Canada's Dark Secret

Canada's Dark Secret

2017, History  -   39 Comments
Ratings: 7.71/10 from 120 users.

It's an ominous history that dates back well over a century ago. It's a legacy that shames present-day residents of Canada, and its wounds have lingered over several generations. The country's Indigenous populations, much of which were of Indian descent, were forced from their homes at an early age, taken to a series of residential schools, and assimilated into "civilized" society through strict discipline and oftentimes abusive practices. Canada's Dark Secret lifts the veil on this horrendous system of indoctrination, and chronicles several of its tormented victims.

These policies were put into place by the Canadian government as an extension of the Indian Act of 1876, a piece of legislation which allowed institutions great leeway in their attempts to rid Indigenous people of their cultural identity. Residential schools were established to facilitate the process. If parents refused to relinquish custody of their children to these government-sanctioned institutions, they faced harsh penalties and prison sentences. Meanwhile, the punishment inflicted upon the children was even more grotesque once they arrived at their new homes.

The film imparts its harrowing tale through intensely personal testimonies. As she steps through the now barren and corroded classrooms of the Mohawk Residential School, survivor Roberta Hill recalls the horrors she experienced when she first arrived there at the age of six. Another survivor speaks of her best friend and classmate, who she suspects was beaten to death and buried among six thousand other children who are thought to have perished on school grounds. Bud Whiteye shares the story of how he was kidnapped from his reservation as a youngster, and he revisits the campus boiler room where he was sodomized by a member of the school staff. For these victims and others just like them, each barren school building is truly a haunted house.

The last of these schools closed in the late 90's, but their hideous imprint remains. A survivor's grief never ends, nor does the guilt of those who found themselves unwitting accomplices to these horrors. Canada's Dark Secret is a horror film in the truest sense. But by shining light on a history long-shrouded by time, it achieves a measure of catharsis for all involved.

Directed by: Rania El Rafael

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39 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Micha

    Yeah we should definitely talk about how these are false apostles came in God's name and brought desolation. In order so we can see who the real savages, and get over this it's not good to keep talking about evil because you just keep it alive got to deal with it and move on can't keep letting these evildoers governess. the first Nations chiefs had a direct connection with God those that came they know they totally took advantage of their Grace and peace and brought desolation and has the whole world convinced they're doing good. God is not a myth

  2. Bill Farley

    In the third line of your intro, you refer to indigenous people as "Indians." Methinks you need to educate yourself as well.

  3. W

    Lea, you are correct, we do need to educate. But part of that means accepting history and alllowing those who were effected to feel their anger. Unfortunately, Indigenous history is now coming to the front of education. When I was in school, I wasn't taught that churches and races systematically removed children from their families. I wasn't taught that people came here to conquer this land and it was stolen with broken promises. I wasn't part of the generation that was removed from their parents and told their were not a human because they looked and acted different. But that is my history. And just like you, not all natives blame all europeans. But there is a generation growing that will know the truth of what did happen. A lot of North Americas history was the invasion of "white" people who did come and steal and rape and kill the people who lived on this continent first. The result of that loss wasn't just a person's life - it was who they were at the core. When you force people to remove and beat and rip out every part of an individual, the things that make them who they are - their language, their community, their beliefs and try to make them something they aren't or are not familiar with, that leaves behind something broken. It's called intergenerational trauma. Yes, there is a history of violence with indigenous cultures that are seem just as awful to an outsider. But a lot of the violence was between tribes and groups, it wasn't intended to wipe out a whole people group, it didn't take away a person's identity and tell them they were wrong. Tribal warfare had a lot to do with surviving and gaining land to access food and territory. There is a huge difference between that and what the church and colonizers did to so many peoples on this land.
    If you met a hollocaust survivor and saw their tattoos and listened to their story, would you tell them to just forgive and forget? Then you cannot to do that to a people who suffered a genocide that we are just beginning to learn about. In Canada, our people are still under the rule of a government that does not treat them as equal. There are policies in place that continue to keep First Nations people under the rule of the Federal Government, that don't allow them to govern their people, access funds to educate or provide for their people in way that is beneficial to FN people. A lot of those people do not have adequate housing, live with no running water and have little access to work and education. When you put all of that against a person and ask them to rise above all of the past, and not allow them to feel angry and to process why things are the way they are in their world, that does not let them to heal. People are in their own journeys and need to be met where they are, and how they are. Not just painted with a broad brush.

  4. Lea

    I am not racest. Researching past history...Natives blaim Europeans and "its all their fault" and "Natives were a pieceful culture" -then can you explain the violent behaviours of the Mohawks/ Haida Tribes (Google research and Wikipedia that yourselves) They were very violent tribes that attacked viciously other tribes...BUT no one talks about anything of that. Tired of all the finger pointing on Europeans as NOT all were/ are bad people. There are many of us with a line of us that are nice good people whom did not take part in this or other horrible situations. There are alot of horrible situations that have spread across within human as a whole since the beginning of time as well as continue to this day.
    Children, youth and even adults as a whole experience a variety of various abuses in todays world around us. There is soo much abuse today everywhere we look...( if you don't believe the news, go to your court houses...courts don't just handle typical family issuses: devorces, separations and child custody/ support and theft. The only difference is: us as an individual is to teach the children of today to: educate- how to stop the violence from being passed on, what is alcoholism and what is drug abuse and addictions along with educate about being involved in gangs. Educate: what is abuse in all areas.

    1. David Swan

      Whenever someone starts of their comment with I'm not a racist, actually , statistically , is one and your uneducated comment proves that. Not all European people are being pointed and it is about just having people say, yeah that wasn't right and it was not a good thing to do, that's all. And for christ sakes, learn to spell.

    2. v

      Lea educate yourself then come back and read your comment...I think then you may have a BETTER understanding and be embarrassed by your comment... Lets call it was it is - it was a genocide. Canada needs to stop hiding and tell the honest truth and take action of the genocide and educated people like yourself because none of this is ok.... Lea what would you do or have to say if it was your family taken away, mal nourished, Physically and mentally abused, not allowed to speak your language, have your home taken away, family values and culture torn from you, raped by priests and nuns, and also take into consideration some of the children were murdered...those childrens family never got an explanation.... ANYWAYS my comment to you probably fall upon deaf ears....and I can say with confidence that YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM

  5. Abuse to any child regardless of race is wrong

    How can anyone not be appauled by abuse on children. Regardless of race, molestation, rape, torture, beating, and kidnapping from their homes and even death are not okay! Look past the "race" issue and look at a child - someone helpless and dependent on the nurturing and guidance of adult family. A child should never succumb to being molested, raped, beaten, or tortured, and killed regardless of what race they are. It IS A F'ING CHILD. Those of you making comments dismissing this as a "white guilt" just know I AM CONSIDERED A RACIST in today's standards and I DISAPPROVED OF THE TREATMENT OF THESE CHILDREN AND ANY CHILDREN AND ALL PEOPLE to be forced into any acts of abuse and suffer any acts of abuse REGARDLESS of skin colors. I FEEL SORRY FOR ANYONE WHO HAS SUFFERED BECAUSE I TOO HAVE SUFFERED AND I DONT WISH IT UPON ANYONE.

  6. Fletch

    Guys alot of hate on here. I dont think its about garnering support pity or trying to make anyone feel guilty rather its important we dont treat people (any peoples) like this again, and as an educational piece this can be informative. Before I watched it I had never heard of Canada

    1. Bill Farley

      Sorry sweetheart, you are a racist.

    2. Bill Farley

      You've never heard of Canada??? Dude, you must be an American. We're a little north of you. Use your compass.

    3. edwin cahoose

      Yes definitely, a lot of hate was taught here. In each and every Residential School right across Canada! Many countries like to sweep this sort of thing under their rugs and Canada is one of them. Happy too, that you might know where Canada is now.

  7. Sean Fordyce

    Bruce Evans I see you say you were not born. I guess this means that you are younger than 21. Many Canadians think this is from the distant past. The last residential school was closed in 1996 only 21 years ago. The religious orders controlled these schools until 1969. They went to grade 12 (age17-18). People now 65 and over were in these schools under religious control and people now 38 and over were in them under government control. The next generation was devastated by the effects on these people. This is not ancient history. Please learn about it as hard as it is this is a living story.

  8. Nolan

    Jess, lemme guess... You're a highly trained investigator, right?

    Lol. Anyways, I haven't watched this doc yet. But seeing as how I'm part Aboriginal and white, I think I'll pass on this one - I already hate myself enough. No need to reinforce that...

  9. jess

    Let me guess cyberdog and Paul.... you are white?

  10. DustUp

    One should always consider the source of information and their motives or agenda without denying or sidestepping any truth exposed.

    The problem with far too many white folk with too much time and money on their hands is that they cannot keep to themselves and mind their own business. They feel the need to "help" others, so they can tell themselves they are good for doing so; ignoring the fact that much of the time it is actually hurting.

    I can hear some asking, "As good conservative Christians" or as "socially conscience liberals" should we not help our fellow human beings who need help? Depends on what you and the potentially helped, consider "help".

    Governments make everything worse because they don't have a conscience at all. Govts are [problem, reaction, solution] oriented; especially when they are the problem. Their solution is to create more problems to distract from the existing problem.

    Far too many greedy weasels use govt as a tool to get something that they are not entitled to. To steal from others.

    If you automatically associate "greedy" with "capitalist" that would be the mistake socialists desire and manipulate you to make. Socialism cannot exist without stealing from others. "But its okay if govt does it for me?" Right, keep telling yourself that.

    The kill them or convert them mentality is not isolated to white european descendants. Al Jazeera's benefactors have it as their doctrine. Different tribes of red indians would war against other tribes. Same same in Africa. Some tribes didn't bother with that bit about converting. Uncertain about the aborigines of Aussieland and/or NZ.

    I have little doubt that "converting" other peoples to your ways and beliefs came about as a means of feeling less guilty and more justified, in doing the atrocities they desired to do, to take what wasn't theirs. To steal, while they locked others up behind bars for theft of their stuff.

    The natives of all the americas have certainly gotten the shaft from the wonderful europeans, who are so socially conscience now they embrace socialism so they can feel good about stealing from others in a more "socially acceptable"(brainwashed) way. And who is promoting and paying for that indoctrination here in the usa? UberRich europeans like Soros, Rothschild, along with their fellow like minded "I made lots of money so I know how you should live (or preferably die to save the planet)" intellectually bankrupt here; Rockefeller, Gates, Buffet. Who also think that until they are able to do away with you, they should extract as much of your money as they can via the govt, so their kind of govt can control you and spend your money creating more of a police state to control you while dribbling a few coins of that to the needy so they will vote for the police state. You are an evil capitalist if you despise handing your hard earned dough over to a bunch of clueless bureaucrats who suck most of it up in their salaries and kickback crony contractors for govt (socialist) projects. Heaven forbid you spend it on things you believe in, like some real food so you don't have to end up in their socialist waiting line to see the doctor for cancer treatment.

    Besides a decent meal and a roof right now, what does real help look like to most people? Jobs. Small biz. What does help look like to some others? Enough land to live off of. Who is right? With all the technological advances, are they truly worth it? Is writing code or maintaining a network or watching TV all that great? It seems growing your own food so some hellbent corporation trying to kill you with their GMO frankenfood would be time better spent. How does this have anything to do with what happened to the natives? If you don't realize it yet, the middle class is the new "natives". Chemtrails above, GMO below, radiation from Japan. Propaganda and fake news. You are the natives they are trying to kill and take your assets now; not to mention the true natives which few have decent land from which to live.

    1. Gary Vee

      no one read ur comment bro

  11. Matthew

    You all talk about propaganda , yet the only propaganda is the one put out there to corrupt society ,enslave us to materialism and to cause conflict between individuals. You allthink your so clever, yet your all been vile to eachother why?/?

  12. Abidiginal

    Don't be mad NATIVES all over are finally coming together to expose truth to the ignorance that is from recent history. You haters act like it's all gone, done and did. We just getting started and landing back on our feet from all the sick twisted things that people like you did to KIDS, not one not two, but a whole country of children simply because we were a different color. Why not bring that to light, it's not shared in school because it's disguting and obviously the haters or more recent generation of haters can't handle the damn truth. So please keep whining from the seat of your homes, and keep hating while we continue to support and build a new world filled with love and peace! Together we stand, divided YOU fall!

  13. Realistic Pessimist

    Those who fail to learn history...
    And some think this stuff doesn't happen anymore.

  14. Cindy

    Obviously Cyberdog and Paul are part of the Mentality of Humanity that haven't Contributed anything worthwhile to society but are the first ones to try to claim credit for it.....they're both Idiots!! Yes that's a Captital "I"

  15. Patty brey

    Tourists...just drive into the Native areas and ask where the bodies are buried...everyone knows about this...dead children are buried under the Apple orchards all over of Freedom and Democracy...I asked the question and was told the answer on the spot...tourists ...Go to Canada and ask the natives on the reservations...they'll tell you what it's been like living in the he'll hole called Canada

  16. Patty brey

    Pine ridge reservation in the United States is the same story...since I put 38 families on my list for help 2 have died plus a child died Jan 1 of this year...many have no running water, heat or even beds to sleep on...I can't get kmart or walmarts to deliver a bed either....cold, calculating annihilation....our system is Satanic...and what has been done to the natives is planned for all of us including the imbeciles that defend this evil system were living under

  17. Roger Andout

    Good exposé by Al Jaz.
    However, purely in the interests of broadcast balance, could it do an equal exposé on, say, the repression of women in Saudi Arabia, or the tolerance of homosexuality Iran, by using the freedom of speech tolerated in those regimes.
    Now those would be worth viewing.

  18. Jennifer

    The documentary is not about making white people feel guilty its about exposing the TRUTH.
    Europeans have caused so much harm to so many groups of people like the Canadian and American red Indians, the Jewish holocaust, the transatlantic slave trade to name a few not forgetting the indigenous people worldwide who have become extinct. The Europeans claim to be Christians but the only god they love is called money and in there pursuit of it will trample over anything that stands in their way.

  19. Sharon Azar

    The Catholic Church has been doing things like this for a long time..they were complicit in the Doctrine of Discovery which Columbus used to conquer and torture Native Americans. Papal Bulls of the 15th century gave Christian explorers the right to claim lands they "discovered" and lay claim to those lands for their Christian Monarchs. Any land that was not inhabited by Christians was available to be "discovered", claimed, and exploited. If the "pagan" inhabitants could be converted, they might be spared. If not, they could be enslaved or killed. I am glad this film is exposing such horrors...

  20. john

    Cyberdog, it seems especially cowardly to rant about something you didn't watch. lol

  21. dee bee

    F*@kind U Paul y Cyberdog u both are just dumbest, blind non-thinkers ever... keep living life has a funny way of slapping you into consciousness one day...

  22. Bruce Evans

    I haven't watched this, yet. But intend on doing so. I do want to state that, as a Canadian, I personally have no shame to bear. I had no role to play. I wasn't even alive. My parents and their parents have no shame to bear as they were neither aware or in the governments of the day. What is with this need to make the present feel guilty for the past?

    1. Bill Farley

      It works with the Germans.

  23. B

    The most excellent thinking response .

  24. Jereco

    Nice idea , I think it will help us

  25. Al

    The system in Canada was specifically set up to destroy the lives and culture of the native peoples. That was the goal and aim from the very beginning. The Europeans wanted their land. It was ethnic cleansing on a massive scale. Those residential schools achieved that goal admirably.
    The result of this massive genocide is that the First Nations are committing collective suicide. The whole social fabric is unraveling. They have become alcoholics and dysfunctional. The same thing has happened to the Australian Aborigines.
    That's odd, because before the Whites arrived there were NO alcoholic Red Indians, and NO alcoholic Australian Aborigines; there was no alcohol at all. Those people were doing just fine. They were getting along great.
    Then that White Wave showed up.
    Then everything disintegrated.

    Of course, if you think you are better than them, then perhaps you would like to trade places with the First Nations and Australian Aborigines. Let's see how YOU manage under their circumstances. Put yourself in their place.
    Let's see you walk a mile wearing their moccasins.
    Any volunteers?
    Then go for it!

  26. grace

    how can something that is so ingrained into the fabric of our history be used as a propaganda tool ???? jeeeeeeeez get a grip

  27. Al

    The system in Canada was specifically set up to destroy the lives and culture of the native peoples. That was the goal and aim from the very beginning. The Europeans wanted their land. It was ethnic cleansing on a massive scale. Those residential schools achieved that goal admirably.
    The result of this massive genocide is that the First Nations are committing collective suicide. The whole social fabric is unraveling. They have become alcoholics and dysfunctional. The same thing has happened to the Australian Aborigines.
    That's odd, because before the Whites arrived there were NO alcoholic Red Indians, and NO alcoholic Australian Aborigines; there was not alcohol either. Those people were doing just fine. They were getting along great.
    Then that White Wave showed up.
    Then everything disintegrated.

    Of course, if you think you are better than them, then perhaps you would like to trade places with the First Nations and Australian Aborigines. Let's see how YOU manage under their circumstances. Put yourself in their place.
    Let's see you walk a mile wearing their moccasins.
    Any volunteers?
    Then go for it!

  28. Paul

    Another propaganda piece by AL Jazeera. Cyberdog you are 100% right. Ignore these imbeciles

  29. stikman

    cyberdog? Why in hell would someone vomit out such a rant of a documentary which is seemingly so far below them they decide to not watch it but can not refrain from spewing human filth from their keyboard. Why in hell bother?

  30. T Laughlin

    yeah, that makes (little or no) sense. embracing history is about using it as a measure of ourselves. no guilt, just understanding, compassion, and reaching for the ever elusive truth, justice, and the american (canadian) way. we are the past in the present creating a better future by having collectively "been there". the internet is our chance to inform ourselves to that end. what is this empire and laziness thing of which you speak? please. empires never go really well for very long , and certainly not for everyone involved in them willingly or not, and one man's laziness is another man's rest. walk a mile in another person's shoes.

  31. symphytum

    cyberdog, Surely you would not be implying that the gifts of civilization are the gifts of European civilization alone? Also, if your family achieved wealth and prosperity in part because it enslaved you, kept you in an attic room, and never let you learn your own name, would you be grateful to it because it let you live in the house and use the internet?

  32. cyberdog

    YAY! Great! Another white guilt documentary. It never gets old. Using documentaries and the internet to complain about forced assimilation into western culture has got to be the joke of the century. I am not even going to bother watching. The assimilated people are welcome to watch this, and cry about how unfair it is to be advanced enough to have the internet. While you are bitching about the unfairness, take the time to reflect that you have access to the single largest library of resources EVER assembled, far larger than has ever been dreamed of. The only thing stopping you from accessing this huge library of knowledge on the internet then using it to better yourself and advance yourself and the other members of your tribe far enough to build your own empire, is your own laziness.