12 Canadian Mennonite August 23, 2010
Royal said he was also held in ice cold l Indian Residential School timeline
and extremely hot showers for up to 30 1857: The Gradual Civilization Act of 1857 led to the formation of residential schools
minutes as punishment for speaking his for Métis, Inuit and First Nations children. The Canadian government and churches
native tongue. “To this day I can’t go in ran these schools in partnership with one another. The schools operated for about
a sauna . . . or take a hot shower,” he told 130 years, and saw more than 150,000 children pass through them.
workshop participants. “Every day when I
take a shower I remember. . . . I can only 1970: The Conference of Mennonites in Canada offered a litany of confession at its
take warm showers.” annual assembly that confessed the significant failing of its own faith community in
Being so emotionally crippled from his relating to “Indians,” seeing them as “converts,” but not as children of God; in recog-
childhood experiences at the residential nizing them by the “colour of their skin, but not as fellow human beings, friends, and
school, Royal said he grew up full of hate. brothers” in Christ.
An alcoholic by age 16, he became involved
in a string of crimes, including assaults Early 1990s: Some of the key national churches involved in running residential
in bar brawls, domestic violence and at- schools made formal apologies to Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples.
Royal, who now leads programs in an- June 2008: Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a formal apology on behalf of the
ger management for men and women, a government and people of Canada. Since that time, common experience payments
culture camp for kids, and a program for have been made to approximately 80,000 living survivors ,and private hearings for
domestic violence, spent 20 years of his life determining appropriate compensation for those most grievously abused or violated
behind bars. have been offered. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was formed.
Constantly drunk and violent, with his
wife on the verge of leaving him, his life July 2010: Mennonite Church Canada unanimously passed the following resolution:
was in ruins—until a preacher came to his “Be it resolved that MC Canada congregations and individual members recognize
First Nations community on Sept. 20, 1981. and confess our complicity in the failing of the Christian church and its role in the
The bad feelings Royal had experienced for tragic physical, emotional, mental and sexual abuse, denial of culture, language and
so long, vanished. He could feel something peoplehood of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada. In recognition of this past failing, and
other than hate and pain when he accepted in acknowledgement that destructive individual attitudes, such as paternalism, ra-
Jesus Christ into his heart and life. cism and superiority, are still