Comments for Aboriginal Child Abuse in Residential Schools: An Apology

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Jun 18, 2008
Harper's apology
by: JWC

Darlene, your insight in this matter and others never ceases to amaze me. The way you have provided an in-depth analysis of Stephen Harper's apology speech leaves me to wonder if you come from a native background?? Your ability to point out that he should have been talking TO the people instead of AT them was very intuitive. Much of what you said was overlooked by my self, and I'm sure many others.

As a young man, I had an opportunity to interact with many aboriginal children attending these residential schools. They had a little league baseball team and played in the local district league, and were extremely competitive. I had no idea what these kids were going through. From what I have come to understand, playing baseball may have been one of the few enjoyable things these kids got to do.

As an 18 year old, I became involved in coaching little league teams. I had the misfortune of coaching against one of the priests employed at the residential school, and witnessed first hand the mistreatment this priest carried out on the members of his team. I now look back and have to ask, this priest acted so inappropriately in public, so what was he like behind the closed doors of that residential school? What did those poor children have to endure? What you wrote Darlene is probably as close as I'll ever get to knowing. I will now always look at aboriginal people with compassion and respect. I don't think I could have survived such horrendous abuse.

Jun 18, 2008
To JWC:
by: Darlene Barriere - Webmaster

I thank you for your kind words, JWC.

While I am not aboriginal, I am Metis. I am a descendant of Louis Riel (Cree) on my mother's side, through her father, both of whom were born with the last name Riel.

My mother did not attend a residential school when she was a child, and I do not know if her father did. Given the fact that in 1920, residential school attendance became mandatory for all aboriginal, native and Metis children, attendance must have been the case somewhere along the family tree. The "horrendous" abuse my own mother lived in her home at the hands of her mother, who not only hated "Indian" children, (even though they were her own) she taught them to hate all "Indians" and the traditions and culture. My mother's father sat idly by; he did nothing to stop the emotional and terrible physical abuse his wife was inflicting upon their children, including my mother.

My "insight" comes from having grown up in a home rife with physical and emotional abuse and neglect, at the hands of both my mother and my father. My mother learned the lessons her mother had taught her very well; she taught all 5 of her children to hate what we were. I was an adult before I came to understand how these lessons had tainted my own thinking.

I'm delighted to learn this article provided you with insight regarding your own experiences, JWC. I hope others will follow your example.

Darlene Barriere
Violence & Abuse Prevention Educator
Author: On My Own Terms, A Memoir

Jun 20, 2008
Right on
by: Anonymous

THAT would have been an apology worth listening to Darlene. I listened to Harper that day and I felt as so many others felt. It didn't seem sincere but I couldn't put my finger on why. After reading what you wrote I think I now understand why I felt this way and why so many others felt this way. Even still though I hope that Harper's words were enough to help all those poor people that had to live with the horrible effects.

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