required to get a job! A job anywhere in the “capitalist” country of Canada! Even anywhere in the “capitalist” British Empire! Shame on them.

Associate Professor Carleton then informs the reader how “public schooling” was “implicated” in this apparently nefarious settler-capitalist/ jobs creation/ “unequal social relations” plot by being the recipient of B.C. government monies that came from property taxes paid by B.C. private property owners on land that was allegedly “stolen Indigenous land”. You see, settler reader, this“stolen land”, and the property taxes from it,“underwrote the expansion and maintenance of the public school system in British Columbia, as elsewhere.”

It gets worse, settler reader. Associate Professor Carleton mercilessly piles on, revealing even more black and grained, settler-colonialist spots[vi]: “Though day, residential and public schools were supposed to be different, they mostly shared the same educational materials”! And, “more Indigenous students consistently attended public schools in greater numbers than previously thought.” That’s because, as Associate Professor Carleton exposes: “Many Indigenous parents advocated for their children to have the right to attend public schools (instead of day or residential schools.)” Shocking.

Taking his faux-righteous takedown of the whole topic of B.C. public schooling down to the present, under the heading “Decolonizing education today”, he decries the fact that even today “the core objective of state schooling- to educate children and youth in ways that will prepare them to contribute to and thus sustain an ever-evolving capitalist society-remains little changed from the mid-to-late 1800’s.”

Imagine, even today, schools are training students, including Aboriginal students, to be able to get a job and support themselves in our “capitalist” society. Terrible.

Associate Professor Carleton clearly- seemingly inexplicably- thinks that all is the above is terrible, so he should tell the reader why he thinks that. He completely fails to even try to do that.  He gives no reasons. This is terrible scholarship.

Finally, his article in one large sense being a promotion for a book he has just written on this topic, Associate Professor Carleton hopes, through reading his article, and no doubt through the settler readers, whose psychological pain threshold has not yet been reached through reading his article, and want to experience more pain by buying and reading his book, “that a better understanding of the relationship between public schooling and settler colonialism can help spark new questions about how to decolonize and transform education today”. (Doesn’t he mean to say, “help spark new answers”?)

What to make of such an article? As stated, its point seems to be that the B.C. government offered schooling to B.C. Aboriginals so that they could get jobs and become self-supporting in the new industrial society they found themselves in. His use of the words “reckoning”, “come to terms with”, “implicated” and “hard truth” indicates that he clearly seems to be saying that that’s bad.

And he is clearly saying that capitalism is bad.

But he never says why these things are bad, or what the B.C. government should have done different or better. The reader is left saying: “Offering schooling to Aboriginals seems really good to me. Why does he say this is so bad? What am I missing? What’s his point here?”

After all, it’s been the professed conviction of the best men and women of our country since before Confederation that education was the means to rescue Aboriginal peoples from the tragic consequences of the pending and then actual collapse of their old ways of life.

Alexander Morris, who was heavily involved on behalf of Canadian government in the making of some of the numbered treaties in the 1870’s, wrote in the Preface to his book The Treaties of Canada with the Indians of Manitoba and the North-West Territories, published in 1880[vii], that means needed to be devised “whereby the Indians of the Fertile Belt can be rescued from the hard fate that otherwise awaits them, owing to the speedy destruction of the buffalo, hitherto the principle food supply of the Plains Indians.” For Morris, and for the Canadian governments of those times, that means was “the adoption of agricultural and pastoral pursuits”. This, he hoped, would open up to them “a future of promise, based upon the foundations of instruction and the many other advantages of civilized life.

The Aboriginal treaty negotiators for Treaties 4, 5, 6 and 7 and 8, the latter signed in 1899, wanting that instruction, asked for schools and teachers, so that their people could better survive and thrive in the “capitalist” society that was all around them, and provision for same was included in these treaties.

Despite the clear historical evidence that Aboriginals asked for schools- colonial schools- Carleton ignores this and somewhat bizarrely argues that this was bad and that Canada must now “decolonize” schooling for Aboriginals. But he never says what this means. Does he mean that Aboriginal education should go back to the way it was before Europeans arrived?

Wouldn’t this go against the wishes of the Aboriginal treaty signers?

Dr. Jenness, in The Indians of Canada, describes what pre-contact, pre-colonial, Aboriginal education was like:

Freedom went hand in hand too, with a primitive system of education, even though regular schools were lacking. The western bands of Carrier Indians who had absorbed much of the culture of the coastal tribes in British Columbia recognized two curricula: one secular, the other ethical and religious. The secular course was our manual training- instruction given at no set hours in the various tasks that children would have to perform in later years. More particular was the ethical and religious course. On quiet winter evenings when the people had gathered inside their big, plank houses, dimly lighted by one or two small fires, an old man seated in corner would narrate some tradition or folk tale of the distant past, and point the moral of the story with reference to the conduct of the children during the preceding hours. The education of children in other parts of Canada followed along the same general lines, but was not always so organized into so definite a system.

At the age of about ten a boy’s training become more rigorous. He then shot small game such as rabbits and squirrels, accompanied the hunters on their expeditions to become inured to the hardships of the chase, and performed many small duties around the camp. To harden the lad physically the Iroquois taught them to endure torture. The Pacific Coast tribes made them bathe in cold water daily, winter and summer alike, and whipped them with cedar boughs when they emerged…The Indians and Eskimo in northern Canada brought up their children less rigorously, but in that region the unavoidable hardships of life were so numerous that deliberate increase of them might have proven intolerable. Girls naturally escaped most of this physical training but received thorough instruction in all domestic duties.

Clearly, there was no “settler-colonial” reading, writing, arithmetic, or instruction in agricultural and pastoral pursuits, in pre-colonial Aboriginal education.

Does Carleton think that teaching Aboriginal children these post-literate, post-paleolithic skills was wrong, and is still wrong today? What does he say about this?

 Is the paleolithic, pre-literate, sexist, subsistence and survival-oriented education described by Dr. Jenness what Carleton wants for Aboriginal students in 2022? If so, as a purported scholar he should be specific and say so. If not, he should say what he means by “decolonized” schooling. His failure to be specific is a serious breach of proper scholarly standards and practice.

By using loaded terms like “reckoning”, “coming to terms with”, “hard truth, “complicit” and “implicated” in relation to the words “settlers”, “colonialism” and “settler colonialism”- these “presumed guilty” words- he clearly implies that there is something fundamentally wrong, immoral, illegal, unjust or unconscionable about the people and institutions represented by them.

But he never says what that is.

Associate Professor Carleton doesn’t take the time and effort to define his presumed-guilty words, another basic breach of proper scholarly standards and practice, so the reader, put into a state of confusion and uncertainty, and totally unpersuaded, is left with the thought that Associate Professor Carleton himself doesn’t know what these words mean. (No doubt he has feelings about them, like children are governed by feelings, but an Associate Professor at a major Canadian university owes his reader, not his feelings, but his train of reasoninghis considered, research-based, specific adult thoughts on them.)

For instance, my great-great grandfather immigrated from western England to the Palmerston, Ontario area in about 1820. Both Carleton and I would probably agree that he was a settler. But am I, his great-great grandson, born in Grand-Mere, Quebec, also, in Associate Professor Carleton’s view, a settler?  I didn’t “settle” in Canada. I was born here.

What about all the rest of Canada-born Canadians? Are they settlers or not? If I and all other Canada-born Canadians are “settlers”, he should have the intellectual courage and discipline to explain to us why this is so, and what, in relation to “colonialism”, by virtue of the mere accidents of our births, we are supposedly “complicit” in. What about new immigrants to Canada? They would seem to literally be “settlers.” But are they “settler colonialists”? It is inexcusable that a university academic would leave his reader so confused and uncertain about the meaning of such a key word, and how he thinks it applies to all non-Aboriginal Canadians today, in his published, academic work.

It is also inexcusable that a university academic, by such careless use of language, amounting to innuendo of wrongdoing, would, by such innuendo, accuse the “settler” majority of his country of being guilty of something, but not say clearly and precisely what we are allegedly guilty of. It smacks of blood libel by innuendo, like what the Jewish people experienced for centuries, and are still experiencing today.

The Carleton article is not only confusing and vague about the most basic things. It also reeks of hypocrisy throughout.

As stated, Carleton clearly has a beef with capitalism-based “settler colonialism”, the latter word in this term, “colonialism”, being his other big-feeling, never-defined, presumed-guilty word. Whatever “colonialism” might mean to him, he clearly thinks that it’s so bad that Canada needs to be de-colonized.

Yet Carleton, a “settler” himself, is an ambitious, willing participant in and product of Canada’s, capitalistic, “settler-colonial” public school system, having taken such full advantage of it that he has admirably leveraged himself up to the settler-colonialist position of Associate Professor at the very settler-colonialist University of Manitoba, whose Charter was issued by the ultimately settler-colonialist Crown in right of the Province of Manitoba.

 His article was published online by The Conversation, a settler-colonialist academic/journalistic entity[viii] created by a consortium of settler-colonialist Canadian universities, including his own. He acknowledges that he receives funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, a branch of the equally ultimately settler-colonialist Crown in right of Canada, which gets its money, some of which is flowed through to Associate Professor Carleton, from the capitalist, settler-colonialist taxpayers of Canada, some of which tax paid is most certainly tax derived from the capitalist exploitation of allegedly “stolen land” in settler-colonialist British Columbia.

Thus, he is knowingly benefitting from- living personally and professionally off the avails of– the very bad capitalist, settler-colonialist system he says should be dismantled!

He mocks, (safely certain that his incoherent, never-defined “decolonization” demands will never be acted upon), the very capitalist, settler-colonialist meat he is constantly feeding on![ix]

Such gross inconsistency between word and deed gives rise to the obligation on any self-respecting academic to explain himself. When no explanation is forthcoming, the objective reader or listener has the duty, right and natural inclination to severely discount both the veracity and the good faith of that academic.

(I say the same thing about every other person, Aboriginal or not- (No! Especially Aboriginal elites, like AFN honchos, Murray Sinclair, Nigaan Sinclair and Douglas Cuthand.)- academic, politician, lawyer, journalist, other- who, in just one reasonably-imagined example amongst an infinite possible number, while waiting for their settler-colonialist plane in some settler-colonialist airport, sipping a settler-colonialist coffee or beer paid for by settler-colonial debit or credit card, and, after checking their settler-colonialist iPhone for messages, then texts, tweets, types, phones or even thinks some fantasist “de-colonization” message or thought. All are self-serving, careerist hypocrites.)

In addition to those above, Carleton makes many more unsupported, radical, factual assertions, as if they were universally accepted, foundational truths, when in fact they are not. Rather, they relate to contentious, unsettled, social, political and historical issues.

He mentions “revelations about locating unmarked graves at former residential school sites.”  In fact no such unmarked graves have been found.

He writes of, providing no scholarly evidence, “genocidal school systems”. This is indeed a shameful, express blood libel assertion. At no time or place in Canada has there ever been a “genocidal” school or school system.

He asserts, providing no scholarly evidence, that there is “racism embedded in educational structures and practices.”

He falsely asserts, providing no scholarly evidence, that British Columbia is “stolen land”.  How could an Associate Professor of a major Canadian university say, or be allowed to say, such a childish, simplistic thing?

The Supreme Court of Canada, in the 2014 Tsilhqot’in case, expressly ruled, despite most of B.C. land  being “unceded” by treaty, that provincial laws of general application apply to all lands in the province, subject to Aboriginal rights recognized under section 35 of the Constitution Act, (which in most of B.C. included “Aboriginal title” rights), and subject to federal “Indian and lands reserved for Indians” jurisdiction. Even then, the B.C. government can, if there is a “compelling and substantial government objective”, and it is consistent with their fiduciary relationship with the Aboriginal group affected, in effect overrule those Aboriginal title rights.

The land situation in British Columbia is complicated and uncertain. Both sides, Aboriginals and the B.C. Crown, possess or came into their interests in the land honestly and in good faith. Tsilhqot’in recognized that, and this well-known Supreme Court of Canada decision is highest authority for the proposition that B.C. land was not “stolen” from the ancestors of today’s B.C. Aboriginal peoples.

Is Associate Professor Carleton not aware of Tsilhqot’in? If he is, why didn’t he deal with it in relation to his “stolen land” assertion?  It was intellectually lazy and dishonest of him not to have done so. People in his influential, privileged position have a duty to be responsible and competent so as not to abuse the implicit trust obligations that come with that high position and that influence.

A university is an institution devoted to free and open inquiry and debate. It should encourage the good faith challenging of prevailing views and orthodoxies. It should welcome dissent, a social virtue about which Canadian law professor Benjamin Perrin wrote:

Dissent serves a valuable social function: it moderates, brings internal accountability and leads to better decision because of the value of diversity and the contest of ideas.[x]

Associate Professor Carleton eschews the Enlightenment traditions and values of the university, and reveals his anti-intellectual, hostile, close-mindedness, by expressly condemning anyone who would dissent from his views. He tells his readers, by the use of two links, to “ignore debaters and denialists” i.e any person who might raise a dissenting argument to anything he or his linked-to colleagues write, say or believe. And, when he doesn’t ignore them, he denigrates, downgrades or avoids their valid arguments.

(Imagine. A university professor urging his readers to ignore debate.)

Not for Associate Professor Carleton the open-minded, welcoming, curious and confident intellectualism of Ralph Waldo Emerson, who wrote in his famous essay, The Conduct of Life:

The wise man throws himself on the side of his assailants. It is more his interest than it is theirs to find his weak points.

Not for Associate Professor Carleton the precept of the French philosopher Montaigne, who wrote:

When I am contradicted it arouses my attention, not my wrath. I move towards the man who contradicts me; he is instructing me. The cause of truth ought to be common to us all.[xi]

Alas, the pursuit of truth is not the principal aim of Associate Professor Carleton. Nor is it the aim of his university, The Conversation, or any of the other “settler colonial” colleagues, universities and government agencies involved or associated with the publicly-funded The Conversation.  

The highly political and propagandist Carleton article is emblematic of everything wrong with the liberal arts university today: professors confusing teaching with sentimental, consolatory social and political reform work, improper and biased advocacy in the classroom, shallow scholarship lacking discipline and erudition, no primary sources referred to or cited, citations and links provided to current, shallow publications like his own, but revealing no sources whatsoever consulted or cited before the professor’s own “post-cancellation” time, (e.g. witness Carleton’s ignoring Dr. Diamond Jenness), no sense of raw human nature, no cross-cultural comparisons, no sense of anthropological deep time, an uninformed, unimaginative and total denigration of Canada’s  past and the mainly decent people who inhabited our past, poor grammar and writing style, meaningless, unexplained, vacuous jargon, (“capitalism”, “settler colonialism”, “the unequal social relations of capitalism”, “Indigenous Peoples”, “Indigenous Nations”), shutting down debate and dissent, and institutional, fossilized  thought, rather than fresh, independent, individual thought.

Regarding Aboriginal studies generally, the liberal arts university consistently paints a rosy, Walt Disney picture of ancient Aboriginal life, brutally ripped out its Edenic state by the evil white, “settler colonialists”. Such childishness. Pre-contact Aboriginal life, along with its beauties, was brutal, dangerous and short. Aboriginals migrated, invaded and then killed and conquered each other in far more brutal fashion than the British and French who migrated here and then peacefully conquered them. In fact, the settler-colonialists of Great Britain deserve praise, not shallow, ahistorical condemnation, for the relatively peaceful and civilized manner in which they acted.

The only beneficiaries of Aboriginal studies in Canadian academia, (Associate Professor Carleton’s university calls it “Indigenous Studies.” Why not stick with the only legal word there is: “Aboriginal”?), are the teachers, professors and administrators, and other such insider functionaries, who get and keep jobs out of it, and the larger institutions themselves, which get huge funding for ladling out this politically driven, thin academic gruel.

A classic statement in this regard is in writer/long-tenured English Professor John Williams, Stoner,[xii] a novel about American academia, where the petty and cruel, sandbox, academic politics typical of the liberal arts university crush the protagonist. One of his few colleague friends, after a few drinks, tells him:

It’s for us that the university exists, for the dispossessed of the world; not for the students, not for the selfless pursuit of knowledge, not for any of the reasons you hear. We give out the reasons, and we let a few of the ordinary ones in, that would do in the world, but that’s just protective coloration. Like the Church in the Middle Ages, which didn’t give a damn about the laity or even about God, we have no pretenses in order to survive. And we shall survive-because we have to.

Aboriginal  studies departments send the unspoken message to young Aboriginal  students, under the guise of building their confidence with feel-good bromides focusing on “Aboriginal pride,” that they should always be primarily self-identifying as  “Aboriginal” or “Indigenous”- that they can only find real meaning in life – that can only stay pure and authentic- by mentally inhabiting first and foremost their own allegedly culturally and racially unique, mental community of origin, surrounded as much as possible by people who look and think like them, and that participating as full human equals in the larger, outside world, and self-identifying primarily as a “human being” or a “citizen”, where one’s race or ethnicity is essentially irrelevant, is not the ultimate goal they should be striving for.

A university should strive to make its’ Aboriginal students fit for the adult world – the whole world – not merely the small, race-based, mental world each Aboriginal student comes from.

A blind obedience to or an obsessive focus on one’s “traditional” customs and culture, overlaid with the kind of shallow, enervating grievance and victimhood thinking characteristic of the Carleton article, can mark the mentality of a primitive people, and Aboriginals, being no longer “primitive” in any way, should now be expressly rejecting these aspects of cultural primitivism that Aboriginal studies departments are attempting to foist on them and define them by.

The identities of individual Aboriginal Canadians, especially the majority of them who live off-reserve, now so profoundly affected by racially indifferent modernism, are just too fluid and multiple (characteristic of a vibrant, cosmopolitan society) to fit into old, primitive, outdated tribal or racial models.

The intellectual emancipation of a person, or a people, requires the partial moving away from, or even the partial disintegration sometime, of that person’s, that people’s, culture of origin. This is how it must be. This is how it is in life. This is how we progress, as individuals, as a society, as a species. We progress by way of constant change, cultural adaptation and assimilation, shucking off old cultural skins and personas and growing new ones.

This moving away from tribal or racial, group-thinking, self-identification, and towards a more individually empowering, culturally and racially box-free, group-free form of self-identification, is a healthy and inevitable consequence of modernism.  It will encourage Aboriginal young people to think and act across racial, ethnic, cultural and linguistic lines, thus improving their chances of meaningfully participating in the global economy.  

It reduces the dangerous and nasty effects of all “isms” and contributes to national progress.

As historian Robert Kaplan,[xiii] writes:

Progress occurs when history becomes less that of the state or nations and more that of individuals within, so that one grand narrative fragments into millions of parts, each with its own full-bodied story.

These natural, healthy, individual-oriented processes are all, tragically for Canada’s young Aboriginals, being denigrated and hindered by Aboriginal studies programs and by the personally and socially useless, even harmful, work product coming out of them, exemplified by the Carleton article.

Aboriginal Canadian youth need from universities less cultural and racial chauvinism and less cultural and racial segregation. They need an end to our universities’ shallow and pointless grievance and victimhood obsession over their “lost” past and their mainly mythical “stolen” culture.

They need more emphasis from universities on the positive, unifying, humanizing reality of present and future cultural and racial mixing and coming together as one complex cultural and racial plurality. This new emphasis would constitute the seeds of good sense and new ethical norms, referred to by Czeslaw Milosz, above, that would help to raise our Aboriginal peoples out of their present, acknowledged state of despondency.

Aboriginal Canadian youth, and Canadian youth in general, whose welfare is the supposed main object of Aboriginal studies programs, are being cheated out of the kind of challenging and liberating post-secondary education and life experience they deserve and that universities properly owe them.  This deprivation, unless it is brought to an end, will only ensure the continued segregation and marginalization of Canadian Aboriginals in Canadian society for more generations to come.

Peter Best

Sudbury, October 17, 2022


[i] From Milosz, A Biography, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2017

[ii] From his foreward to Alan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind- How Higher Education has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today’s Students, Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, New York, 1987

[iii] In Timebends-A Life, Harper & Row Publishers, New York, 1987

[iv] Incident and quotes from Nation Maker-Sir John A. MacDonald: His Life, Our Times, Volume two: 1867-1891, Random House Canada, 2011

[v] Key-Porter Books, Toronto, 2010

[vi] “black and grained spots”- from the Hamlet-Gertrude, Oedipus-like accusation scene in Hamlet

[vii] Originally published at the time by P.R. Randall, of Toronto, and re-printed as a “facsimile edition” by Coles Publishing Company, Toronto, in 1979

[viii] The Conversation’s slogans are “Academic rigour and journalistic flair”, and “Written by academics, edited by journalists, backed by evidence.” There is no rigour and no evidence and no obvious editing in the Carleton article.

[ix]Jealousy, the green-eyed monster that mocks the meat it feeds on.”- Shakespeare, in Othello

[x] Opinion column, The Benefits of Disagreement, The National Post, January 19, 2016

[xi] From Peter Wehner, In Defence of Politics, Now More Than Ever, The New York Times, October 29, 2016

[xii] New York Review of Books Classics, 2006

[xiii] From his book, In Europe’s Shadow, Random House Inc. New York, 2016

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