LTRJ Note: Lighthouse Trails author and Canadian Cree Nanci Des Gerlaise writes about the Canadian “residential schools” (whose mother grew up in one) in her apologetics biography, Muddy Waters: An Insider’s View of North American Native Spirituality. (See photo credits below.)
Religion News Service
A slew of church burnings across western Canada have left six churches on First Nations land badly damaged or destroyed as of Tuesday (June 29). Four of the churches are within an hour’s drive of one another in southeastern British Columbia.
The burnings come at a time when Canada is reckoning with the recent discoveries of unmarked graves on the sites of former boarding schools for Indigenous children — many of which were run by churches [the majority Catholic schools]. The remains of nearly 1,000 bodies have been found so far, most of them Indigenous children.
Chief Keith Crow of the Lower Similkameen Indian Band said his grandmother and her sisters were at one of the schools where remains were discovered. Click here to continue reading.
Photo credits: (top): Portrait of Native students at St. Paul’s Indian Industrial School, Middlechurch, Manitoba, 1934; used with permission from Library and Archives Canada, item number P-182251, Mikan number 3354514; (bottom): Aboriginal children in class at the Roman Catholic-run Fort George Catholic Indian Residential School, Fort George, Quebec, 1939, used with permission by Archives Deschâtelets,
Excerpt from Muddy Waters regarding her mother:
Mama was a gentle, soft-spoken, kind, and loving lady. She was very pretty and tall, and she had black hair and brown
eyes. She was always concerned for our health and well-being. She had a special place for us in her heart, and it was very unfortunate that she passed on at an early age. It was a devastating blow, for she was the glue of love that bonded our family. I thank the Lord that her legacy lived on in each of us for, after mourning her passing, we stayed glued together, in spite of being sick with grief for the first couple of years.
Mama was a residential school survivor, but she never mentioned the school she attended. Many aboriginal children did not mention these schools, nor did they discuss what happened in their formative years. It was not until some residential school survivors stepped forward and broke the code of silence that we began to hear of the atrocities suffered at the hands of their schoolteachers, often priests and nuns. The majority of children in the Canadian residential schools and the U.S. boarding schools suffered abuse, either physical, emotional, sexual or all three. The effects of such abuse were far-reaching and lasting:
The unresolved trauma of Aboriginal people who experienced or witnessed physical or sexual abuse in the residential school system is passed on from generation to generation. The ongoing cycle of intergenerational abuse in Aboriginal communities is the legacy of physical and sexual abuse in residential schools.1
Nevertheless, although Mama had her own scars to bear from her childhood, she was a loving and devoted mother to her children.
Endnote: 1. “Intergenerational Impacts” (Legacy of Hope Foundation, Ottawa, ON: http://www.wherearethechildren.ca/en/exhibit/impacts.html)