Living Conditions and Abuse of Students at Crowstand Indian Residential School


In 1907, then Inspector of Indian Agencies W. Graham, reported to the Department of Indian Affairs that Principal McWinney had, when retrieving runaway boys, "tied ropes about their arms and made them run behind the buggy from their houses to the school." The matter was referred to the Presbyterian Church with the suggestion that McWinney be dismissed. The church decided that McWhinney's actions had been justified because there was no room in the buggy. McWhinney's lack of regard for students continued - in 1914 he failed to act when a farm instructor took two girls into a room and had "sexual intercourse with them" (the researcher notes that engaging in sexual intercourse with a minor is legally defined as rape). Despite his record, McWhinney maintained his post as the church held firm in it's support of his leadership. Later that year, the Department's Medical Inspector, O. Grain, reported that the school was "the worst residential school I have had to visit." His report pointed out a number of issues with the school, including dilapidated buildings, unsanitary washrooms, a prevalence of flies, and children who were neglected in appearance. He concluded, "I would like to suggest that the whole boarding school be entirely done away with." This report also fell on deaf ears as the school would remain open until November of 1915, and McWhinney maintained his position as principal until it closed.

These incidents at Crowstand Indian Residential School reflect a larger pattern of physical and sexual abuse that was endemic to the Residential School System. The government's lack of action to address the rampant problems students faced at the hands of McWinney show a total disregard for the safety and well being of students. Residential Schools since their conception were known (as suggested in Graham's report) to offer virtually no benefits to students and officials noted that schools failed as places of learning; Students who left being no better off or adjusted to the colonial Euro-Canadian society than before. For more information see; 'Physical Abuse in Residential Schools,' 'Runaways and Student Truancy in the Residential School System,' and 'Sexual Abuse in Residential Schools.'