Premier Kathleen Wynne now wants to enact mandatory sensitivity training for employees within Ontario’s service sector, "regarding the history and experiences of the province’s indigenous people."
I was surprised as I always thought social service employees were supposed to be sensitive to the needs of their clients in the first place or they would not work in the industry.
With all due respect to Wynne and the indigenous people of Canada, while sensitivity training maybe of use, we need to examine why there may be a need, and ask whether or not it will accomplish the desired results.
Certainly, one can acknowledge that not all the indigenous people in the country were treated fairly two centuries ago. There is no doubt in my mind that many abuses continued well into the 20th century. Having said that, the question becomes, will sensitivity training solve or resolve any real or perceived problems for the indigenous people, or is the government perpetuating this notion of victimization and therefore only fanning the flames of discontent?
In addition, Wynne would like to have this extended to the educational system across the board. Again, I ask to what purpose?
How shall making elementary school children feel badly about the policies of a government almost 200 years ago help indigenous people? If anything I see this as just stirring up old arguments and animosity, when really our perspective peoples have lived for the most part in peace and wish to continue to respect one another.
Clearly, Wynne has decided she is in a position to judge not only us adults, but our children as well? In what way is she this saintly, moral individual that feels she has the right not only to judge, but punish and make others feel guilty for the perceived sins of the father?
My big concern is the end result shall be learned guilt and learned dependence, and the idea that the state knows best. By continuing to allow this type of policy our government can punish and lead us with the hope we shall be too ashamed to ask questions.
As an historian, by all means I am in favour of courses being offered in the schools where they teach about these important issues, but if you wish to talk about injustice in a historical context than you should also include how people were treated in insane asylums; or in prisons; or how the developmentally handicapped were treated. These are all equally important issues.
They should not be designed as lessons in “sensitivity”, but as moral lessons of history. If you want sensitivity training for children, than arrange to have them volunteer in animal shelters, old age homes or sheltered workshops.