Former residential schools teacher Bernice Logan looks on as one-time student Rev. Andrew Wesley embraces Archbishop John Clarke.
In a presentation marked by expressions of pain and forgiveness, a former teacher in native residential schools, Bernice Logan, and Archbishop John Clarke of Athabasca said many men and women who worked in Indian residential schools were not abusers and faithfully answered their church’s call.
Ms. Logan showed an amateur film of a boys’ hockey team’s trip to Switzerland, noting that the boys spoke English, French and Cree and were accompanied by clergy. “Evil deeds done by some must never negate the good work done by others,” she said. The Anglican church has been the target of lawsuits alleging physical and sexual abuse in the schools and some former staff have been convicted and imprisoned for crimes against students.
Archbishop Clarke said former workers “are bearing an awful mantle of guilt as the result of litigation and the sin of a few. One woman said, ‘My church has made me feel dirty.'” He introduced a resolution – subsequently approved – that acknowledged the dedication of teachers, supervisors and support staff, including native people.
When debate opened on the resolution, Rev. Andrew Wesley, a Cree priest in the diocese of Toronto, asked to approach the stage, where he hugged Ms. Logan and Archbishop Clarke. “I come forward as a survivor of abuse,” he said. “I have been in that journey of forgiveness. I always try not to lose that journey of forgiveness and I encourage my aboriginal people to do the same thing.”
Rev. Arthur Anderson, of Qu’Appelle, said he went to the Gordon’s residential school. “I would love a balanced story. I would love to put my arms around Rev. Norman Pilcher, a gentle human individual who loved us.”
However, Rev. Gloria Moses, of the former Cariboo diocese, said she “had a hard time with this motion,” saying that it seemed to include all staff “including those who have physically and sexually abused the children at the residential schools.”