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Religious violence and information


Growing 'Apples:' Abuse at church-run
native residential schools in Canada

horizonal rule

About the reference to "apple:"

Apples are typically white on the inside and have a red skin. That
was one of the goals of the residential schools for native children:
to convert their insides to correspond with white folks while
leaving their skin red.

horizonal rule


bulletMartin O'Malley: "It is part of the fabric of Canada, a brave federation of differences: multiculturalism, official bilingualism, minority rights, cultural and geographic diversity, ancient grievances. Managing these differences is a constant juggling act, a high stakes poker game, an act of faith." 1

bulletThe "profile of mental disorders among Aboriginal people is primarily a by-product of our colonial past with its layered assaults on Aboriginal cultures and personal identities." Royal Commission on Aboriginal People 2

bulletWilliam Commanda of the Mamiwinini First Nation, Canada, (1991): "Traditional people of Indian nations have interpreted the two roads that face the light-skinned race as the road to technology and the road to spirituality. We feel that the road to technology.... has led modern society to a damaged and seared earth. Could it be that the road to technology represents a rush to destruction, and that the road to spirituality represents the slower path that the traditional native people have traveled and are now seeking again? The earth is not scorched on this trail. The grass is still growing there."  3

Government programs towards Native peoples:

The arrival of Europeans to North and South America at the end of the 15th century CE marked a major change in Native society. Millions died due to sicknesses imported from Europe, programs of slavery, and outright extermination. 4 Europeans and their Christian missionaries generally looked upon Native Spirituality as worthless superstition inspired by the Christian devil, Satan.

During the late 19th century and much of the 20th century, the Canadian government's goal for their Native populations was assimilation. Sometimes this is referred to contemptuously as "Making apples" -- changing the culture and religion of Native peoples so that they become "white" on the inside, even as their skin remained red. The goal was to force Natives to disappear within the larger, predominately white, society. A key component of this policy were the residential schools, which were operated for over a century, from 1857 -- a decade before Confederation -- to 1995 when the last school closed. A total of about 150,000 Native students passed through the school system. All or essentially all were subjected to physical, sexual, spiritual, and/or cultural abuse. 5 About 6,000 are now known to have died as students, largely due to the Spanish Flu after World War I, and tuberculosis. This number is expected to rise as additional archives are examined.

Topics covered in this section:

bulletOverview. About residential schools
bulletChurch apologies:
bulletFrom 1947 to 1991
bulletFrom 1992 to mid-1994
bulletFrom 1994-NOV to 2002
bulletFederal government apologies
bulletExcerpts from Prime Minister Harper's speech

bulletLegal aspects
bullet Government apology & compensation. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission
bullet More recent developments: 1998 to 2002

bullet Prime Minister Trudeau asked Pope Francis to apologize on behalf of the Catholic Church: 2017

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Books on residential schools:

bullet book cover "Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada,Volume One: Summary: Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future," (2015)  Read reviews / order this book.

bullet book cover Constance Deiter, "From Our Mothers' Arms: The Integenerational Impact of Residential Schools in Saskatchewan." Read reviews / order this book.

bullet book cover Suzanne Fournier and Ernie Grey, "Stolen From Our Embrace: The abduction of First Nations children and the restoration of aboriginal communities," Read reviews / order this book.

bullet book cover Elizabeth Furniss, "Victims of Benevolence: The Dark Legacy of the Williams Lake Residential School," Read reviews / order this book.

bullet book cover Agnes Grant, "No End of Grief: Indian Residential Schools in Canada," Pemmican Publications,(1996). Read reviews / order this book.

bullet book cover Jim Miller, "Shingwauk's Vision: A history of Native Residential Schools," University of Toronto Press, (1996). Read reviews / order this book safely from online bookstore.

bullet book cover John Milloy, "A National Crime: Canadian Government and the Residential School System, 1879-1986," Read reviews / order this book safely from online bookstore.

bullet book cover Ruth Teichroeb, "Flowers on my grave: How an Ojibwa boy's death helped break the silence on child abuse," HarperCollins,  Read reviews / order this book. This book describes the brief life of Lester Desjarlais, (1974-1988).

bulletBooks by the Williams Lake, B.C. Cariboo Tribal Council:
bullet"A conspiracy of silence: The care of the Native students at St. Joseph's residential school," (1991).
bullet"Victims of benevolence: discipline & death at the Williams Lake Indian residential school, 1891-1920," ISBN 0969663900. 

And an article:

bullet Grant, Peter R. "Settling residential schools claims: litigation or mediation" in Aboriginal Writes, Canadian Bar Association, National Aboriginal Law Section, 1998-JAN.

Related essays on this web site:

bulletSexual abuse at Roman Catholic church-run schools in Canada
bulletNative American Spirituality
bulletSuicide among Canada's Native people

bulletThe extermination of Canada's Innu people
bulletCanadian Charter of rights and Freedoms

References used:

  1. Martin O'Malley, "Canada's Oldest Nations," Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, at: "
  2. "Choosing Life: Special Report On Suicide Among Aboriginal People," Royal Commission on Aboriginal People., Ottawa: Canada Communication Group Publishing, 1995. 
  3. "Quotes from our Native Past," at: 
  4. Ward Churchill, "A Little Matter of Genocide: Holocaust and Denial in the Americas, 1492 to the Present," City Lights Books, (1998). Read reviews and/or order this book
  5. "Judge throws out lawsuits against Anglican Church seeking redress for abuse," The Globe and Mail, Toronto, Canada, 2002-OCT-25, Page A15.
  6. Colin Perkel, "Residential school deaths number at least 3,000, new research finds," Canadian Press, 2013-FEB-19, at:

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Copyright © 2000 to 2017 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2001-JUN-03
Latest update: 2017-JUN-06
Author: B.A. Robinson

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