November 26, 2008
Feedback: An Outsider’s View of Residential Schools
Hello Don . . . I’m writing this several months too late. I read your article, An outsider’s view of residential schools, published in the Winnipeg Free Press on June 11th. of this year. I was so impressed by your balanced, non-blaming approach, but even more than that, I was impressed by the fact that you, a native person, had the political guts to say what you said. I imagine you got your fair share of abuse over that article!
I spent 3 years working on an isolated reserve in Manitoba and made several good friends while my family was there. We actually ended up adopting a little native boy (from birth) at the request of one of the families we were especially close with. My son is now 21years old and doing just fine. My current job is a teacher at a juvenile correctional facility in Manitoba (Agassiz Youth Centre). I get so sick of people blaming others for their problems, especially “elders” that should know better. Your point of view gives both sides of the story; over the years I’ve met many people that “survived” the residential schools and have only good things to say about it. Some people don’t want to hear those good stories. I often make the analogy to the Jewish people that suffered under Hitler in the second world war. You’d think if anyone had a right to blame their past, it would be them. But, it doesn’t seem to have affected their success. People are people- all created equal and hopefully, if more people like yourself will have the guts and wisdom to stand up and speak the truth, then maybe others will make a good life for themselves and break the cycle.
While I was trying to track down your email I came across another story, this time on Chief Clarence Louie of the Osoyoos band- I’m sure you’ve heard of him. I loved the way he just came out and spoke the truth- the truth about not blaming, but working hard for what you want. Great stuff!
You have my respect and admiration Don- I know how difficult it can be to say things that aren’t politically correct. Keep up the good work!
-- E-mail from Winnipeg
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