We Were Children

My wife and I just watched this movie, and it was pretty intense to sit through. I don't really think that a lot of average every day people quite understand exactly what went on in the Canadian residential schools for First Nations' children. One of the saddest things about it all is to think about how long they were doing this for - the first school opened in the late 1850s, and the last one closed in 1996. It's hard not to be filled with rage after seeing this, and it's even harder when I to try and imagine myself as one of those kids. It is disgusting and completely shameful what happened within the walls of those 80 evil buildings.

For those who are unaware, these institutions were created and funded by our government, via the department of Indian affairs. The catholic and anglican churches shared the role in running and operating the schools. The abuse endured by these children is most unfathomable. The entire purpose of having these schools was to "remove and isolate children from the influences of their homes, familites, traditions and cultures, and to assimilate them into the dominant culture." There has also in recent years been found mass unmarked graves on the grounds or close to the properties of many of these schools. In Alert Bay (Cormorant Island, BC) for example, mass grave sites have been found "in an overgrown field adjacent to the building, and also under the foundations of the present new building, constructed in the 1960s. Skeletons seen 'between the walls'."1

While there have recently been numberous reconcilation gestures and official apologies from Stephen Harper and the government of Canada, I'm still not so sure that there is much of anything that could be said to justify or compensate the damage they've done.

We Were Children
The link opens to a page with the trailer in the video box, and a link to the full movie underneath.

Here is also another documentary, "Returning To The Healing Circle," this one about Kuper Island (now the Island Of Penelakut) residential school survivors.

1 Mass grave quote taken from thecumberlander.ca.


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