Sunday 17 January 2010

Should we pay out the Lost Boys?

Last week the Province of Manitoba apologized to former residents of the Cathedral Valley Group Home in Grandview -- some of whom refer to themselves as "Warriors of Lost Boys". This all started in June of 2008, about a week after Stephen Harper delivered an apology to the former students of the Residential School system, and about three months after the "Common Experience Payments" began for said students.

A fellow named Sam McGillivray camped out in from of the provincial legistature and demanded an inquiry into the Cathedral Valley foster home. It was run by a man who, by all accounts, was a hard-ass who used corporal punishment and physical labour as means to straighten these kids out, whether they needed straightening or not. With the help of Phil Fontaine, Sam got his inquiry, which led to the report that was issued last week and the apology by Minister Mackintosh.

The review found that several residents benefited from the facility and that the operator of the group home, Henry (Red) Blake, provided well-intentioned and "appropriate placement for most of the residents." It also said there was no "systematic abuse or exploitation." However, Tuckett, a former provincial ombudsman, found that discipline at the group home was at times excessive. -fp-
The polarizing nature of this story is demonstrated by opposing editorials our two local rags: Brodbeck in the Sun and Reynolds in the Free Press. Reynolds argues, basically, that they should get over it and "move on". We've all been through that. Times have changed and what is wrong now was not wrong then, and there was no wrong doing that requires an apology. Brodbeck, on the other hand, tries to support the allegations of wrong-doing before seeming to run out of steam towards the end of his column. "knowing what we do now, it obviously wasn’t appropriate for many kids, at least two of which later committed suicide as adults." Crickey, if only two people from my school committed suicide that would be a huge improvement.

Here's the thing: we shouldn't apologize if there was no intentional wrong-doing, and we certainly shouldn't pay compensation, which is the inevitable next step. That sets a bad precedent where everybody who ever had anything bad happen to them will camp out on the lawn of the leg demanding an expensive inquiry, followed by an apology and compensation. Think of all of those catholic schools where nuns would beat their students with rulers if they got out of line. In fact, most public schools used corporal punishment, including mine.

When I was in grade 5 I got into some trouble at school and got called into the principal's office. The principal, who I believe to be Policy Frog's dad, incidentally, sat me down and asked me: "why I shouldn't I give you the strap?" That was a hard question to respond to. I didn't get the strap -- I got a series of detentions instead -- but I was pretty sure that if I got out of line again I would get it, and that was a motivating factor in my not getting in trouble again -- at least until I got out of that school.

Perhaps, instead of apologizing for how Henry Blake ran his school, we should learn from him and find a balance between his hard-line policies and our coddling "no fail and no punishment" policies that are teaching kids that there are no consequences to bad behaviour or poor performance. Our increasingly numerous young offenders in particular could use a good helping of "child labour" to straighten their asses out: learn something about respect and consequences, and develop a work ethic while they're at it. I wonder if Red Blake is still out there and looking for a consulting gig?

Some of the beating were so severe that they caused injuries still felt today – 30 years later. There were allegations of sexual abuse by Mr. Blake himself. There have been suicides attributed to the psychological damage inflicted at the home.
(Cheatbuster does not provide a source for these allegations.)


Freedom Manitoba said...

The people that should pay are the people that actually did the harm, not the taxpayers. Since it was government run, let the government officials and employees pay it out.

Anonymous said...

I got the strap, and aside from growing up to be a regular grade A asshole and all around Bastid, I've manged to make a decent living and have no police record and i still open doors for lady's.

Being the son of an immigrant who suffered injustices in his homeland and came to Canada with one bag and his wits, I'm with the "get over it " crowd.

cherenkov said...

@Freedom: which employees, exactly? Who determines the key people within the government who were responsible and ensures that they're not just scapegoats?

Aside from the difficulties of fingering the correct people, why should anybody pay if there was no systematic wrongdoing? There's a difference between poor judgment in retrospect and true negligence in the eyes of the law. The report doesn't appear to point to the latter, from what I've seen in the media.

Freedom Manitoba said...

"which employees, exactly?"

Let's start with the Prime Minister and MP's :)

"and true negligence in the eyes of the law. "

True, perhaps no compensation is required in this case.

cherenkov said...

Nobody would want to be an MP if they were personally on the hook for anything that went wrong in their departments.

The Traveler said...

Very good write

cherenkov said...


Unknown said...

Wait just a minute. How did you manage to not get the strap from Policy Frog's dad when you were a jerk in grade 5, when Policy Frog himself wasn't so lucky when he was a jerk in grade 5?

Also, how weird is it to stumble upon a random reference to your own dad in someone else's blog?

[BTW, the strap itself was no big deal. The fear of the strap was much greater.]

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cherenkov said...

[BTW, the strap itself was no big deal. The fear of the strap was much greater.] --> See? You got the good deal. Preferential treatment for his own son .... shameful!!

Unknown said...

What happened at Cathedral Valley Group Home is the tip of the tip of the iceberg to a much much much bigger issue: GENOCIDE, ASSIMILATION AND ABUSE OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES AROUND THE PLANET! It's time to look at the 'Big Picture' and see for once that there WAS AND IS most certainly conspiracies afoot and amongst us hidden through trickery and deceit that is, in fact, an agenda to eliminate Indigenous culture by maliciously destroying the spirit and Way of the Indian through such seditious Acts in Canada as the 'Indian Act' etc.. As well as destroying any and all free and intellectual searches for truth - whether it is for injustices and crimes met against Indigenous humanity or the rest of humanity!

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