The former chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission says student-on-student abuse is an “unspoken truth” of Canada’s residential school legacy — one his own inquiry was not able to delve into.
Murray Sinclair, now a senator, says physical and sexual abuse among students was not about sex but was rather a means for young people to inflict violence.
He says student-on-student abuse was “degrading and dehumanizing to the victims,” suggesting it likely continues to haunt them today.
Sinclair also says many former victims who haven’t come terms with their abuse go on to mistreat their own children — intergenerational trauma documented in a months-long investigation by The Canadian Press.
He says his commission had evidence that victims of abuse by other students waited until the last possible minute to file their legal claims for compensation because they were waiting to see if perpetrators would die so they could avoid having to confront them.
In addition to providing compensation to former students, the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement called for the creation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Its six-year study explored the legacy of the government-funded, church-run residential schools where students experienced abuse by clergy and other staff.