Part I: Introduction to “The Residential Schools” in Canada

In the spring of 2010, I accepted a research position with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada as a graduate student in political theory — an experience that has since undoubtedly affected me in a positive and maturing sense. The research not only matured my outlook on what meaningful interdisciplinary work looked like but also on how numerous philosophical questions (e.g., of injustice, autonomy as well the contestability, multiplicity and re-narration of histories) applied as well as existed between European and Aboriginal intellectual contexts and ordinary lives. I was then and still am one of the very few privileged non-Aboriginals from my generation to have worked with the head office staff in Ottawa and Winnipeg in documenting the history of the residential schools, in confronting and discovering our shared problems, reflecting on the nature of those problems, and documenting the history of abuses of the residential school system in Canada. With this comes an ability to further understand the existence, and perhaps the failures of the role and the meaning of histories from my own intellectual heritage, indeed the importance of re-narration, its role in politics and its contestability — all of which impact the ongoing maturation of my reflections on truth and reconciliation. In this series of posts, I will first explore the basics of the history of the residential schools so to lay eventually the groundwork for the more philosophical questions and the more difficult exploration I find important in thinking about meaningful reconciliation and perhaps also for coming to terms from a certain perspective with what may very well be determined in the near future a genocide on Canadian soil. My goal is to be honest with myself, embrace my own background (i.e., the white, Catholic, non-Aboriginal male) and share my own development and critical reflections here so to provide perhaps over time a space for other non-Aboriginals to do the same and the eventual basis for positive reconciliatory and conciliatory exchanges with Aboriginal peoples in a shared future. [Continue Reading]

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