Over at the very thoughtful National Post group blog, Karen Selick asks:
“My husband went to elementary school in small-town Eastern Ontario in the 1940s. He tells me that there were many occasions when his teachers gave him ‘the strap.’ Lots of kids were punished or disciplined that way, in those days…
“By modern standards, my husband and his classmates were physically abused. Should they now be getting an apology from the government, and perhaps some compensation?”
Gee, Karen, that’s an excellent question. I can certainly understand your concern, and I can tell you’re a really smart, thoughtful person. I’ve given this matter a little thought myself. Here’s a handy checklist to ascertain whether your husband’s treatment rises to the level of what the Prime Minister will be addressing this week. Ready?
• Was your husband systematically raped by authority figures at school for years on end?
• If he spoke the language he had learned from the cradle did he get beaten?
• Were his classmates dropping like flies from tuberculosis due to appalling hygiene and incompetent health care?
• Here’s an excerpt from a transcript of an interview with Bernadene Harper, who attended one of the residential schools: “In the evenings what I remember is, when all the girls were put to bed, we had night watchmen that would take care of the building. I always had the fear of having a night watchman coming in and shining the flashlight around, because I knew that’s when things were happening with the little girls. I guess that’s where the abuse had started.” Does that sort of institutionalized nightly horror ring a bell for your husband?
If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, then your husband had a horrible time indeed and I think he’s owed an apology. If not, I think we’ll get around to your husband a little later. ‘Kay thanx.