Newspaper Headline reads: Canadians Mourn As Children’s Remains are Found At Indigenous School
I’m hearing this horrible news of the Indigenous Residential Schools in Canada and they found remains of kids that never made it home. It took me by total surprise! “But for some reason, it didn’t” Every time I hear any news of aboriginal children gone missing from Indian Territory it brings back memories of my past.
But I don’t know why? I’m a white kid on the block. Residential schools never directly affected me. I was a bad actor in school, and on many occasions, I was threatened to be taken from my family and put in a “special” school. Could it have been the same Residential School System?
What is a Residential School you ask?
Through my eyes, the term Residential Schools refers to an extensive school system set up by the Canadian Government and administered by mostly the Catholic Churches. The sole purpose is to repatriate the Indians into the white man subsidy. The plan was to remove all indigenous kids from the influence of their families up to the ages of 17 years old and put them in these specially set up schools. Objective … learn “our ways” (Western Education)
But the haunting memories are from my younger days when I was 9 or 10 years old. Who remembers such stuff at that age! Especially when there are so many years jammed in between then and now?
But having thought long and hard all these years, there could be some parallels to this story.
Around that age, my family moved to a small community of Mount Pleasant, Ontario, not far from the Six Nation Reserve. All I remember from my public school years was that they taught a lot about the History of the area. If you look hard enough, the teacher says you’ll find original arrowheads on your property from the days gone by. And that’s all I remember of those school days near Brantford. Now I can’t exactly remember the words that the teacher spoke, but as I’m getting older and knowing what I know now, I could be sugar-coating what she really could have said.
However, it did get my little mind working at the time, and she was right; I found many cut stone arrowheads in our backyard.
But as of today, I’m still not sure that’s what I’m supposed to remember. Maybe the Sunday family outing and going through the Reserve Territory. Perhaps this is the reason I remember.
You see, as we were driving down the dusty, dirty old gravel road, you look to the left, and there is a nice looking car in the driveway, but the house I wouldn’t live in. I look to the right and I see the same but a different place, “Nice Cars Though”
This article on residential schools could be read differently by some but don’t misunderstand, this is a disturbing story of the Indigenous Residential schools. But at the time in my History, our family was dirt poor. The writing in this article has nothing to do with discrimination because I thought both of our cultures were in the same boat, just poor folk trying to make everything work and at the age 9 or 10, what did I know!
After what seemed like a few-hour tour through the community, I found myself saying and remembering to this day. “There was something different at play here,” but how would I know this at ten years old stupid me, eh! I never figured out which way was up until I was much older in life. Why would I feel that these people were different?
But if I had to guess it looked like they had their “Hearts And Souls Ripped Right Out From Their Bodies.” They looked lost!
What am I saying? I don’t know of such things; what is this kid talking about!
But something was missing that even a ten-year-old kid noticed.
After all these years, that feeling never really went away. Occasionally today, we venture down to the reserve for a drive, maybe even go to Ohsweken Stock Car Races. But as we pass over that invisible line into the Indigenous Territory, “and only for a few seconds,” that feeling from years ago still shows its ugly face. But as I crossed that line, there again is something different at play; these people are fighting back; they want to be a distinct society and they will eventually get it … as well as they should.
Indigenous Residential Schools in Canada are long gone, but the memories still haunt these people
After researching indigenous people and residential schools, they did have their hearts and souls pulled out of their bodies and were sent back to the Stone Age by the governing body. At the time you could point the finger at the Canadian Government, or the Catholic Church that operated with complete control of the facilities, or the U.S. that happily showed Canada’s heads of state “this is how we do it here.” Still, the end responsibility lay with the Government Of Canada.
Another article was posted on the web.
At the time, Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald commissioned journalists and politician Nicholas Flood Davin to study industrial schools for Aboriginal children in the United States. Davin’s recommendation was to follow the U.S. example of “aggressive civilization” So as these atrocities keep popping up from Canada’s black-eyed past, everybody should remember never to throw the first stone.
Little History on Canada’s Assembly of First Nation
Canadian Government recognizes three autochthonous groups of nations – Indians, Metis, and Inuit. (Indigenous people)
There is the “Assembly of First Nation” to represent and protect all First Nations in Canada. The “Metis Federation of Canada” and “Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami” as Inuit organizations in Canada. https://www.irsss.ca/
National Newspaper article reads:
The election of Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Government was supposed to signal a new ‘nation-to-nation relationship.’ But until the country recognizes the right to self-determination and acknowledges the sovereignty of Indigenous nations, argues Alicia Elliott, “The Future Will Be The Same As The Past.”
When the atrocities of the residential school story finally came to light, there were many comments on the web, and here are a few.
Letter from Reader 1
We have friends who are missionaries on Manitoulin Island, ON. They have told us that the residential schools have affected the relationship and the trust between Natives and white/government people. Unfortunately, the grandparents/parents of current youths have often reticent in the mission work done on the island because of the residential school. It has affected families to numerous generations and still to this day affects relationships. It is unfortunate, and we need to be more aware of what has been done to these people.
Letter from Reader 2
It reminds me of the Orphans of Duplessis (kids born out of wedlock in the 40s in Quebec, a somewhat similar situation).
Letter from Reader 3
I was 12 years old and living in Winnipeg during the “60’s scoop”. I was horrified by what I saw happening to Indigenous children in the northeast neighborhood, where most lived — in abject squalor. What I didn’t understand at the time is that their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents had all gone through the Residential Schools program — which essentially was an attempt at ‘cultural genocide’! I remember feeling so badly for those children who were wandering the streets — either looking for one of their (drunken or ‘high’) parents; or begging for food — or money. While I never experienced that level of desperation, I, nevertheless, have always ‘identified myself’ with those Indigenous children. I, too, grew up with an ‘alcoholic’ mother and a ‘physically violent’ father — which was ‘traumatizing.’
Note from Author,
There you have it, but there is more to these horrible stories for people to understand, but overall I believe Canada as a whole is trying to make a wrong a right after all these years. Colonialism and being influenced by other parties back then did play a big part in the Indigenous Residential school system. But, the final decision and responsibility lay on the Canadian Government, no one else.
The treaties from 3 hundred years ago should, in my opinion, be renegotiated and modernized and at least brought into this century.
Author’s point of view.
As a Canadian Citizen/blogger, do I think the once-proud Indigenous People of Canada have been wronged in the past? Yes. Should we move forward a big YES!
Question for all?
Today, is there cultural liquidation being done in this world, as we speak, in the year (2021)? I think a big yes! Is there still as of today, discrimination against white, black, or different in this world? I would say yes.
So before we all cast the first stone remember this type of treatment is still going on today in many parts of the world and under the watchful eyes of many industrial nations that, just seem to look the other way.
Any and all national-states around the world should not look any further than your own backyards before casting the first stone!
Through my eyes, does Man-Kind have a long way to go? — A BIG YES!