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How to deal with residential school denialism

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Sean Carleton, an assistant professor of history and Indigenous studies, has two speaking engagements at Sault Ste. Marie’s Algoma University this week dealing with sensitive topics.

The first one, on Thursday afternoon, is about residential schools and the importance of what he calls 'truth before reconciliation.'

"It’s important to educate people about what denialism is, which is not the denialism of residential schools, but the attempt to manipulate or twist the basic facts," said Carleton, of the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.   

"Algoma used to be a residential school, so I think it’s an important space to be doing this public education."

Shingwauk Indian Residential School operated in Sault Ste. Marie between 1873 and 1970.  It was run by the Anglican Church of Canada and the Canadian government.

Carleton’s second topic on Friday night is about a new book he has written 'Lessons in Legitimacy: Colonialism, Capitalism, and the Rise of State Schooling in British Columbia.'

"It looks at the role of different kinds of schools. I am going to look at Indian day schools, Indian residential schools but also public schools for non-Indigenous children," Carleton said.

Carleton’s first event at Algoma University is March 23 at 1 p.m. with the second event scheduled for March 24 at 7 p.m. Both are at the Doc Brown Lounge at Algoma University.

If you are a former residential school student in distress or have been affected by the residential school system and need help, you can contact the 24-hour Indian Residential School Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419. Additional mental-health support and resources for Indigenous Peoples are available here.

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