Tag Archives: aboriginals

Walking Without Knowing the Amplifying Truth

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Walking Without Knowing the Amplifying Truth

First Nations children were once living in residential schools under the thumb of priests, nuns and staff charged with purging these children of their culture and traditions and replacing them with their own. Several of the churches were engaged in the management of day and residential schools. This co-operation of the churches in the case of residential schools was as follows: Roman Catholic, 44; Church of England, 21; United Church, 13; Presbyterian Church, 2, making a total of 80. I have never understood why people try to hide history–great nations should never hide their history– but we did.

Today I discovered my truth in this matter by having a flashback and putting two and two together. Funny how that works- and after I had a good cry- I realized that all truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.

Years ago in the 1950s and 1960s I used to help my Grandmother with her Anglican church groups preparing “the bales” to go north as they told me. The bales were actually handmade quilts rolled up with warm mittens and scarves, along with books and treats. We made a lot of them each year, and in my young heart I envisioned they were being transported to the North Pole. Every year I saved up my allowance to buy treats for the families that I thought lived in igloos, wore snowsuits and had big smiles like in the books I read. I was wrong – they were being sent to residential schools.

“As early as 1921, one official report described living conditions in residential schools as “a national crime.” When children wet their beds, the nuns at the Sturgeon Lake residential school would wrap the soiled sheets around their heads. If they tried to run away from the school where they were forced to live until they were 16, their heads were shaved. If they dared to speak Cree, their hands were rapped with a ruler. But the thing that hurts the most is they forced their religion on the children day in and day out.”

As I type the above words I wondered if my grandmother’s church group should have sent boxes of hymn books like they used too. I was always told the children loved getting these books– and now I can see that they did not. We have rules now that the government can’t penalize you because of your religious beliefs– so why were these children forced with this injustice. The residential schools were conducted by church authorities, with financial assistance from the Dominion Government and supervised by the Indian affairs section of the Department of the Interior. Half these schools were under Roman Catholic control and they remain divided among the other denominations. An Anglican bishop in Alberta told the media churches must stop “beating themselves up” over the question of abuse at Indian residential schools and should return to the basics of preaching Christianity. Unfortunately, I can’t tell whether the bishop was being purposefully ironic, or he really couldn’t see the contradictions of his statements.

In the larger residential schools in the 1930s daily duties were allotted to the pupils, who took turns:

Staff Girl

Set staff table. Clear away all staff dishes. Wait on the staff table. Dry staff dishes. Help to put dishes away In pantry. Sweep kitchen and dust. Clean kitchen stove and kettles.

Kitchen Girl

Pack up and wash staff dishes while staff girl dries. Wash all pot and tea towel. Help with up school meal. Clean both kitchen table before meal.

Dining-room Girl:

Wash all tables. Sweep room after all meals. Dust the dining-room thoroughly. Sweep and tidy the lobby after breakfast and dinner. Take wood to the sitting–room when required. Keep the dining-room shelf tidy. Put all Bible and prayer books away tidily.

Dormitory Girl Every day, clean wash stands In both dormitories. Dust. Clean lamp globe.

Monday, prepare for school wash.

Tuesday, sweep and dust boys’ dormitory.

Wednesday, sort and put away clothes. Fill all lamps, also table lamp.

Thursday, sweep and dust girls’ dormitory.

Friday, sweep and dust top bedrooms.

Saturday, sweep both dormitories. Sweep sewing room. Fill all lamps.

After we packed the bales I went home to loving parents. I had a warm meal, watched television and slept in a cozy bed.The next morning I got up for school without having to do the above chores with a full breakfast in my stomach. I told all my friends how we had sent the bales to happy people in the north, not knowing it was all a lie. One hundred and forty articles knitted by the church group members, as well as cash and other things were being shipped to the residential schools. As well, I remember that our church help donate money for an organ so the children could be forced to sing hymns that were not part of their own religion. Why did this all seem so right to everyone when it was all so wrong?

So what should we do now? In a world of TV soap operas an apology is always followed by acceptance, and the story moves on after the required tears and hugs. But, it just doesn’t work quite that way in real life– and especially in this case. More than one in five former school pupils have applied for compensation for living in residential schools have been turned down. Thousands of children that were taken from their families filed claims stating they were sexually and physically abused and forced to learn English. It’s not like we can just turn a page and everything is good. We have to realize that this is not just a dark chapter in our country’s history, it’s something we as a country need to come to terms with when it comes to making decisions about everyones future. We all are connected in a circle of life that is far deeper than any of us can truly understand– and today my realized participation and ignorance came full circle. Apologies are not just enough– it’s a start– but we have to do more than that.

“In the little world in which children have their existence, whosoever brings them up, there is nothing so finely perceived and so finely felt as injustice.”

― Charles Dickens

Also read-Kamloops Industrial School– “A New Idea in Residential Schools” After the Fire 1925

Calgary Herald
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
14 Jun 1930, Sat  •  Page 27
Calgary Herald
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
14 Jun 1930, Sat  •  Page 27

Calgary Herald
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
14 Jun 1930, Sat  •  Page 27

The Heathen School in Carleton Place — Salem’s Lot?

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One sentence in an old newspaper article got me curious:

“The ‘Heathen’ School opposite the Carleton Place Baptist Church on Bridge Street is now in operation.”

What was a ‘Heathen School’? Was it a school dealing in Wica? Is that where the Witches of Rochester Street got their education?  The ‘Heathen School’ was built, in part, to convert the world through seeded evangelism. Carleton Place was not the only town that had one. People from so-called “heathen” nations would attend, learn to spread the gospel. Sons of some of the most prominent Aboriginal leaders of the time (many of mixed ancestry) received their education at the Foreign Mission School in Conn., later becoming distinguished members of their nations. It seems that Carleton Place felt it needed its own.

Of the native Indians who a 180 years ago had been almost the sole inhabitants of the Lanark and Renfrew area, only a few stragglers still remained in Lanark County in the late 1800s.

Two unfortunate Indians were among those who felt the first punitive effects of the new society’s protective activity.  This local story was published in October of 1884 and retold by Howard Morton Brown.

“Last Wednesday two Indians from St. Regis were about to pack up and leave their camp between Appleton and Almonte, on the Mississippi River, when a representative of the Carleton Place Game, Fish and Insectivorous Birds Protective Society appeared on the spot and confiscated a number of muskrat skins.

The fellows had been warned by the Society to desist trapping the animals until November.  The two offenders were brought to Carleton Place.  They had in their possession 126 muskrat skins, one mink skin and one raccoon skin.  The taking of the latter is not an offence.  The poor fellows were in most destitute circumstances.

The magistrate inflicted a fine of $10 and costs and the skins were confiscated.  They doubtless intended to do the river above Carleton Place at once, as has been their annual custom.  The Protective Society is extending its influence very rapidly in all directions from Carleton Place, having a good representative membership in many points at a distance.”

Carleton Place Herald

So was it just the Natives that attended the ‘Heathen’ School? My assumption is that there was a mixture of nationalities in that building that sat across the Baptist Church. You have to remember before the Carleton Place Town Hall was built there sat a Chinese Laundry with a few other businesses next to the Central Bridge. Their children of Asian descent probably went to that school also. Discrimination was heavy in those days, and our town was no different.

Historical Note:

1825- A school house at Carleton Place is said to have been established in 1825 near the corner of Bridge Street and the Town Line Road, with James Kent as teacher. Legislative provision for schools for the district was made by the provincial Parliament in 1823

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Free!  The Kickapoo Indian Medicine Co. will open in Victoria Hall on November 30, 1892 for two weeks.  Indian War Dances, Buffalo Dances.  Also Ventriloquists, Banjo Players, Comedians, Contortionists, Wire Walkers and high class wonder working.

The Adventurous History of the Mississippi – Linda’s Mailbag

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“Good morning Linda. Could you please help clear up how the Mississippi lake/river got its name. Often heard it was a native name that the early settlers could not pronounce so they called it the Mississippi as its source was still unknown. Is there any truth to this? Thank you.” Steve Van Viet.

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In 1820 many small settlements began to spring up along the banks of the Mississippi river up to Morphy’s Falls now Carleton Place. On several of the islands in Mississippi Lake the settlers found Algonquin aboriginals encamped who considered the Mississippi lakes northern shore their hunting ground. Did you know most forests along the shores are less than a century old? It has also been said wild mink can still be spotted along the northern shores of Mississippi Lake.

Beginning at its headwaters in Mazinaw Lake, it winds 124 miles through the historic landscape of Eastern Ontario to the Ottawa River. Pioneers and lumber barons, traders and cottagers; all have lived and died along the river’s course.

The origin of the river’s name is something of a mystery; although its current spelling may be derived from that of its much larger American cousin, it is most certainly a corruption of a different native name, as the translation ‘great water’ would not apply to a relatively minor tributary of the Ottawa, definitely the largest river in the area. Instead, the name may originate from “Mazinaa[bikinigan]-ziibi”, Algonquian for ‘[painted] image river’, referring to the pictographs found on Mazinaw Lake, though this is by no means proven.Wikipedia

At some point in history, it’s pronunciation drifted from the Algonquin to the Americanized ‘Mississippi’. Of course the “Americanized” Mississippi is itself derived from the Ojibwa (Chippewa Indian) language ‘misi-zibbi’  meaning “great river” or literally, “river of the falls.

So Steve– when I grew up in Quebec we spoke Joual. (Quebec French made up from a mixture of local English and French words). I can probably assume this is what happened in the early days of Morphy Falls. Much like speaking Joual the Aboriginal word ‘misi-zibbi’ soon became pronounced Mississippi by the local settlers.

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So Steve– I also contacted the local history goddesses -From the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum-Jayne Henry and Jennifer Fenwick Irwin

Hi Linda

I have no clear answer about the origin of the name but I’ll try to offer some insight from the little research I did. Be forewarned this is mostly just my opinion. I would agree that the name Mississippi means big river and comes from the Chippewa (who are the major tribe of the Algonquin people’s) words “missi meaning “large,” and sippi meaning ‘flowing water,” which taken together literally mean “large river.” I got that quote from a website which I’m going to attach to this email for you to read too even though its talking about the American river. I THINK that the lake was probably named Mississippi first because it’s the largest body of water in the area so obviously “big water” makes sense for it. I think that the river was just given the same name because it is the only notable water way coming out of the lake.

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http://digital.library.okstate.edu/Chronicles/v006/v006p529.html This is the American article on the subject of their “Big River” name.

“A picture is worth a thousand words”.  All Photos of the Canadian Mississippi River in Ontario, Canada by Linda Seccaspina