Please do not let us fall, or be led again, into the trap of calling these facilities Residential Schools.
They were, in fact, mandatory Child Indoctrination Prisons forced upon parents in the reservations through starvation by the withholding of food and other rations and supplies by the agents of the Department of Indian Affairs.
This entire operation, over its more than 100 years, was no different than that of the current Chinese government in its similar attempt to imprison and indoctrinate the Uighurs into something that they are not. It is also the same as the Hitlers, and Dr. Mengeles with their concentration camps and medical experiments.
The federal and provincial governments, here in Canada, have no trouble, nor should they, of criticizing the Chinese and other authoritarian regimes around the world, for their crimes against humanity, but steadfastly fail their self-lauded standards and morals to properly resolve their own. Similarly, the multiple churches which, either for spiritual or monetary profit, administered these horrors, and now refuse to hand over records and documentation, or indeed even apologize for them.
The physical and mental cruelty, starvation and even medical experimentations, purposely administered in the name of civilizing three-year olds was/is unforgivable, and those parties and individuals responsible must now pay the recompense.
Whatever it costs our governments, churches and individuals in money, reputation or prison time, will not heal the wounds caused but the effort must be made.
Were I an Indigenous citizen of this land, and I am not, who had directly, or even indirectly, suffered this crime against humanity, I would carry around a deep grudge and disrespect for our blind, self-congratulatory society that generally refuses to accept responsibility by either ‘I didn’t know what went on Guv’ or disbelieving the accounts because they were made by ‘Lazy, drunken residents of reservations.’
The Indian, Meti and Inuit population of Canada is five per cent of the approximately 37 million total, i.e. around 1.8 million. As a starting point then, federal funding should be ensured to reflect this and provincial funding reduced pro-rata to the Indigenous population of each. As to the churches they should all be re-classified as businesses and taxed at similar rates including the imposition of property taxes on all such assets.
This will not resolve the indignities, suffering and pain imposed on our original occupants but it might be a start.