Monday, November 8, 2010

Aboriginal Veterans?

As Remembrance Day approaches, we need to respect the efforts and experience of Canada’s war veterans including those who were/are Aboriginal.

Let us also remember another set of veterans: those who attended residential schools across the country over the last 130 years of Canada’s history. Unlike the war veterans who went overseas to kill people for “political” reasons, the federal government had an “Indian problem” and therefore decided, through legislation, to establish the residential school system to “kill the Indian within.” An internal conflict that was thought best addressed by a double-barrel shotgun to all Aboriginal children. The double-barrel was education and the church. Did it work? Apparently not. In an attempt to solve the problem, the federal government created more problems: witness today the social and economic challenges in aboriginal communities.

Today, there is an estimate of 90,000 residential school veterans known as “Survivors” still alive. Most are still trying to address the impacts of physical and sexual abuse experienced while in abduction. Myself, I can say I have 13 years of residential school experience and, as a veteran, still trying to address the effects.

Therefore, while we remember our war veterans, let us take time to remember the veterans of residential school.

(Pictured is a young uniformed 8 year old Angus Cockney, already a veteran of 3 years of residential school: 10 more years awaited.)