Residential schools stories move former HSAA president to tears

By Elisabeth Ballermann,
Secretary-Treasurer,
National Union of Public and General Employees

I just read the articles Blue Quills teaching the painful truth about residential schools and ‘I thought I understood’ residential schools, but I did not know. That was probably the most important 15 minutes of my day as I explored some of the linked stories.

Scott Budgell (HSAA board member), your words brought tears to my eyes. Others will tell you that is not a frequent state for me. With a few, eloquent words you helped me to understand more, as my education on Canada’s history relating to Indigenous Peoples continues.

If anyone ever doubted that what was happening was cultural genocide, reading the words “final solution of our Indian problem” used by Duncan Campbell Scott (deputy superintendent general of Indian Affairs from 1913 until 1932) certainly confirms it for me. I have always associated the term “final solution” with the Holocaust of the Second World War, which was the origin of the word genocide. 

Mike (Parker, HSAA president) and Trudy (Thomson, HSAA vice-president), congratulations again on providing such a powerful learning opportunity to the board. Talk about thinking outside the box. That’s leadership - proud to call you my president and VP!

(Elisabeth Ballermann was president of HSAA for 21 years before taking up her new post at NUPGE last year. She remains a member of HSAA.)