The release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Final Report, makes over ninety recommendations to provide solutions for what happened in Canada from the 1880’s until 1996 in the Indian Residential School System.

What it doesn’t mention, is that although the system primarily victimized aboriginal children, by it’s dysfunctional nature and the physical isolation of the schools, there were also casualties among the teachers and administrators who served on the front lines. Although these victims have yet to be heard from, the novel Blue Saltwater touches upon this with the predatory, alcoholic and suicidal behavior of Brother Denny Boyle, the antagonist in the story.

As Canada and the United States became populated with a dominant European culture in the nineteenth century, North American aboriginal tribes were seen to be languishing in poverty, shame and cultural disintegration. Well meaning and respected educators, clergy and government officials proposed this system as a way of elevating aboriginal children to a more assimilated and productive existence. It was thought that by removing the children from the primitive ways of their culture, changes would be more rapid and permanent. But as everyone acknowledges now, even though well intentioned, forcibly removing children from their families was a catastrophic failure in social engineering.