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Sherwood Park News - Letter to the editor: Residential schools weren’t so bad

https://www.sherwoodparknews.com/opinion/letters/letter-residential-schools-werent-so-bad 

Re: “Ugly Alta. history belongs in curriculum,” Sept. 28, Opinion — Benjamin Proulx, The News:
We seem to be going through a phase where the media, Trudeau and co., feel it is their duty to emphasize everything abhorrent (editor’s word) about our history and make us feel so ashamed of our history that we feel inept to try and defend ourselves for fear of being called a racist, bigot, homophobic or worse.
Well, I am not any of those names. I feel it’s time to be heard. The history that I know of our country/province tells me we are where we are now because of men and women of all races/nationalities who laboured hard for what we are today and should not be ashamed of this success.
We should stop trying to rewrite our history, but learn from it. Put things in perspective and not judge through 21st century standards (which aren’t perfect either).
For the sake of brevity, I will restrict my comments to these points in the Sept. 28 opinion column, on residential schools:
1. Tearing First Nations children from their homes: My mother and her 12 siblings were sent willingly to school by their parents who wanted them to be educated. Mom and my aunts and (most) uncles talked very positively about their experiences there. (As with all boys, some would have preferred hunting.) There were many others who felt the same way.
2. Residential schools were not Catholic Church driven. Religious orders were asked to undertake this responsibility because the government knew it was the only way they could afford to educate the natives. They were also ware of the successes in education that were accomplished by religious orders historically in Europe and in Eastern Canada.
3. Abuse seems to be synonymous with residential schools. To date, I have read most of the personal stories in the Truth and Reconciliation Report, and not one has mentioned sexual abuse. I am well aware there was some, but sexual abuse is highlighted in every article printed or read. Personal stories mention hair cutting, uniforms, strict rules, corporate punishment and loneliness — experiences any British student had at boarding schools, which were the norm there (read Winston Churchill’s autobiography).
Would these present-day bleeding hearts be any happier if we had left our First Nations people without an education? I strongly believe the governments at the time felt they were doing what was best. Again, take off your 21st century blinders. I am very proud of mom and her family. Her oldest sister became a nun and taught in a residential school in Saskatchewan. I am very proud of my uncles, who served in the First World War, some with distinction. I am very proud of cousins who have gone on to post-secondary education, some of them strong advocates for First Nations.
Trudeau and his followers are perpetuating this notion that all First Nations, Metis and Inuit are victims, usually backing this up with large amounts of money that never trickle down to the ones who need it on the reservations. I am of the belief that First Nations leaders can do better for their people. Exorbitant salaries and perks would go a long way in providing better housing and good drinking water. I don’t think I’m alone when I question third-generation “victims” who are claiming benefits due to the hardships of their ancestors.
When I was younger, I actually thought by the time I was this age (75-plus), most of these problems would be solved, but present governments are doing nothing but prolonging this culture of entitlement and victimhood (not only of First Nations).

Doreen Charlebois
Sherwood Park