#IndigenousPeople; #JeanChrétien; #ResidentialSchools; #UnmarkedGravesDiscovery
Ottawa/Canadian-Media: During an appearance on the popular Radio-Canada talk show, Tout le Monde en Parle on Sunday, Canada's former prime minister Jean Chrétien said during his tenure as minister, he did not hear anything about the occurrence of abuse in residential schools.
Image: Unmarked Graves. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
"This problem was never mentioned when I was a minister. Never," said Chrétien of his time in the department from 1968 to 1974.
In the French interview, Chrétien compared his own experience as a teenager attending a conventional college boarding school to that of Indigenous children who were forced to attend residential schools and said,
Another guest on the talk show Michel Jean, Innu author was angered by Chrétien's comments.
"Respectfully, I don't think Mr. Chrétien knows exactly what residential schools are...The word boarding school makes people think it was a school where we teach people to write, but it wasn't that," said Jean.
Jean added that Chrétien's recalling eating poor-quality food, doesn't compare to the treatment children in residential schools were subjected to and described how members of his own family suffered abuse in residential schools.
"My mother's cousin told me that when there was duck, the nuns would keep the duck meat and cut the feet off, with its toenails still on, boil that in water, and that's what they gave to the kids...There is someone in my family who attended a residential school in Fort George who was sexually assaulted every day for eight years by a nun. It was called a boarding school, but it was not a school," said Jean.
Chrétien said in defense of his record, that he had tried to improve the lives of Canada's Indigenous people both personally and politically.
"I even adopted an Indigenous son, to lead by example...proves my investment in this issue," said Chrétien.
More recent discoveries of unmarked graves on residential school sites have once again brought the issue to the forefront.