The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has been in Edmonton this week. The minister at my husband's church has been very involved. The TRC is what I guess you could call a task force, that is working on healing the hurt suffered by First Nations (Native Indian - for my American friends) people who were removed to residential schools while very young children. These children suffered emotional and physical (and sometimes sexual abuse) at the hands of churches and the government, after being torn from their families.
Let me first say this: what the residential schools did to First Nation's children was horrible. I have worked with people who went to them. The pain they feel is intense and I can understand where forgiveness for the kind of treatment they received would be very hard to muster. There is a LOT of pain there.
I do not pretend to forgive the actions of the churches or the people involved. But from an historical perspective, there is an interesting side note.
The British system of education has an ingrained, long-standing tradition of removing British children from their homes and educating them institutionally, too. They did this to their own children. Granted, their children were raised in their culture, and the institutional schools were part of that culture, so it wasn't a surprising shock to be taken to school, and they still got to speak their own language and live in familiar buildings, etc. First Nations' children were removed from their culture, language, architecture, families, etc and put into these institutional schools, which was far harder on them. But the British were not doing this as some sort of morbid punishment - they were continuing the tradition of education that had worked for their culture.
It's a horrible thing that happened. To the First Nations especially. But I have sympathy for the British children who were removed from their families, too. The more I learn about British history, the more I wonder how anyone ever came from that culture intact and emotionally stable.