October 28, 2021

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Involvement of religious orders in aboriginal residential schools | A “Quebecois” story

Some Indian boarding schools in Quebec or the Maritime saw daylight. But the French-Canadian nuns represented a large number of staff in these boarding schools, which were mostly aimed at raising Native children, who were often led by Oblate, especially a French order called to Canada to promote French spread beyond the Valley. St. Lawrence …


Matthew Perrald

Matthew Perrald
Press

Two or three oblates, ten nuns, often hundreds of children: this is the usual case of aboriginal boarding schools run by the Catholic Church. Jim Miller of the University of Saskatchewan, one of the most extensively researched historians in Canada, said: “About 60% of residential schools are run by the Catholic Church. “Oblets were at the forefront, but in general they worked with a female order established in Quebec. ”

Mgr Claude Champagne, Edmundston’s oblate and bishop, said the nuns taught “young children” and cared for the maid.

The advantage for the Canadian government is that nuns are paid the lowest wages, according to Brian Kettler, an expert on the social history of colonialism at the University of Toronto. “In Protestant boarding schools, we had to hire people from the troubled past,” says Kettler. Were children treated better where there were nuns than in Protestant boarding schools? “No, sisters are not angels,” says Kettler.

In an article published in early June in the online journal Historical Engagement, Catherine LaRossell, a historian at the University of Montreal, writes that the meaning of this involvement of religious injunctions is the history of residential schools, including “Quebecois” and that there are not many boarding schools here, even if it is not a refuge. Ms. Lorocell also confirms that the influence of Albert Lacombe, one of the first owls born in Quebec and a key figure in the gospel of the aborigines of the West, should be explored. “This is indeed one of the most important questions to be addressed in the history of residential schools,” said Frederick Periold, director of research at the Center for Justice and Faith, which has published critical articles on the Church. Mr. Periart added that there was sometimes a “formal ban on the agent of the Department of Indian Affairs from communicating with families,” which would prevent a death notice by religion.

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Abundant everywhere in the West

To find out which religious communities are involved in Native Residential Schools, Press “Preaching Canada” for 1951. This is a complete directory of the Church, published every year from 1887 to 1974. In the 1508 pages of the 1951 edition, the applets managed 22 “Indian schools” and female orders, 42 schools, sometimes with applets, sometimes alone. Gray nuns top the list with 11 schools, including one in North Dakota, and 8 schools with Sisters of Providence.

Kamloops’ “Indian School of Industry”, 4 English-speaking oblates and St. Anne’s 11 sisters (with 500 children), Marywell’s boarding school, later renamed the “Indian School of Lock-Cross” by 12 sisters. Saint-Joseph (for more than 100 children), and Cranbrook, later called the “Saint-Eugene Indian School”. It should be noted that in general alone, bishops were pastors in dozens of reserves.

According to the French historian Anne-Helen Gerberio, who published the book in 1996 Indians in western Canada are viewed by oblate, These religions are generally British and Belgian. However, although one of their aims was to increase the influence of francophones in the West, the federal government imposed education in English in Native residential schools.

The remaining difficult sign

On Wednesday, the Agam community clarified that they could not confirm that all 182 remains found near the old Cranbrook boarding school were children who attended. The remains of these children were sometimes buried among others, making them difficult to identify.

Jim Miller explains that as in Cranbrook, the bodies of children found in Mariwal and Kamloops were buried in tombs according to Catholic rites, under decaying wooden crosses. “The wooden cross was a Catholic burial ground for the poor,” he said. Kettler confirms. So it will not be mass graves, although the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission has cited evidence of the existence of some residential schools, says Jean-Franசois Russell, an expert on indigenous residential schools at the university. University of Religious Studies Montreal.

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In parish tombs, the name of the person buried in a register (but not always the location of his grave) can be found. So the identity of buried children can be found in the archives of religious communities. “It’s easier when residential schools use parish cemeteries with their own records,” Miller says.

Photo from the site of the University of Saskatchewan

Jim Miller is one of the Canadian historians who has worked extensively on residential schools.

According to MMe Gerberio, at least these records should be. “I saw a lot of group photos with dozens of people around the Oblate Pastor, where everyone was identified. Typically, oblate missionaries had a record for funerals and burial of another, says Oblate Rummy Kadiux, the last director of his own boarding school in Point-Blue, near Roberwall. “I don’t know if it was in boarding schools either, but I can imagine,” says Father Kadiux, who lives in the Oblate Retirement Home in Richelieu.

“Personally, I have not had any deaths at school. When the federal government took control of the schools in 1972, I dropped all the student files. I have had students who had difficulty accessing school records. ”

The Jesuits ran an Indian boarding school in Spanish west of Sutbury, Ontario. “Twenty years ago, we hired a historian to write the history of the boarding school, and he discovered the names of the children who died there,” explains Eric Holland of the Canadian Jesuit State. “We set up a cemetery with their names on the grave where they were buried.

Photo by Eric Holland

A memorial was erected for the dead children at the Spanish Indian Residential School in the Municipal Cemetery

Brandon: Cemetery camp

The grounds of forgotten graves are sometimes altered. There has been a controversy over the past month at a camp in Brandon, Manitoba. It is located in the cemetery of an aboriginal residential school somewhat managed by the Catholic Church. Up to 104 remains are believed to be present, but an investigation is still underway to determine this.

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The camp was created by the municipality in the 1960s and then sold to its current owner in 2001. “Local tribal communities went there to honor the dead, but the new owner wanted to stop them,” explains Brian Kettler. So there is a movement to buy back the land to the municipality. ”

Residential schools by numbers

150,000: Number of children educated in residential schools

3,200: Historians say the number of children officially dying in boarding school may actually be 5 to 10 times higher

80: Number of residential schools at the top of the system, 1930s

Sources: Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Encyclopedia of Canada

Sources: Jean-Franசois Russell, Government of Canada