Canadians seem to think they know all about their country’s discredited Indian Residential Schools. They’ve certainly been made painfully aware by governments, Indigenous organizations and leaders, academia and the mainstream media of the official narrative – a litany of sheer horror. But what was life at and around these schools actually like? At a time when “lived experience” is all the rage, the voices of the dwindling surviving number of the many thousands of people who once worked in them have fallen silent. Rodney Clifton is one, and his lived experience includes falling in love with and marrying a Siksika woman. In this clear-eyed and deeply humane account, Clifton bares his heart in recounting his times working as a young man in the residential schools system in Alberta and the Far North.
The Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission will release its Final Report next month. Among its findings and recommendations is expected to be a call for the history of residential schools to be taught in Canadian schools. But will the Commission, and the curricula based on its findings, tell the whole truth? Or just the parts that fit the current “genocide” narrative? Rodney Clifton worked in those schools (and his wife went to one), and his experience and research offers four key points that ought to be part of the historical record. First, only a small minority of Aboriginal children attended residential schools. Second, non-Aboriginal children also attended residential schools in significant numbers. Third, Aboriginal children were not systematically punished for speaking their native languages. And fourth, no one knows how many Aboriginal residential school students died of abuse and neglect. Acknowledging those facts might actually advance the cause of truth and reconciliation.
Joe Rogan has signed an exclusive deal with Spotify likely to make him the world’s highest-paid broadcaster. His podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, covers the political spectrum and has millions of fans. In bidding farewell to the newspaper industry, John Robson suggests that the internet can rescue conservative media. What news consumers want, says Robson, is journalism that is rigorous, entertaining and insightful.
Late in the autumn of 2007, approximately 87,000 aboriginal people who attended the 130 residential schools, many of which were administered by the Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, and United churches, began receiving payments from the Federal government. For these people, the payment is $10,000 for their first year, or part of it, in residence, and $3,000 for each subsequent year, or part it.