Discovery of child graves in Canadian residential school demands further questions as many hastily attack the Church
A few days ago, our media reported on the gruesome discovery of children’s graves on the grounds of a residential school in Western Canada. In doing so, an accusing finger was immediately pointed at the Catholic Church, because it was an old Catholic school. Around this so-called discovery (the existence of these tombs was not a secret, however), a criminal atmosphere was created, without any indication of this. These graves were by no means exceptional in Canada in the 20thcentury and the number of children found does not seem exceptional, given the high infant mortality rate at the beginning of the last century. This was mainly due to epidemics, including tuberculosis, for which there was no cure at the time. Closed communities, such as the boarding school concerned, were ideal breeding grounds for this. Other factors, such as the fact that the Indian population was not immune to imported infectious diseases and the exceptionally low government subsidy of these schools, aggravated this dangerous situation.
At that time, the rights of the original people, “the First Nations,” were seriously violated, and it is good that this is now being recognized so that reconciliation can be achieved. But this must not be accompanied by false or biased accusations. If you want to get a complete and correct idea of the circumstances at that time, you can consult:
The congregation that ran the school is well known to us as the “Oblate Fathers”, with institutions in Flanders and the Netherlands. They sent missionaries to the four winds. In Flanders, for example, Father Roger Vandersteene was and still is very well known. He went to the Cree Indians of Canada to teach them and, in doing so, resumed their way of life. He even became a medicine man and died between them in 1976. His life story shows a quite different aspect of this missionary order than is suggested following the recent discovery. (His compatriot Willem Vermandere dedicated a song to him: “D’historie van Steentje” on his record “Met mijn simpel lied”.)
Read more: click below, on the last number after “Pagina’s.
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