George-Kanentiio: Residential school horrors

"Count yourself lucky if you are a Native American who never had to experience the trauma of being placed, against your will, in one of Canada's residential schools.

I saw the beatings, listened to the students weeping and saw many incidents of sexual abuse. While initially shocking to a 11-year-old, I learned to suppress my outrage at adults who had unrestrained power.

Canada has begun to issue checks to cover its shame — but no formal apology for the lives its policies destroyed or the legacy of self-hate that has become the most powerful, negative force in aboriginal life.

In January 1967, my brother Dean and I were shipped off to the Mohawk Institute in Brantford, Ontario, more than 350 miles from our Akwesasne (St. Regis) home. We were told by the Indian Affairs social workers that the school would provide us schooling, a warm, safe place to live and good food. We should have realized the magnitude of the lie when we waited at the train station for many hours, far past midnight, for one of the "house fathers" to pick us up.

We were fed burnt toast, powdered milk and mush, a watery porridge that slid through the stomach and bowels, hence the institute's nickname, "mushhole." Other meals were as bad. Forty years later, I still feel the shadow pains of hunger whenever I think about the institute."

Get the Story:
Doug George-Kanentiio: Residential school horrors haunt Native Americans (The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle 12/11)

Relevant Links:
Residential Schools Claims -
Assembly of First Nations -
Indian Residential Schools Resolution Department -

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