CBC Digital Archives

CBC has a fantastic archives site called CBC Digital Archives. This site has something for everyone and contains both television and radio archives going back many years. It is interesting to note that two of the three most popular clips are about aboriginal issues: the Oka stand-off in 1990 (with a rather young looking Peter Mansbridge) and piece on survivors of the Residential school system from 1991. The third most popular video is Justin Trudeau’s eulogy for his father in 2000.

I did a bit of exploring in the archives under Society and Native Issues and focused on the history of the residential School system. It is interesting to see how Canadian Societal views about the Native residential school system changed over time as expressed through the CBC media. The earliest clip called “A New Future” is from 1955 and presents a wonderful and cheery perspective of residential schools as a feature to salute “Education Week”. It is definitely biased as the well dressed, cheery, anglicized Indians never stopped smiling – a must to see to understand how residential schools were justified and understood at the time.

Fast forward to 1969 for the video Government takes over schools to see when the federal government took over the residential schools from the churches. This clip also shows a huge change in attitude and understanding of the residential school. This clip and the 1970 the clip “Losing Native Languages” shows recognition that isolating aboriginals from their culture was not such a good idea after all. The cover picture for this radio broadcast is from the 1955 “A New Future” video from 1955. The videos then progress towards the present as the abuses of the aboriginal students were recognized: Native Leader charges church with abuse (1990) to the official apology’s from the Canadian Government including: We are deeply Sorry (1998) and A long-awaited Apology (2008). There is also an interesting clip from 1974 showing a day in the life of the Indian Affairs Minister: Jean Chretien (former Prime Minister of Canada)

This is a great site to find out about Canadian Aboriginal issues both past and present.

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