Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Of Boarding Schools

They Took the Children Away by Australian, Archie Roach

Been reading the Wally Oppal findings on the missing women from the Downtown Eastside in Vancouver aka DTES. Ironic that yesterday, there was a major outcry; today, not so much. The money's about to start flowing.

This reminded me of research done on the residential schools since so much of the current trouble is being blamed on them.

When I came across the song with photos of the various Canadian residential schools, in place since the late-1800's and up until the 1970's or so, I watched with interest. Wow, so many clean, well-dressed kids doing a variety of activities including music, sports, gardening, games, as well as classroom work and a little dose of religion. Just as kids at other schools at the same time across Canada were doing, and in Europe, as well.

The photo above is of Shingwauk Hall and it was a residential school from the early-thirties until the early-seventies at which time it became Algoma Univerisity College, a degree-granting school with ties to Laurentian University in Sudbury. Chief Shingwauk, realizing that his people would need to be able to read and write in order to be part of the new world, asked that a "teaching teepee" be built.

I sat in those upper classrooms for several years and, during moments of tedium, would look across the rolling acreage to the St. Marys River that links Lake Superior, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron and I would be mesmerized by the tankers and freighters that plied the Great Lakes. One day, the James R. Barker hove into sight. I was expecting it. At 1,004 feet long, she was one of the largest on the system. Today, the Paul R. Tregurtha, at 1013 feet, is the longest.