Canadian Anglicans and abuse in Indian schools

The Anglican Journal of Canada reports on the progress of the upcoming Truth and Reconciliation Commission as it attempts to offer healing to those abused over the past century in the Indian residential schools.

In a soaring glass hall at the Museum of Anthropology, under the watchful eyes of a dozen huge totem poles, church, native and government leaders on March 5 pledged that the upcoming Truth and Reconciliation Commission will lead to healing as it hears the painful stories of Indian residential schools in Canada.

The event, which included a walk to the museum led by native drummers, was part of a four-city tour by the leaders that was called Remembering the Children and was designed to draw attention to the commission and its work.

Established as part of a settlement agreement that limited liability for churches and distributed compensation to former residential school students, the commission in its five-year mandate will hear stories of former students and use church and government archives to create an extensive historical record of the school system. The date of the commencement of the commission’s work and its composition has yet to be announced by the federal government.

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, the Anglican primate (national archbishop), reiterated the church’s 1993 apology for its role in the system, which operated across Canada from the mid-nineteenth century into the 1970s.

“I represent a church that was complicit in a system that took children far from home and family, took their clothing, cut off their hair and punished them when they spoke their own language. Some of our staff abused children. The Anglican church has so much for which to be so sorry,” he said.

The US church also ran schools but has yet to address the issues arising from that history.

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