I’ve mentioned boarding schools* before with regard to forced assimilation policies.
The Canadian Government is issuing compensation to survivors of the schools. As I’ve noted, many of the people who went to those school experienced atrocious abuses. Survivors are eligible for additional compensation on top of what’s called a collective experience sum if they experienced exceptionally bad abuse. But apparently they have to write down and document the abuses in order to receive this additional compensation.
This may seem reasonable, but as this article** notes, it is easier said than done. A lot of documents were destroyed by hospital and school staff (when specific incidents were even documented). Additionally, for many survivors, recalling the abuse they experienced in the schools and telling others about it can be very difficult, painful and embarrassing.
“I don’t think I can do it,” says Sylvia Gould, a former student at the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School in Nova Scotia.
“It’s going to be hard. I tried for the last 10 years to write what happened to me at that residential school. I only get as far as my life before the residential school.”
Gould, from Waycobah, tears up as she recalls the time she fell close to a coal pit.
“The pieces of coal were embedded in my knee, and I went to show the nun, and she slapped me. She said, ‘get to school,'” said Gould.
There is also a new film about boarding schools called Older Than America that has a very excellent cast. (Watch the trailer here.) Hopefully it will open at a theatre near you, but if not, hopefully it will be available at places like amazon soon. It could be a good teaching tool when discussing these things in class, like the film Rabbit Proof Fence is.
*A note on terminology: The schools are usually called boarding schools in the U.S. and residential schools in Canada.
**A note of caution: Tread carefully around some of the comments to this article. As Jender reminds us, we still live in a racist world.