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Ottawa, Canada, June 1, 2021: A memorial in tribute to the over 200 aboriginal children whose unmarked graves were found at the Kamloops Indian Residential School shutterstock.com

(LifeSiteNews) — Far too many give undeserved credibility to Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Committee (TRC) and their “findings” as being “The Truth.” Coupled with this is a media that is often hostile to Christian churches and attracted to stories that exaggerate any sins of the Church, giving a perception of harm that is unrelated to reality. During his recent trip, Pope Francis issued the apology requested by the Indigenous, but likely did so because it is a whole lot easier than defending residential schools.   

In accepting the TRC report, and the view that those who attended are “survivors,” this suggests that it was wrong to open and serve in residential schools and that students attending would have been better off without the schools. The report which implied that the children attending did not largely benefit from the education and cultural experience that the schools provided, or that those working in the schools were mostly cruel and uncaring representatives of Christian churches, is false.    

READ: Canadian gov’t is shifting blame to the Catholic Church for its own residential school abuses

The TRC itself was political and modeled after “truth” commissions held the world over, the most memorable of which was in South Africa, where true oppression and apartheid existed. In South Africa, everyone just told “their truth,” let bygones be bygones and buried the hatchet. They wanted reconciliation.   

Unlike South Africa, though, in the Canadian version the hatchet did not get buried, nor could we pretend to find the “truth,” because the whole purpose was to examine the injustices of residential schools with the assumption that the injustices were many and outweighed any and all good that came out of the schools.


Mandate of the TRC 

The Mandate of the TRC states in its opening paragraph: 

“The truth telling and reconciliation process as part of an overall holistic and comprehensive response to the Indian Residential School legacy is a sincere indication and acknowledgement of the injustices and harms experienced by Aboriginal people and the need for continued healing.”

In other words, the inquiry was not about the “Truth” of Residential Schools and the good or bad that came out of them, but only about the “injustices and harms.” In 2(b) (Powers and Duties) it specifically states:   

2  … the Commissioners (b) shall not hold formal hearings, nor act as a public inquiry, nor conduct a formal legal process;”

Just to be clear, the first sentence of 4. on the Exercise of Duties states: 

“As the Commission is not to act as a public inquiry or to conduct a formal legal process, it will, therefore,…”

One may have been surprised years ago when no one appeared to put forward any defence of the residential system or the people that worked there.    

However, as it was not a public inquiry nor a trial of the residential school system, any evidence of good would be irrelevant as the commission was only about the harms. All the conclusions of the findings of the TRC cannot and should not be accepted as fact. 

Why the T & R Commission conclusions are unreliable 

  • The Mandate was not a public inquiry to find the truth, but only the harm of residential schools.    
  • The Commission did not rely upon any statistics that would compare the outcomes by any measure of students that went to residential schools vs. those that went to day schools or no school. The Commission did not attempt to collect such statistics. Yet, a disproportionate number, if not most, of the early leadership of Indigenous people attended residential schools. 
  • The inquiry relied upon childhood memories of their residential school experience which are considerably less reliable, even in courts of law, for good reason. I am sure that most children would find it very hard to adjust to being away from parents, and boys especially do not like school at the best of times.   
  • The residential school system was not on trial. Therefore, no one who worked in the schools could testify unless it was about harm they witnessed. Therefore, no one was present to defend the Christian people who worked at the school. One administrator for residential schools in the Qu’Appelle area for the Federal government indicated to the writer that he wanted to testify but was not allowed to do so.   
  • The Commissioners had a conflict of interest as two were Indigenous and one had an Indigenous spouse. They obviously prejudged the conduct of those who worked at the schools.  

Consent of children 

Parents did indeed consent to the admission of their children, notwithstanding reports to the contrary. Not even half of all indigenous kids went to residential schools even when they peaked in the 1950s. The law allowing the government to place children into residential schools, without the consent of parents, existed only from the early 1920s to about 1948. That did not mean that none of the parents consented. There are no statistics indicating the percentage of parents that did not consent.  

Interestingly though, when consent became a requirement after 1948, the number of students did not decrease, but rather increased by about 22% by 1960.  

Indigenous parents wanted their children to be educated, and although most Indigenous children went to day schools even in 1960, day school was not available for all students, and school attendance was even more problematic in the early years than it is today.  However, social services used residential schools as a place for children who were apprehended from their home environment (without consent of parents) until they used foster homes in the “60’s scoop.”   

READ: Forgotten Canadian history: Young Aboriginal girls flourished under the care of Catholic nuns

A 2001 article by a United Church researcher reports that the Stoney Indian Band near Calgary brought a legal action against the government when the government tried to close a residential school run by the United Church.  

Benefits of Residential Schools 

In the absence of statistical evidence, it is simply wrong to assume that those who attended were worse off than those not attending. Indeed, it is reasonable to expect that those attending did much better in our culture than those that stayed on the reserve and did not get an education at all or attended day schools sporadically. Certainly, the girls who attended were protected from early pregnancy which was five times higher than the rest of Saskatchewan even as late as the 1970s.   

Apologies? Catholics are still working to start up residential schools.   

Schools are still being run by the Church, despite the attack on such centers of education. A story from CNEWA in India indicated that there was hope the religious sisters would open a boarding school soon, to take the children out of their setting in the slums.   

There is also Father Franco Uras, a Salesian priest from Italy, who works with Indigenous children 90 miles from Davao City in the Philippines. He wanted to teach them how to cook for tourists, but was frustrated because the girls often became pregnant after their first period.   

READ: During the Pope’s ‘apology tour,’ let’s not forget the tortures endured by Jesuit missionaries in Canada

His answer was to require them to live in residence at his center. The Indigenous people moved into the hills when the Philippines were colonized by settlors from Asia and were ignored. Our Indigenous people would have had a similar fate if we had left them in their culture. 

Finally, I was in a Calgary church years ago when a bishop from southern Mexico was appealing for funds to start and maintain a residence for children. (No one apparently had warned him of the pending lawsuits.


The nuns, priests and Christian people who worked in Canada’s residential schools sacrificed their lives to help the Indigenous people. It is wrong to slander good people who are now dead and no longer able to defend themselves.   

Certainly, some bad things happened at the schools. After all, no one gets perfect parents or perfect schools. But our Indigenous people benefited enormously from the care and education they received at residential schools, and if the TRC would have had a mandate to look, they may have found a much different conclusion in their final report.   

Our media work hard to separate our Indigenous people (as well as the rest of us) from our Church. Therefore, it is not prudent to accept the narrative of mainstream media.   Without truth there will not likely be a reconciliation, so it is important that we start reconciliation with a factual base that is true.