Canada has tried to 'kill' the inner Indian of indigenous children
“Kill the Indian and save the inner man”
This is what Brigadier General Richard Henry Pratt said in his speech in 1892. Following the practices he used to re-educate indigenous prisoners at Fort Marion, Florida, in 1870, the man was historically known as the name behind the conception. from the first Carlisle Indigenous Industrial School in Pennsylvania, which served to “Americanize” Native American peoples and to base them on European culture.
Richard was also responsible for influencing a naturally racist and xenophobic government to commit a national crime. It was used from the principle of European-inspired elitist boarding schools, considered a great tool for intellectual and cultural improvement, even forming heads of government, to promote the segregation of children whose origins were considered a problem for the future of modern society in the country.
Aimed at removing indigenous children from the influence of their own culture and assimilating them into the dominant Canadian culture by adopting the practice of Christianity as a religion and English and French as their language, the Department of Indian Affairs of Canada, in collaboration with the Christian churches, created in 1878 the Canadian Indigenous Residential School System, which in 1931 had 130 facilities across the country.
Over the course of more than 100 years of these pseudo-schools, it has been estimated that around 30% of indigenous children, the equivalent of 150, 000 of them, have been forcibly removed from their homes. 6, 000 probably died because they never returned home. In 1920, the government stopped computing them in an attempt to keep numbers and statistics under its control.
The school system has permanently harmed children by removing them from their families, subjecting them to deprivation of contact with the language of their ancestors, abandonment, parental loneliness, and by exposing them to repeated physical and sexual abuse. They often found themselves unable to fit into the government's pre-established social mold that they would be more successful in life if they were like them, otherwise they were still subject to the extremely racist attitudes of conventional society.
Where land access was not possible, guards would arrive in large boats, break into family homes and extract children. Once in boarding schools, all items and objects were taken from them as a first tactic to erase any trace of personal identity, then everyone got equal haircuts and new clothes.
The teachers were neither professional nor qualified for any kind of basic education. The schools were underfunded and did not have textbooks and literature in the curriculum, so they also relied on their students' forced labor to maintain the institution, although in the reports it counted as training for skills that would become useful when they were reintegrated. to the social environment.
The children still faced a multitude of physical and sexual abuse by nuns, priests, teachers and guards. Corporal punishment used to be justified as the only way to save their souls, to civilize the savages or to punish and detain the fugitives.
They suffered from overcrowding, poor sanitation, overheating of environments and lack of any medical care. Deplorable conditions led to high rates of disease, including tuberculosis, which was the cause of 69% of deaths. In turn, the dead, whether disease or beatings, were buried in unmarked graves on the property and on other, more remote grounds.
The place was grimy. There were clothes and garbage scattered throughout the hallways and bedrooms. Broken windows and doors. The beds were filthy and a veritable hotbed of fleas and small pests, some of which did not even have mattresses, which were replaced by garbage bags full of cloths.
All the children's meals consisted of two pieces of crusty bread and some porridge, sometimes made with spoiled milk. Some boys ate oats and even rats that leapt from the sewers in the open. They drank the contaminated water from dirty wells and the bath itself. 25% of girls and 69% of boys suffered from severe anemia and had genital discharge and infections due to rapes and injuries.
Canadian government scientists subjected students to nutritional assessments aimed at keeping some of them malnourished to serve as a control sample.
The journey of visitation
Parents who were willing to travel the long distances to find their children in schools were subjected to a review as rigorous as a prison, and were not always granted access. Those who succeeded had to find their children in the presence of school staff and required to communicate only in English, vetoing any verbal communication between those who did not know the language.
“I remember crying out of breath before the only visit I had, because I knew it would end and my mother would have to leave. And when she really left after five minutes with me, I remember crying until my nose bled, ”survivor Madeleine Dianne told CBC News, at age 62, about having spent three consecutive years of her childhood in one of the schools. .
Damage for a lifetime
In thousands of cases, the system has successfully interrupted the transmission of indigenous practices and beliefs across generations. Children who returned to their families and did not die there or on their way back suffered serious and irreparable psychological damage. Burdened with triggers of post-traumatic stress, many could no longer connect with family members and communicate through their mother tongue, much less establish relationships with the customs and religions of their origin. Those who resisted and had enough strength fought until they came to the government to be heard and became a herald to those who succumbed to all horrors.
As part of the legacy of this cultural genocide, there has been a significant increase in the prevalence of depression, alcoholism, substance abuse and suicide that still persist today among Aboriginal communities.
And despite all the treaties, governmental and ecclesiastical pardons made over the years since the last school was closed in 1996 in Punnichy, Canada, some of the survivors believe that they will never be fully healed of anguish, pain and lingering feeling. that they no longer belong anywhere.