Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tell me the Truth

“Hearings find many cases of child-on-child abuse at residential schools”

So read the headline on the May 25, 2010 edition of the GLOBE AND MAIL written by a Bill Curry.

I think it would be a correct assumption to note that the majority of Canadians know very little of the federal government’s legislation of the former residential school system. A system that was established in the 1860’s to address what the late Prime Minister Sir John A. MacDonald’s government regarded as an “Indian problem.”

To solve that problem, the then government took a double-barreled approach aimed at all Aboriginal people that lasted over 120 years. The double barrel was the church and education aimed at the children. It was thought that the abduction of all school-aged children from families was the way to “kill the Indian” and therefore solve the problem.

Did the approach solve the problem? History has shown that the double-barreled approach was a pathetic failure…the legacy is evident today in most Aboriginal communities. Prime Minister Stephen Harper finally apologized for the mistreatment on behalf of all Canadians in June, 2008. Apology accepted. Now what?

As one who experienced that system for thirteen years…yes, there was child-to-child abuse. I saw it first-hand. Older children did physically and sexually abuse the weaker young. As one of 15 thousand Survivors who are going through the Independent Assessment Process (IAP) to address the effects, I concur that, “What is rarely discussed is that many Aboriginal children were also assaulted by their classmates.” I was there. It was just a matter of time for the IAP to flesh out that ugly but true fact.

The article goes on to read, “…every case of abuse by Aboriginal students could be traced back to abuse by non-aboriginal school teachers.”  An assumption that is untrue…I was there.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission is finally about to embark on its journey to record the stories of all involved in that former residential school system. You can bet that, in the end, the child-to-child abuse occurences will exceed the estimate of 20% of all applicants and it will not be attributed to what the “experts” regard as the cause….I know, I was there.