Canada’s dark past resonates with Poles in Poland (Episode 71)

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This story is featured in Episode 71

Canada – this good country, always on top in all the world rankings of safety, living conditions, happiness. But there is also its other face, which has been exposed in the last years – the disturbing history of Canada’s relationship with its aboriginal peoples, those who had been here for millennia before the Europeans came. 

The infamous residential schools were government-sponsored religious boarding schools established to assimilate Indigenous children into Euro-Canadian culture. They appeared roughly after 1880 and existed for a hundred years. With their aim “to kill the Indian in the child” they were the places where sexual, physical and emotional abuse was a normal practice and caused unspeakable suffering of the children forcefully separated from their families. Their legacy is too painful to describe.  In 2008 the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was established in Canada to uncover the truth about these institutions.  

Joanna Gierak-Onoszko spent two years in Toronto accompanying her husband, a journalist working for Bloomberg. Herself an award winning journalist, she spent her time working on a book which was finished after her return to Poland and published there. “The 27 Deaths of Toby Obed” tackles the painful history of residential schools, shown through the life of Labrador residential school survivor Toby Obed and many others.

Toby Obed on the day of the apology

What is extraordinary is the book’s incredible success in Poland – nominations to the most prestigious literary awards, dozens of glowing reviews. Joanna has had countless meetings with readers and the feedback from people who live thousands of kilometers from Toby and his world, is truly amazing.

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How to buy the book

The book in Canada – CBC article about the book

Full Apology Ceremony for Labrador Residential School Survivors – 2017

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