The past few days here in Canada have been rather bleak, and for good reason. News recently broke pertaining to the remains of 215 children that were discovered on site of a former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia, that were forcibly taken from their families and thrown together in a mass grave in an attempt to cover up one of Canada’s most disgusting, disturbing, and not so hidden anymore secrets.
A lot of us Canadians are aware of what occurred in residential schools, courtesy of Catholic and Protestant religions and churches as well as the Canadian government. However, based on my own observations and interactions with people since the atrocious discovery in Kamloops, a lot of us Canadians are ignorant to what indigenous people were forced to endure in our own country, and it’s a problem.
I’ve had conversations with a few folks in the baby boomer generation on the topic of residential schools as of late, and it is disheartening to acknowledge and verify just how many Canadians are completely unaware of what indigenous persons were subjected to when residential schools were operating, particularly Canadians in older generations. I wasn’t taught the history of residential schools when I was a student, nor was my sister, or my parents.
Why are Canadians not learning about the heinous acts and crimes that our fellow people committed against a group of people specifically because of a difference in culture and beliefs? Why are young Canadian students not being informed of the attempted (and nearly successful) white-washing of a culture so central and rooted in our country?
This is our history. Is it uncomfortable to learn and read about what so many innocent indigenous people encountered while in residential schools? Yes. Is it harrowing to learn about the torture, abuse and trauma these people endured? Yes. But, it’s a hell of a lot easier to read about these things than experience them ourselves, and we owe it to our land’s indigenous people to educate ourselves on what they experienced, and further, to acknowledge how privileged we are to only read about such despicable things and not experience them personally.