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Darryl Dyck / The Canadian Press Files I am a residential school survivor, and yet I am white. So, when I heard that the Frontier Centre for Public Policy was asking whether Canadians were being told the whole truth about residential schools, my ears pricked up. Because many are unaware that some residential schools also had students who were non-Indigenous.
Recently, the Frontier Centre ran a two-minute radio spot telling people that they haven’t been given the truth about residential schools. The Winnipeg organization’s ad disputes the harm done to Indigenous kids by residential schools, harm that has been passed down through generations. Needless to say, the paid spot and its message sparked outrage, and thankfully, the corporate owner of the radio stations that ran the ads has since apologized.
As someone who has survived the residential school system, with all my white privilege, I still bear enormous scars. And yet, I consider myself lucky. The school system wasn’t attempting to eradicate my culture, my spirituality, my language — which leads me to ask the question: if I have difficulty getting over this trauma, how can we expect Indigenous Peoples who spent time in the system (whether five years or five minutes) to grapple with the hurt?
The government of Canada doesn’t really have a number for how many non-Indigenous students attended residential schools, but they are just as much a part of this country’s racist past. They are witnesses, too.
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