Millroy: What would have happened if the roles has been reversed?


Because of space there were a couple of things I didn’t get to in last week’s column concerning the residential schools indigenous children were forced to attend in the past.

Horrified at the thought of RCMP pulling children from their homes, I had wondered what would have happened if the roles has been reversed.

What if the natives had retained control of the land they had probably roamed from the beginning of time and the whites remained interlopers? What if the natives decided that it was necessary to assimilate the children of the whites to their culture, the language of the whites to be spoken no more?

We all know what would happen. There would be hell to pay.

The whites wouldn’t have stood for it. There would have been an armed rebellion.

I have no doubt the native police would have looked down the barrel of a gun at every home they approached. In fact, they probably would have been looking down the barrels of many guns as the whites rose in revolt.

I am surprised some among the natives didn’t do this. I would say they certainly had a right to.

In regard to assimilation, it may have disappeared from the native scene with the closure of the residential schools but it certainly hasn’t disappeared from the national scene as a whole.

You can see writings on Facebook and receive them in emails where people are insisting that immigrants adopt our traditions and leave theirs behind.

Some of you may recall that during our infamous “English only” language fiasco back in 1990 that some people were even against French being spoken by members of our francophone community, the community at which the language resolution, which was ruled to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada, was aimed.

Sitting above a photo on Facebook of a native chief was this line: “I will not be forced to learn a foreign language to accommodate illegals in my country.”

The line beside the chief says: “That would suck.”

Sort of puts it in perspective, doesn’t it?

We have to be better than this, accepting the fact and glorifying in it that we are not all the same.

The other bit I didn’t get to mention was some interplay I had with a residential school in the mid-1950s when I was coaching a midget hockey team in my hometown of Dryden.

A fellow who said he handled recreation at the McIntosh Indian Residential School, which was about 60 miles northwest of Dryden, called me and asked if I would bring my team to the school to play the kids residing there.

He also asked, as he said the native kids weren’t all that adept at hockey, if I minded if he played to help them out, that he wouldn’t score any goals himself. Going on his word, I said OK. In retrospect I should have said, let’s try it with team against team to see if his services were needed.

Turns out they weren’t. We were no match for the native kids. We lost 16-2 and the rec director or whatever he was, despite saying he wouldn’t score, popped in four or five himself.

I had some words with him after the game because he had obviously presented a false story to me about the ability of the kids he was coaching.

They could do it all, skate like the wind, stick handle, shoot, pass. We were badly outmatched and I thought I had a pretty good bunch of players.

Talking to a fellow who was scraping the ice after the game along with the native players, he pointed out that they should be good because they didn’t do much else in their spare time. He said they were on the ice every chance they got.

I could see that but I also saw the jerk who set up the game was also doing a good job of coaching them. The teamwork they displayed on the ice was exceptional. They had no main star; they all contributed..
All the kids I saw there that day, on and off the ice, seemed to be happy. Maybe it was because at such a small school they missed out on some of the horrors that took place at others.

For myself, at the time I simply thought these kids were there because they were brought in from areas that were too small to have a school on their own.

PETER RUICCi is retiring from a long stint as a sports writer at The Sault Star, which followed a long stint as a sports reporter and anchor in the broadcast industry.

I trust he will take his shoes with him because no one is going to fill them.

It may seem strange to some that I am lauding someone from a competitor’s operation but I see Ruicci as a special case.

Between print and broadcast, his beginnings, he has covered sports in this city for more than 40 years.

It is not just the length of time that brings this tribute; it is what he did with the time.

When he joined The Sault Star more than 20 years ago there was a sport editor and three reporters. For several years he has been the sole member of what had once been a department.

With each departure Ruicci ramped up his production, the quality of it never suffering.
His main focus remained the Soo Greyhounds but he found time for it all, writing columns along with his regular coverage.

The newspaper industry has taken some big hits over the past 20 years or so, being only a caricature of what it once was.

The Sault has been no exception and the loss of Ruicci and his prodigious effort only digs the hole deeper.



  1. Fun Fact: The Tragically Hip has a line in one of their songs “..dumb as trees in Sault Ste. Marie” in reference to the english-only debacle in the 90’s.

  2. Not only was Peter Ruicci a good reporter but he was a true Gentleman. It was a real pleasure watching and knowing him. Doug Millroy was right. It will be very hard to fill his shoes. Sault Ste. Marie has been a better place to live with Reporters like Peter.

  3. Mr. Millroy, to begin with, what we know today as the descendants of the Clovis people, are not originaries of the American continent, they settled here before the europeans, they were hunter gatherers from the east. Archeologists are working in the lineage of native americans and till now the only matching to the groups from which the natives descend, are found in southern siberia. It’s estimated that the ancestors of what we know today as native americans, from the north pole to patagonia and from Atlantic to Pacific sea, departed from East Asia somewhere between 25.000 to 15.000 years ago. It’s believed now, that a huge landmass existed and was formed with parts of what today is Canada, Siberia and Alaska. These lands where exposed as the large ice sheets of Europe and North America had locked immense amounts of water and the sea levels descended more than hundred meters. The ancestors where equipped with a vast knowledge of nature and an extraordinary ability to adapt and adapt. America was home to extraordinary people, giants in the South, in Patagonia, the Tehuelches indians where giant humans… a bit up North the Europeans found natives tall well above 6′, 6’6″, with blond hair and blue eyes, they were part of the tribes of Comechingones. As recently as the 1500 some indians in South America didn’t get along very well with the Spaniards and the Conquistadores ended with an apple in the mouth and barbecued. If we are going to talk history, then let’s talk history, but history doesn’t start with a calendar we can imagine today. But the theory of the Clovis People is totally debunked. Let’s go back, at least till the existence of Beringia. There are two main theories about the arrival from the East, one is paddling canoes… and there are evidence of such arrival in Chile. Through excavations, analysis of rests of foods, seeds and polens as well as small artifacts… search in coastal caves, what we know as native americans are not people native “of the American Continent” they discover an undiscovered world sometime between 25000 and 15000 thousand years ago.

  4. Hey, Doug. Could you do some investigating and find out who the names of the true owners of Algoma Steel are and open this can ‘o worms once and for all?
    There has to be a HUGE reason for them not wanting the public to know, and it can’t be good for the city.

    • KR, I’d answered your question this morning in other column.
      It’s privately owned.
      It’s a dancing of five or six companies parent and subsidiaries and it’s obvious that Essar is very much owner of a part of it.
      If you like to know if the Mittal family is still proprietor, check in the Airport to see if they have their personal plane parked there…they have a Gulfstream G550 …but the numbered company that owns Algoma Steel is based in Alberta.
      Who owns it doesn’t change anything. We all have to be grateful of having the plant here, otherwise the RCMP and the Conservation Authority should have had thousands of guards all over the place cause 75000 people in the Soo living off the fishing and hunting would be something interesting… Well make it 72000, the rest will have a salary from the government and Ontario Lottery, but you and me… fish and fries Monday to Friday, fasting on Saturdays and moose sausage on sundays.
      Ask no questions, get no lies.

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