Genocide, Indigenous Nations
and the Canadian State

Foreword by
Afterword by

ISBN 978-0-9986947-7-1 $29.95  2018 374 pp.

ISBN 978-0-9986947-8-8 $21.00

Originally approved as a master of laws thesis by
a respected Canadian university, this book
tackles one of the most compelling issues of our
time—the crime of genocide—and whether in fact
it can be said to have occurred in relation to the
many Original Nations on Great Turtle Island now
claimed by a state called Canada.  It has been
hailed as groundbreaking by many Indigenous
and other scholars engaged with this issue,
impacting not just Canada but states worldwide
where entrapped Indigenous nations face
absorption by a dominating colonial state.

Starblanket unpacks Canada’s role in the removal
of cultural genocide from the Genocide
Convention, though the disappearance of an
Original Nation by forced assimilation was
regarded by many states as equally genocidal as
destruction by slaughter.  Did Canada seek to
tailor the definition of genocide to escape its own
crimes which were then even ongoing? The
crime of genocide, to be held as such under
current international law, must address the
complicated issue of mens rea (not just the
commission of a crime, but the specific intent to
do so). This book permits readers to make a
judgment on whether or not this was the case.

Starblanket examines how genocide was
operationalized in Canada, focused primarily on
breaking the intergenerational transmission of
culture from parents to children. Seeking to
absorb the new generations into a different
cultural identity—English-speaking, Christian,
Anglo-Saxon, termed Canadian—Canada seized
children from their parents, and oversaw and
enforced the stripping of their cultural beliefs,
languages and traditions, replacing them by
those still in process of being established by the
emerging  Canadian state.

She outlines the array and extent of the
destruction which inevitably took place as part of
the effort to bring about such a wrenching
change—forcible indoctrination by means of
massive and widespread death by disease and
dilapidated living conditions, torture, forced
starvation, labor, and sexual predation—collateral
damage to Canada’s effort to absorb diverse
original nations into one larger, alien and
dominating body politic.  The cumulative effects
of genocide continue to be exhibited by the
victims and their descendants who suffer from
the collective trauma, primarily in healthy proper
parenting, which results in ongoing forcible
removals via the child welfare systems to this day.
Tamara Starblanket is Spider Woman, a  Nehiyaw iskwew
(Cree woman) from  Ahtahkakoop  First Nation in Treaty Six
Territory.  Tamara holds an LLM (master of laws) from the
University of Saskatchewan, and an LLB from the University of
British Columbia. She is the Co-Chair of the North American
Indigenous Peoples’ Caucus (NAIPC). She presently
coordinates and teaches in the criminology program at Native
Education College in Vancouver, BC.
"A battering ram to hammer through the wall of denial..." from the Introduction
Artwork titled "Grandmother Spider"
appears courtesy of Christi Belcourt."

"Settler-colonialism reveals the brutal face of imperialism in
some of its most vicious forms.  This carefully researched and
penetrating study focuses on one of its ugliest manifestations,
the forcible transferring of indigenous children, and makes a
strong case for Canadian complicity in a form of 'cultural
genocide' – with implications that reach to the Anglosphere
generally, and to some of the worst crimes of the 'civilized
world' in the modern era."  
Noam Chomsky

"Tamara Starblanket's work is confident, clear and succinct;
her work is ground-breaking and provides us with new ways of
looking at how the states treatment of First Nations Peoples
has gone unrecognised for its genocidal affect. This work
provides an excellent critique on the exclusion of cultural
genocide from how genocide is defined in international law."
Professor Irene Watson,
Research Professor of Law, University of South Australia

"Tamara Starblanket's book provides a much needed
examination and critique of the 'residential school' system that
forcibly transferred Indigenous children from their families,
communities, and nations into institutions run by the colonizer
state—in this case, Canada. Despite the fact that the United
Nations 1948 Convention on Genocide explicitly includes
'forcibly transferring children of the group to another group' in
its definition of 'genocide,' there are those who deny that the
colonial 'civilizing' project amounted to genocide. Starblanket
demonstrates that the residential schools in fact aimed at
destroying the most intimate level of Indigenous life—the child-
parent relation—employing brutal beatings, solitary
confinement and other horrible punishments, often resulting in
children's deaths. The goal of the schools was to prevent
Indigenous societies from perpetuating themselves. Though
officially repudiated, the residential schools produced a
continuing social and institutional legacy. Starblanket's work
brings this history and its legacy effects to our awareness and
shows that 'the road home' requires an emphasis on
Indigenous self-determination."
Peter d’Errico,
Professor of Law, University of Massachusetts

“Tamara Starblanket has skillfully taken on one of the most
difficult and contentious issues, genocide. With intellectual
courage and determination, she has approached the issue
from the perspective of a Cree woman, scholar, and attorney
who has first-hand knowledge of the deadly and destructive
intergenerational impacts of Canada’s domination and
dehumanization of Original Nations and Peoples.”
Steven T. Newcomb (Shawnee, Lenape),
Pagans in the Promised Land Decoding the
Christian Doctrine of Discovery

"This is heavy stuff, about which much more should be said,
and Starblanket is unsparing in saying it...I am proud to call
her sister, and to thank her."
from the Preface by Ward Churchill,
A Little Matter of Genocide



Reconceptualizing Indigenous Peoples' Genocide by

The Colonizer’s Way of Genocide:
Confronting the Wall of Evasion and Denial

Naming the Crime:
Defining Genocide in International Law

The Horror:
Canada's Forced Transfer of Indigenous Children


Coming to Grips with Canada as a Colonizing State:
The Creator Knows Their Lies and So Must We

Smoke and Mirrors:
Canada’s Pretense of Compliance with the Genocide

The Way Ahead:
Self-Determination is the Way You Take it Home


Why the Children?
Photograph of an image painted on the
boarded-up door of a former residential school,
since removed.

"Suffer the Little Children belongs on the reading list of
anyone concerned with social justice and addressing the
ongoing colonialism on which the Canadian nation-state
stands. At a time when the terms “decolonization” and
“decolonial” are being taken up in many settings, and
open to a wide range of meanings and interpretations, many
of which eschew an actual politics of decolonization and self-
determination, this book is not decolonization-lite. Indeed, in
the words of the late Arthur Manuel (2015), it makes a vital
contribution to “unsettling Canada.” For those seriously
committed to social justice and confronting and transforming
colonial power relations, taking up the challenges that
Tamara Starblanket puts forward – including her perspective
on the Canadian state’s reconciliation project – would be a
step in the right direction."
Studies in Social Justice,
Vol. 13, Issue 1.

"A particular example of an under-the-radar genocide is that
carried out by European settler-colonialists who
denationalized all the Original Nations of the western
hemisphere. There are non-indigenous people who are aware
and acknowledge that genocide occurred, but few would
realize or acknowledge that the genocide continues. That is
much of the importance of Tamara Starblanket’s
Suffer the
Little Children: Genocide, Indigenous Nations and the
Canadian State
Starblanket argues, “The application of the law [will] show
beyond a reasonable doubt, to say nothing of a
preponderance of the evidence, that the Canadian
government is culpable for crimes of genocide.” (p 244) After
Suffer the Little Children, it is difficult to rationally or
morally reach a different conclusion.
The book is bold and well-argued, and it should be read
Kim Petersen, Dissident Voice

"One of the most important things about this book is its
refusal to allow Canada to be considered a “post-colonial”
state. The evidence against Canada’s genocidal “forcible
removal of children” during the Indian Residential School era
is connected to the present-day foster care system, which
targets young Aboriginal families in particular: still forcibly
removing children from the genocidally-targeted group and
placing them with members of another group. With the
colonizing group: be they white, yellow, beige, or brown
families. And still removing those Indigenous children with the
same genocidal objective of “bringing about the destruction of
the group, in whole or in part,” in order to continue colonizing
and absorbing the yet-unceded Indigenous homelands...

Another of the book’s most important accomplishments is
Starblanket’s assessment of Canada’s official federal
treatment of the Indian Residential School fallout as having
only to do with individuals. Individual survivors were
compensated under the 2006 Indian Residential Schools
Survivors’ Settlement Agreement. In fact, the intended and
effective result of the “schools” was a series of national crises
among the Indigenous Nations whose lands Canada tries to
claim. With their children gone, and their languages and
systems of culture and governance uncertain, the crime was
against nations – not individuals. Starblanket breaks down the
very different legal implications..."

Kerry Coast, author,
THE COLONIAL PRESENT: The Rule of Ignorance and the
Role of Law in British Columbia
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