Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Online Backlash after Radio Ad Calls Residential School Harms a Myth

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Online Backlash after Radio Ad Calls Residential School Harms a Myth

Article excerpt

Radio ad calls residential school trauma a myth

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SASKATOON - A radio ad airing in Saskatchewan is asking listeners whether Canadians are being told the whole truth about residential schools.

The radio spot, which aired recently across multiple private radio stations, was made by the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, a Winnipeg-based think tank.

"We have been told that the residential school system deserves the blame for many of the dysfunctions in Indigenous society -- abuse of alcohol and drugs, domestic violence and educational failures can all be blamed on the school system which did not finally end until the 1990s," veteran prairie broadcaster Roger Currie says in the ad.

Currie says it was a myth that residential schools robbed Indigenous kids of their childhood because the average stay was less than five years and the radio piece claimed most Indigenous children never went to the schools.

The two-minute-long spot also suggested it wasn't true that residential schools robbed Indigenous children of their language and culture, and it disputes that the harm of residential schools was passed on through generations.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission heard from more than 6,000 witnesses over six years and its final report in 2015 found that residential schools amounted to cultural genocide. Around 150,000 Indigenous children went to residential schools and it's estimated around 6,000 children died.

In 2008, former Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized to former students saying it was a sad chapter in Canada's history and the policy of assimilation was wrong.

Tammy Robert said she was shocked and appalled when she heard the spot on the radio while sitting a restaurant in small-town Saskatchewan.

"In my mind, the implication of that piece is that residential school survivors and their families are lying, or at the very least exaggerating and not telling the truth," said Robert, a communications specialist. …

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