Not long ago, my Mohawk girlfriend came home from the funeral of a relative she was quite fond of. She told me she'd felt uncomfortable in church observing the Christian services. Several times the minister had told the people in attendance to bow their heads in prayer.
My girlfriend chose to look upward toward the Creator and think of her uncle in her own way instead of looking down, away from God, in fear. This was her traditional way of refusing to observe the practices of a belief system she feels has done horrible things to native people.
I found myself in the odd position of defending the Church, though I am not a "Christian." I told her not to condemn an entire religion for the acts of a few psychotic pedophiles running residential schools.
That's not to say the churches aren't to blame. If a man leaves a bar drunk and gets into a car accident causing someone's death, there's a legal argument for suing the bartender. That's the case here -- except this time the accident happened at the residential schools and the bartender is wearing a cross and parking at head office.
Most religions offer some form of heaven or paradise as a reward. But most of the people I've met who went to residential schools say they were in hell, and unfortunately, many still are.
National Post columnist David Frum says he can't believe that "teaching native children to speak English and adapt to Canadian ways constituted an act of "cultural genocide.'"
It is if you're not Canadian and speak a language far older and richer than English and were here centuries before most columnists' immigrant ancestors got lost trying to find China.
Looking for oregano, paprika and pepper, they ended up bastardizing the Iroquoian word meaning "a small village or group of huts" into the word "Canada," which now has a ginger ale and beer named after it.
One wonders how Frum would react if he were placed in a Cree community and beaten every time he spoke English or drank a latte or read the National Post. I have his bus ticket waiting.
I remember a summer long ago when Pentecostals came to our reserve to teach the poor Indians how to play lacrosse (and some religious stuff).
After two weeks, they packed up and left, taking the sticks and balls with them. We knew how to play now, but had nothing to play with. Except the Bibles they had left behind. Maybe that best explains my view of the Church.