Sunday, November 21, 2010

Questions about Residential Schools

We had a lot of them!

The 11am seminar group's questions were:
  • Why is it not mandatory that Canadians learn about residential schools (and about Indigenous people in Canada)?
  • Why did the Canadian state ever think residential schools were the right thing to do?
  • What happened to the nuns and priests who were involved?
  • Why (how?) could supposedly religious people act that way?
  • Why did it take so long to end, and to apologize?
  • Why do we think that the apology means anything/is enough?
  • What do we do now?

The 12am seminar came up with these questions:
  • Why did they(Indigenous representatives) accept the apology?
  • Why did residential schools continue for so long?
  • Why was the apology only limited to abuse?
  • Why do Canadians not learn about this in schools?
  • How did supposedly religious people rationalize their role?
  • Why are Indigenous people still on reserves in Canada? And why do some of those reserves not have decent resources (such as drinkable water, social services & health care)?
  • Why did Indigenous people ever help the settlers to begin with?

As you can see, there were a lot of similarities, and some overlap between the two. It seems to me that we can group our questions under the following 3 main headings:

  • Causes & effects (contact, religion, motivations, damage done, etc.)
  • The apology (limitations, acceptance)
  • The future (reserves, where do we go from here, what can we do)

It also seems to me that for some of these questions, there just are no good answers - but that that does not mean they are not good questions. They need to be asked, and talked about, and learned from so that we - and by that we, I mean all people - can prevent such things from ever happening again.

So. I am thinking that I will, over the next week or so (once I finish marking your papers), write a blog post for each of those 3 broad topics. I will not, of course, have all of the answers ... or even, necessarily, any of them. But I can share some of my (non-Indigenous, non-experience-based) opinons ...and perhaps provide some resources that you can choose to follow up on, or not, based on your interest.

I encourage you, also, to share your thoughts, ideas, questions, and especially resources.

I would especially love to see a discussion about what WE can do. Not the bigger we of all Canadians, and/or all Indigenous people. What can we, as non-Indigenous white students do? Should we, or can we, do anything at all?

What do you think?

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