Sunday 30 May 2021

Morality, eh

You forget about Canada's dark side, eh? Their national image is so friendly and polite and sensible... so it was a proper shock to learn about all this ghastly stuff back in 2013 when we had an unscheduled day in Kamloops because of a freight derailment interrupting the Rocky Mountaineer schedule. Flown in to the town for a hastily-arranged famil, we were shown around by Tara, who took us first to the Wildlife Park, where I was delighted to get up close to lots of their iconic wildlife.

Afterwards, she drove us through the Badlands to show us something even badder, and totally unexpected: the Secwepemc Museum and Heritage Park. We heard the bleak story of how so many thousands of young native people - "Indians" - were uplifted to be "civilised, Christianised and assimilated" and, inevitably, exploited and abused. It's a horrific story, but what makes it so much worse is that it's so familiar. 

I'm relieved to report that nothing along quite those lines happened to Maori here (apart from, er, the Land Wars, the near extinction of their language, the horror of Parihaka, and the fact that even today Maori dominate poverty, poor health and imprisonment statistics), but we only have to cross the Tasman to hear pretty much identical stories about the Aboriginal people. In so many of the countries I've been to, through the Pacific, Indonesia, Africa, the US, indigenous people have been subjugated by colonisers with boundless, and entirely misplaced, confidence in their own superiority. It's hideous.

Though, of course without wishing at all to diminish the awful treatment received by those so-called inferior peoples around the world, I'm wondering now if my pleasure in getting so close to all those poor, incarcerated wild animals was equally wrong.

No comments:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...