30 Jan 2011

Canadian Indian residential school hearings identify thousands of abusers including some students who were also abused

CBC News - Canada December 20, 2010

Residential students also abusers: hearings

Allegations are surfacing at compensation hearings that students abused fellow pupils at Canada's now-closed residential schools for aboriginal people, CBC News has learned.

The allegations are being made as federal adjudicators work out a compensation package at hearings under the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement, the largest class-action settlement in Canadian history.

Nearly 6,000 people have been identified as abusers at the hearings, according to the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs. Most of those named are former teachers and clergy, many of whom have died, but 20 to 25 per cent of those accused were students.

The government is hiring private investigators to track them down and they'll get a chance to tell their side of the story. But no cases will be referred for criminal investigation.

Former student Mary, who agreed to be interviewed on the condition her real name not be used, said she named her student abusers to her lawyer before her hearing in June, adding that one of them still lives near her.

Mary said she blocked out her memories of sex and drug abuse at the age of 12 or 13 by other students at the Port Alberni Residential School in British Columbia until a year ago when she started therapy and had to prepare for her hearing.

Put in danger

She said she didn't realize her abusers would be notified about her accusations until she bumped into one of them on the street.

"His whole attitude towards me changed — aggressive and scary. …I don't think the government realized how much more danger they're putting us in."

In a separate case, Charlie Thompson had to defend himself on Dec. 9 against a woman's accusations of sexual assault while the two were at the Port Alberni Residential School.

"When I got the call, it was like I was just left hanging, and I'm just thankful I'm OK," said Thompson, who was sexually abused by staff at the Port Alberni school.

"I'm strong enough to have this kind of call, but I'm thinking about those people who are not OK who received the call."

Thompson, who said it was a case of mistaken identity, said he took the opportunity to defend himself at his accuser's hearing.

"I didn't feel good. I felt like a criminal …. But I told my truth. That's all I can do."

Creating friction

Jennifer Wood, who works with residential school survivors, said the whole process of identifying former students as abusers is creating a lot of friction in the aboriginal community.

"How do you cope? How do you get through this?" she said.

The Department of Indian and Northern Affairs said contacting alleged abusers is a better alternative than going through the criminal courts.

Director general Luc Dumont said it's only fair for people to be told they've been accused of abuse.

"The adjudicator[s] have to ask questions that will unfold how the abuse took place … and make an assessment. It's not an easy task."

Dumont said this process was set out and agreed upon in the settlement agreement. He said there may be remote communities with fewer resources, but a toll-free crisis line is open 24/7 and people will be referred to the help they need.

Survivors like Thompson said they're living through the trauma all over again.

"There doesn't seem to be anybody that I know of who's doing anything to make it better for the former students of residential schools," said Thompson. "Nobody seems to understand that those institutions created a whole lot of dysfunction."

A decision in Thompson's case is expected next April.

Thousands of the former students say they endured sexual, physical and psychological abuse while attending the schools, which were run by churches and funded by the federal government from the 1870s until the mid-1970s.

As of May 31, more than 5,800 hearings have been held and 5,074 claimants have been compensated for a total of $615 million, the government said.

This article was found at:



Canadian Indian residential schools designed to assimilate natives traumatized individuals and generations

Survivors of Indian residential schools need to tell their stories to restore self-worth after trauma of abuse 

A brief history of Canadian residential schools designed to indoctrinate and assimilate aboriginal children

Canadian Truth Commission investigates fate of thousands of aboriginal children who died in mysterious circumstances

Canadian residential school Truth Commission begins to address over a century of child abuse, thousands of children still missing

‘Apology? What apology?' Church’s attempt at reconciliation not enough, says counsellor

Church-run Canadian residential schools denied human rights to all aboriginal children in their custody

'This Is How They Tortured Me' [book review]

Mothers of a Native Hell

Pope expresses 'sorrow' for abuse at residential schools - but doesn't apologize

When will church learn lessons about abuse scandals?


  1. Parliament window to mark residential schools

    CBC News October 27, 2011

    A painful chapter of Canada's history will soon be on display over the door MPs use to enter the House of Commons every day.

    Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan announced Thursday the legacy of Canada's Indian residential schools program will be permanently etched on Parliament Hill in stained glass.

    An aboriginal artist will be commissioned to design a new centre panel for the window over the members' entrance to the House of Commons foyer in Centre Block.

    "The art work will honour the First Nation, Inuit and Méis children who attended Indian residential schools and the families and the communities who were impacted by its legacy," Duncan said, looking straight at the external window where the art will be installed.

    A panel of art experts will choose an artist to design the window. The panel has not yet been convened, and Duncan couldn't estimate a total cost, but the minister said the government planned to have the art installed in 2012.

    "We’re not making this a long term project. We want to get it done," Duncan said.

    'Gesture of reconciliation'
    The minister said the window is intended to "encourage all Parliamentarians and visitors for generations to come to learn about the history of the Indian residential schools and Canada’s reconciliation efforts."

    Duncan said he's consulted with aboriginal leaders about the window as an "important gesture of reconciliation" and "they get it."

    On June 11, 2008 the federal government made an official apology for the residential school program in the House of Commons. It was the highlight of a series of commemorations and reconciliation efforts that continue through the work of the federally-funded Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

    Duncan said Thursday that "the history of residential schools tells of an education policy gone wrong."


  2. RCMP to report on residential schools role

    The Canadian Press October 28, 2011

    The RCMP is planning to release a report that documents the force's involvement in Canada's infamous native residential school system.

    The Mounties issued a statement today saying the research report will be presented Saturday to the federal Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which is holding hearings in Halifax.

    The statement says the report covers more than 100 years and represents the first complete assessment of the RCMP's involvement in the Indian Residential School system.

    About 150,000 aboriginal children attended residential schools, some of them forcibly taken from their homes by the RCMP under legislation that made attendance mandatory.

    In May 2004, the RCMP's commissioner publicly apologized to Canada's Aboriginal Peoples, saying he was sorry for those who "suffered tragedies at residential schools."

    The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has a five-year mandate to document the history of residential schools, inspire reconciliation and produce a report by 2014.


  3. RCMP 'herded' native kids to residential schools

    CBC News October 29, 2011

    Former aboriginal students who say the RCMP herded them off to residential schools are expressing a sense of validation following the release of a report into the Mounties' role in the notorious school system. However, not all the survivors believe the report will help with their healing. The RCMP released the report Saturday at a Halifax session of the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which is looking into how 150,000 aboriginal children were taken from their families over more than a century.

    The 463-page report found that the RCMP had a major involvement in bringing students from First Nation communities to the residential schools. Various data sources were collected over a 30-month period between April 2007 and September 2009 to answer questions about the RCMP's relationship with schools, students, federal agencies and departments.

    The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has been holding public sessions in Halifax since Wednesday. The report says that at times, RCMP withheld information from parents of residential school students about what was happening with their children, and at times they acted like truant officers to schools. "Students saw themselves herded like cattle and brought into RCMP cars and taken into school. What they say is that these stories have come out throughout the years, but what this does today is validate those stories and show that they were true," CBC reporter Michael Dick said in Halifax.

    RCMP stress in the report that the force did not know what was going on behind the schools' walls, where abuse was rampant, and that they were trying to act in the best interest with the information they knew at the time. The Mounties stressed that the abuse in residential schools happened all over the country. Approximately 150,000 aboriginal children were forced to attend residential schools. The Mounties were summoned to forcibly take the children to the schools if their families resisted sending them away.

    The truth and reconciliation commissioners have been listening to powerful testimony from people who suffered physical, sexual and emotional abuse at the schools and who were forced to give up their native language and customs. Manitoba Justice Murray Sinclair chairs the commission, established as part of a landmark $4-billion agreement reached in 2007 with survivors who had filed a class-action lawsuit against the federal government and the churches that ran the schools.

    "It is for the purpose of establishing a national memory around this so that future generations of people will be able to understand not only what happened but why it happened. And that will ensure that it does not happen again," Sinclair said. The commission has a five-year mandate to document what happened to aboriginal children at residential schools and produce a report by 2014.

    The churches that operated the schools started apologizing in 1986 — and in 2004, the RCMP's commissioner publicly apologized for what happened. Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered a public apology in 2008.

    read the full article at:


    read the RCMP report at:


  4. RCMP mostly unaware of abuse at residential schools: report

    by MICHAEL TUTTON, Canadian Press October 29, 2011

    RCMP officers usually weren't aware of the need to investigate abuse in Canada's infamous native residential school system because aboriginal families were reluctant to tell them what was occurring behind closed doors, says a report by the police force. Deputy Commissioner Steve Graham presented the research report on Saturday to the federal Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was holding its final day of Atlantic region hearings in Halifax.

    The 457-page report written by Marcel Eugene-LeBeuf said the police acted on behalf of the federal government to track down children who had run away from the schools and to tell parents they had to send their children to the schools. However, the researchers said that police generally weren't aware of abuse, which is defined in the report as “improper physical or sexual behaviour and actions that contributed to the loss of cultural roots.”

    “Children would rarely denounce the abuse they suffered, and the school system prevented outsiders from knowing about the abuse that occurred. Discipline was kept strictly internal to the school system and was not associated to the police,” the authors said in the report's summary. “The report shows that Indian residential schools were essentially a closed system between the Department of Indian Affairs, the churches and school administrator. The problems within the schools did not attract police attention or intervention because they were mostly dealt with internally or were unknown to the police.”

    The report covers more than 100 years and represents the first complete assessment of the RCMP's involvement in the Indian Residential School system. Government-funded, church-run residential schools operated from the 1870s until the final closure of a school outside Regina in 1996. The researchers conducted 279 interviews and travelled to 66 communities between 2007 and 2009 to examine the police role in supporting the system.

    After Mr. Graham completed his brief presentation to the commission, he gently placed the study into the bentwood box, where expressions of reconciliation are placed by those participating in the panels. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has a five-year mandate to document the history of residential schools, inspire reconciliation and produce a report by 2014.

    The report said a lack of trust of the police by natives was the biggest barrier to investigations being carried out up until the 1990s. “Without public or police knowledge of wrong-doing, there would be no investigation and no charges laid against abusers. This is supported by the relatively small number of files in RCMP records on these matters for the period covered by the research project,” said the report.

    The appendices of the report summarizes 60 investigations between 1957 and 2005 from B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, the three territories and Manitoba. It says there were 619 victims who appeared before the courts and over 40 perpetrators identified with charges being laid for crimes ranging from indecent assault to sexual interference and assault causing bodily harm.

    In May 2004, then RCMP commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli publicly apologized to Canada's Aboriginal Peoples. “To those of you who suffered tragedies at residential schools, we are very sorry for your experience,” he said at the time.



    Canadian Indian residential schools designed to assimilate natives traumatized individuals and generations

    Edmonton mural celebrates Catholic bishop's role in the horrific abuse of aboriginal children in residential schools

  6. Study shows empirical link between residential schools and Indigenous youth in care

    by Michelle Ghoussoub, CBC July 04, 2019

    New research conducted at the University of British Columbia is shedding light on the relationship between residential schools and the modern day child welfare system.

    Brittany Barker, a postdoctoral fellow with the BC Centre on Substance Use, said the impact of intergenerational trauma from the residential school systems is well understood among Indigenous communities, and the overrepresentation of Indigenous youth in care has been previously documented.

    But Barker, who completed her doctoral work at UBC in April, said her research shows for the first time an empirical association between having been in the residential school system, and subsequent generations being at higher risk for being in the child welfare system.

    "The crux of the argument is that the family exposure to the residential school system is driving the overrepresentation of Indigenous kids in care," she said.

    Barker, who had previously investigated the child welfare system, said the findings are "probably the most powerful, important study I've ever done."

    The findings have been published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

    Barker's data was collected between 2011 and 2016 from 675 people in Vancouver under the age of 35 who use drugs, around 40 per cent of whom self-identified as Indigenous.

    The research found that two thirds of participants who self-identified as being Indigenous had at least a grandparent and/or a parent that attended a residential school.

    Those who had a parent or both a parent and a grandparent who had been in a residential school had more than two times the odds of having been personally placed into care compared to Indigenous participants who had no immediate family exposure to the residential school system.

    For more than 100 years, First Nations, Inuit and Métis children were taken from their families to attend residential schools, most of which were run by churches and funded by the federal government. There were more than 130 residential schools in operation between the 1870s and 1996.

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  7. Barker also conducted a secondary analysis which compared Indigenous participants who reported no immediate family exposure to residential schools to the non-Indigenous part of the cohort, and found there was no significant difference difference in the likelihood of being in the child welfare system.

    "Being [of] Indigenous ancestry had over two times the odds of having been in care. But it was actually residential school exposure, that family exposure to the residential school system, that was driving that difference between groups," she said.

    "You would expect that there would be a significant difference between Indigenous young people and non-Indigenous young people. […] If you can account for family exposure to the residential school system, which we did in this paper, then there's no longer that difference."

    Barker said more research needs to be done across different areas in Canada, and that the research should be replicated with a high sample size of Indigenous youth. But she said the numbers could actually be higher, as some Indigenous people don't know they had family members in residential schools, because of the stigma associated with the institutions.

    Barker said she believes that in order to address intergenerational trauma, more resources need to be given to support potentially vulnerable parents.

    "If you look at the number one reason that Indigenous youth are taken into the child welfare system, it's for charges of neglect. And if you break down neglect, it's parental substance abuse, it's exposure to intimate partner violence, it's housing instability, it's food insecurity, it's poverty – a lot of it is markers of poverty and then the remnants of the trauma of the residential school system," she said.

    In 2008, the federal government formally apologized for the residential school system and other policies of assimilation. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission's (TRC) final report said the residential school system amounted to "cultural genocide" against Indigenous people in Canada.