Our take: Elliott’s horrific actions are his alone to own

The topic of residential schools and their legacy may be the single biggest underlying issue affecting this community.

It surfaces regularly in these pages in stories of politics, social issues, and even the arts. And lately it has played a major role in justice, in connection to the double-murder sentencing of William Elliott.

A Gladue Report submitted during Elliott’s sentencing detailed tales of abuse, abandonment and alcohol disorder, that can all be traced back to the residential school system that plucked Native children from their families in an attempt to indoctrinate them into the colonial mindset and culture.

Elliott himself was not a direct product of the system. It was abandoned for good a decade before the 26-year-old was born.

However, his family was a product of that system and some might say this killer’s inability to understand the difference between right and wrong is the enormity of its effect taken to the ultimate degree.

Except that Elliott is, so obviously, the exception, not the norm.

Cowichan Chief Chip Seymour said it best: “So many have suffered because of residential schools, but that doesn’t bring us to a violent state.”

It was a theme echoed by many commenting on our coverage of the sentencing. While tales of difficult backgrounds help us in understanding people like Elliott, the decision to act comes from the individual.  We’re glad Judge Keith Bracken recognized that and made no excuses for Elliott’s brutal actions.

There is no doubt residential schools created a difficult legacy. There is also no doubt that legacy can be overcome. It is being overcome in Cowichan on a daily basis.

Elliott’s actions are his to own.

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