Caribou, a mother of six, managed to survive the draconian assimilation agenda — but many did not. Lowball tallies from the horse’s mouth surmise no less than 6,000 children died in these institutional hells — a figure shamefully contrary to collective anecdotal accounts — but the number may never be assessed since the Canadian government simply ceased keeping records in 1920.
Then, mass graves consumed the State’s shame — or so the culpable must have hoped — as Caribou remembered, “Remains were found all over the fields. But numbers do not reflect the reality. Many of my friends committed suicide after their release.”
“I vowed to myself that if I ever get out alive of that horrible place, I would speak up and fight for our rights,” Caribou asserted of the Guy Hill institution in Manitoba, where she resided as an effective prisoner until 1979 — the entire stint, enduring sexual and physical abuse in many forms, from so-called instructors. She recalled having been forced to consume rotten vegetables and a prohibition on speaking her native language of Cree — but speaking about the past, making known the sordid acts of a cruel and unforgivably ignorant state is catharsis.
Victims of genocidal crimes unquestionably have the right to demand and receive privacy, as much as they do to shout every detail into a megaphone for the world to understand.
Without the horrors of abuse on record, the excruciating testimonies will be lost to time, perhaps followed by knowledge of the genocide years after.
Records of Horrific Abuse at Indigenous Residential Schools Must Be Destroyed, Rules Court