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Support Info: If you are a Survivor and need emotional support, a national crisis line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week: Residential School Survivor Support Line: 1-866-925-4419. Additional Health Support Information: Emotional, cultural, and professional support services are also available to Survivors and their families through the Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program. Services can be accessed on an individual, family, or group basis.” These & regional support phone numbers are found at https://nctr.ca/contact/survivors/ .

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Saturday, May 28, 2022

What is Doctrine of Discovery?

 The Doctrine of Discovery: Its effects are still being felt, but only the Pope can rescind it

Truth and Reconciliation commissioner says it's 'a matter of time' before doctrine dies 

Indigenous leaders and residential school survivors in Saskatchewan called on Pope Francis to rescind the Doctrine of Discovery. The Archbishop of Canterbury, one of the highest officials in the Church of England, also recently promised to see what he could do about the doctrine. (Gregorio Borgia/The Associated Press)

When the Archbishop of Canterbury visited Saskatchewan earlier this month, those who spoke with him made him aware of the damage caused by the Doctrine of Discovery.

Many survivors tie its existence to the creation and presence of residential schools, and a commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recently said its ripple effect is still being felt in schools today.

The commission's findings, as survivors told the archbishop during his visit, show residential school policy could be traced back to the doctrine and the papal bulls.

Chiefs and leaders who attended the archbishop's visits in James Smith Cree Nation and Prince Albert commended the promise to discuss the doctrine with the Roman Catholic Church. 

"How can we dismantle the Doctrine of Discovery in a way so it can never be  used again?" Rev. Justin Welby asked the crowd who gathered to meet him in James Smith Cree Nation.

Rev. Justin Welby visited the James Smith Cree Nation to listen to residential school survivors earlier this month. He promised to aid in dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery by engaging with local officials and with the Roman Catholic Church. (Bryan Eneas/CBC)

The doctrine and its powers

The Doctrine of Discovery's supposed power came from the Roman Catholic Church. 

Papal bulls, edicts from the pope guiding colonial powers on the treatment of Indigenous people, were issued in the 15th century. 

The bulls, which empowered Christian colonial expansion, said any land "discovered" by colonial powers could be claimed as their own.

They also stated Indigeneous people who inhabited those lands were not Christian and could be subjugated and converted to Christianity. 

Sol Sanderson, a Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations senator and former chief, says colonial powers and nations eventually formed via the doctrine would create their own policies designed to terminate the rights of Indigenous people. 

Only Pope Francis can rescind the papal bulls issued in the 15th century that gave colonial nations the power to ignore the rights of Indigenous people. (Vatican Media/Reuters)

In Canada, the termination of Indigenous rights came through the Indian Act, and policies within the act led to the creation of residential schools in Canada — a system, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission says, was designed to destroy Indigenous people's sense of cultural identity. 

Sanderson says as he sees it, historically, the Canadian government has made numerous attempts to diminish Indigenous rights, based on the ideas passed through the generations that colonial powers are better suited to govern Indigenous people, thanks to the doctrine.

But Sanderson says Indigenous people's inherent rights aren't and weren't ever superseded by the doctrine, just ignored by it.

"People don't know nothing about inherent rights … they supersede everything, but what are they, where do they come from?" Sanderson said.

"When you look at the inherent rights we have, the inherent sovereignty of our nations and inherent rights to self-determination, the inherent right to education, health, social development, lands, resources, economics, justice … that's the inherent rights we have."

Sanderson says he hoped the Archbishop of Canterbury would come to an agreement with the pope to implement a plan and put teeth into a strategy resulting in the rescinding of the doctrine.

He says such an agreement should recognize the sovereignty of Indigneous people, their natural power to govern, their natural power to make treaties and their natural power to legislate internally and externally both at home and abroad — terms he says need to be dictated by Indigenous people.

Old history, modern effects

The doctrine itself might seem like a relic of the past but retired Senator Murray Sinclair, a commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, says its effects are still very much being felt today.

There's no doubt the doctrine contributed to the creation of residential schools, Sinclair says. 

But the doctrine also allowed for and created the thinking that colonial powers could occupy Indigenous lands and territories — and in turn the thinking that Indigenous people are inferior to non-Indigenous people, particularly European settlers.

Thinking that colonial powers are superior to Indigenous people is something he says permeated the education system even beyond residential schools and is still being felt today, even if schools have taken a "softer, more gentle approach" to Canada's history.\

"They still talk about the beauty of colonialism, the beauty of European growth, the wisdom and intelligence of the leaders of Confederation, the wisdom and intelligence of the people who've been in charge of government over the years," Sinclair said. 

"It's Indigenous people who are made to look bad in the history books in this country and that not only has a negative effect on the Indigenous children, it also has a negative effect on non-Indigenous children."

He says non-Indigenous children taught in school early on to believe they're superior are potentially jeopardizing their relationship with Indigenous people. 

Sinclair says that factor is something that affected him and other Indigenous people as children and caused a deep distrust of all levels of non-Indigenous society — churches, educational systems, government and many others.

'A matter of time'

The Archbishop of Canterbury himself can't rescind the papal bulls making up the Doctrine of Discovery. 

His promise to survivors gathered in James Smith Cree Nation and Prince Albert earlier this month was to engage in discussions with the Pope about the harms he learned about the doctrine while in Saskatchewan. 

Rescinding of the document would come down to the Pope.

Murray Sinclair says he expects the Doctrine of Discovery will be rescinded in the near future. (Darin Morash/CBC)

Sinclair says that's something this generation could see in its lifetime — and it's something that needs to be done now for survivors' sake. 

"I think it's a matter of time before the Doctrine of Discovery is ruled as being an irrelevant doctrine," Sinclair said. 

He says the question of what legal basis the Crown has to justify its legal title over Indigenous people has appeared in the Supreme Court of Canada a number of times, but hasn't been properly answered. 

In reading through legal decisions, he says, he's seen justices point out the major act of reconciliation that needs to happen in Canada is reconciling Crown sovereignty and Indigenous sovereignty.

 "We're hoping that the parties can do that, but if they leave it to the courts to do that, then they may not be happy with the result," Sinclair said. 

MORE

 Residential school survivor hopes Pope Francis brings more than an apology to Canada

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Canada's Residential Schools

The religious organizations that operated the schools — the Anglican Church of Canada, Presbyterian Church in Canada, United Church of Canada, Jesuits of English Canada and some Catholic groups — in 2015 expressed regret for the “well-documented” abuses. The Catholic Church has never offered an official apology, something that Trudeau and others have repeatedly called for.

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Veronica, we adult adoptees are thinking of you today and every day. We will be here when you need us. Your journey in the adopted life has begun, nothing can revoke that now, the damage cannot be undone. Be courageous, you have what no adoptee before you has had; a strong group of adult adoptees who know your story, who are behind you and will always be so.

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New York’s 4o-year battle for OBC access ended when on January 15 2020, OBCs were opened to all New York adoptees upon request without restriction. In only three days, over 3,600 adoptees filed for their record of birth. The bill that unsealed records was passed 196-12.

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As the single largest unregulated industry in the United States, adoption is viewed as a benevolent action that results in the formation of “forever families.”
The truth is that it is a very lucrative business with a known sales pitch. With profits last estimated at over $1.44 billion dollars a year, mothers who consider adoption for their babies need to be very aware that all of this promotion clouds the facts and only though independent research can they get an accurate account of what life might be like for both them and their child after signing the adoption paperwork.

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Why tribes do not recommend the DNA swab

Rebecca Tallbear entitled: “DNA, Blood, and Racializing the Tribe”, bearing out what I only inferred:

Detailed discussion of the Bering Strait theory and other scientific theories about the population of the modern-day Americas is beyond the scope of this essay. However, it should be noted that Indian people have expressed suspicion that DNA analysis is a tool that scientists will use to support theories about the origins of tribal people that contradict tribal oral histories and origin stories. Perhaps more important,the alternative origin stories of scientists are seen as intending to weaken tribal land and other legal claims (and even diminish a history of colonialism?) that are supported in U.S. federal and tribal law. As genetic evidence has already been used to resolve land conflicts in Asian and Eastern European countries, this is not an unfounded fear.

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