Harm over the generations


May 1998

The United Church of Canada was the first of the religious organizations to apologize for its treatment of Aboriginal children in residential schools. The apology was offered in 1986.

Many Aboriginal people have found great comfort from the religious teaching they acquired in the residential school system, as the thousands of Aboriginal people who attend the annual Lac Ste. Anne Pilgrimage in Alberta can attest.

Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed against the federal government with settlements ranging from $11,000 to $400,000. The most prominent criminal action was taken against former Port Alberni Residential School supervisor, Arthur Henry Plint. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison after pleading guilty to 16 counts of indecent assault.

The residential school system as a whole had a tragic effect on Aboriginal people. Loss of language, traditional spirituality and culture was a result. In worse cases, children were physically, mentally or sexually abused. Generation after generation of children were denied parental love and attention during the most formative years of their lives.