EAGLES NEST/BRANTFORD, ON ‑ The truth about Duncan Campbell Scott is finally out and it’s about time that Canada is finally beginning to set its history straight with the rewording of a plaque marking the gravesite of the notorious DC Scott.
The old plaque only touted him as one of Canada’s great poets, with no mention of his politics and racist policies against Canada’s Aboriginal peoples.
The new plaque now includes: “As Deputy Superintendent, Scott oversaw the assimilationist Indian Residential School system for Aboriginal children, stating his goal was ‘to get rid of the Indian problem.’ In its 2015 report, Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission found that the Indian Residential School system amounted to cultural genocide.”
Scott’s actual quote also reads, “I want to get rid of the Indian problem. Our objective is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed into the body politic and there is no Indian question, and no Indian Department, that is the whole object of this Bill.”
That was in 1920 and has been the Tory’s Indian policy ever since. Canada’s Assimilationist stance began some years earlier with the Gradual Civilization Act of 1857, but Campbell made an art of it.
Later, an amendment to the Indian Act made it mandatory for all native children between the ages of seven and fifteen to attend government sponsored and church run residential schools.
Scott believed that removing Onkwehonwe children from the influences of home and reserve would speed up the cultural disappearance of the whole aboriginal population by making them Canadians.
About 150,000 aboriginal, Inuit and Métis children were removed from their communities and forced to attend these schools, some as day school students and others in residential schools, but either way, the children received the same ill treatment policy with cultural genocide at its roots.
Under Scotts “kill the Indian, save the man” policy, records show that on the average, as many as 50% of those enrolled in these schools died while under the care of underpaid, unqualified and racist teachers and principals. Thousands of others were sexually abused and sometimes used for entertainment for local rich and powerful citizens. Such was the case with another highly acclaimed government official, Judge Sturgis Hardy who became Ontario’s fourth Premier and the Attorney General of Canada.
Hardy was born in Mount Pleasant and lived and practiced as a lawyer in Brantford. It was during this time that he impregnated a young Six Nations student at the school. Hardy hired the girl as a part time housekeeper while she attended the Mohawk Institute. When it was discovered that she was pregnant, Hardy felt pangs of remorse and admitted to his deeds even giving the offspring his own last name. The child was born on the third floor infirmary of the Mohawk Institute and kept at the school from infancy to adulthood, paid for by Judge Hardy.
When she grew into a woman she was hired by the school as a teacher where she worked until her death, having been born, raised and died within the walls of the Mohawk Institute.
When the school found itself in need of a new principal after the retirement of Reverend Horace Snell, Mr. Joseph Hill (a highly educated Six Nations teacher) was recommended for the job, but the Anglican Church would not allow that. That opened the door for one of the other most hated men in Indian Country, Reverend John Zimmerman — a name which still brings fear and shame when mentioned.
The sexually and physically abusive Reverend Zimmerman was made Principal in 1945 where he remained until the school was officially closed in 1969-70. Many former students, now adults, even today cry at the sound of his name.
The succession of abusers over generations has caused far-reaching harm to Native people today through multi-generational trauma and abuse passed from generation to generation. Although some have been fortunate enough to break the cycle others still struggle with the aftermath of the residential school experience.