I cannot believe that a day such as this would come; a day that should be forever remembered by everyone in or out of the internet. This is the day is which a white man whose head is SO FAR up his own rectum that he is having bowel issues. A white man that is SO ignorant and so morally reprehensible that, I dare say it, Naomi Lakritz’s piece on Indigenous people is TAME by comparison.
A writer, by the name of Paul Russell, thought it would be “good journalism” to write the most racist and inflammatory piece in The National Post called Could it be that residential schools weren’t so bad? Yes, you have read that title correctly. Russell is IMPLYING via a rhetorical question that residential schools-those state sanctioned “schools” whose faculty and staff physically and sexually abused Indigenous children- weren’t “that bad.” If I may make the comparison, it is almost like saying that the Holocaust wasn’t “that bad” because the Jewish learned what starving and working in poor conditions felt like or how rape isn’t “that bad” because the woman knows what it’s like the be sexually violated. What is EVEN worse then the title is the content of the piece itself; Russell quotes several letters the National Post has received since they published an article about residential schools and how 4,000 Indigenous children have died in those schools. White people got very upset about the article because it is not “partial journalism” according to them.
“Nice work, National Post, as you continue to dump on the charitable work accomplished by generations of selfless missionaries, physicians, nurses and teachers of the Canadian North,” wrote C. Lutz, of Haliburton, Ont. “[This story] heavily spins out a ‘physical and sexual abuse’ [narrative] as if 150,000 Indian and Inuit children had gained nothing good from taxpayer-provided white education. At least some of them learned enough English and French to, fluently, play the system and bite the hand that had fed them.”
“By today’s standards, 4,000 deaths out of a total of 150,000 students is shocking,” wrote Russel Williams of Georgeville, Que. “But given the period covered, 1870 to 1996, it may compare quite favourably with Canada at large, or Canadian aboriginal communities specifically, for the same period. One must bear in mind that much of this period predates immunization for smallpox, whooping cough, and diphtheria. It also predates penicillin for treatment of TB. Given the above, perhaps the statistic is not as alarming as it first might seem.”
Yes, those Indigenous children sure learned something, alright. They sure didn’t learn astronomy, chemistry, or English. They did learn that they are non-humans because they do not believe in the same “God” as the faculty and staff of these “schools.” They learned to abuse and harm others. Sure, they learned English and French but if they had a choice, which they did NOT have, they wouldn’t be speaking English or French under such terrible and dangerous conditions such as the conditions they were raised in when they were kidnapped by government officials and clergymen. To simply say that they did “great work” at educating these Indigenous children, leaving them confused and afraid of the outside world because their education was sub-par, is simply placing blame on the victims for their own abuse and poor livelihood which is no fault of their own. Russell Williams seems to be under the mistaken impression that 4, 000 deaths is “not a big deal” by that time period’s standards because of TB and other such diseases. Williams never seems to stop and consider the fact that Indigenous people never had to suffer these diseases until the settlers came along, bringing their diseases along with them on their ships. Why was it that these “good people” with all their technology and medicine that they could not treat and cure at least HALF of the children that died? Could Williams also explain the nutrition experiments that were carried out in those schools too, since he seems to know everything about what went down in those schools. Any death at a school should be considered alarming but to Williams, it’s peanuts.
“It was undoubtedly a terrible thing to be taken from your family, but in the early days, the reserves were impoverished and 90% of First Nations people were infected with tuberculosis,” added Michelle Stirling. “It is hard to say if the students got tuberculosis at the residential schools. And until the 1950s, tuberculosis was the leading cause of death of all Canadians.
“I am aware that some people will feel that I am defending the known cases of abuse and cruelty — I do not defend these,” Ms. Stirling continued. “My own father was the victim of the same [abuse] at the hands of his own white Anglo-Saxon teachers at his British boarding school. He used to have his left hand beaten black and blue and tied behind his back because he was left-handed.”
Did Ms. Stirling, in her activity of spewing nonsense from her rectum, stop to think that maybe the government was responsible for the impoverishment in those reservations? As previously mentioned, Indigenous people were not suffering from TB before white settlers arrived on their land; she provide NO CITATION for her assertion that 90% of Indigenous people were suffering from TB. Did she forget that white settlers INFECTED them with smallpox or is that just some weird accident that happened and it’s all the Indigenous people’s fault for getting sick? The abuse her father suffered from was terrible BUT it does not compare to the pain and suffering that Indigenous children suffered from at the hands of the staff. Children who grew up to be adults trapped in their own version of Hell.
We also heard from a non-native who attended the St. Paul’s Indian Residential School in southern Alberta (the Blood/Kainai Reserve) for six years.
“When so many Canadians rely on publications like the National Post to stay informed on important issues, it is disappointing to see an article like that,” wrote Mark DeWolf of Halifax. “How does this figure compare to the number of First Nations children who died outside of the schools? Over 126 years and out of 150,000 students, the figure is perhaps not so surprising, given the deplorable health conditions on some reserves and high rates of communicable illness. More could and should have been done to ensure the health of these students, but let’s have responsible journalism, not emotional pandering to readers.”
“The last of the Truth and Reconciliation Canada (TRC) national events comes up at the end of March in Edmonton, and I hope to be there,” Mr. DeWolf added. “It will be interesting to see if the media just parrot what native leaders, TRC employees and other aboriginal activists repeatedly say, or if the occasion gives rise to some serious discussion of the schools, the harm they did and the more positive aspects as well.”
How interesting that Mr. DeWolf considers quoting the words of the victims of abuse and oppression to be “parroting”and yet considering the “positive” aspects of this abuse is not given a second thought. Notice that it is “non-natives” who are given a platform to talk about how great residential schools were and that they suffered absolutely no abuse from the staff at those residential schools? Every one of these people seems to think that dying outside of the school would be far worse then dying INSIDE the schools, it’s not like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which may I remind Mr. DeWolf stays with you until you die, which resulted from that abuse is a problem or anything! RIGHT?
On Wednesday, we ran a letter that began as follows: “There are many native Canadians who appreciate the benefits of the schools where they received an education that enabled them to cope with life outside the reserves. How about recounting some of their testimonials?”
A few more notes came in after that, each echoing that same point. Here is one example.
“How refreshing to see the letter from Michael Barnes,” wrote Jeannie L’Esperance. “When traveling by plane in the North, I have had people tell me how grateful they were for the training they received in a residential school, which helped them find employment.”
I wish these white people who make such claims can name these Indigenous people that benefited from these schools but then they would actually be caught in a lie. We all know how white people are ALWAYS truthful when it comes to people of color and Indigenous people “benefiting” from their system. None of the victims of those systems are real, they are just the imagination of those silly non-white people! They always want the world handed to them and stuff! The nerve of them asking for justice for the abuse they received!
I ask my readers to not read the comments in the original article for they are far worse then the letters that were quoted in this piece. Read the article at your own risk of high blood pressure and poor mood for the rest of the day, week, month or year. Ignorance and abuse apologism reign supreme in this country of Canada; a country that has been ravaged by colonialism and racism with its original inhabitants fighting to keep their cultures alive. I, as a white ally, can do many tasks for them; bringing awareness of these issues to my fellow white people being one of those tasks. I sincerely hope that the people that were quoted in this piece will finally understand what these victims have gone through but that hope is constantly dashed. I hope they can prove me wrong in that regard.