1 Apr 2014

Stories from Truth and Reconciliation hearings to illustrate the violence of residential schools

(CBC)
It is universally known that residential schools are one of the main reasons why First Nations people are going through tough times at the moment. The church-run, Eurocentric schools harmed more than just the 150,000 plus kids who were abducted and forced to attend -- it also harmed their parents and family members. Still, to today, there are residual effects from that dark period, which ended in 1996 when the last residential school closed down in Regina, Saskatchewan.

But even with these facts, there are still so many people who believe that the First Nations inflicted that suffering on themselves and don't deserve to be compensated by the government and apologized to.

So to attempt to illustrate the pain and suffering that the First Nations went through, and are still going through, here are some stories that were shared at the Truth and Reconciliation hearings.

 Martha Marsden, who attended a school in Alberta, recounts the damage that was done to her community while she and other kids were trapped in residential schools.

"When I came out of residential school when they finally shut it down, I went back into a community that was 95 percent alcoholics," she told The Canadian Press.

"That is how our parents were dealing with children being taken out of their care, being ripped out of their arms."

Another story comes from a child of a residential school survivor, who said that his mother gave him up for adoption because she felt she couldn't give him the life he deserved. He also talked about the feeling of shame that he felt for being Aboriginal.

"My mom tells me a story of when I was four or five and she found me in the bathtub scrubbing my skin relentlessly –and she asked me what I was doing and I said ‘I don't want to be an Indian. I want to be white,’” Robert Cardinal, 44, told the hearing.

He continued by telling the hearing that things got worse for him when his family moved to Rocky Mountain House, where he was bullied for being Aboriginal. He said that this led him to drop out of school and getting involved with alcohol and drugs, which eventually hospitalized him. Here, he was diagnosed with severe depression.

"People think, well, if you're adopted into a decent home and you're given a decent upbringing you'll be fine but it just isn't true,” Cardinal said.

“That inter-generational trauma is in your DNA. It's in your blood. It's innately in you. That quest for who you are."

Now, if you and your community went through this atrocious method of "whitewashing," as well as all the other violent genocide that the Europeans did to First Nations people, would you want the government to recompense you, to at least ease the pain, and work to re-build your community? 'Cause I know I would.

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