Fault and Responsibility
Today in Canada it is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, also known as Orange Shirt Day. The day is one to both remember the cultural genocide that took place in the residential school system across Canada, as well as celebrating the heritage of so many First Nations tribes and peoples.
The residential school system – a federally funded program which resulted in the deaths of thousands of children – is a shameful part of Canada's history, especially when you realize that this is not something that was hundreds of years ago, but only in the recent past (the last federally funded residential school, Kivalliq Hall, closed in 1997).
As a nation, we collectively bear the fault for the travesties that took place. It was our government, elected by us, who enacted the residential school program. (I was not old enough to vote, but my parents were, and my grandparents, and so on). We also collectively bear the responsibility to make amends.
As an individual however, things get more opaque. Am I at fault as an individual who was never involved in any way? I would argue no; I was not of legal age when the residential school program was around. But am I responsible to make amends? I think I am.
This draws a critical distinction between fault and responsibility. While often related they are two very different things.
If you go to a restaurant and start launching mashed potatoes across the room with your spoon like you're three years old, you're both at fault for the mess (you directly created the starch cannon and fired off a few rounds) and are responsible for cleaning it up.
But let's say you find an infant on your doorstep. Are you at fault here? No; you didn't leave the baby there. You are however responsible for the infant now and what happens to it. Do you call the police? Do you bring the child inside? Do you step over it and keep walking because you're already late for that appointment at the tanning salon? Your next actions are your responsibility coming to fruition.
I may not be at fault for what took place, but I am responsible. To step up and right whatever wrongs I am able to. To educate myself about the cultural backgrounds of those who were impacted. To acknowledge the Treaty 1 land which I live on. Not just today, but every day.
Every child matters.
This Week's Wiki Updates
Lots of updates this week, so I've just picked out a few notable ones.