Published in Issue 2 (March/April 2023), Letters, Volume 31

Sir,—Tom Carew asks (HI 30.6, Nov./Dec. 2022, Letters) whether Canadians regard the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) as a military force. It was a military force and would still be so regarded by many First Nations communities. These indigenous people were brutally rounded up and forced out of their homes and homelands by the RCMP. They were incarcerated on reserves where the mortality rate was often 80–90%. James Daschuk’s Clearing the Plains: disease, politics of starvation and the loss of indigenous life (University of Regina Press, 2013) details the shocking story, which is recognised belatedly in Canada as genocide, a genocide carried out by the military arm of the state of the time, the RCMP. John A. McDonald, the prime minister of the day, when told that the natives were starving on the reserves, replied: ‘Let them starve’. The role of the RIC acting on behalf of the colonial government was no different to that of the RCMP. Indigenous people being forced out of their homes and off their land does not seem much different from the Irish evictions of the nineteenth century.—Yours etc.,



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