Tragedy for a Residential School Survivor, and the ‘Real’ Olympics Begin: The Canada Letter

Now 78, Ms. Denny was one of thousands of Indigenous children taken from their families and raised in residential schools funded by the federal government and operated by churches. As most Canadians now know because of the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, abuse was widespread at the schools, which the commission determined were largely an effort to wipe out Indigenous culture.


Mr. Baptiste holds an eagle feather used for smudging ceremonies at his mother’s house on the Red Pheasant Cree Nation in Saskatchewan.Credit Amber Bracken for The New York Times

Ms. Denny was sent to two schools run by the Roman Catholic Church. She said that when she was beaten with a leather strap by the school’s nuns and priests, she made a vow: “I wasn’t going to give them what they wanted to hear — me crying. I just held it back. Even to this day I’m like that. I hold back on crying. It kind of hurts me, you know.”

Despite that experience, one wall of Ms. Denny’s living room has two paintings of Jesus and a Christian prayer. Small statues of Jesus sit on an end table.

Tragedy for a Residential School Survivor, and the ‘Real’ Olympics Begin: The Canada Letter
Tragedy for a Residential School Survivor, and the ‘Real’ Olympics Begin: The Canada Letter

She told me that while she had remained a Christian, she also followed Indigenous spiritual practices, something that was strictly forbidden at residential schools.

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“I pray the way I was taught in the residential school, Our Father, Hail Mary and all that,” she said. “And then, in the other ways I believe what my Granny believes. Both ways. And sometimes I think about it. Which one is true? The Catholic way or my Granny? So I just go on both sides.”

Read: A Murder Trial Stirs Emotions About Canada’s Relations With Its Indigenous Population

Open House

This week’s On The Market in Toronto real estate feature looks at two extremes: one condo in a 104-year-old former drugstore warehouse and another in a sleek, modern glass tower near the Canadian National Exhibition grounds.

Read: Homes For Sale in Toronto

Canada 2018


Andrew Flemming, left, Will Hamilton and Geoff Fowler invented the Smart Broom for curlers.Credit Ian Willms for The New York Times

Eight years ago, I saw firsthand The Times’s commitment to covering the Winter Olympics when I joined its large team of reporters, photographers, multimedia producers and editors in Vancouver. Thing are no different in Pyeongchang, South Korea, this time around (except for my absence).

For many Canadians, the Winter Games are the “real” Olympics. There’s no question that some of The Times’s coverage will focus on American athletes and teams. But Sports, like all departments at The Times, recognizes that our readership is global, and its coverage will reflect that.

While the Olympics are only just beginning, we’re already published several stories that will appeal to Canadians. Here are some of the highlights:

—Scott Cacciola traveled to Kitchener, Ontario, to meet three men who have brought the curling broom into the digital age. (Mr. Cacciola also has produced a curling primer that may be a little basic for many Canadians.)

—Did someone from Canada’s Olympic team slight a Russian coach? No one seems to know, but Canada still apologized.

—The athletes in outdoor sports at Pyeongchang are dealing with something that Vancouver longed for during its Olympic Games: cold weather.

And you may want to bookmark Sports section’s special Winter Olympics page.

Read: Engineering Marvel of the Winter Olympics: A Broom

Read: What Is Curling? Where Ice, Granite and Brooms Meet

Read: Russia Is Insulted at Winter Games. Canada Says Sorry (Even if It Didn’t Need To).

Read: A Surprise (?) at the Winter Olympics: It’s Really Cold

Read: How to Stay Warm at a Bitter-Cold Olympics? Face Tape and a Whistle-Like Gadget

Trans Canada

—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it was a joke that fell flat. Some commentators, many of them outside of Canada, pounced.

—Alexander Neef, the director of the Canadian Opera Company, has taken on a second job.

A native of Windsor, Ontario, Ian Austen was educated in Toronto, lives in Ottawa and has reported about Canada for The New York Times for over a decade. Follow him on Twitter at @ianrausten.

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