TRIGGER WARNING: Abuse. Systemic Racism. Death.
Today marks our country’s first national Truth & Reconciliation Day. Of course, Québec is the only Province refusing to make it a holiday. You know, they “already have enough statutory holidays, we need the productivity,” says Legault. Another reason not to like these assholes… I highly encourage you to click the link to the official page explaining what this is about. In 2013, the Government introduced Orange Shirt Day. But since the gruesome discoveries made earlier this year, we now have a better name for it.
I noticed that if you do not live in Canada, you might not be aware of one of the darkest parts of its history: the Residence Schools for Indigenous children.
I was so mad when my daughters actually talked to us about it the first time after discussing it at school. My husband and I did our education in France. Our history classes never mentioned it. Ever. This is an essential subject to talk about. But this is not an easy one, even when you are not directly concerned…
The day honours the lost children and Survivors of residential schools, their families and communities. Public commemoration of the tragic and painful history and ongoing impacts of residential schools is a vital component of the reconciliation process.Source: canada.ca
A little bit of history
More than 630 First Nation communities compose Canada and are still present. We do live on stolen land.
In 1894, Canada’s Government and the Catholic Church created a boarding school system all over our country. Its goal? To transform Indigenous children into “civilized” people. Over 150,000 children were forced to leave their families to attend these schools, against their will. It was mandatory to them until 1947. The last residential school actually officially closed in 1997 (!!!). These schools were purposefully built far from where the First Nations were living. With the intention to avoid contact between the children and their families.
If only it was just that… Especially during the 1950s, children were dying. Officially because of tuberculosis. However, we now know that it’s worst than that. Way too many of them died and were secretly buried. As of today, more than 6,000 unmarked bodies were found all around Canada. Recent awareness started with the recovery of 215 children in Kamloops, BC, in May 2021. It used to be the largest Residential institution in the country.
The Premier apologized publicly to the First Nations for what happened. On the other hand, the Catholic Church refuses to acknowledge its role in all of this, even though it operated the majority of the schools.
A question I asked myself very often. What now? How can I help?
LEARN & Get EDUCATED
First, we need to educate ourselves on what truly happened. Our children are taught about the First Nations and about the Residential School System at school, from a pretty young age. It’s never too late to learn and teach yourself about the history of where you live. How can we not repeat the past’s mistakes if we are not aware of them?
If you have any resources to share on the subject, feel free to do so in the comments.
Survivors and their families are opening up about what it was like and all the consequences it still has today. Sometimes (often), we should simply shut up and listen to others. Podcasts, books, radio talks… there are a lot of ways we can hear what they have to say.