600 Kilometers From Home - A National Tragedy

It is necessary for the history of Residential Schooling to be taught to Canadians. To thrive as a modern society, past cruelties must be recognized in order to prevent similar situations from happening. Residential Schools left lasting impacts on thousands of Indigenous people across Canada. The purpose of these schools was to destroy the Indigenous cultures by cutting off the younger generation from the elder, to create a difference between the generations and “kill the Indian in the child”. The effects of these schools are still felt around Canada: in the survivors, their families, and Indigenous communities as a whole. Chanie’s story is symbolic of the resistance to those who attempted to destroy Indigenous cultures through assimilation. His is but one story of the numerous children who suffered under the Residential Schools system. The place where Chanie Wenjack died should be a national historic site in remembrance of all the children taken from their families and placed in Residential Schools. Memorializing the circumstances leading to Chanie’s death would help Canada remember past injustices and grow into a more inclusive society. This spot should be deemed a national historic site so this boy’s struggle, representing the struggle of thousands of Indigenous children and the damage caused to their communities, will never be forgotten. This national memorial would honour those who were lost in one of the darkest chapters of Canadian history, and acknowledge the damages still lingering today.

600 Kilometers From Home - A National Tragedy

Katrina Billinton

Grade 11

Mount Boucherie Secondary
West Kelowna, British Columbia

I wanted to write an essay to propose a national historic site to honour Chanie Wenjack and all former students of the Residential Schools.

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