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LETTER: Catholic Church isn't the only one to blame for residential schools

Residential schools were official government policy, writer notes
2021-03-19 Letter to the editor
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Midland Today welcomes letters to the editor. They can be sent to [email protected]. Please include your daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following is in response to a letter that was posted to MidlandToday on July 2.

Ms. Petreman contends that the Roman Catholic Church rather than Canadian taxpayers should pay for the inquiry into the residential school horrors. That would be right if the blame for all this evil could be nicely pinned on one institution. The truth is far more uncomfortable, however.

The residential schools were the official policy of the Canadian government and reflected the racist beliefs about Indigenous people held comfortably by a large number of Canadians of white European descent. Sir John A. Macdonald called Indigenous people “savages” and said that their children “should be withdrawn as much as possible from the parental influence.” (May 19, 1883.) He said this openly in the House of Commons and it apparently did not meet with the universal condemnation that would have toppled his government.

On Canada Day we all do well to own the sad truth that the residential schools were not the cause of the unspeakable things done to Indigenous people; they were the consequence of a widespread cultural attitude we now need to purge from our collective life as a nation if genuine reconciliation with our first citizens is to happen.

Bill Dykstra
Severn Bridge