Truth and Rec

A commenter on the CBC Manitoba website regarding the now-ongoing Truth and Reconciliation Commission kind of gets to the heart of the matter:

“… My father went to residential school where he was beaten for speaking his language and raped numerous times. Children died because they were given shabby clothing, insufficient food and regular physical abuse. Once boys got big enough (9 years old) they were sent into the fields to grow food that they we’re allowed to eat. My father was absent most my life because he was dealing with these demons. I would give up ever “special right” my status card gives me for a childhood with my father.”

These things happened. There can be no disputing this.

I’ve written a lot about youth crime and youth justice issues over the past few years. I can tell you honestly that one of the things that sits with me is how in 99 per cent of the youth-related criminal court cases I’ve covered, there are no parents to be found.

It’s no great secret that the majority of young offenders charged with serious crimes in Manitoba are aboriginal kids.

Yes, sometimes their grandmothers show up for hearings; occasionally it’s an aunt.

Most often, however, its a social worker. A state-appointed guardian who probably has 100 other ‘files’ to juggle.

It’s a shame – and you have to wonder how much the ‘generational’ nature of what happened residential schools is at play here.

I think it’s probably a lot.

People who know me know I’m not one to subscribe to the ‘hug a thug’ mentality.

But, in a young criminal’s mind – assuming they have reasonable grasp of their functions and aren’t addled with ADD or FAS [many of them are] – can they be expected to act in a way that contrasts with your psychological upbringing and makeup?

Just as I smoke cigarettes habitually – a learned, negative, behaviour – the vast majority of us are really creatures of habit.

I believe that many of the young car thieves, rapists, thugs and murderers would love a re-do of a childhood that appears to have been, from where I sit, anyways, empty of the true kind of care and attention most ‘normal’ people in Canada had the benefit of.