Sunday, 1 June 2008
A truth and reconciliation commission examining what native leaders call one of the most tragic and racist chapters in Canada’s history has begun.
The commission will study Canada’s decades-long policies that removed Aboriginal children from their families to force Christianity upon them.
The state-funded religious schools were often the scenes of horrific physical and sexual abuse.
The commission has a five-year mandate to detail the abuses.
From the 19th Century until the 1970s, more than 150,000 aboriginal children were required to attend Christian schools in an attempt to rid them of their native cultures and languages and integrate them into society.
The federal government admitted 10 years ago that physical and sexual abuse in the once-mandatory schools was rampant.
Many students recall being beaten for speaking their native languages, and losing touch with their parents and customs.