Column: Kids on reserve living in 'hell on earth'

"They've been called bullies. They've been called killers. By this newspaper.

What they really are --- these three little boys who last week allegedly bullied a playmate into a lake on the remote Ojibway community of Pauingassi -- is children.

But in headlines we repeatedly brand them "bullies." And in stories they're "killers."

We would never get away with calling an adult or even a youth charged with murder or manslaughter a "killer." We would say they've been charged, and then, as we routinely do, we add this legal disclaimer: Innocent until proven guilty.

Yet, we call them "bullies" and "killers."

When they're really just kids, living in a community that's a living hell on earth.

A chosen gulag of violence, substance abuse, poverty, sexual abuse, and utter despair, where a staggering 98 per cent of adults are alcoholics, 80 per cent of the youth are solvent abuse addicts, and 20 per cent of the kids have varying degrees of fetal alcohol syndrome.

I guess you'd call those statistics context. "

Get the Story:
Gordon Sinclair Jr.: They're just kids living in hell on earth (The Winnipeg Free Press 8/16)

More Stories:
They don't stand a chance (The Winnipeg Free Press 8/16)
Chief says reserve residents lost, numb (The Winnipeg Free Press 8/16)

Related Stories:
Mother of drowned boy wants bullies banished (8/15)
Boy's drowning the latest crisis for First Nation (8/14)
Bullies blamed for drowning death of 6-year-old (8/13)