Far too many Canadians are blind to our colonial past, many willfully so, but nothing demonstrates our colonial legacy as the residential school system does.
Case in point: they were taken away from their parents at age five or six for 10
months a year. They were forced to eat vomit, subjected to sexual and
physical abuse and put in an electric chair.
“The little ones first,” recalls Edmund Metatawabin to the Wawatay News in July. “And I was, I think, about number seven or eight, meaning I was one of the smaller ones.”
The children sat on a wooden seat with their arms strapped to a metal
chair. A Brother held a wooden box with a crank ready to send the
“Your feet is flying around in front of you, and that was funny for the
missionaries,” Metatawabin says. “So all you hear is that jolt of
electricity and your reaction, and laughter (of the Catholic school
administrators) at the same time. We all took turns sitting on it.”
Think about that folks, we snatched kids from their families and
tortured them in the name of assimilation, stripping them of their
language and culture. Also think about the Catholic church reneging on compensation for these crimes.
It will take much more that a mealy mouthed apology from the PM to
address the great harm we have wreaked on the indigenous peoples whose
land we stole and profit from to this day.
When we look at the issues facing First Nations today we must always
view them through the lens of our colonial past and present. These
issues just didn't spring up in isolation, they are a direct result of
our actions as such we have a huge debt to repay.
We cannot begin to address the suicide crisis and other issues plaguing First Nations across the land until we as Canadian own up to our role in creating these issues. We need to do whatever it takes to help indigenous peoples and communities to heal.
However we cannot simply impose solutions, we need to ask those affected by our actions what they want and need to begin the process of healing. Let them dictate the process while we support those solutions with every ounce of resources we have.