Sunday, February 05, 2006

Guest Speaker: Native History and Residential Schools

Wow! Although I had heard of residential schools before and it upset me at that time, I was really moved by the guest speaker and the video that we watched in class. For me, it really put things into perspective. Residential schools are not only a thing of the past, they have had devastating effects on the present. Many people will admit that residential schools were unjust but they do not see the link between them and the problems that native peoples are facing in the present.

Often we get defensive when we feel that we are being blamed for something that has happened. I too, used to get defensive when I was being labelled as the perpetrator for acts that my ancestors may have committed. The blame game also gets kind of confusing when you have ancestors of both peoples in your blood. I've realized lately that what it really boils down to is that somewhere inside of us, we are all capable of oppressing others and continue to contribute to the cycle of racism in our thoughts, actions and even our words. We need to stop being so defensive and stop passing the blame and simply ask what we can do now as living breathing individuals in our day and age to stop this vicious cycle.

The movie was definitely an eye-opener and highlighted only some of the horrific events that occured in residential schools. The one thing, I feel, that the movie did not emphasize enough, was the fact that all of society was responsible for what was happening and not only the catholic church. All too often, what happens with awful events like this one is that people try and find someone to blame in order to ease their own conscience. The church was not the sole perpetrator. In fact, many churches have begun holding APR hearings in order to allow native peoples to tell their stories and to receive the apology that they so desperately need to hear. They need to be validated and respected in order to put the past behind them and look forward to the future.

2 Comments:

Blogger Tanis said...

Chelsey,
I think that it is great that you obtained a different view of Residential Schools. I too, thought that the video was a little bit disturbing. However, you have to remember that this was ONE school; there were hundreds across North America, many in which the conditions were far more horiffic than the one illustrated. As you said the film only highlighted the negative experiences, and although these were plenty, there were positive aspects obtained. My grandmother went to 3 residential schools with her brother and sister; her experience was mostly positive, yet her brother never talks about it. I think the more you can learn about residential school, the more you will be able to understand the effects of it.

10:52 AM  
Blogger joel said...

Chelsey,
I really enjoyed your entry. Catholic churches should not keep getting the blame for what happened in the past. In fact we have to reach a point where the blame game has got to stop. Instead of blaming and worrying why things have happened in the past we have to start to work together to fix things so in the future life can be manageable for both Indians and non-natives. The educational world is going to be greater by having teachers such as yourself.
Have a good one.
JTF

1:43 PM  

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