Tamsyn Burgmann of The Canadian Press writes in the CBC “Strappings, beatings with a pointed stick and orders to stand in the classroom corner for speaking her own language were among “horrific” measures that erased Darlene Bulpit’s ability to pass along her First Nations heritage to her two children and three grandchildren.”
It is no question that the Residential School attendees endured terrible pain. It was only fair that the Canadian Government apologized to all students of Residential and Day schools, that were victims to physical and sexual abuse.(apology in form of check)
It is great that the Government is recognizing the pain and suffering the students went through. The only problem with this apology is that, the students were not the only people affected. The students who came home, most likely carried and passed on the burdens of the residential schools. The UBC First Nations Studies Program writes “intergenerational effect: many descendants of residential school survivors share the same burdens as their ancestors even if they did not attend the schools themselves. These include transmitted personal trauma and compromised family systems, as well as the loss in Aboriginal communities of language, culture, and the teaching of tradition from one generation to another.”
Another note that should be taken into consideration, is that these students did not have a choice. The government didn’t feel that the aboriginals were fit to integrate into society. The residential schools were a way to essentially “fix them”. Therefore, in 1870, aboriginal children were forced to attend residential schools. 1000 Conversations says “the Government of Canada partnered with Anglican, Catholic, United, and Presbyterians churches to establish and operate boarding and residential schools for Aboriginal (First Nations, Inuit, and Métis) children…The intent of the Residential School System was to educate, assimilate, and integrate Aboriginal people into Canadian society. In the words of one government official, it was a system designed “to kill the Indian in the child.”… Attendance at residential schools was mandatory for Aboriginal children across Canada, and failure to send children to residential school often resulted in the punishment of parents, including imprisonment.”
One thing that is not often talked about is the effect on the parents. Now not only were the student going through a terrible time, but the parents had to give up their kids. It was common for the parents to commit suicide. This is further proof that the residential schools effected every one around them, not just the students.
It is very good that the struggles that these students faced are being recognized and addressed. It is still not grasped that these residential schools causes so much pain, to even the people not directly associated with the residential and day schools. Not only from the attendees carrying the burdens of the schools, back to their families and tribes. But also the pain that the parents went through when having to give up their children. The government should apologise to everyone affected.