Professors Milligan & Peace: A Reply

By C. P. Champion


Dear Professors Milligan and Peace, Ian and Thomas (if I may),

The Dorchester Review is indeed grateful for the notice you have taken of our participation in the Open Letter organized by Professor Dummitt in response to the CHA’s overreach in its ex cathedra definition of “genocide” as an infallible doctrine of Canadian History. Few causes could be more worthy of support, in our view, than resisting this evidence of a peculiar tendency to attempt to impose ideological conformity upon our profession as if the CHA Council were equivalent to the College of Cardinals at Vatican Council I. It should be obvious to any scholar that this type of purportedly binding pronouncement, while quite appropriate in the context of Roman Catholic faith and morals as they apply to the faithful, is by the same token entirely inappropriate when it comes to the give and take, and indeed cut and thrust, of Canadian historical debates.

That much should be obvious to you two worthy gentlemen. However we write today specifically to address a particular defamatory assertion in your blog post “It Is Time to End the History Wars,” by which we surmise you intended to convey that, “The CHA Must Withdraw Its Ill-Judged Canada Day Statement,” since it is that very statement that has provided the unfortunate casus belli and that can only perpetuate a new campaign in said wars. 

Indeed when it comes to “inflammatory” rhetoric (the word you kindly chose to describe The Dorchester Review’s headline “Historians Rally vs. ‘Genocide’ Myth,” the CHA Council might consider that it is arguably, on the contrary, the extremely imprudent hijack and misapplication of the term “genocide” from the totalitarian crimes of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and the like, that has been inflammatory — since the irrational and emotive image it conjures in the minds and hearts of the ignorant and prejudiced has, aggravated by factually-incorrect and irresponsible media coverage of “mass graves," led to century-old Indigenous heritage buildings being destroyed by fire, much to the chagrin of local Indigenous victims of apparent arsonists.

To cut to the chase, you stated that The Dorchester Review has a “track record” of "explicit denial of residential school trauma.” This is false and defamatory. No writer published in The Dorchester Review, nor indeed any post on @dorchesterrev, has denied that trauma was experienced by students at residential schools. The only two articles we have published dealing with the subject are:

Ken Coates’  
Speaking personally for your information and for the record, first, as the overseer of the Discover Canada citizenship test study guide in 2009, I personally ensured that residential schools “hardship” and “abuse” were included in the text, that portion of which I drafted myself for the Minister’s approval:
Secondly, in a 2011 article in the premier issue of The Dorchester Review I quoted (expressing approval of) Vera Roy’s description of residential schools as a “pernicious expression of the colonialist drive” as preserved by someone not affiliated with the DR online here: 
You will see that residential schools trauma is clearly acknowledged therein. As for Twitter, no post has ever denied trauma was experienced at the schools — only stated that there were also many excellent experiences, including children who had “an absolute blast,” and these are facts documented by the TRC and elsewhere.
We demand that you retract that part of your blog post and publish a public correction on the same page. There are enough lies and inaccuracies around this subject not to implicate yourselves in a manner concerning which we are prepared to seek legal counsel.
C.P. Champion PhD, FRCGS
The Dorchester Review
The Dorchester Review
P.O. Box 36005
1106 Wellington St. West
Ottawa ON   K1Y 4V3

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