Yesterday, 30 May, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne apologized for the treatment meted out to First Nations children in the province’s residential schools and for the racism that underpinned the schools system.
Regularly these days a global report is released revealing that one or more Canadian cities has made the world’s list of Top 10 places to live. I admit that I can’t help feeling just a twinge of pride when I hear the latest news.
Now that Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission has scheduled the release of its final report, the real work must begin: getting all Canadians to recognise that the residential school system was only a symptom of how society in general mistreated aboriginal people historically, that the effects of that abuse are still being felt, and that it will take an effort by all of us to overcome them.
I was happy to see the TRC’s Chairman, Justice Murray Sinclair, say that he wants to kick-start a national debate on how to bridge the gap between aboriginal Canadians and the rest of us. One very public way to engage would be to participate in the Walk for Reconciliation in Ottawa on May 31. I hope to see you there!
“I lost my brother CJ at the residential school in Kenora,” says Achneepineskum. “His name was Charlie Wenjack. He was only 12.*
My life has been not as good as it should be… Love is something I don’t know. I don’t know what that is.”
It was lonely: all I wanted to do was go home. Getting beaten up, and picked on, and sexually abused … that was the stuff I wanted to run from.
I’ve got 4 children, 1 daughter and 3 sons … and I treat them as if they were in residential school – that’s all I know.”
*Charlie Wenjack’s body was found a week after he ran away from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School in Kenora. CBC Radio News did a special report on his death, and broader issues linked to it.