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Shame    Canada or Residential Schools?

Nov. 13th 2023


In Canada between 1831 and 1996 there were about 130 residential schools. Most were set up for the education of our native Inuit children. These were Government sponsored religious schools run primarily by the Roman Catholic, Lutheran and Anglican churches. They were created primarily to assimilate indigenous children into the Euro-Canadian culture.  Education naturally was the prime reason but in many cases the children were far safer in a structured society than with parents that were not able to properly care for them. There are many reasons for this condition, poor living conditions, drunkenness and single parents. It was obvious that language would have to be taught and an education for families that were on the move and sparsely scattered would require the children be housed in central areas. The government’s intentions were based on necessity, convenience, cost and a responsibility to the native population to give their children the tools to integrate into a growing mixed culture and population. The church, Protestant and Roman Catholic were ideal, as the leadership in Canada was of a far different mindset than we have today. Godfearing, hard work and discipline were the three legs for a successful life.  What better organization than the church to fulfill this objective?

My interest in this very complex and controversial subject is multi-fold. Our story goes back to the early 1960’s when my wife and I were faced with a situation that would change our lives in many ways. Our two little boys were challenged with multiple health issues, the most serious was they were both born profoundly deaf. Our oldest boy, by 21 months, was also diagnosed many years later with dyslexia. He is not able to decipher the written word or numbers. This put us as parents in the hands of the government, if we expected to get any help, and as new parents and not yet 25 years old, we needed lots of help, unfortunately, our governments were no more responsible than those in the 1800’s or I suspect in 2023.

My first impression when this (residential schools) came to light in the early 2020s was the native population have many problems. However, the dead are gone and nothing can change the past. It is a common problem for the RC church to have pedophiles and cruel sisters in their ranks and for the most part the RC church has done nothing but move these people to different locations where they can pick up from where they left off.

 When I reflect on the past, we were obliged to accommodate the government programs that were for the most part, rigid and hard to change. Our boys spent a few years in residential deaf schools and in spite of similar problems as stated by Inuit students, our boys seem to have survived and have led normal lives in spite of what went on in their residential school. It was very hard and gut wrenching having to leave our children with strangers and go home to an empty house.

Never once have I or my family felt that we should be compensated for our misfortune. Life throws curve balls and we are expected as human beings to handle the situation and learn from it and go on with our lives. I have stated in former writings that the native people that I have known and liked for the most part are good and pleasant folks. However, most need to stop depending on hand-outs from we, the tax payers, and start to take responsibility for their own future. If they do not have potable water where they live, move or start a program to drill a well. If you wait for the government, you will wait a long time. I experienced a project that took 23 years to come to completion, it only happened, when pressure was put on the right person. Many civil servants are reluctant to do their jobs unless pushed.

I went to Google for more information on Residential schools and as expected, I was obliged to go to the last pages to get the other side of the story, the side that Google would rather you did not know perhaps. Google provides 90% of the information to the world but is able to censor what they do not want to divulge. It is not always censored as we know it but the info is not favorably presented. Trust in Google and Facebook information should not be accepted as absolute and should be challenged.

Aljazeera put out a film that stated many children in residential schools were abused and sodomized while many women were sterilized but no proof or numbers were provided so it is hard to know how truthful these stories are.

Another report spoke of hundreds of Anomalies that are suspect. Anomalies are radar images of something that could be a grave site but not necessarily so. About 2000 of these images are at one site but only one hint of this being a grave site was the discovery of a jaw bone of a child between 6&8 years old and dating back to 1898.  Another article at the back of the webpage listing claims that the RCMP have dug up 14 assumed Anomalies to find only trash. Chief Nepinek has charged that there are 214 anomalies at Pine Creek but other members of the tribe claim they knew of many grave sites where markers have rotted away as family members are responsible for their upkeep. Assumptions were made that the church had many anomalies under the basement that had not been excavated. Upon reading further this was done by the RCMP to find nothing.  It is important to remember that these schools go back to the mid-1800s and children and adults died from many diseases. Records were not kept many years ago. One number that has been mentioned was 420 official recorded deaths. That is suspect as being false as the number could be much higher.

The Pope and our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Castro) and others have been very immature in besmirching our country’s history with tales of Genocide when nothing has been proven. It would be advisable to wait until proof is shown before making such accusations.

 Many terrible things are done behind closed doors whether in our private homes or in an institution. Having owned and lived in a former Convent and private school for girls, I am quite aware of the stories and suspicions that are created over the years by former students and age-old stories that have been handed down verbally. Humans can be very cruel to one another.  Many former students have relayed to me stories of how strict the nuns were at St. Margarets and I did some investigation into the rumours of the death of a little girl in our building and found that indeed there could have been a murder by a handyman and the situation was kept secret by the nuns.  Many stories are rumoured and many were covered up at the Huronia Mental Hospital in Orillia, originally called the Hospital for idiots. Pierre Burton tried unsuccessfully in the 1960’s to have these alleged atrocities exposed but was not successful with our authorities. He did get the attention of the United Nations. When this institution was closed, it was found that 40 deaf people were closeted there for no reason other than it was convenient to dispose of them into a mental hospital rather than treat their handicap which was not mental illness. We have first-hand proof that this was not a conspiracy or sensationalism.

Michael, our oldest son was a student at the Davisville School for the Deaf in downtown Toronto. He was in his first year and only 4 years old. At the end of the school semester, we were bluntly informed that Michael would be transferred to the Huronia Hospital in Orillia or another mental hospital, I believe north of Toronto. He would be institutionalized there but we could visit him occasionally. Miss Grant, the principal told us that Michael was unteachable and this was the best place for our boy who was deaf but not with a mental problem. We found many years later that he has dyslexia. Words and numbers are a jumble and are meaningless.  My wife spent hundreds of hours of frustrating dialogue with everyone from the janitor up to the Minister of Education of the province of Ontario. Over three months later, and Joan almost ready for a nervous breakdown, Michael was accepted into the Belleville school for the deaf, a RESIDENTIAL school.  We were only eight months in our new home in Etobicoke when we decided to move to Milton and transfer both Michael and Richard to the new school for the deaf and have our family all together in one location. I would now have to commute to my work in Toronto.

 Michael is now a successful father of two fine men and his mortgage was paid off over 15 years ago. He is retired and since leaving school learned sign language and that brought a whole new world to him as the education of our two boys was limited to teaching using the student’s residual hearing and lip reading. Finger spelling and signing came into the teacher’s arsenal after our boys graduated. We were told that Michael has an IQ of over 135.

Many sacrifices are necessary when raising handicapped children, more than the average parent knows. We moved several times and we had to commute many miles. Out of pocket expenses for our family were in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Residential schools for many that were not able to be as flexible as us, are a necessity. Our attitudes and expectations have changed greatly since the 1800’s. Governments and institutions have been successful in covering up distasteful elements of their past. Let’s wait and see if the truth will be forthcoming when these grave sites, “anomalies” are finally exhumed.              


Paul D. Scott        

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