[Byfield] Alberta's Bill 24 may be setting us up for ‘Residential Schools 2.0’ but with far greater danger

[Vince Byfield] Alberta’s Bill 24 may be setting us up for ‘Residential Schools 2.0’ but with far greater danger

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[CHRIAS.org] All stages in life come with problems, but many vouch that adolescence is the toughest. Few trials can match the inevitable onslaughts of self-doubt that descend upon us as we transition from boy to man or girl to woman. Not making matters any easier is the growing awareness of our parents’ imperfections. And yet history shows us that, despite their flaws, moms and dads are our best bet in making it through the deep and murky forest of adolescence. Study after study shows that most often it is our family that has our best interests at heart — much more than any other institution. And when this fact is ignored by governments very bad things can happen (case in point: Canada’s residential schools). Sadly, Alberta’s NDP appear oblivious to the obvious as they blunder on with implementing Bill 24.

VIDEO: [JCCF.ca] Son of woman who attended residential school speaks out against Bill 24

The Alberta NDP government brought forward Bill 24 arguing that “every student deserves a welcoming, caring and safe place to learn.” This is, of course, a most laudable goal. However, Education Minister Eggen’s first speech promoting the bill failed to mention a single instance from the past that this bill would have remedied. Presumably, Bill 24 is supposed to reduce negative behaviours often associated with homosexuality, such as suicide, running away from home, dropping out of school or drug and alcohol abuse. For the most part, however, these problems are self-inflicted, so in the vast majority of cases the aggressor and victim are essentially one and the same. How setting up gay/straight alliance (or GSA) clubs will reduce these afflictions Mr Eggen failed to say, and the witless media present at this speech similarly failed to press him for such evidence.

What he did say, however, is that “kids sometimes feel safer talking about gender and sexual identity with their peers.” Presumably this means that only “peers” (i.e. other kids) will be present in these clubs. Teachers are needed to oversee students in classrooms, gyms and schoolyards, but when engaging in conversations and activities about sex with other students? Apparently not. Some schools have students from kindergarten through Grade 12. Therefore boys and girls ranging in age from 6 to 16 will be meeting up to explore this most delicate and psychologically-sensitive issue with absolutely no adult supervision at all. What could possibly go wrong?

Either that, or adults will be present, and Minister Eggen, like his handling of the ultra-top-secret new Alberta curriculum, thinks teachers are better equipped to care for children than parents. He appears to believe this even though nearly 1,300 students fell victim to 714 school teachers and  staff across Canada over the last 20 years and often when caught not only receive no jail time at all but get to keep their teaching licenses. This mentality that government knows best is not new and seldom ends well, especially when children are involved. Just ask any of the participants in Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

From the commission’s final report:

In establishing residential schools, the Canadian government essentially declared Aboriginal people to be unfit parents. Aboriginal parents were labelled as being indifferent to the future of their children

And who did the Canadian government think was better able to care for aboriginal kids? Why agents of the government, of course. What followed over the next century the report goes on to say was the creation of an environment where “child neglect was institutionalized, and the lack of supervision created situations where students were prey to sexual and physical abusers.”

This article continues at [CHRIAS.org] Alberta’s Bill 24 may be setting us up for ‘Residential Schools 2.0’ but with far greater danger


  1. Governments always seem to know best, or so they would have you believe. As pointed out, the track record of this practice throughout history is a dismal failure. A most recent example would be a case in point. While in Russia in May, we had opportunity to hear a former Russian Ambassador to the U.S. apologize for the wrongs of the Soviet era government. He went on to say that perhaps their greatest crime was separating children from their parents, which they did very effectively. Speaking to home educating Russians (yes in Russia) he said that moving back to the traditional family was the correct and best thing to do. Go figure! So while we bought into the propaganda of the Soviet 60s, (daycare being one of those things that separate parents from children) they are now abandoning it with the understanding that the traditional family – Mom, Dad and children – is the foundation of the Russian people and culture. It seems that governments have no end of apologies, with essentially no answers to the problems.

    1. Excellent points, Raymond. Russia sounds to be moving in the more sensible direction. I suspect there is still a role to play for government but more in the area of assessment and validation of learning. I pray for a future where we blend the advantages of home schooling, online learning, and socialization through extra-curricular physical activities. Homeschooling’s primary drawback is that most families now have both parents leaving the home in the daytime to earn income. Unless that changes then some form of child supervision is necessary. The key ingredient for anything to happen is a provincial government that understands the shortcomings of the current schooling structures and has the vision to implement smaller, more effective educational options for parents. Homeschooling is showing us the way.

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