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LETTER: Catholic Church isn't the only one to blame for residential schools

Residential schools were official government policy, writer notes
2021-03-19 Letter to the editor
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BarrieToday welcomes letters to the editor at Please include your daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following letter is in response to another letter to the editor titled 'LETTER: Catholic Church, not taxpayers, should pay for residential schools investigation' published on June 29. 

Ms. Petreman contends that the Roman Catholic Church rather than Canadian taxpayers should pay for the inquiry into the residential school horrors. That would be right if the blame for all this evil could be nicely pinned on one institution.

The truth is far more uncomfortable, however.

The residential schools were the official policy of the Canadian government and reflected the racist beliefs about Indigenous people held comfortably by a large number of Canadians of white European descent.

Sir John A. Macdonald called Indigenous people “savages” and said that their children “should be withdrawn as much as possible from the parental influence.” (May 19, 1883.) He said this openly in the House of Commons and it apparently did not meet with the universal condemnation that would have toppled his government.

On Canada Day, we all do well to own the sad truth that the residential schools were not the cause of the unspeakable things done to Indigenous people; they were the consequence of a widespread cultural attitude we now need to purge from our collective life as a nation if genuine reconciliation with our first citizens is to happen.

Bill Dykstra
Severn Bridge