Monday, January 06, 2014

Canada accused of hiding aboriginal child abuse evidence

Al Jazeera
Kristina Jovanovski
January 6, 2014.

Documents detailing abuse at schools for aboriginal children taken from their families were withheld, say victims. 

Edmund Metatawabin (right) seeks documents on abuse at a 
church-run school [Kristina Jovanovski/Al Jazeera]

Toronto, Canada - When Edmund Metatawabin was five years old, he was sent to a remote church-run school for aboriginal children in Canada where he, and hundreds of others, say they faced years of abuse and torture.

Metatawabin spent about 10 years at the school, beginning in the 1950s. One morning, he says, he was feeling ill and threw up while eating porridge. He says he was slapped and told to go upstairs. When he felt better - four days later - he went back to the dining hall and was forced to eat his own vomit.

"I was given that porridge I got sick on and I had to eat that … And if you don't eat, then you're going to get beat up some more, and you're going to get punished - and if you throw up again you're going to have to eat that too, so what choice do you have?"

Metatawabin, 66, says at times he and his classmates were forced to sit in an electric chair - either as punishment or as entertainment for the staff at St Anne's Indian Residential School, which operated from the early 1900s to 1976 in northern Ontario province.

Now, Metatawabin says, the government is hiding information about the school.

St Anne's was part of a government-supported school system to "assimilate" aboriginal children. About 150,000 indigenous children were forcibly removed from their families by the federal government for decades starting in the 1800s and put into church-run "residential schools".

Many suffered physical and sexual abuse and squalid living conditions, and a Truth and Reconciliation Committee recently said at least 4,000 children died - a number that could be much higher.

Read the rest here.
Comment: Please note that the original headline to this article reads: "Canada accused of hiding child abuse evidence" - I added "aboriginal" to better reflect the content of the article.


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