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Residential Schools


Senator Beyak

I noticed in an online article form Macleans Magazine that you are supportive of the "good things" that residential school did for the Native Canadian people during the first half of the 1900s. I am pleased that someone with a high standing has made a public announcement about the positive contributions which some people made while working in residential schools. Although there were many abuses to the children who attended residential schools there were, as you said, some positive actions which were helpful to these students.

My grandfather, was the headmaster of a Residential School (Anglican) for over 40 years. (He retired in 1951).

As far as I can tell from historical studies which include correspondence, news clippings and verbal statements my grandfather was well respected by the people of southern Alberta but in particular the Native Canadians affiliated with the Blood Reserve. My grandfather did not try to reduce the importance of the native culture. He learned the Blackfoot language and culture as did his own children (my mother included). He translated several documents including parts of the bible into Blackfoot. He was also initiated into the Blackfoot Kanai Chieftainship society and was given the name Chief Mountain of which he was known for many years.

I realize that some of the governmental policies he had to follow brought discomfort to the children who attended the school but there is no evidence of abuse or any wrongdoing by my grandfather. On the contrary he and my grandmother who also worked there loved the Blood Indians and he worked hard to enhance their culture.

Thank you.