Tuesday was National Aboriginal Day. And for at least one minute, Canada got very real about it.
Released on Monday, the 84th Heritage Minute tells “the story of “Charlie” Wenjack, whose death sparked the first inquest into the treatment of Indigenous children in Canadian residential schools.”
Canada’s dark history with its aboriginal population isn’t exactly a secret, but it also manages to avoid the spotlight too. It’s good to see that Heritage Minutes are leaving any heart-string pulling aside (looking at you,“Both of you know I cannot read a word,” and “Johnson, sir. Molly Johnson”) and telling it as close to how it was as possible.
For nearly 70 years, between 1884 and 1948, attendance at residential schools was compulsory for any aboriginal child between the ages of six to 18. With the goal of the schools that of “killing the Indian in the child.” An estimated 150,000 children passed through the residential school system with upwards of 6,000 dying while there.
Pearl Achneepineskum, Wenjack’s sister and a residential school survivor, narrates the short film.