Conservative Senator Lynn Beyak mounted a defence of the residential school system for Aboriginal children in the Red Chamber Tuesday, lamenting that the “good deeds” accomplished by “well-intentioned” religious teachers have been overshadowed by negative reports documented by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Let us consult the report from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission: (emphasis mine)
“[Residential school] was a very harsh environment. They, they treated us like criminals.… You, you had to, it’s like a prison. But we were small kids, and we didn’t understand. We didn’t understand harsh discipline. We, we understood love from our, our parents. But the harsh discipline was hard to take, and that happened to everybody, not only me.”
Children exposed to strict and regimented discipline in the schools sometimes found it difficult to become loving parents. Genine Paul-Dimitracopoulos’s mother was placed in the Shubenacadie residential school in Nova Scotia at a very early age. Paul-Dimitracopoulos told the Commission that knowing this, and what the school was like, helped her understand “how we grew up because my mom never really showed us love when we were kids coming up. She, when I was hurt or cried, she was never there to console you or to hug you. If I hurt myself she would never give me a hug and tell me it would be okay. I didn’t understand why.”4 Alma Scott of Winnipeg told the Commission that as “a direct result of those residential schools because I was a dysfunctional mother.… I spent over twenty years of my life stuck in a bottle in an addiction where I didn’t want to feel any emotions so I numbed out with drugs and with alcohol…. That’s how I raised my children, that’s what my children saw, and that’s what I saw.
Residential schools, as acknowledged by the prime minister’s own admission in his 2008 official apology from Canada, were an attack on Aboriginal children and families. They were based on racist attitudes that considered Aboriginal families as being frequently unfit to care for their children. By removing children from their communities and by subjecting them to strict discipline, religious indoctrination, and a regimented life more akin to life in a prison than a family, residential schools often harmed the subsequent ability of the students to be caring parents.
Your conservative “family values,” everyone.
My dog. What are these “good deeds,” I wonder? That they didn’t actually kill the students, I mean, well, not very many, and those were accidents?
The mind boggles.
I see she is actually quoted [in the link] saying “Mistakes were made…” Now, there’s a telling statement! I believe the Americans under Nixon said something like this about the Cambodian bombings.
“Well-intentioned” never mentions according to whose intentions, and why they are so ‘well’. I noticed, when I read this earlier, that she (Beyak) mentioned speaking to those of the Christian faith – and I think that’s a limiting factor in her perception about the harm residential schools have done. Has she talked to any of those who abandoned the Christian faith? Any of them?
The mind indeed boggles.
Marcus Ranum says
That sort of reminds me of Stephen Fry’s rejoinder when Anne Witticombe complained that atheists are always accusing the RCC of crimes against children, and it’s trite and unfair: “You sound like a burglar who, when caught, says ‘But I always send people christmas cards every year!'”
chigau (違う) says
from the CBC article
She subscribes to a Trumpian just-say-stuff school of speechifying.
Pierce R. Butler says
quotetheunquote @ # 1: That they didn’t actually kill the students, I mean, well, not very many…
Perhaps, from the Senator’s point of view, those were the remarkable works and good deeds.
“We did better than the Magdeline Laundries” is a bar so low it’s a line painted on the ground.
Tabby Lavalamp says
I just read this story and my jaw hit the floor.
Of course one of the positives she sees are those who came away from this is Christians.
That left me wondering if she knows she is one of those descendants and doesn’t want to face being descended from monsters. If so, as a fellow white Canadian, I’ve got some bad news for her…
Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- says
Yeah, they were kind people to those they considered their equal and their betters.
I’m sure they loved their dogs, too.