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On July 1, 149 years ago, Canada became a country.

To believe the history books I read when growing up, this process was filled with a lot of British-born people fighting with French-born people, who eventually worked everything out and settled in to invent basketball, play hockey, set up a universal health care system, and listen to a lot of Celine Dion while eating poutine.

It's not even close to the whole story.


I love my country and the land and water she occupies. But, there are dark places in Canada's colonial past, particularly surrounding the treatment of indigenous Canadians.

Starting in the late 1800s, Canada's federal government worked with Christian churches to take indigenous children out of their homes and force them into residential schools.

Students and nuns at a residential school in Quebec, circa 1950. Image via BiblioArchives Canada/Flickr.

Before residential schools, indigenous Canadians lived their lives as they had since time immemorial. That was a problem for Christian churches and the Canadian government, who wanted them to assimilate completely with western culture. Residential schools were designed to "break" indigenous children of their traditional identities and beliefs. They reportedly used horrific methods to do so. Physical, emotional, and sexual abuse were common. Over the 13 decades they were in operation, Canada's residential schools took in 150,000 children, or about 30% of the native children in the country. More than 6,000 died while in attendance.

Residential schools are a black mark on Canada's history, and one we didn’t talk about for far too long. Finally, that's changing.

Historica Canada has been making short videos about Canadian history since 1991. They're usually fairly lighthearted or inspirational — talking about feminist leaders, military innovations, or the bear that inspired A.A. Milne to write about Winnie-the-Pooh.

This latest video is different. It's a short, moving story of what life in a residential school was like, told by a survivor.

Image via Historica Canada/YouTube.

The one-minute film tells the story of Chanie Wenjack, as narrated by his sister Pearl. Both Pearl and her brother were forced into residential schools as children. They were made to cut their long hair, to wear western clothes, to learn Christian teachings, and to forget the culture of their birth.

By 1966, 12-year-old Chanie was desperate to return home and ran away from school. He was found in the woods a week later, dead of exposure.

Chanie's death sparked the first inquest into the treatment of indigenous children at these schools — a cascade that ended with their closure, a government apology, and a national movement toward reconciliation that continues today.

Shortly after taking office last fall, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke to residential school survivors and their families and said it was time to do more.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Image via Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images.

In a speech marking the completion of work by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, he told a tearful story of his own experience in school where Canada's indigenous history was cast aside.

"I remember one moment in Canadian history class where we got to the chapter in the textbook on indigenous Canadians. Good school, good teacher. Good textbook, I suppose. And the teacher shrugged and said 'This chapter is not very interesting and not very important so we're going to skip it.' ... Let me tell you, that the work you've done and that all of you have been a part of will ensure that never again, in the future of Canada, will students be told that this is not an integral part of everything we are as a country, of everything we are as Canadians." — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Canada is not alone. Nearly every colonized nation in the world has a story like this.

Children hold letters that spell "Goodbye" at Fort Simpson Indian Residential School in Canada's Northwest Territories, circa 1922. Image via BiblioArchives Canada/Flickr.

These stories — the ones we gloss over in our history books or only talk about when we're shamed into it — are as much a part of our shared history as the moments we celebrate. Ignoring or minimizing them is dishonest and disrespectful. Confronting and talking about the ugly parts of history with clear eyes and open hearts is essential. It won't heal historic wounds alone, but it does remind us they are there, and why, so we and future generations do not open them again.

Watch the video below (warning: depiction of child abuse).

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

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Memories of childhood get lodged in the brain, emerging when you least expect.

There are certain pleasurable sights, smells, sounds and tastes that fade into the rear-view mirror as we grow from being children to adults. But on a rare occasion, we’ll come across them again and it's like a portion of our brain that’s been hidden for years expresses itself, creating a huge jolt of joy.

It’s wonderful to experience this type of nostalgia but it often leaves a bittersweet feeling because we know there are countless more sensations that may never come into our consciousness again.

Nostalgia is fleeting and that's a good thing because it’s best not to live in the past. But it does remind us that the wonderful feeling of freedom, creativity and fun from our childhood can still be experienced as we age.

A Reddit user by the name of agentMICHAELscarnTLM posed a question to the online forum that dredged up countless memories and experiences that many had long forgotten. He asked a simple question, “What’s something you can bring up right now to unlock some childhood nostalgia for the rest of us?”

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