I am wearing an orange shirt today to show my support for residential school survivors, and my sympathy for all those whose families are affected by the legacy of those schools.
The history of residential schools is certainly a reminder of the dangers of racism, and I don't want to minimize that. But to me it is also a reminder of the importance of parental rights. I firmly believe that parents should always have the right to choose whether their children take part in any sort of education, and the right to have access to their children. If the parents of the children that were taken to residential schools had not been denied these rights, a lot of the harm that took place could have been avoided.
It is easy to underestimate the importance of simply having the right to bring a child home. A parent cannot always justify or show evidence for why a child needs to be taken out of a situation. Often the child will not talk about what is happening to them, and the parent simply has a gut instinct that something is wrong. When it comes to protecting children, there is no substitute for the judgement of the parents who know and love them.
Over the years as a homeschooling parent, I have met many families for whom the decision to homeschool was a reaction to a situation in which the well-being of their child was threatened. I know that there are people striving to make our schools inclusive and positive for everybody, but the fact is that bullying and abuse will always thrive in situations where the victim is not able to simply walk away.
The arguments that are made against choice in education today are sometimes reminiscent of the arguments used to justify residential schools. I have heard it argued that parents who don't speak English are not giving their children a proper education. I have heard it argued that parents who teach their children from a religious perspective outside the mainstream are not giving them a proper education.
It seems to me that there is plenty of time in life to learn about English grammar or evolution, but there is only one chance for a safe, loving, childhood. I hope that we will never again see children having that chance so brutally taken away as we did under the residential schools. I also hope that we will continue to progress toward a world where families are valued and given the freedom to seek out the way of life that is best for them.