Letters June 26: Sisters of St. Ann and reconciliation; residential schools were about annihilation

Sisters of St. Ann archives already open

Re: “First Nations win access to archives of Sisters of St. Ann,” June 24.

We were saddened to read this headline in the Times Colonist as we believe there are no winners or losers as we follow the path to truth and reconciliation.

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The Sisters of St. Ann have ­committed ourselves to fully participate in the truth and reconciliation process, to make our documents available, and to continue to educate the public, through speaking and writing, on both this tragic history as well as the continuing history of Canada’s unjust relationship with First Nations and other Indigenous people.

Please allow us to clear up some ­misconceptions in this story.

The archives of the Sisters of St. Ann have been open to the public in their location at the Royal B.C. Museum since their transfer to the Royal B.C. Museum property.

The Sisters of Saint Ann provided all our records related to Indian Residential Schools to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in November 2012.

Since that time we have co-operated with the commission and the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, and will continue to do so.

We were very pleased to sign an memorandum of understanding with the Royal B.C. Museum this week that will ensure greater transparency of and access to our archival records.

We also welcome the assistance of the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre at UBC in the process of expediting the access of records to First Nations and Indigenous groups.

We are looking forward to the ­digitization of our records and the final transfer of our archives to the provincial archives, where our records can be easily accessed by all.

Sister Joyce Harris, SSA and Judi Morin, SSA, Canonical co-leaders
The Sisters of Saint Ann

Similarities, differences found in history

As a child survivor of two Nazi concentration camps, I am qualified to compare the Nazi and residential school atrocities.

Although the cruelty and methodology of the Canadian and the Nazi governments were different, their aims were the same. In both cases, the aims of the governments were to annihilate a people that were undesirable. One, through mass murder, the other through the deprivation of culture of the future generations.

There are, of course, differences as well. The Holocaust was carried out by the fascist Nazi party for 12 years whereas the residential schools were the policies by various political parties for more than 120 years.

I commend the Canadian ­governments for their attempts at reconciliation. More must be done quickly by the churches, provincial and federal government to improve the First Nations’ living ­conditions, restoration of their languages, culture and traditions.

In comparison, Germany has not only been paying compensation to the victims, but also has made Holocaust education a major part of their school system.

Julius Maslovat

How about a QR code to help us pronounce?

I want to learn to pronounce Indigenous words, and I am not yet familiar with the pronunciation of glyphs/toponyms/characters that don’t appear in English/French words.

I am excited to learn about maps.fpcc.ca and its links to sites for studying languages and spelling systems.

My learning how to pronounce a language’s phonics/letters/glyphs/words does not risk destroying “much of the beauty and power of the language.”

It makes it more likely that I will be able to use a beautiful language with more fluency and precision when I have learned correct pronunciation, one word at a time.

Here’s a high-tech idea, as more and more signage appears with beautiful Indigenous words I can’t read yet: On every sign, beside those words, put a QR (Quick Response) code that, when scanned with a smartphone, will link me to a site where I can hear the word(s) ­pronounced.

And so I learn, one word at a time. Not the meaning yet, but how it sounds compared to how it looks. A good beginning.

Miriam MacPhail

Use Canada Day to work to make things better

There has been much predictable reaction to the cancellation of Canada Day celebrations, initially by Victoria city council and then by others; some are quite supportive of the move, and other responses are strongly opposed.

For many years I have enjoyed what most Canadians — whether they’d been born here or were newer arrivals — thought was the best country in the world to be living in. We now know that our vision of that Canada was far from the actual reality.

Along with many things that we can rightfully be proud of — such as the invention of insulin and a Nobel Peace Prize, among other accomplishments — were many other things that were ­horrible parts of our country’s history.

Most of these truths have been there all along, but it is only in recent years that people have been forcing them out into the open where there can no longer be any denying that they happened.

And that’s in addition to some other recent events against other citizens that are violent, or tragic, or both.

And this is why celebrating Canada Day seems particularly inappropriate this year. But rather than cancelling Canada Day itself, there is something else that we can do instead that may be even more important.

After all, most of us believed in how good our country was, and even though it was just a dream, it was one that most of us thought was worth believing in.

So rather than celebrate what wasn’t true, why not take this Canada Day to look at that dream in a different light: To treat it as a goal to strive for?

If we believed in that dream once, then we can use this Canada Day, not to celebrate, but to commit to making that dream of a better nation come true for everyone who calls this country their home.

Richard Silver

Elk Lake Drive project is just too big

I am a Saanich resident, living on Elk Lake Drive, a retired and seasoned ­Realtor.

I am not against development, but the Doral Forest Park proposal is too big for the site. Not only is the height of the ­complex too high (11 storeys) but the additional traffic to be added to the already overloaded single lane in each direction roadway is too excessive.

Elk Lake Drive is a drag strip, cars taking the route to get quicker access to either highway route. No one ­travels the speed limit and the situation is only ­getting worse. It is no wonder that the Ministry of Transportation advised against the new proposal.

Being a former Realtor and realizing the increase in lumber costs and real estate values, even with a “15% less than appraised value,” the “average joe” expecting a good deal might not even qualify for a mortgage.

Saanich residents are under no obligation to provide “dreamers” with “their break in real estate.”

Note to the mayor and council: Are we to understand that if another development comes along that exceeds “height restriction,” has inadequate parking, is recommended NOT to proceed by MoTI, that you will just disobey such recommendations and precedents and you will once again seemingly rubber-stamp such proposals? And we haven’t even ­mentioned the protection of trees, birds, species and bees!

John McVie

Not the best time to crowd into a basement

Re: “Oak Bay should ease occupancy limits,” letter, June 23.

Housing policy should not be based on a public relations or a lobbying ­perspective.

It appears that the writer of the June 23 letter is not aware that Oak Bay currently has 750 basement suites and that this is about 15 per cent of Oak Bay’s total single-family dwellings.

Homeowners with suites can subsidize their mortgage payments and incomes, but cannot be taxed on the rents they charge.

However, municipal services must be provided by the rest of the community for the rental population this represents. Oak Bay’s tax revenue is provided almost 100 per cent by property taxes.

In the past seven years, Oak Bay has had a financial shortfall and this has had to be subsidized (bailed out) by tax increases that far exceed and are disproportionate to any of the other Capital Regional District municipalities.

While this high proportion of suite rental accommodation does not provide any revenue to Oak Bay, the writer seems to think it is incumbent on residents to provide housing for the university, ­Camosun College and private schools even though they contribute very little funding toward municipal services.

According to council reports, a change in zoning to allow multi-tenant suites will result in 1,500 to 1,700 new suites.

The only information that residents have been provided with so far is what attempts other communities have made to control the resulting negative suite impacts. Council has not discussed that these attempts have failed.

Not withstanding the many negative impacts that multi-tenant suites would have on neighbours, the environment, Oak Bay’s budget, parking and traffic, as a former long-term social planner and social service manager I can assure you it’s not a good idea to put a lot of people in a basement anytime and call it proper, healthy and safe accommodation. Let alone during a deadly pandemic.

Anthony Mears
Oak Bay

Special thanks for those who helped

At about 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 19, while descending Island View Road from the east toward the highway on my ­bicycle, I was struck by a vehicle.

Just a shout-out to all the good folks who stopped to offer assistance, many of who seemed to be there the instant I came to a stop. Special thanks to the off-duty paramedic and also a doctor who provided their expertise.

Just to let you know, no broken bones or concussion symptoms, just stitches and multiple abrasions.

Lucky, I guess, as I could have been killed. Maybe I shouldn’t completely rule out that possibility as the convalescent period in this nice weather is starting to seem a bit purgatorial, albeit benignly so.

Sandy Szabo
North Saanich


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