Back to School Then and Now

This article includes a video of a conversation I had with my father  Chief Robert Joseph O.C, O.B.C, about his first day at residential school and how he felt when he took his children to school. 

The return to school in September fills some with great glee and others with a pit of dread in their stomach. This year, under the shadow of COVID-19, teachers, parents, and caregivers, alike share a common theme of deep concern and anxiety about how safety measures of physical distancing can be managed in classrooms, during recess and lunch breaks, and during sports activities in order to protect the students. 

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What is Orange Shirt Day?

Orange shirt day is a movement that officially began in 2013 but in reality it began in 1973 when six year old Phyllis Webstad entered the St. Joseph Mission Residential School, outside of Williams Lake, BC. Young Phyllis was wearing a brand new orange shirt for her first day of school – new clothes being a rare and wonderful thing for a First Nation girl growing up in her grandmother’s care - but the Mission Oblates quickly stripped her of her new shirt and replaced it with the school’s institutional uniform.

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The Final Solution - Which Government Used the Term First?

 “The final solution”

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The Indian Act, residential schools and tuberculosis cover up



Indian Act. R. S., c. 43, s. 1. 1884

11. The Governor in Council may make regulations, which shall have the force of law, for the committal by justices or Indian agents of children of Indian blood under the age of sixteen years, to such industrial school or boarding school, there to be kept, cared for and educated for a period not extending beyond the time at which such children shall reach the age of eighteen years.”

And so it began….the most aggressive and destructive of all Indian Act policies. Residential schools brought immeasurable human suffering to the First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples, the effect of which continues to reverberate through generations of families and many communities. Other policies were harsh but could be worked around. They banned the potlatch so practitioners went underground to hold ceremonies; they pushed people onto small reserves but they still were with family. But when they took the children that was unbearable.

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First Nations and Local Government Reconciliation

 When the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) released its report in June 2015 the full impact the Indian residential school system was brought home to most Canadians. Note that we do not say “non-First Nation” Canadians as the families of some First Nation survivors were unaware of what their family members suffered in the schools because it was too painful for the survivors to talk about. The TRC report, which urges Canada to confront the “cultural genocide” shocked, horrified and shamed most Canadians. The schools had operated within or nearby communities yet no one asked what went on there and many were unaware there was a residential school in the vicinity.

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Chief Robert Joseph Appointed to Order of British Columbia

On June 15, 2015, I, along with my sisters, had the great honour of witnessing our father, Chief Dr. Robert Joseph, be appointed to the Order of British Columbia by Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon. To say I was proud would be an understatement.

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Indian Residential Schools A collection of articles

On this blog we have written a number of articles on residential schools, the impacts and outcomes of those schools on First Nations individuals, families and communities.  In honour and support of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s closing events May 31 – June 3, 2015 we have compiled a few of those articles that cover the schools and reconciliation.

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Reading for Reconciliation 6 books on Residential Schools

To honour and support the Closing Events of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC), May 31 - June 3, 2015 in Ottawa, we have compiled a list of six books on residential schools and another four that provide insight and perspective on Indigenous history post contact, issues, myths, facts and paths forward.

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St. Michael's Indian Residential School Decommissioning Ceremony

On February 18th, 2015 survivors, honoured guests and dignitaries will come together to witness the symbolic decommission of the St. Michael's Indian Residential School. The decommissioning of the formidable brick building that dominates the harbour of Alert Bay marks the end of a very dark and painful period in history.
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Aboriginal Alcohol Intolerance

There is a Canadian Press and Steve Lambert article out with a headline that reads "Online brochure tells lodge visitors aboriginals have 'intolerance' for alcohol." It was published in the Calgary Herald, CBC News Aboriginal, News1130 online, and other places.  

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