Posted on Sep 27, 2022
Of those children in Canada in the care of others than their parents, there are six times more than others in our society who are Indigenous. Action to educate the parents of Indigenous children and provide the resources needed to achieve effective change is among the 94 Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission chaired by Senator Murray Sinclair in 2015. Some of the funding recommended would cover the education of adults who were deprived of education long ago in their childhood. That education denied is one reason that among those in prison in Saskatchewan and Manitoba 70% are Indigenous people compared to 30% for all others. There are more than 600 First Nations in Canada and over 200 of those in BC. Canada marks National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30th, and along with it, Orange Shirt Day.
Dr. Jim Morin spoke to Ladner Rotary about the 94 Calls to Action. Dr. Morin is a retired educator and geologist, who is President and Chair, Spirit of the Children Society. He is Metis with Ojibway ancestry and has been involved with Indigenous-related courses for almost 20 years.
In the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report, the objectives of the schools were described as aimed at stripping away Aboriginal children’s identities and assimilating them into Western Christian society. In the report, Doris Young, who attended the Elkhorn residential school in Manitoba, described the experience as a systematic attack on her identity as a Cree person.
“Those schools were a war on Aboriginal children, and they took away our identity. First of all, they gave us numbers, we had no names, we were numbers, and they cut our hair. They took away our clothes, and gave us clothes … we all looked alike. Our hair was all the same, cut us into bangs, and straight short, straight hair up to our ears.... They took away our moccasins, and gave us shoes. I was just a baby. I didn’t actually wear shoes, we wore moccasins. And so our identity was immediately taken away when we entered those schools.”
In addition to the emotional and psychological damage the schools inflicted, the report says, one of the most far-reaching and devastating legacies of residential schools has been their impact on the educational and economic success of Aboriginal people. The system lacked role models and mentors. There were insufficient funds for the schools and teachers were inadequate. Unsuitable curricula generally taught in a foreign language—and sometimes by teachers who were also not proficient in the language of instruction—have all contributed to dismal success rates for Aboriginal education.
Dr. Jim Morin is thanked by President Guillermo Bustos and Avis Glaze