Shomporko Online News Desk: Richard Morrison strolled into a change room at the residential school he was attending in the 1960s when a staff member summoned him. When he entered the room, however, he was wearing a sack and his clothing was removed.
According to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) findings, he was one of more than 38,000 victims of sexual and serious bodily abuse at federal residential schools.
“All I remember is that it was a pain.” He told the commission, “The pain was just strong.” “It was incredibly terrible, and I remember being a very, very furious kid the next day.”
Despite thousands of other stories like Morrison’s that have emerged over the years, fewer than 50 convictions have ever been brought down against the perpetrators of abuse at these institutions.
But that might soon change. Advocates have been putting renewed pressure on the government and law enforcement to investigate and prosecute the crimes alleged to have taken place at residential schools. Still, experts are warning that any pathway to prosecution is a long and winding one — though that doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.
“I think it’s really important that there be a full investigation of any criminal activity, and that persons or institutions that were responsible for wrongdoing are held accountable,” said Cindy Blackstock, who is the executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada.
“It’s a good start to start in that one residential school. And now the work needs to be done to look at all of them.”
The Manitoba RCMP announced on Tuesday that they have been investigating sexual assault accusations at the former Fort Alexander Residential School on Sagkeeng First Nation for the past decade. The investigation into historical claims began in February 2010, according to police, and includes investigators looking through archival data in both Manitoba and Ottawa.
Residential school survivors can pursue criminal charges in this way, according to a lawyer, but it is not up to the survivors to take the initiative.
According to Steven Pink, legal counsel for the Native Women’s Association of Canada, “the police will decide whether or not to proceed with charges.”
Source_ the Star