I came across an article posted by my fab faerie brother Issac on Facebook. The article was on the Residential Schools.
My Great Grandmother, Gertrude Pinchbeck suffered under this colonial imprisonment. That is what it was. Take kids away from their parents and everything they know, stuff them into stark spartan buildings and beat the Indian out of them.
Gertrude was the oldest of 14 children. She was sent to the residential school near Williams Lake BC for a couple of years, until the priest decided that she was needed at home to help her mother look after the all the kids. My Gramma would tell me some of the stuff that happened, mostly involving the time after she returned home. One of her most vivid memories was the twice annual visit of the Priest every fall and spring. He would demand there be another baby by spring. Gramma's parents delivered. It was a Catholic breeding farm.
They were all expected to attend church on Sunday. There were few good excuses for not showing up, the best being you were in jail or deathly ill. Gramma said she would have to steal money from her parents in order to put it in the collection plate at church. The priest expected it and he or his collectors watched and noted those that did not contribute. She was deathly afraid of what would happen if she had nothing to put into the collection plate.
The church ruled over their whole lives. The Indian Agent usually worked to keep Indians from getting ahead and enforced the law of the land and church with all too much vigour and glee. Gramma's parents would try to hide some of the kids when the summer was over, to prevent them being sent away too school. It never worked.
Our treatment of First Nations people has been horrific. These people are still paying the price of this cultural genocide generations later and so are Canadians.
We have had many opportunities to turn it around and have failed miserably. Look today at the conditions on Indian reserves. Why is it we can't deliver fresh water to most of them? Why do they have so few or inadequate schools? Why are so many in jail? Why did so many of them make up the numbers of the Missing Women atrocity in Vancouver?
Schools and education are a key too turning it around. Charlie Angus has been leading that fight for several years in Parliament. Listen to him on CTV's Question Period as he sees the chance to make some progress on education.