Changing the Way We Talk To, and About, Each Other: Nation-Building and Aboriginal Abuses in Canada

Justice in Conflict

A hockey team from a residential school in Maliotenam, Quebec, in 1950 (Photo: Archives Canada / PA-212964) A hockey team from a residential school in Maliotenam, Quebec, in 1950 (Photo: Archives Canada / PA-212964)

The statistics are shocking, the numbers unbecoming of a modern, liberal, and democratic state like Canada. And yet, when Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its long-awaited report last week, many Canadians were likely surprised to be confronted with the harrowing details of systemic and systematic atrocities perpetrated against indigenous communities as a matter of government policy.

The Commission outlined the Canadian government’s 120-year policy of forcibly displacing tens of thousands of Aboriginal children and assimilating them via Residential Schools. Many were subsequently mentally, physically, and sexually abused. At least three thousand perished. The odds of a child dying in a Residential School were greater than the odds of a Canadian soldier perishing in WWII. In 2013, Andrea Russell described just some of the horrors that emanated from the testimonies of victims and…

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