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By Don Martin, host of CTV News ‘Power Play’, June 4, 2015

Canada's Aboriginal childrenPlans are rushing forward with unusual government haste to erect a huge Victims of Communism memorial on prime land adjacent to the Supreme Court in Ottawa. Work will start within weeks on a stark and dark project on a controversial site the Supreme Court’s chief justice has questioned, architects have lambasted and Ottawa’s city council has rejected.

It’s a strange concept, importing historical horrors from other countries to commemorate, and there’s no apparent driver behind the government’s infatuation with the project beyond partisan politics.

Canada's residential school system was an instrument of cultural genocide

Canada’s residential school system was an instrument of cultural genocide

Polish and Ukrainian Canadians impacted by Communist oppression will undoubtedly be monumentally grateful to the empathetic Conservatives – and vote accordingly.

Which brings us to a better idea if, as lead Ottawa minister Pierre Poilievre insists, this prized site absolutely must be reserved for a monument instead of a much-needed courthouse. Prime Minister Stephen Harper should dedicate the site to the victims and survivors of Canada’s residential schools.

This was our national shame, with tens of thousands of lives sacrificed or ruined in generations of aboriginal children who endured sexual, physical and emotional abuse in the cause of a cultural genocide.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission suggests a national holiday and memorials in major cities. But what’s needed is a national focal point to reconcile the ugliest truth of our history in a hugely symbolic, yet tangibly concrete way.

Artist’s rendering of the proposed 'memorial to the victims of communism' in Ottawa (ABSTRAKT Studio Architecture)

Artist’s rendering of the proposed ‘memorial to the victims of communism’ in Ottawa (ABSTRAKT Studio Architecture)

This last piece of vacant land in the shadow of Parliament Hill is clearly begging for a more worthy non-partisan purpose the entire country can get behind. So come on Canada. Before it’s too late and the Harper government starts pouring cement for a political vote-getter, let’s push MPs to erect something on land claimed by the Algonquin First Nation which is worthy of a national commemoration.

The residential school nightmare was our history, not the tragic memory of Soviet Communist deprivation imported by immigrants seeking a better life here.

A cultural genocide in our country is singularly worthy of a monument on the same scale of our National War Memorial.

Lest we forget, our fallen soldiers knew the risks when they enlisted. The children of our First Nations had no such choice. They were innocently dragged into an assimilation crusade against their culture – and paid for it with their lives.

Related stories on CTV:

Read also:
Thumbs down from Canadians over ‘victims of communism’ memorial for Ottawa, New Cold, May 24, 2015



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