Truth and reconciliation goes beyond Canada

We must turn to support decolonization efforts elsewhere, too

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A destroyed building in Gaza
PHOTO: Emad El Byed / Unsplash

By: Anonymous, SFU Student and Kelly Chia, Editor-in-Chief

Content warning: mentions of war and genocide. 

On December 13, Canada voted in a UN resolution calling for immediate ceasefire in Palestine after abstaining in October. Make no mistake, though: Canada continues to provide military support to Israel, and the nation’s silence in the face of weapons being used against civilians will continue to weigh on us. We must contend with Canada’s historical role in colonizing Palestine, and our continual support of its occupation.   

The Yellowhead Institute, an Indigenous-led research centre, published a piece detailing Canada’s involvement in the colonization of Palestine. It explains that Canada’s extensive efforts in international peacekeeping often disguise its stance on violence. A pivotal contribution was in the establishment of Israel, where Canada actively participated in United Nations-led committees in the partition of Palestine. Supreme Court of Canada Justice Ivan C. Rand and Senior Diplomat Lester Pearson played key roles in advocating for the partition. 

Kulthum writes that UN members like Count Folke Bernadotte, advocating for Palestinian refugees’ right to return to their land, were assassinated. The National Defence Canada’s website claims that hostilities immediately started against Israel in May 1948 by Palestine and neighbouring states. However, this narrative erases Canada’s role in endorsing a plan for the partition of state, making it complicit in ethnic cleansing. The country only takes the name of “peacekeeper” to deflect from its violence.

Canada’s complicity extends beyond history and continues through contemporary support for Israel. The close relationship between Canada’s Special Operations Forces and the Israel Defense Forces is unsettling. In 2023, Canada supplied “more than $20 million in military exports to Israel.” Looking further into Canada’s historical involvement in Palestine, Canada has consistently supported colonial occupation, despite its reputation as a “kinder” western nation. It’s important we confront our history to make changes in the present, as our silence is permission for genocide to continue. 

Canada appears to be ensnared in a cycle of selective morality, where its stance on human rights aligns with geopolitical interests rather than a moral commitment to justice. This pattern of selective morality is not confined to history but extends into the present, notably in Canada’s approach to reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. Despite initiatives aimed at reconciliation, the fulfillment of the 94 Calls to Action, as outlined by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, has been slow. This discrepancy raises questions about the sincerity of Canada’s commitment to rectifying historical injustices, as tangible progress lags behind rhetorical promises. 

The contrast between the promises made and their actual implementation shows a troubling lack of dedication to decolonization. Consequently, the majority of the calls to action remain unaddressed, leaving Indigenous communities awaiting long-overdue justice and reparation. It’s no wonder that many have been critical of Canada’s defense of settler-colonial attitudes, when Canada itself remains a settler-colonial state that violently neglects the needs of the Indigenous Peoples. Canada has always, historically, been supportive of settler-colonialism when it benefits western interests. Many have already pointed out that Canada issued an immediate response to the Russian invasion in Ukraine, and rightfully so. But now, people call for Canada to act on its so-called role as peacekeeper, and immediately intervene in the genocide of Palestinians.  

Outrage grows at the nation’s silence in the face of over 20,000 civilian deaths since Israel escalated attacks on Palestine, and Canada remains complicit. It’s time for Canadians to confront this uncomfortable truth and advocate for a humane approach to the plight of all Indigenous people who have been subjected to persecution and occupation, both within and beyond Canada’s borders. As citizens, we can participate in protests, write to our MPs and our Prime Minister, and provide educational resources for learning more about the country’s involvement in Palestine’s occupation. 

The Republic of South Africa has officially brought the State of Israel to the International Court of Justice, the UN’s highest court, under accusations of genocide. As of the time of writing, Canada is being called on by the South African High Commissioner and ambassador of Palestine to voice support for backing this case, and is also facing pressure from Israel to back its continued brutality. It is so crucial for Canadian citizens to call their MPs to voice support for South Africa’s application now, and meaningfully uphold our position on ceasefire as a nation. 

We must pressure our government to make direct intervention. The call for truth and reconciliation must extend globally, transcending national boundaries, as Canada strives to fix its tarnished moral compass on the world stage.

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