Re­gard­ing sur­vivors of N.L. res­i­den­tial schools

Nor'wester (Springdale) - - EDITORIAL -

Re­cently it was an­nounced in the news that Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau is go­ing to of­fer an apol­ogy to the res­i­den­tial school sur­vivors of New­found­land and Labrador for the his­tor­i­cal abuse which took place at these schools.

I ques­tion whether Trudeau fully un­der­stands the abuse from these in­sti­tu­tions and is able to of­fer a heart­felt apol­ogy in re­gard to these mat­ters. Re­cently, Trudeau asked for a sim­i­lar apol­ogy from Pope Fran­cis re­gard­ing the abuse at the res­i­den­tial schools in Canada, and af­ter this re­quest was made he gave a gift of a book to the Pope, “The Na­tional Archives of the Je­suits in Canada,” high­light­ing all the great work the Je­suits have con­trib­uted to Canada’s his­tory.

Un­for­tu­nately, the Je­suits are guilty of hor­ren­dous sex­ual, phys­i­cal, men­tal, cul­tural and spir­i­tual abuse to the stu­dents who at­tended the res­i­den­tial schools in Span­ish, Ont., as well as in the First Na­tions com­mu­ni­ties they min­is­tered to along the North Shore of Lake Huron and Su­pe­rior, Man­i­toulin Is­land, and else­where. I do not un­der­stand how a gift of these archives by the Je­suits could have been seen as an ap­pro­pri­ate gift for the Pope when he was there to ask for an apol­ogy for the abuse suf­fered in these in­sti­tu­tions to the First Na­tions chil­dren.

I be­lieve Trudeau owes the sur­vivors of the Je­suits an apol­ogy as well.

I un­der­stand there is a mon­e­tary settlement of $50 mil­lion to be di­vided amongst the sur­vivors and I’m sure the lawyers will take their share. One lawyer in Al­berta pock­eted $14.5 mil­lion or more of the sur­vivors’ settlement from the gov­ern­ment.

Omar Khadr, who suf­fered abuse while be­ing a pris­oner of war at Guan­tanamo Bay for 10 years, was com­pen­sated by the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment for $10.5 mil­lion. His abuse was hor­ren­dous, not much dif­fer­ent than what our First Na­tions chil­dren suf­fered at the hands of our gov­ern­ment and the clergy. Fifty mil­lion dol­lars seems like a lot of money, but af­ter the lawyers take their cut the sur­vivors usu­ally end up with very lit­tle.

Per­haps the prime min­is­ter and the rest of Canada will be­gin to un­der­stand the im­por­tance of the is­sues of the res­i­den­tial schools in Canada when the fi­nan­cial settlements for each sur­vivor at­tend­ing these schools and other sim­i­lar in­sti­tu­tions, such as Mount Cashel in St. John’s and St. Joseph’s Train­ing School in Al­fred, Ont., schools for the deaf and blind, etc., who also suf­fered abuse at gov­ern­ment-run schools equates to the settlement Khadr re­ceived. Per­haps then things might change and peo­ple may wake up to what the cost has been to our First Na­tions com­mu­ni­ties and to oth­ers who at­tended these in­sti­tu­tions.

E. Jane Mundy Thes­sa­lon, Ont.

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