Here is my Socials Op-Ed…
Ever since the European’s settled, there has always been a conflict between them and the Aboriginal peoples. Taking their land and putting the aboriginal children in residential schools are only two of many acts of resentment toward the aboriginal people. In recent years, we have been trying to rebuild the bridges between us, but will they ever be strong?
In February of 2015, articles from the National post stated that Aboriginal children were adopted at a very young age and used as slaves for non-aboriginal families. People who attended residential schools received compensation, and even though it will never change the past, it was something. These adopted children received nothing, even though some of them were abused equally as bad or worse. One quote from an aboriginal man that had been adopted as a child states, “I was made to clean the house, be their slave, be their punching bag.” We as a nation need to be more aware of these sorts of things, instead of just doing nothing about it. This is similar to how almost all of the non-aboriginal, European families knew about what was happening in the residential schools, but didn’t take any actions to try and help the aboriginal children at the time. Thinking about this, are we doing anything different today then we were doing back in the 1900’s when the residential schools existed?
Residential schools have changed the way aboriginal people live and think. Today, many aboriginal people are still depressed, suicidal or under the influence of drugs/alcohol, but the Europeans and the civilians could have stopped that from happening. Where were the people that tried to help? Well there weren’t many. The population was aware of the residential schools, and they were aware of what happened inside the residential schools, but the schools were open for around 120 years. They operated for that long without someone stepping up and expressing their opinions about them. Either there were few people that wanted the schools to close, or they didn’t have the confidence to say something. It took them that long to realize that beating and forcing children to do things they didn’t want to do was wrong. The Europeans who thought this was wrong should have taken action and helped these children instead of brushing it off.
There were a few people who tried to help by taking some children back to their reserves, but only a few. Imagine how quickly the residential school system could have been demolished if the all of the Europeans at the time who thought the residential schools were bad, all worked together to go against the government and help these children. It could have taken only a couple years to save to aboriginal population from suffering their entire life. Well, that didn’t happen, and even though the aboriginal people aren’t attending these schools anymore, they still suffer from PTSD, depression, drug and alcohol abuse and seeing other family members suffer. Generations could have been happy and living normal lives if only some people were there to help 100 years ago.
At the time of the residential schools, the Europeans either thought the schools were a good thing or a bad thing. We will probably never know the exact number of those who thought there were a good thing, but there were many. Obviously the schools would have never existed if someone didn’t think there were a good idea. There will always be opposing views to a topic like this, but many weren’t opposed to the idea. The Europeans took most of what the Aboriginals had including land, culture, and peace. The Europeans started to change the aboriginal people to be more like themselves so the aboriginals could be more “civilized”, and now there isn’t much aboriginal culture left. Our views have changed now, and hopefully nothing like this will ever occur again, but remember, it did happen once.
This bystander effect, people not taking action when they know they should, still exists in modern day: bullying as only one example. Maybe this action of not doing anything to help has been with us from the very start, but it doesn’t mean no one shouldn’t have helped the aboriginal people when they were going through these schools. If the Europeans thought that the residential schools were a bad thing and actually said something to the government, then I wouldn’t be writing this here today.