June 21st is National Aboriginal Day, a day to recognize the contribution and the struggles of our Aboriginal peoples.
Earlier this month, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada reported details of the shocking and deeply disturbing history of residential schools. It would be challenging to find a more shameful chapter in Canadian history than the forced separation of Aboriginal children from their families and the physical and sexual abuse that accompanied it.
The death rate of residential school students was often double, triple, or even quadruple the death rate among children in the population at large. Worse still, reasons for the deaths were not kept and parents were often never told of the details of their child’s death, or even where their children were buried.
Ripped from their homes and communities, Aboriginal children were treated harshly, without love, malnourished, and forced to abandon their language, culture, and way of life. Even their Aboriginal clothing was taken away from them.