Friday, December 7, 2012

More Residential Schools Misinformation

Emails sent December 4, 2012

To the National Post. Published December 6, 2012

It would be conducive to enlightened conversation of the National Post presented all available facts concerning our Residential Schools. It is not true that "about 150,000 native children were taken from their families and sent to church-run schools under a deliberate policy of 'civilizing' First Nations" (Residential schools inquiry turns to courts, Dec.3).

Hundreds of native elders and chiefs agreed, and signed the many treaties which created the schools. They voluntarily enrolled their children in the government-sponsored schools. The James Bay Treaty bears the names of more than 70 of these native representatives.

To refer collectively to all students as "victims" violates not only the truth but common sense. Punishment meted out in these schools differed little from that in public schools of the time.

What abuse occurred in some of these schools was a crime. The Truth and Reconciliation Committee is currently in the process of determining how much of that abuse was inflicted by older students and by community leaders themselves.
Email to The Globe and Mail. Not published 

While in no way condoning the evils that occurred in some of our residential schools, some objectivity would better inform your readers (Ottawa taken to court over residential-schools documents, Dec.3). This report repeats the old canard of "the forced assimilation of more than 150,000 first nations, Innuit and Métis children at the schools".

Native leaders wanted their children educated in European ways, knowing full well it would change their culture. For example, The James Bay Treaty bears the marks and signatures of more than 70 elders and chiefs. To claim they did not know what they were doing amounts to condescension of the worst order.

There was no "forced assimilation". They wanted their children to learn English -- the only language common among the various tribes and nations represented at the schools. As for abuse, a Globe and Mail report (Truth commission confronts unexpected issue: student-on-student abuse, September 22, 2009) stated, "Some of the alleged abusers are community leaders even family members."

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