Essay on Residential Schools

Submitted By markuskh
Words: 3578
Pages: 15

Residential Schools
Residential schools began in the 1840s in Markham, Ontario, by the government and the Church. Their official reason for opening was to provide First Nation children with an education and to integrate them into the Canadian society. That is what they told the public, though they later admitted that the true reasons were to remove children from the influence of their homes, families, traditions and cultures and to assimilate the children into the, “superior”, European culture. Their official reason was a perfect cover up because they could make it seem as though they were only trying to help the children and give them an education. Their real reason was much more dark and shady though, as they really just wanted to destroy a culture in its entirety. They placed these schools in remote, untouched places, so even if the children could escape, they would have nowhere to go. It was a smart, yet very evil move.
The government did a great job in releasing its propaganda, as they showed children cleaning up themselves, learning many new things in class and praising the Lord. These helped with keeping the rest of society thinking that these schools were saving the kid’s lives. Recently, the pope came out to apologize for such inhumane acts, speaking about how these things were bad, though not once did the pope actually apologize, or use any words of the sort. Also, he did not even do so in public. He did it behind closed door. Prime Minister Stephen Harper however, came out and apologized for all the bad deeds that had been commited and began to attempt to pay the survivors back with money, resources and special recognition.
The children in residential schools are known to have experienced very traumatizing experiences, from physical abuse, to sexual abuse. Below are four specific cases.
Edmund Metatawabin*
In 1956, succumbing to pressure from Catholic priests, Metatawabin's father dropped him off at St. Anne's. He was the first of 10 siblings to attend the school. He went in with his father and was sent to the bathroom while his father talked with the nun. And then he heard a door close. "I looked out the little window and saw my dad walking by, head down, looking really sad," said Metatawabin in an interview with CBC News. "I hear, 'Come out of there, that's enough, your daddy's not here to protect you no more!' As soon as I opened the door, she grabbed my shoulder, gave me a vicious slap across the face from behind. And I hit the wall on the other side." That was Metatawabin's first impression of St. Anne's. He says students were hit, by hand or with objects, for the smallest of infractions, or for no reason at all. And it only got worse. One day he wasn't feeling very well. "For breakfast you got a bowl of porridge as usual. I felt sicker and sicker and finally I threw up into my porridge. And I was told go upstairs and go to bed. I was there for three days." "On the morning of the fourth day … we're now in the dining room for breakfast. And everybody is getting their bowl of porridge except me. And then I hear the sister and she came behind me … and said 'Here, finish that. You didn't finish it last time.' And I looked at that and knew what was in there. I could see it, but I had to eat it. There was no choice."
Leonard Pootlass**
“I was raised by my grandfather,” Leonard remembers. “This was all I knew. My parents were drinking, so he took care of me. Packed me around, took me to potlatches. We only spoke Nuxalk, I hardly knew English before I left.” At the school in Port Alberni, he was beaten daily because he couldn’t speak English. He also wet his bed repeatedly, and was forced by the staff to wash his own sheets in the tub. At the same time, staff would punish him by holding his head under the water. Leonard thought he might die. “I think they might have killed me if no one else was there,” he said. “It was not human, what they did to me, I was only 5 years old.” The punishments were daily. He recounts a