The TRUTH about Canada: Child asks "WHY?!"
Canada's court-ordered, internationally monitored 'Truth and Reconciliation Commission'into the 'Indian' Residential Schools has just begun. All Canadians need to understand that these were not just 'schools', but a government designed policy for a means of destroying the culture, customs, heritage and birthrights of Indigenous Peoples. In particular, the schools were planned by Canada's government "to take the land out of the Indians hands". (Egerton Ryerson, 1847) The 'Indian' Residential Schools were just one of Canada's weapons of GENOCIDE against Indigenous Peoples who had, and have legal title to the lands and resources of Canada.
The struggle continues for Indigenous Peoples of 'Kanata' to reclaim their birthright - Aboriginal Rights and Title to the lands of Canada - a say in development and a share in the revenues from the land. Indigenous Peoples also struggle to overcome the horrific personal legacies of Canada's 'Indian' Residential Schools - the traumas of over 100 years of chronic abuse and neglect, separation from family and culture, and the losses of friends and relatives who died or 'disappeared' in the schools.
Over 50,000 Indigenous children died or disappeared in Canada's 'Indian' Residential Schools, and their fates and burial places remain a mystery as their graves are unmarked and sometimes hidden: Unmarked and mass graves of these children exist all across Canada.
NOTE: See sidebar, and see previous articles here, esp. Globe and Mail.
and SEE DOCUMENTARY FILM
UNREPENTANT: CANADA'S GENOCIDE
Boy, 11, slams residential schools legacy
Last Updated: Wednesday, June 16, 2010 | 9:28 PM CST Comments134Recommend235
Justice Murray Sinclair, chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, speaks during a sharing circle in which persons affected by residential schools shared their experiences. Justice Murray Sinclair, chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, speaks during a sharing circle in which persons affected by residential schools shared their experiences. (John Woods/Canadian Press)
An 11-year-old boy stole the spotlight at the opening day of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings into the tragedy of Canada's residential schools.
The former foster child, who turned up to ceremonies at The Forks in Winnipeg on Wednesday, told CBC News that members of his family still suffer from the aftershocks the federal government's former policies had on his grandparents and elders.
He cannot be identified because he's a former ward of the child-welfare system — a system he says continues to remove children from their homes and places them in care where they are sometimes subjected to abuse.
'I want a good explanation why all our elders went to residential schools.'— Former Manitoba foster child, 11
In Manitoba, recent data from the provincial children's advocate shows there are more kids in state care than ever before, most of them spread across a number of regional child-welfare authorities throughout the province.
"When I was a baby, like two years old, I was taken away from my Mom to a foster home," the boy said. "And still nothing has changed. They might do something today for residential schools but nothing's changed.
"Well, some kids are still in foster homes, still kids are still being treated bad and you cannot take away what happen to those people that went to residential schools," he said.
He wondered why the government wanted residential schools to exist in the first place, given their legacy of damage and trauma.
"That doesn't, what you call, make sense — like why would they do that?," the boy said. "And still, still, still today, our grandfathers and grandmothers — our elders — are still sad about what happened," he said.
"I want a good explanation why all our elders went to residential schools."
Stories note loss of language
About 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Metis children were forced to attend the government and church-run schools over much of the last century. The last one closed outside Regina in 1996. About 85,000 former students are still alive.
Jack Beardy, 65, leans against his cane during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's opening ceremonies in Winnipeg on Wednesday morning. Jack Beardy, 65, leans against his cane during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's opening ceremonies in Winnipeg on Wednesday morning. (John Woods/Canadian Press)
The $60-million truth commission, meant to expose and expiate the pain and suffering caused by the policy, was part of a landmark deal reached with survivors who had filed a class-action lawsuit against Ottawa and the churches that ran the schools.
Others also shared their experiences — some in private, some in public — with those at the commission charged with recording their stories for a national public archive.
Robert Joseph, from British Columbia, told the commission he was sexually abused by two people as a young student. He said he used to hide under his blankets and dream about his family, whom he was not allowed to see.
Leanne Sleigh, from Alberta, told the commission she felt worthless after attending a residential school where she was sexually abused.
Mary Simon, head of Canada's largest Inuit group, said she was made to feel ashamed of her culture at a day school in northern Quebec. She said she had her hand strapped whenever she spoke her language.
Healing and forgiveness
While many spoke of their trauma and anger toward the government and those who ran the schools, others, such as Rev. Guy Lavallee from St. Laurent, Man., spoke of the need for healing and forgiveness.
Lavallee, a Catholic priest who is Metis, said he understands why people are upset.
"I think that animosity has been in the minds [and] hearts of survivors for many years now," he said. "They have the opportunity to express themselves fully here."
All Canadians need to take part in the commission's work, he said.
It is expected that more than 5,000 people, including former students, leaders of aboriginal organizations, church groups and members of the general public will attend the event during its four days in Winnipeg.
The commission has the ability to record as many as 600 statements from survivors during its time in the city.
By noon Wednesday, about 50 people had given one.
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