A wacky world

Section: 
Editorial

With Dana being a member of a book club, I’m often handed a good novel to read – often one that I wouldn’t normally pick up.

 

And that’s how I came to read As Long as the Rivers Flow, by James Bartleman, Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario from 2002-2007. Bartleman, is the one who a few years ago organized the collection of books for native reserves in Northern Ontario. (Bruce Power collected books from its employees and has funded literacy programs on northern reserves.)  

 

As long as the River Flows, Bartleman’s first novel, centres around the life of Martha. Her family lived off the land back in the 1950s, but at the age of six she was taken from her parents and flown to a residential school on the shore of James Bay. Except for two months at home each summer, she was at the school until age 16. She, as were the other students, was beaten by nuns and sexually abused by a priest. (Most of the major denominations, in co-operation with the federal government, ran such schools in northern Canada.)

 

After residential school, Martha and other students didn’t fit in at home because they didn’t know the old ways or the language.

 

And not fitting in leads Martha to booze. Her first child has fetal alcohol syndrome and is taken by Children’s Aid and adopted by a white family in southern Ontario.

 

To make a long story short, Martha turns her life around, moves to Toronto, becomes very successful, and eventually finds her son, now a teenager, living under a Toronto overpass. She returns to the reserve to save her son and raise the daughter she had left with her mother when she moved to the city, but not without difficulty.

 

Residential schools destroyed the culture of native children; most had no idea of love or how to raise their children.

 

So the heartache goes on – generation after generation.

 

The book ends on an uplifting note.

 

However, it is upsetting that Canada could set up a school system that destroyed so many children over the decades. Even more upsetting, the residential school system was still in place in my lifetime.

We’re still paying for that mistake with broken lives, alcoholism and messed up reservations.

 

The book is an easy read but it shows you how the mistakes of yesterday are still affecting the native community.

 

Spending more funds to ensure all Canadian children get a proper upbringing and education would be money well spent.

 

**

 

On the same subject, the Assembly of First Nations wants Ottawa to include a $500-million increase in education funding in this month’s federal budget.

 

Since 1996, federal increases in funding to reserve schools have been capped at two per cent; the money Ottawa sends for provincially funded education has been increasing by six per cent annually, says a story in last week’s Globe and Mail.

 

**

 

If you don’t believe pedophiles, such as the priest mentioned in the above book review, affect the lives of their victims, ask Sheldon Kennedy, Theo Fleury and the many other victims of Graham James.

 

I hope that new crime bill the Tories put through recently sends pedophiles to jail for a long time. James served only 18 months of a 3 ½ year sentence for his first conviction back in 1997.

 

**

 

It’s only a matter of time until the far right is the majority in North America.

 

Republican Party presidential candidates are dead set against abortion and birth control. If they practice what they preach, many of them could start having families of 10 or more kids.

 

The world is full of problems and those seeking the U.S. presidency want to talk about birth control?

 

**

 

March break often features beautiful spring-like weather but last week was special.

 

With the 20 degree, sunny weather of last Thursday, even the patio next door at Gilley’s  was open for business.

 

I imagine that is the earliest ever opening.

 

Anyway, glad I wasn’t in the south last week.