Category Archives: Aboriginal Narrative


‘Aboriginal Peoples Still Haunted By The Past’

“This gap between narrative of self-government and reality — between memory of what once was a long time ago and what is today — reflects what I call the “dream palace” of the aboriginals…

“Today’s reality, however, is so far removed in actual day-to-day terms from the memories inside the dream palace, as to be almost unbearable…”

ERBLAboriginalPeoplesStillHauntedByThePast800x800{This is an edited transcript of a talk that Jeffrey Simpson, the national affairs columnist for the Globe and Mail, gave at McGill U. in 2014.} Continue reading ‘Aboriginal Peoples Still Haunted By The Past’

‘The Positive Side of Residential Schools’

“Shockingly, the churches have failed to honour the dedicated service of most residential school employees, both aboriginal and non-aboriginal. They have failed to defend their own integrity and they have failed to defend the integrity of their innocent employees. They have done little to correct the impression, in the minds of some Canadians, that many residential school supervisors were child abusers and pedophiles.”

ERBLThePosiitiveSideOfResidentialSchools800x800“I spent the 1966-67 year as a supervisor in an Anglican residential school, Stringer Hall, in Inuvik, N.W.T. Previously, I spent four months living at Old Sun School, an Anglican residential school, on the Siksika (Blackfoot) Reserve in southern Alberta. Much earlier, my wife (a Siksika) spent eight years at Old Sun, and even earlier, her parents attended the same school for eight years. All of us recognize many of the positive things that happened in residential schools. My wife, in fact, insists on calling Old Sun a “private Anglican school,” my father-in-law was ordained as an Anglican priest, and my mother-in-law worked in the local church for more than 60 years. None of us heard a word — not even a murmur — about children being sexually abused.

“It is now widely acknowledged that some people working in residential schools abused the children under their care. But, no one has acknowledged that some children abused other children. Of course, people who abused others should be charged, and if convicted, they should pay for their crimes. Moreover, administrators from the churches and from Indian and Northern Affairs who covered up these crimes should be charged, convicted, and punished.

“But, before joining the feeding frenzy of lawyers who want to extract billions of dollars from Canadian taxpayers, it may be worthwhile considering some of the positive things that happened in residential schools. Surprisingly, church leaders have rarely mentioned the benefits these schools provided for their students: Continue reading ‘The Positive Side of Residential Schools’

‘Scapegoating the Residential Schools – 4’

‘Scapegoating the Residential Schools’
{Part 4 of 4}:

From news stories on November 24, 2005, the day the federal Liberal government announced that they had reached a deal with the Assembly of ‘First Nations’ on the Residential School issue:

“Toronto-based ‘Thomson Rogers’…has led a massive class-action lawsuit being pressed by 20 firms across Canada. If that process is nullified by the new settlement, Farrer says the consortium of lawyers would receive $40 million…

“It seems like a lot of money. But during the same period of time, the Department of Justice paid its lawyers to fight this litigation somewhere between $80 million and $100 million.’’
“Ottawa must also kick in $125 million for the creation of an aboriginal healing foundation, $60 million for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and $20 million for commemoration projects…

ERBLScapegoatingTheResidentialSchools800x800-4“Under the agreement, the federal government will provide a total of about $1.9 billion in compensation to the estimated 80,000 former residential school victims who are still alive.

“This is not an issue of physical or sexual abuse — everyone who attended a residential school will get a government cheque averaging $24,000. No questions asked.

“In addition, the deal allows those who do have claims of abuse to collect their $24,000, and still go after the feds for additional compensation for their suffering at the hands of school pedophiles.

“Government officials admit they have no idea how much all that could cost taxpayers, but one lawyer involved in the agreement estimates the additional tab could hit $1 billion {in addition to the $1.9 billion…}.

“And what of the churches responsible for the offending pedophiles and other serial abusers?

“One Supreme Court ruling established that the churches should bear about a quarter of the liability in residential school abuse cases — a bill that could easily have topped $500 million. But under the deal struck over the weekend, the government is agreeing to protect the churches from all ongoing and future legal actions by abuse victims.

“In return, government officials say the Anglican church has agreed to chip in about $25 million, and the Presbyterians about $3 million…

“Having run almost 70% of the residential schools at issue, Catholic organizations could have been on the hook for at least $350 million of the latest deal.

“Instead, under the agreement, the church has to provide $25 million of “in-kind” services for aboriginal healing, and has agreed to try to raise another $25 million for “reconciliation” programs. Finally, the 41 Catholic groups involved in the deal have also pledged $29 million to the ‘Aboriginal Healing Foundation’ “as it may be requested.” The foundation is one of the dozen secretive money pits created by the Liberals beyond the prying eyes of access to information laws, and even the auditor general.

“Oh, I almost forgot the lawyers.

“The government has agreed to pay the lawyers for the aboriginal school victims a cool $80 million.” Continue reading ‘Scapegoating the Residential Schools – 4’

‘Scapegoating the Residential Schools – 3’

‘Scapegoating the Residential Schools’
{Part 3 of 4}:

“If you look at it historically, the priests were very well-travelled and intelligent. They realized that the natives’ food supply was diminishing, and they realized that the schools were one way the natives would learn the new tools they needed to survive — and a lot of those kids did learn.”

“My own mother attended the residential school in Lebret from 1909 to 1916 in Saskatchewan, and she loved it. The nuns taught her everything; how to sew, cook, read and write. How would she have learned, otherwise? Certainly, the European style of discipline was different than native culture, but what could you do? If you let the children leave, a lot of them would have starved. You needed discipline.”

ERBLScapegoatingTheResidentialSchools800x800-3“There was a growing desire among ‘Indian’ people to control their children’s education directly. In 1971, the federal government handed control of the ‘Blue Quills Residential School’ near St. Paul, Alta., to local bands, making it the first federal Indian school to be run by natives. The process of turning over the schools, both residential and day facilities, to local bands accelerated during the 1970’s and 1980’s.

“By 1993, there were only seven residential schools left in Canada and these were administered solely by native bands.

“By the late 1980’s, many natives, especially politicians, were pointing accusing fingers at the residential schools. Highly-publicized incidents of sexual abuse, coupled with white liberal guilt about ‘cultural assimilation’, transformed the old residential schools into symbols of “degradation” and “cultural genocide”, where the native children were systematically stripped of their culture, forced to adopt non-native ways, and undergo physical torture and sexual abuse by the school staff. Continue reading ‘Scapegoating the Residential Schools – 3’

‘Scapegoating the Residential Schools – 2’

‘Scapegoating the Residential Schools’
{Part 2 of 4}:

“In Canada, reports of abuse under the residential school system — run primarily by Christian religious — have been so frequently and energetically reported in the press that abuse and victimization have come to characterize the entire legacy of the residential schools.”

“While the horror of what occurred all too often needs to be brought out, such a one-sided and simplistic characterization constitutes a distortion of the truth and an injustice to the many — AND THERE WERE MANY — who served the native people in good faith and with much love.

ERBLScapegoatingTheResidentialSchools800x800-2“Painting all residential schools as dysfunctional places of abuse and making them a collective scapegoat for the social problems which continue to plague the native people of Canada will not solve these problems, nor does it do justice to the many who worked tirelessly for the betterment of native children”.  Continue reading ‘Scapegoating the Residential Schools – 2’

‘Scapegoating the Residential Schools – 1’

ERBLScapegoatingTheResidentialSchools800x800-1‘Scapegoating the Residential Schools’

{Part 1 of 4}:

“I was never lonely there. When I went home on holidays, I was always lonesome for the school. The staff was very supportive of the students, and there were always lots of activities organized. Besides sports, there was choir, piano, even a first-aid course. I even remember the staff reading stories to the younger children.”

“In the week following the Chretien government’s apology to natives for residential schools,

{‘Apology #1’, January, 1998: }
news media characterized the historic institutions as “brutal”, “miserable”, “genocidal” and “horrendous”.

“They were repeating vaguely recounted and unchallenged testimony to a royal commission, which concluded that the poorly-funded and allegedly-abusive schools bear large responsibility for the woeful present plight of many Indians.

“In none of the media coverage was the possibility raised that the schools were on the whole beneficial, and widely supported by the Indians who attended them and those who voluntarily sent their children to them. Nor was the possibility admitted that the Indian leaders who now revile the schools might be motivated by the prospect of federal compensation. Continue reading ‘Scapegoating the Residential Schools – 1’