Report Number: 003 appendix 2

Not all students: Not all staff


The task given us by Archbishop Clarke was to collate and present a brief kaleidoscope of the faith journeys of students and staff associated with the Anglican Residential Schools. To that end, we reviewed the thoughts, opinions and feelings of approximately 300 ex-pupils of residential schools, some 50 staff members who worked at a variety of levels of endeavour and perhaps 30 or so documents and articles written by informed but not directly involved observers. We believe that “Not All Students: Not All Staff” captures the essence of the material available to us.

This work does not enter into any kind of analysis of the broader and painful issues currently being analysed and debated: those discussions belong elsewhere. We seek only to shed some light upon the work done by the many devoted Anglicans who answered the call of their church and gave something noble and valuable of themselves to their young charges.

The faithful and honourable workers in the residential schools: the pupils whose experiences were positive: the Anglican Church of Canada - all are indebted to the work of Bernice Logan. This compilation would not have been possible without the diligence and determination she displayed in gathering and pulling together the materials from which the excerpts were drawn.

Time constraints precluded our presenting a polished document. For example, although we tried to identify with absolute accuracy the provenance of every excerpt included in our selection, it was not always possible to do so with the specificity and accuracy required of a scholarly work in the time we had available to us. We do regret that failure. Similarly, we are not publishers: hence, formatting errors remain in the document.

“Not All Students: Not All Staff” is a snapshot of the thoughts and recollections of many people. With the exception noted below, the selections and excerpts presented employ the writers’ or speakers’ own phraseology exclusively. We deliberately tried to avoid interjecting anything into the original statement. Where we intervened, our purpose was to identify accurately the speaker or source from which the excerpt was drawn, highlight the person’s perspective or include explanatory notes to ease the flow or to clarify the sense of the person’s comments. To that end, our interjections employ a different font, i.e., Courier New .

Respectfully Submitted
Alice-Mae Varpio
Peter Varpio
2004 02 26


One of the great pioneers of the missionary work to Canada’s native peoples was T.B.R. Westlake. His journals are full of accounts of his travel: it was an unusual year if he did not travel across the breadth of Canada at least once by canoe and horse/buggy/sleigh and train. He was frequently ill, with a variety of ailments probably brought on by exhaustion. He never complained of those trivialities, noting and marvelling rather: “ I am reminded also of the heroic men and women who, after great diligence and devotion in the cause of the Lord Christ, have laid down their lives in this lonely land. Bishop Bompas, one of the great pioneer missionary bishops, was one of these.”

At one point, T.B.R., as he was affectionately known, was elected Bishop of Athabasca : The telegram advising him of his election read: “You have been elected Bishop of Athabasca. Wire reply immediately. Archbishop Stringer”(p. 141) . Recalling Nehemiah’s building the walls of Jerusalem ‘ I am doing a great work so that I cannot come {Neh 6:23}’”, T.B.R. declined the bishopric.”

In The Spirit Lives On (p. 9) the principal of Elkhorn School wrote : “ In the middle of January (1930), I left for the North end of Lake Winnipeg on a similar trip (by horse and covered sled), taking with me old clothes and quilts for the purpose of bringing down 15 children who were almost starving to death. The conditions as found on this trip would take too long to express in a letter. However, as we look at these same children to-day, it is hard to realize they are the same ones , the change being so great and wonderful in every case.”

Writing of Kay Lindsey, Bernice Logan wrote : ” Kay worked at Moose Factory, Shingwauk, Chapleau, Alert Bay and MacKay - 42 years altogether. Kay in hospital now and quite frail.”

In the ‘The Northland’(undated), Fred Ingle wrote : “My wife worked in the school in the north (Fort George) and we both worked in the school at Shingwauk....We worked for $35.00 per month plus room and board and were on call twenty four hours a day, seven days a week if necessary and believe me, if we hadn’t loved the Indian children and had their best interests at heart we would not have been there. ...”

In an interview with CBC and speaking of a point later in time, Canon Henry Morrow stated : “In the (residential) school the teachers got fifty dollars a month plus their keep for income tax purposes they allowed it at fifteen dollars a month. So that was what? Sixty five a month, sixty five dollars a month. ...Yeah, it would be three thousand dollars (a year), I think, outside (in the provincial system).”

In a later portion of the interview, Canon Morrow remembered : “When my mother was cook in the kitchen, I think she got 45 or 50 dollars a month. When she retired they had to hire somebody (from outside). They got a German cook in and he lived outside and they paid something like three hundred dollars a month for him.”

Commenting on the working conditions, Canon Henry Morrow noted : “ Had to do a lot of innovations actually, when I first went there (Shingwauk) they had no workshop. I had no work benches at first, I had no tools. I brought my own tools. Finally, they gave me, if I can remember correctly, 50 dollars - something like that- to buy tools. Even in those days....”

“I had a home made jigsaw I made for them...”

“Out west (Punnichy) we had no tools either. Actually, somebody years ago had a bunch of little fret saws. I had ten fret saws and two blades! ...And we used the ends of the orange crates for making projects...and that was the lumber we had while I was out there”

At one point, $5000 was allowed to build a workshop at Shingwauk. Canon Morrow said:“And I can say I built (it)because they said $5000 and Morrow can do the work. Well that was true enough: I did most of it...Of course , I was trying to teach at the same time as I built the blessed thing. When we built the building and got it closed in some of the older boys came and did a lot of the sheetrocking..... They did that. Usually on the Saturdays ”

Alice-Mae (nee Clarke) Varpio recalled : ”Mr. John Long, who went on to be ordained, was a real Mr. Fix-it at Bishop Horden (Moose Factory ), often having to improvise as plumbing supplies, etc were not available. His ingenuity, creativity and engineering skills kept the power on, the water flowing and the buildings warm. He was a gentle man , with the patience of a saint. He taught our confirmation class and was able to bring a reverence and seriousness to our discussions, helping our 12 year old minds wrestle with spiritual matters.

In the interview, Canon Morrow noted : “I felt the food was quite good, I saw it occasionally cause I had to go on what we called dinner duty or meal duty to supervise the youngsters while they were eating and maybe a week of .....What I saw was pretty good and I think much the same sort of thing in the staff dining room...I don’t think that there was anything different, as far as I know.”

Alice-Mae (nee: Clarke) Varpio remembers : Mrs. Janet Wood, an amazing lady, was the cook. She had difficulty walking but that never interfered with her work. The meals were excellent and enjoyed by staff and students alike. She took the time to teach the girls the importance of good nutrition, the skill of creating a balanced meal as well as baking bread and pasties. I remember her every time I cook a turkey as she taught us the secret of guaranteeing a nice brown skin without drying out the drumsticks”

In The Spirit Lives On (p.H-2), Rev. Middleton wrote of Nurse Long : ...”nursed children and staff in times of flu and measles epidemic; cared for children and comforted them when tests proved them to have the dreaded Tuberculosis virus; tended the cuts and bruises of little ones and brought the older ones through periods of crisis...

In the same publication, Annabelle (nee: Stranger) Whittingham (p. N-1) said : “Miss Long, or ‘Nurse Long’, as we called her , was a wonderful caring person. I worked with her every morning before I went down town to High School in the dispensary. She was determined I was going to be a nurse. One morning, I held a kidney bowl while she kneaded a long, large boil out of Lawrence McPherson’s shoulder. That did it! I’d do anything but nurse....... Miss Long would scold the staff and speak lovingly to the children...”

In The Spirit Lives On (pps. 24-25), Daniel Umpherville also wrote of Canon Minchin :” “It was each year in November that Mr. Minchin did something extra ordinary but special for the boys and girls. ....On his birthday, Mr. Minchin ordered in several boxes of those Delicious apples from the local store in town. Later that day, usually after supper, just before the children were dismissed form the table, he went about the dining room and distributed the apples to each child....As long as he was Principal at this School, which was about six years, Mr. Minchin carried on this tradition - just out of the goodness of his heart....This is what I mean , when I say that Mr. Minchin was a Priest, a man of God , one who took his spiritual work seriously. We respected him for his calling in the Ministry. Yes, here was a man who really cared for us in a spiritual way, and we loved it”


Note: We tried to identify the speaker/writer by indicating the person’s relationship to the school in brackets, i.e., (staff) or (student).

Eleanor Montgomery (staff): ”My girls came bouncing into my room after morning chapel. They jumped on my lap and gave me a hug and a kiss - The darlings....My classroom was used as a boy’s rec. room in the evenings. The Anglican Church did so much in the early days.”

Mrs. Margaret Scrase (staff) : “Our years in the schools were happy ones and the parents were keen to have their children educated.”

Rev. Stanley Cuthand (external observer) : “George Fisher was in charge of All Saints’ School at La Ronge and had been there for seventeen years. He was often criticized by the staff for being too lenient with the children and he was not an educator...he had some very good staff members; Miss Williams, the matron, nursed one of the girls who was quite ill and moved her to her room to look after her day and night..”

In a recent letter to “The Northland”, Father Bonnard (staff) at La Tuque wrote : But above all, the purpose of this message is to THANK YOU, thank you for the joy you brought to me for ten years, thank you for your smiles, for your trust, for your affection. Without a doubt, the years my family and I spent in La Tuque were most happy ones because of what you brought to us, of what you gave to us, of what you were.”

Mary Petawabano (student) wrote back : “I attended La Tuque Residential School in the late 60's and early 70's. I am from Mistissini. I too have fond memories of La Tuque and every time I drive by the residence on my way to Montreal and back we always stop there just to think back about the days we spent there. Sometimes it gets lonely just thinking. But I do have pleasant memories. It is so sad to see the condition of the building”.

Henry Baribeau (student) wrote: “ The boys, the ones who were in La Tuque, tell me that whenever they pass by La Tuque they always go and look at the building and talk about the good times spent there. I would like to also say that I had a beautiful experience in La Tuque.”

Nellie (nee:Sands) McDowell (student) : “ I am positive there are many others who think of Shingwauk as ‘home’” ....The notion of depriving the children of their right to speak their native language escapes me. I never saw/heard it enforced.. So many of them think of the bad, but the good far outweighs it.”

Chester Shobway (student): ” I had fun. There was no fightin’. I got pretty well acquainted. My sister and brother stayed at the school. It was depression - hard times. It was like starvation. But we had something to eat at the school (Shingwauk)”

Don Sands (student) is a detractor of Residential Schools. Yet, in ‘ As Your God is My Witness’, he notes : “Like I said, there were many good missionaries among the bad apples, but let us not forget there were may of us who are saying opposite....I also see that some of the ones that said that they were treated well never went back to the reserves to live after leaving school.”

And again : “Bernice , I have no quarrel with you on the concept for education in the Indian school system. It was how it was administered by some of the missionaries. What I went through at Shingwauk is what I am critical about. .... I am not blaming all of them just those certain few”

Muriel (nee: Staden) Hankinson (staff) stated : “ I have wonderful memories of my two winters in 1953 & 54 when I worked as secretary to the principal at Gordon’s Residential School in Punichy , Saskatchewan. The principal, Canon Norman Pilcher, is a fine gentleman who treated the children with care and respect.

It was a happy place in which to work and live. I recall many wonderful staff members who so lovingly cared for and taught the children. As well , I often reflect on the many special moments during my stay at Gordons. One in particular comes to mind. One night a week I was responsible for putting 29 Junior girls to bed. They would wash their faces, brush their teeth, put on their flannelette night gowns, say their prayers, jump into bed and ask to be sung to sleep. I would make certain that they were all tucked in and then I would sit in the dark and sing lullabies until the last little one had fallen asleep. These little children certainly made me feel loved.”

In the Gordon’s School at Punnichy 1960 Yearbook: ” The girls would especially like to thank Miss Gillespie our Senior Girls’ Supervisor for all she has done to keep us happy and busy. All of us know we couldn’t find another who would devote her life to Indian Children as Miss Gillespie has. We would like to thank Rev. Johnstone for the nice clothes and good food, and for all he has done to help us have good times..”

Miss Eva Lilley (staff) wrote : “Agnes (Gillespie) has led a dedicated life. She was the eldest. When her father died she was only 18, and she raised the rest of the children...It was in the “dust bowl” years. When the last members (of her own family) was out on their own , she came to the school at Punnichy. She was excellent with the Senior Girls. They loved her. So did the rest of the children.....After leaving the school, she boarded many of the girls when they went to high school in Regina.... A faithful worker.”

Agnes Gillespie (staff ): “ I was at Gordon’s School for several years and I left with a very pleasant feeling..they were treated with love and care. All staff tried very hard to work as a team. We had many, many happy lovely days. We worked long, hard hours never complaining....Christmas Eve was a very special time. Parents of children would attend (they would walk miles). After service the parents stayed for lunch, children and staff joined in with the visit, this gave us a good feeling.”

In the ‘Anglican Journal’, January 2001, Betty Cappleman (external observer) wrote : “ I've read a great deal about the abuse in residential schools, but would like to tell the other side as I saw it. I did not teach at Gordon's, but was primary teacher in Punnichy, a small village in the midst of three reserves - Gordon's, Day Star, and Poormans. This was in the late 1940's. Almost every week I went out to Gordons ..............I thought the pupils at Gordon's were so lucky - living in a nice red brick building with central heating, water and electricity - conveniences we lacked in the village. Brothers, sisters and cousins all living together, getting the education required by law, learning about health and cleanliness and getting enough to eat. Older girls also learned to cook, bake, wash and sew. Older boys were taught agriculture, care of animals, growing gardens, etc...If the children were abused I saw no signs of it when I visited.”

Mrs. Hilda Workman (staff): “ .....Two teachers in particular (at Elkhorn) stand out in their dedication to the children. They spent many extra hours helping and encouraging their pupils....Mrs. Hamilton ...and another, Margaret Gibney, now Mrs. Dykes..”

Rev Daniel Umpherville (student & staff) : ” I am grateful that I went to Elkhorn for my early education. Those were happy years”...”Dear Mrs. Hamilton took precious time to assist us. If it wasn’t for our dear teacher and friend, I would never have made the grade. I am so indebted to this wonderful person..of Mrs. Hamilton, we, her former students, will long remember her a great teacher and friend...”

In The Spirit Lives On, a recounting of the 1995 reunion at Elkhorn, Miller wrote : “These eager and happy people came back to Elkhorn for one purpose and that was to once again meet with old school friends, after so many years of separation. They found that the bonds of friendship and experiences were still there. As someone in the crowd of well wishers said,’It’s just wonderful to be together gain, after so many years of being apart; and just look around...why it’s like one big happy family once again’. So it was. With shouts of welcome, tears of joy, hugs of happiness, handshakes, backslaps and kisses aplenty, the glorious Reunion was underway.....At 10:00 am, the group of reunion celebrants began to gather around the pile of debris that is all that remains of their beloved school. And in their presence, that forlorn mound of brick and stone, lath and plaster began to take on a new light; for they had come here, not to shed tears of sorrow but to praise God and to give Him thanks for the years of education and companionship that had been their privilege to experience in that school and on those very grounds .......before they left, each had one last touch of sentiment to perform. For each one of those reunion celebrants went over to that pile of rubble that forms the last remnants of their old school and from it each gathered either a brick or a coloured stone to take back home as a souvenir and memorial both of the reunion and of the school itself”.

In the ‘Anglican Journal’ Jan 2001, John Newton (external observer) wrote : “ I worked on Indian reserves as a physician in the 50s and found conditions far from ideal and saw the residential schools as a sincere attempt to improve the future for native children. Furthermore, I saw no sign of abuse and many smiling my opinion, an honest effort was being made by people who cared”.

In the ‘Winnipeg Free Press’ 2003, Prof Rodney A. Clifton (staff) wrote : “ I spent 1966-67 as a supervisor in an Anglican residential school, Stringer Hall, in Inuvik...previously four months living at Old Sun School wife (a Siksika) spent eight years at Old Sun, and even earlier, her parents attended the same school for eight years. All of us recognize the many positive things that happened in residential schools.....None of us heard a word..not even a murmur..about children being sexually abused”

In ‘The Herald Star’ Nov 22 1994, Irene Hoff (student) wrote :

“I was in the Chapleau Anglican Indian residential school for seven years.....During those seven years there was no abuse by staff members and many of us can attest to that for Chapleau. ...We on this reserve were not forcefully removed from home. Our Protestant school closed, the Roman Catholic convent would not accept us and we went to Chapleau with my mother’s blessing....Those who claim abuse should ..... not speak for all residential school attendees”

All of my brothers and sisters were either at Chapleau or Shingwauk and none have any knowledge of abuse”

In the ‘Anglican Journal’, September 2000, Dr. John Morgan (observer) wrote: “In my year at Alert Bay we looked after the medical needs of St. Michael's School. Many of the staff became personal friends. I never sensed anything except courage, caring and compassion in the school setting... If there had been any abuse of children I'm sure we would have heard about it. Without residential schools, the Indian people of the coast would have been truly abandoned. Simple hygiene, health instructions, disease prevention, tuberculosis isolation were all carried out in the residential schools. .... I and a colleague had a contract with the Department of Indian Affairs. We cared for the Indian people in the district (3,000 or so) for 50 cents an Indian a month or $1 for a family a month. The children at the residential school were all freebies. “

Elsie Chilton (student)said : “My days at the residential school in Moose Factory were a good experience and it gave me a good send off in the world.”

Alice-Mae ( Clarke) Varpio (student) noted : “I attended Bishop Horden Residential School in Moose Factory as a day student from the fall of 1948 to the spring of 1953.....

Mrs. Person ..was my grade 5 teacher. She had a wonderful smile and kindled the love of reading. She was in charge of the Christmas Concert and we all worked very hard. Many of us had recitations and speaking parts, but the plum role was the dance troupe.... As luck would have it, two of the dancers fell ill. As a result, Mrs. Pearson had to cut two more dancers... She selected one girl from the residence and me, as we both had other, speaking parts in the show. It was a difficult lesson for an eleven year old, but Mrs. Pearson gently made us understand the fairness of her decision. She suggested that we wear our lovely dance costumes... when we did our recitations so that not all would be lost. Her gentleness, her enthusiasm and genuine caring of her pupils mark her in my memory.

Marg Brant, a girls’ supervisor, was a particular favourite of the girls. She always seemed to have the time to listen and help solve the little issues of the day. I recall the girls speaking fondly of her, with respect and affection.


In December 2003, Rev Harry B. Miller, in a letter to Archbishop J. Clarke wrote : ” The ‘Apology’ that the Primate gave on behalf of the Church was, no doubt well - intended and, perhaps in a few cases, justified. However, it is my opinion, and the opinion of every other former staff member that I have spoken to, that the manner in which it was delivered and words used sounded as if every person whoever worked in a residential school was an abuser of the children under his or her care. ..And our own Anglican Journal, for some reason or other, has been as guilty as other......”

In the Anglican Journal, January 2001, John Newton wrote : “But if all perspectives of Indian residential schools are to be taken into account, it must be understood that these school were not all bad places run by bad people. One gets the impression that an evil church with malice aforethought plucked innocent children from their idyllic surroundings on reserves for the specific purpose of abusing them. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

In a latter part of the letter to Archbishop Clarke, Rev. Miller said : “ I was told by a former graduate of the Elkhorn I.R.S. and of the Manitoba Teachers College and who taught at both Moose Factory and Fort George that she was “devastated” upon seeing her picture featured in that sex abuse special insert. And that she ‘cried her heart out’ when she heard an Archdeacon berate the schools as being ‘dens of iniquity’”.

Berit Rasmussen, an 83 year old Norwegian woman who came to Canada as a missionary in 1949, spent decades at residential schools in Ontario, Saskatchewan and British Columbia and now lives in Lytton (taught at Gordon’s School, Pelican Falls and St. George’s School). She said: “I don’t like to be thought of as a villain. I don’t think I was...I think I was a ....decent person and still am.”

In the Newsletter #3 Association of Former Indian Residential School Staff, May 2002, Bernice Logan wrote : “On a sad note, a recent article in the Anglican Journal by Bishop William Hockin of Fredericton..He sees us as”thieves” and former students as “victims” who”were robbed of their identity , left half dead and marginalised on the side of the road”.

In an interview, Mrs. Helena Kingston (then 92 years of age) said : “Why is the dark side the one that always seems to get the publicity. There are so many good stories that could be told. ..It does hurt us .........I had so many lovely worthwhile students...”

Marjorie MacKay of Birtle said : “Yes.... it is very heart breaking to hear some of the comments. They think all we did was punish the children. They just don’t believe that we did any good.”

Archbishop Clarke tells of a recent conversation he had with Marjorie Aime at All Saints Church in Fort McMurray. Marjorie spoke of the autobiography she was writing. She stated that she could not bring herself to write the chapter on her work in the residential school in Aklavik because “her church had made her feel dirty.”

Rev. Ed. Smith wrote : “There is never any reference to the large number of caring staff members whose ultimate goal was to give the children the opportunity to have an education”

On February 23 2004, Muriel Hanksinson said : “I am deeply saddened by the negative publicity surrounding the actions of a few. This puts a blight on all those good people who followed the calling and unselfishly gave of their lives to help serve the children and the church.”

Dorothy Bowers wrote : ” I told our Bishop that I felt the church has deserted us.....”

Finally, in a Christmas card, Agnes Gillespie (who is now in a nursing home)wrote : “ The residential school (issue) will never end....We will continue to pray for one another, our faith must stay with us. The hurt will never leave me. ”


In the Winnipeg Free Press 2003, Professor Rodney A. Clifton attacked all churches involved with residential schools, saying : “Shockingly, the churches have failed to honour the dedicated service of most residential school employees, both aboriginal and non-aboriginal. The have failed to defend their own integrity: they have failed to defend the integrity of their innocent employees. They have done little to correct the impression, in the minds of some Canadians , that many residential school supervisors were child abusers and paedophiles.

Nevertheless, most people who worked in residential schools wanted to help children receive the type of education necessary to survive in the modern world. In the 1960s, when I lived and worked in residential schools, it was the evangelistic calling for committed Christians similar to rebuilding houses following disasters in south America. Most residential employees worked for very little pay, less recognition and many sleepless nights. Most of them will never acknowledge that they worked in residential schools because they fear the denigration from other church members. Not surprisingly, many of them also fear the charges that they may face from the wolf-pack of hungry lawyers hunting for compensation. ... “

Speaking specifically of the Anglican Church of Canada in article appearing in the Anglican Journal, April 2003, Solange De Santis wrote : “They were not abusers. They cared for native children in the residential schools. They responded in good faith to a call from their church. They worked long hours for little pay in remote locations. Now, they are hurt and bewildered. Because some workers were abusive, all staff are suspect. Their church is busy apologizing to native people and no one cares about their (the workers) feelings. That is how some former teachers, supervisors and workers in the native residential schools system are feeling and they say they too need a road to healing”

Bernice Logan interviewed Mrs. Marjorie (nee: Neals) Klai, now deceased,who said : “There were many fine Christian men and women in the residential school system who sacrificed a great deal in their lives to educate these disadvantage Indian and Eskimo ( to use the old terms) children of Canada. Staff have many happy memories and so do many of the children. This must be recognized and appreciated by Church and State. Those who have not given years of service to the Aboriginal children of Canada must not be too critical of those who have. The term ‘missionary’ must not be denigrated or else the church will fail in its duty to do what our Lord said, i.e., to go into all the world and to preach the Gospel. That is the foremost duty of the Church. ..............Unless we become a missionary church we die. The word ‘missionary’ is still a holy word.”




And finally, Reverend Stanley Cuthand : “This is a good project to do at this time when much criticism in the way the resident students were treated is popularized by politicians and victims of abuse. It leaves a black mark on the students who were never victimized and the dedicated workers who did their best to deal with the present .......”