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Back of the Book: Revisionist’s approach to history not appropriate


November 9, 2016
By John Syrette

533 words – MR

{Revisionist’s approach to history not appropriate}

by John Syrette

I recently read the article titled “Two More Years of Ball Bouncing” authored by Ian T. Parsons, who is identified as a retired inspector with the RCMP.

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I am disappointed. The author has chosen to ignore the role played by police as part of the current conditions faced by First Nations communities. I am the son of a mother who was removed by agents of the federal government to attend residential school. Those agents were backed up by the strong arm of the law, the RCMP. Let’s not lose sight of this fact, as the author would have us do, but rather acknowledge that the police of the day were there to ensure (at times forcibly) the mandatory removal of children from their home communities was completed.

Rolling the clock forward and the author bemoans that police are now tasked with having to respond to the aftermath of the residential schools and the social issues. Making this statement while refusing to acknowledge the past actions of police is inappropriate and a revisionist approach to the history of police in Canada and First Nations. It minimises the belief that many police officers have treated First Nations people poorly. One only needs to look to the ongoing investigations of police interaction with First Nations women in Quebec or the Oppal report into the Picton farm tragedy as sad examples of that very relationship.

I look to the book that Mr. Parsons has authored, and see his own recollection of how his supervisor routinely entered First Nation’s residences without warrant. I further look to this same book to see his description of the harassment of female members of the RCMP. It is apparent that his expectation that those being harassed should have been the ones responsible for stopping the harassment.

In his published article “Head Smashed in” Mr. Parsons muses about the passing of the buffalo in Western Canada. I don’t know if Mr. Parsons is an anthropologist but he makes this statement:

I can only assume this statement is being made based on his own version of history without considering the long standing sacred relationship between the First Nations people of the West and the Buffalo.

Blue Line Magazine has obviously struck a relationship with Mr. Parsons and provided him a national forum to make statements about issues negatively affecting First Nations, and to disparage the efforts of our political leadership to examine all aspects of the Missing and Murdered. I would have hoped that a respected publication would have considered a review of Mr. Parsons’ past articles and books prior to allowing him a national forum to express his opinion.

John W. Syrette
Police Chief
Anishinabek Police Service