The Climate of Residential Schools

Graham AndersonSPIRIT AND AWARENESS
Yesterday at 12:29 PM ยท
REBECCA AGAIN: And another one from the same pen:
When I did my Masters in Defence studies, I wrote my thesis on the Vietnam War, but on my own I did a “second thesis” on Aboriginal history in Canada, specifically the Hurons, the Algonquins and the Mohawks and the events leading to the James Bay accord. But to do so I had to look back and review the whole story. Some of the things I remember having consulted and read hundreds of pages from Archives Canada.
The situation on the Reserves was catastrophic, kids’ mortality was much higher than amongst the general population due to mistreatment from parents, starvation, sickness etc; the Covid of that period was called tuberculosis, for which there was no treatment. I remember my childhood where there were hospitals specialised in treating tuberculosis patients, they were called “sanatoriums”. Although it is well documented and explains why we find mass graves, nobody seems to remember. The same thing about unmarked graves… the important point here is that each kid received an individual burial. Look at those white crosses, maybe at the time they were marked, and then time and weather did the rest, paint decayed, crosses disappeared. The fact remained was that they had received an individual burial. Personally, I don’t see any scandal here. Where I come from, there is a large German cemetery outside town, where German war prisoners were buried. Most graves are not marked, they were all marked back then, but time, negligence and vandalism have done the rest.
The assimilation policy, which today has a very negative connotation, was at the time seen as a positive thing, the aim was first to save these kids from short term death, but more importantly to give them a future by teaching them to read and to write and to learn a trade. There was no such thing as a natural paradise from which kids were stolen by vicious and malevolent public officials. As to the ambiance of these schools, people forget that in those days authority was very strict and kids either white or aboriginal were seen as young animals that needed to be domesticated… You don’t have to go that far back in time, in 1971 and 1972 I spent my summers running a general store for about one hundred white lumberjacks and 60 aboriginal families. Malnutrition, beating at the hands of alcoholic or abusive parents was the norm. I even tried to organise a nutritional clinic so that a qualified community nurse would teach mothers the basics of a good diet, but was told to mind my own business, which I did. But if I had been a government official I would have had no hesitation to take away these kids to save them from abusive parents. Let me tell you that by August teenagers were eager to go back to schools in town to get away from that mess. I know because I was friend with many of them. By the way, things haven’t changed that much. I checked the statistics lately, they are right now about 2900 kids in foster homes across Canada, 52.2% of them are aboriginals, a disproportionate number. Nobody these days talks about assimilation, but these kids are taken away for the same reasons than before…and for the same reasons that White, Black or Latino kids are.
Even in the 50’s, discipline was physical in white schools as well, this is how I learned to become right handed. In Canada, until the 50’s, at which time the Criminal code was modified, the father had absolute authority over his children. Before WW1, women in Canada had no legal rights, they were the property of a man, first their father, then their husband. They could not testify in courts, they could not sign any legal paper or obtain a loan from a bank unless endorsed by their father or their husband. Human rights, child rights, feminism were concepts unknown back then.
In history, there is no bigger mistake than to read past events with today’s eyes. Things that were acceptable back then are no longer accepted. Just think about the physical discipline than you and I have experienced during our childhood both at school and at home.
No Canada is not a people of racists, and I am fed up with the eternal victimhood mantle Aboriginals use to manipulate Canadians. The truth is that there is a huge variation in the degree of development and self respect amongst the various Aboriginal tribes. Some like the Hurons, the Crees and others live in the 21 st century. They are modern tribes, economically self sufficient, transparent in their administration. By that I mean that the band council is not composed of relatives, the community knows how much they receive from the Federal and the Provincial governments, what that money is used for, and how much the band council members make, because it has been voted by the general assembly. On the other hand, you have tribes like the Mohawks were all council members are relatives, where there is no accountability neither to the government, nor to their own people. No one outside the band council knows how much money the band has received from the governments in any given year, what the band council do with these sums, how much each council member makes a year, there is simply no transparency whatsoever. Some bands like to be treated like children, because it pays. If you check Canada government website, you will learn that for this fiscal year alone, Aboriginals in this country, I mean those living on reserves, will receive over $16 B. It does not include what Provincial governments add on top of that and all the other programs they benefit from as Canadian citizens. Not bad for a population of less than one million people.
The fact is that there are two classes of citizens in Canada. The second class citizen, you and I and every one paying income taxes, sale taxes, property and school taxes, paying for mortgage and paying for their kids’ education. And there is the first class citizen, the Aboriginal living on a Reserve, who pays no taxes whatsoever, who get free housing and who can send his kids to university all expanses paid by us the second class citizens. – Dennis M. – Toronto, ON.