Re: Let me on the bandwagon, Free Press, August 17.
It’s a sad day when someone in Canada ridicules an entire group of people for the terrible damage they suffered over the generations at the hands of a government policy that was intended to wipe them off the face of the map.
It seems clear that the letter writer has no deep understanding of what the residential school system in Canada was intended to do, how long this attack on Native culture and identity took place and how the extreme harm done to the individual, by a raft of pedophiles and other abusers who flocked to the facilities, has done to break down entire nations.
Perhaps this man has a case against the government for the loss of his father; those six years without his loving embrace and guidance has certainly taken its toll on his compassion. It seems ironic, though, that the reason the father left the boy’s side was to fight against the tyranny of other governments who had taken positions against groups they deemed inferior and who they were attempting to eradicate.
Canada’s policy on “the Indian” was genocidal, in word and deed. There should be no dispute on this.
Duncan Campbell Scott, the first superintendent of Indian Affairs, made it clear that the intent of residential schools was to take the Indian out of the child and absorb Indian people into the body politic “until there is not a single Indian in Canada and there is no Indian question.”
The definition of genocide is the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group.
Heap that policy on to the criminal attacks of predators who saw the open and unguarded door to the young and vulnerable and you get liability, the sort of liability for which Canada must now make reparations.
I suppose the most hurtful thing about the letter published in the Free Press is its tone: Such sarcasm and invective. If the letter writer could just sit and listen to the stories; witness grown men weep as they tell of the hot breath they can still feel on the back of their necks when they remember how a priest bent them over their beds and raped them, or how they still can’t get a restful sleep as they wait under the covers for the dark and disturbing visits of a dorm supervisor.
Six years old. That’s when he got his father back.
Six years old. That’s when much of the abuse was starting for generations of young Indian children. All I can say to conclude is thank goodness there is a truth and reconciliation component to the residential school settlement package, then, perhaps, non-Native Canadians will not be so smug and self-righteous when it comes to their own history; and when they look at their grandchildren they can say thank goodness this didn’t happen to them.