Here in Canada, The Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC) has just concluded. The TRC took an in depth look at how and why 150,000 First Nations children were not only taken against their will and forced to attend church-run “schools” starting in the 1950s but why so many were abused – sexually, physically and mentally – most for years at a time.
Labeled a “cultural genocide” by one TRC investigator, Canadians as a whole will have to reconcile this terrible time in history and understand why non-Indian and religious leaders felt they had a right to overtake a community and force thousands against their will. The results for many are a lifetime of anguish and mental health challenges including depression, anger, anxiety, sadness, grief and suicide.
The stories, pictures, anecdotes from the official testimony are heart-wrenching. Children as young as five years old were severely beaten and raped; First Nations people were made to feel like second-class citizens and, for decades, no one did anything about it – either through apathy or ignorance.
I’ll be the first to admit that I have much to learn about this period and about the First Nations experience. I know many friends and neighbours are horrified and embarrassed that we did nothing to stop it.
But, this is the truth and we all need to learn from it.
[Note: I’m happy to receive constructive criticism about First Nations, TRC or any other fact or idea mentioned here. Feel free to comment or email me directly.]