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APTN National News
We’ve been reporting on the David Blott residential school scandal for months now.
Blott is a Calgary lawyer accused of ruining the compensation process for thousands of survivors. He continues to avoid our cameras, but, for the first time, we caught up with one of the insiders of his alleged high-interest loan scheme.
APTN Investigates reporter Kathleen Martens has this story for us tonight.
Over 150,000 aboriginal children were forced into residential schools during the 1860's and in an effort to assimilate early First Nations people through the loss of language, culture and religion as well as family and community values and ways of being.
Boyle Street Community Services staff is warning that time may soon be running out for victims to receive compensation for atrocities, including physical and sexual abuse, committed at these schools.
In a forum that pulls together topics ranging from mandatory courses to traditional longhouses, Canadian educators and administrators are meeting this week to look at ways to better integrate First Nations values and culture into post-secondary institutions.
The first of its kind, the gathering Monday and Tuesday at the University of Fraser Valley is hosting over 250 guests. In workshops and meetings, participants are discussing what can be done to incorporate more First Nations perspectives in the curriculum, not just for indigenous students but for everyone.
The Sechelt Indian Band (SIB) has been busy answering queries from other First Nations groups wanting to know more about the class action lawsuit they filed in Supreme Court last week.
The SIB, in conjunction with the T’kemlups Indian Band (from Kamloops), filed the suit on Aug. 15, seeking compensation from the federal government for day scholars who were left out of the original residential schools settlement issued in 2005.
It has been estimated that about 150,000 First Nation students suffered abuse, cultural losses and even death at residential institutions, which operated from the 1870s through the 1970s.
Deborah Ginnish, executive director of the Mi’kmaq Association for Cultural Studies, said survivors have had the chance to tell their stories through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada hearings, so events yesterday and today in Eskasoni will be more of a chance to honour and recognize them.
To the Editor,
Re: letter to the editor, Aug. 16.
After commenting that British gentry paid to send their children to private schools, a question was recently asked in the Aug.16, 2012 edition of the Alberni Valley News, if Canada is the first to compensate First Nations for having attended residential schools. Like there’s some comparison?
To answer the question, I would ask everyone to please read Mr. Basil Johnston’s bittersweet autobiography called ‘Indian School Days’.
He describes everything from lonliness and deprivation to the soul-numbing routine of a genocidal government policy of assimilation that ripped native children from their parents with tragic results for many generations.
At least British children made it home from their exclusive private schools, for as many as 50 per cent of Canadian Indian residential school children never even made it home from school. They died, away from their home and family.
Further, the question is asked “Does society even care?”
We’re talking about it, so I guess we — thankfully — do.
And, if I have anything to do about it, society will increasingly care.
So I live in hope.
In what is believed to be the first ceremony of its kind since the process of truth and reconciliation began, several Anishinaabe elders in Winnipeg have adopted a non-aborginal brother, the Most Rev. James Weisgerber, Archbishop of the Roman Catholic diocese of Winnipeg.
The powerful gesture of forgiveness and healing took place April 14 in a traditional Ojibway welcoming ceremony known as “naabaagoodiwin” at the Circle of Life Thunderbird House, an aboriginal cultural and social-services centre.
It’s been described as one of the darkest chapters in Canadian history.
Over 150,000 aboriginal children were forced into residential schools during the 1860’s and in an effort to assimilate early First Nations people through the loss of language, culture and religion as well as family and community values and ways of being.
Boyle Street Community Services staff is warning that time may soon be running out for victims to receive compensation for atrocities, including physical and sexual abuse, committed at these schools.
The deadline for the application form is Sept.19 but Boyle Street staff says applicants are encouraged not to wait until the last minute.
At this time, not many have come forward to collect.
Re: “Picturing a different way to work together; Mural becomes signpost on journey toward reconciliation,” the Journal, Aug. 16.The article rehashes inflammatory letters to the editor discrediting the good works of the Catholic missionaries.
I invite readers to go to Grandin Station and view the Grandin mural for themselves. Here is some of what I see.
Every year at the NaMeRes National Aboriginal Day Pow Wow, every elected representative who speaks begins by recognizing that at Wells Hill Park we are on the traditional lands of the Mississaugas of New Credit. At our Canada Day ceremony we begin with a drummer and a smudge ceremony. Now, even at the Annual Skills for Change Pioneers Dinner celebrating the wonderful successes of Canadians who chose Canada as their new home, the evening begins with an elder and a welcoming prayer. This is huge progress.
Last month at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings in Toronto, many, many non-aboriginal people — churches, youth delegates with Cynthia Wesley-Esquimault’s inspiring Canadian Roots Exchange — came to bear witness and stand in solidarity with the victims of residential schools.
Fourth National TRC Event Kicks Off Aboriginal Day in Saskatoon: More Settlers Get Involved as Focus Moves toward Reconciliation
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) fourth National Event in Saskatoon, June 21–24, 2012, saw both another jump in the growing levels of engagement by non-Aboriginal folk, and even stronger emphasis on the Commission’s emerging focus on reconciliation. And Saskatchewan Conference’s Justice and Right Relations group helped push both those developments forward, as did KAIROS.
The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) announced today that it plans to join a lawsuit by two British Columbia First Nations, the Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc Indian Band and the Sechelt Indian Band, who filed a statement of claim in Federal Court on behalf of the thousands of First Nation Day Scholar students who attended Indian Residential Schools. The Indian Day Scholar survivors were left out of the $1.9 Billion Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement.
“The Indian Day Scholar survivors suffered the same injustices as the Indian Residential School survivors,” says FSIN Vice Chief E. Dutch Lerat. “Many of them suffered abuse and a loss of language and culture. We estimate there are more than 4,000 Indian Day Scholar survivors in Saskatchewan waiting for past wrongs to be righted.”
In a lawsuit with implications for First Nations across Canada, two British Columbia bands say that students who attended residential schools without residing in the schools were scarred by their experiences despite being allowed to go home at night.
The Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Indian Band and Sechelt Indian Band filed a class-action lawsuit on Aug. 15, arguing that the language and culture loss they experienced during residential schools should be compensated.
The lawsuit estimated that 300 members of the two bands who attended day schools in the communities are still alive.
Two Native American bands claim Canada unconstitutionally excluded people harmed by residential schools from a settlement reached in 2006.
By their chiefs, members of the Tk'emlups Te Secwepemc Indian Band and the Sechelt Indian Band claim that Canada's residential school policy "was designed to eradicate Aboriginal culture and identity and assimilate the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada into Euro-Canadian Society."
"Through this policy, Canada ripped away the foundations of identity for generations of Aboriginal People and caused incalculable harm to both individuals and communities," the complaint states.
As Aboriginal groups from across Canada file a class action lawsuit on behalf of day school survivors, the New Democrat Aboriginal Affairs critic is calling on the government to use this as an opportunity to move towards reconciliation and healing.
“The survivors of day schools suffered some of the same abuse and indignities that residential school survivors did,” said Jean Crowder, MP for Nanaimo-Cowichan. “Why drag out a court case to decide compensation when the government can move now to settle with survivors on an agreement that provides compensation, but more importantly, healing?”
A historic class action lawsuit by people who attended Indian Residential Schools as “day scholars” has begun to spread across Canada, bringing the total to 76 bands alleging widespread abuse.
Only a day after British Columbia’s Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc and Sechelt First Nations filed their case against the federal government on behalf of survivors and their descendents who were excluded from full compensation under a 2006 abuse settlement, the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) added its name to the lawsuit.
“The Indian Day Scholar survivors suffered the same injustices as the Indian Residential School survivors,” said FSIN Vice Chief Dutch Lerat in a statement. “Many of them suffered abuse and a loss of language and culture. We estimate there are more than 4,000 Indian Day Scholar survivors in Saskatchewan waiting for past wrongs to be righted.”
The First Nations Summit (FNS) is voicing support for the filing of a class action lawsuit against the Federal Government by leaders of the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Indian Band and Sechelt Indian Band for damages arising from the forced attendance of their community members at Indian Residential Schools that operated in their territories from 1890 until the 1970’s.
Today, Chief Shane Gottfriedson, leader of the Tk'emlups te Secwepemc Indian Band, and Chief Garry Feschuk, leader of the Sechelt Indian Band, together announced the filing of a class action lawsuit against the Federal Government in the Federal Court of Canada for damages arising from the forced attendance of their Band members as day scholars at Indian Residential Schools on their reserves.
In his two-storey print shop in west Edmonton, Jules Thomas works two phones, juggles two businesses and contemplates the two lives he’s already lived at age 30.
A self-taught designer and musician, Thomas is the creative talent in a small, two-person design firm, Distrikt Media. He’s also the brains behind his second venture, Bannock Burger, a mobile restaurant, launched this summer.
As part of a younger generation of aboriginals trying their hand at business in the big city, Thomas is an optimist these days: “I just want to be a better me and now I’m a role model for young aboriginals in the city.”
There were no role models for him in his dark years, when he struggled with alcohol and drug addiction and “just got into trouble.”
He began drinking and taking drugs at age 11, often not going to school, like so many kids on the northern reserve of Sturgeon Lake, near Grande Prairie, who watched their parents — among the last generation to go to residential school — struggle with alcohol.
His wake-up call came at age 15, when he ended up in a Wabasca hospital after taking contaminated drugs. “I took a look at who I was and the people around me, and I decided didn’t want to be that anymore,” he said.
Racism in Canada must be acknowledged and addressed, says Justice Murray Sinclair, chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
“Racism is a hard word for us to grapple with, but it’s one we must embrace,” said Sinclair in his August 14 keynote address at a TRC-hosted event in Toronto called Shared Perspectives, An Evening of Reconciliation. The goal, he added, is to make it possible for future generations of aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians to “…talk to each other with respect.”
Inmates in the Kenora District Jail were able make statements about their residential school experience when the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) visited the prison on Aug. 8 and 9.
TRC Chair Justice Murray Sinclair said Canadian correctional institutions house a disproportionately high number of Aboriginal inmates.
In March 2011, 85 per cent of the male prison population in the Kenora jail was Aboriginal while 100 per cent of the female population was Aboriginal. TRC puts the current Aboriginal population at 93 per cent overall. The jail services the Kenora district, which has about 30 First Nations communities.
“There’s perhaps no other group of individuals in this country that better exemplifies the schools’ tragic legacy,” Sinclair said in a media release.
Meanwhile, the truth and reconciliation commission heard from the urban Inuit community Thursday in Ottawa.
Sharing painful stories is part of the healing process.
But while that helps, some are wondering what happens when the support is no longer there.
APTN National News intern Paula Chinkiwsky has this story.
As 65-year-old Ovilu Goo-Doyle listened to fellow Inuit recount their residential school experiences, she leaned forward in her chair, held her head in her hands, and fought back tears.
Goo-Doyle was among approximately 150 people who attended the one-day urban Inuit community hearing. The event, held Thursday at a downtown Ottawa hotel, was co-hosted by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and Ottawa’s Tungasuvvingat Inuit’s Mamisarvik Healing Center.
Commissioner Marie Wilson heard from survivors about their experiences and the impact on their lives and communities of the residential school system, an Aboriginal education model organized by the federal government and operated from the 1880s until the mid-1990s.
When you think of residential schools, you think of children who were only allowed to leave for special holidays to visit their families.
However, there were thousands more who attended day schools and suffered the same atrocities as the other children.
A calls action lawsuit was filed this week in Vancouver against the federal government on behalf of those victims.
APTN National News reporter Tina House has this story.
The Government of Canada knowingly displayed "wanton and reckless disregard" for Indigenous children attending residential schools as day scholars, allege two B.C. First Nations in an historic class action lawsuit launched yesterday.
If granted permission to proceed, the case -- filed in Vancouver federal court by Sechelt and Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc First Nations -- will argue that Canada intended to wipe out Aboriginal identity and rights in order to enable "the exploitation of those lands and resources by Canada," and demands "punitive and aggravated damages."
The lawsuit aims to close a gap in which thousands of daytime students at residential schools -- which operated from roughly 1874 until 1996 -- were denied monetary compensation in the government's 2006 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA) in the same manner as students residing in the schools. While the so-called "day scholars" could apply for individual assessment for abuses experienced in school, they were excluded from "common experience" compensation for having attended.
The leader of the Assembly of First Nations hopes a class-action lawsuit launched in British Columbia on behalf of a group of former residential school students will expand across Canada.
The Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc Indian Band in the B.C. Interior and the Sechelt Indian Band on the province's central coast have launched a case on behalf of day scholars who attended residential schools during the day, but went home at night.
The lawsuit follows a 2006 federal decision to compensate residential school survivors, which only applies to those forced to live at the government schools designed to wipe out aboriginal culture and not to day scholars.
Former students of Canada’s Indian residential schools are being reminded that important deadlines are looming for those looking for financial remuneration under the federal Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. Committed to a “fair and lasting resolution to the legacy of Indian residential schools” and a renewed relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada will be accepting Independent Assessment Process claims as well as Common Experience Payments claims under exceptional circumstances until September 19, 2012.
Fredericton recently played host to a unique gathering.
Mi’kmaq and Maliseet youth had the chance to sit down with survivors of the Indian Residential School system.
They’re hoping to take the often negative experiences of residential school and use it to build their future.
APTN National News reporter Tim Fontaine has this story.
Aboriginals who have been denied compensation for their time at Canada's notorious residential schools because they continued to live at home filed a class-action lawsuit Wednesday, arguing they, too, were scarred by a system designed to eradicate their language and culture.
The Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc Indian Band in British Columbia's Interior and the Sechelt Indian Band on the province's central coast filed a statement of claim in Federal Court in a case they hope grows to include aboriginals from across the country.
The federal government reached a settlement to compensate residential school students in 2006, two years before Prime Minister Stephen Harper's historic apology in Parliament. But an automatic payment to former residential school students — described as a common experience payment — only applied to those who lived at the schools.
Students who attended the schools during the day and returned home at night, a group referred to as "day scholars," aren't eligible for those payments, which provide $10,000 for the first year spent living at a residential school and $3,000 for each subsequent year.
Tk'emlups Indian Band joined with Sechelt First Nation Wednesday to launch a class-action lawsuit in federal court in Vancouver seeking compensation for several hundred former residential school students.
The bands held a press event downtown to announcing the legal filing they first made public in spring this year.
Tk'emlups band chief Shane Gottfriedson, who was in Vancouver and is named as representing about 200 band members as a plaintiff, said the band is seeking fairness for those who lost language or culture in residential schools, but did not overnight.
In northern British Columbia survivors of the Lower Post Residential school have just wrapped up for days of healing.
As APTN National News reporter Shirley McLean finds, it was a time for reflection and, for some, letting go of a dark past.
First, the church played a role in tearing aboriginal families apart. Now, it needs to help put them back together, says the primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.
Referring to the ongoing inter-generational impact of residential schools, Archbishop Fred Hiltz emphasized that the church “needs to play a role in nurturing and supporting initiatives that help heal aboriginal families.
“We were part of tearing families apart,” Archbishop Hiltz told more than 200 aboriginal Anglicans attending the Seventh Sacred Circle held Aug. 5 to 12 in Pinawa, Man. “We must be part of healing and bringing them back together and helping them move to a place of health and happiness.”
There have been “sins of commission and sins of omission” committed in relation to the Indian residential schools in Canada, said Susan Johnson, the national bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) .
And while the ELCIC may not have operated residential schools, it nonetheless has an obligation to help address the wrongs committed against Canada’s First Nations, said Johnson.
“We recognize now that as Canadians and as Christians who are part of this country, that we have not taken responsibility for maintaining relationships with the people of this land,” said Johnson, addressing about 200 indigenous Anglicans who gathered Aug. 5-12 for the Seventh Sacred Circle in Pinawa, Man.
Georgina Lightning drives a 2004 Mercedes convertible so fresh out of Hollywood it still has California plates.
Lightning is a member of the Samson Cree in Hobbema, and she grew up in Edmonton. But she left in 1990 to study at American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles, and has acted in the thriller movie Sawtooth, the TV movie Dreamkeeper, with guest appearances on The West Wing and Walker, Texas Ranger.
She’s a film director, writer and actor who won emerging artist of the year at the White House Projects annual EPIC awards for her 2010 film Older Than America, a feature-length film about residential schools. She toured that film to screenings across North America and picked up 23 awards.
The reactions she got to that troubling story of the pain and abuse passed down through generations convinced her that more must be written about the paths to healing afterward. That’s what she’s back in Edmonton to do, using initial commitments and help in kind from the National Film Board, Alberta Film Commission and Truth and Reconciliation Commission to get started on a $4.5-million trilogy of documentaries looking at native depression and suicide, trauma and the healing strength of traditional ceremony.
The lingering dispute over a mural in Grandin LRT station seemed to be insurmountable, pitting city francophones proud of Bishop Vital Grandin’s legacy against First Nations peoples deeply offended by the benevolent portrayal of residential schools.
There so was much anger in the room last November that the two sides could barely speak to each other, recalls Leona Carter, director of the City of Edmonton’s new aboriginal relations office (ARO), whose task was to mediate a resolution.
Grandin arrived from France in 1854 and became a major figure in Alberta’s history, but he’s also infamous for overseeing residential schools. In the mural, the Oblate bishop stands beside a nun holding an aboriginal baby, apparently being carried away from his or her family. In the background, a faceless family is being led away to a train station by another missionary. When the mural was donated in 1989, no one complained.
But times have changed.
“Some francophones adamantly opposed any changes to the mural, while some in the native community just wanted it removed,” says Carter, who has lived in Edmonton for 40 years after moving from the Saddle Lake Cree Nation.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) is inviting Ottawa’s urban Inuit to share their unique perspectives on the residential school system at a community hearing to be held Thursday, August 16.
Commissioner Dr. Marie Wilson will hear directly from Inuit Residential School Survivors about their experiences and the impacts of the schools on their lives and communities.
The Urban Inuit Community Hearing will also provide an opportunity to Ottawa residents and Canadians as a whole to gain a better appreciation of the continuing collective trauma that residential schools inflicted on Inuit peoples and their children – a chance to bear witness to the legacy of Canada’s residential school system for Inuit peoples.
The Urban Inuit Community Hearing is being co-hosted by the Tungasuvvingat Inuit’s Mamisarvik Healing Center, and will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Rideau Room (2nd floor) of the Sheraton Hotel, 150 Albert Street.
Leaders attending the ‘Gathering Around The Fire’ meeting in Lower Post, in northern B.C. over the weekend said it's time to tear down an old school in the community.
They said Lower Post was one of the most notorious residential schools in Canada. It now serves as the administration offices for the Daylu Dena Council.
Many were touched by the keynote from Ted Quewezance of the National Residential School Survivors Society at an August 8th session of the Walking the Dream: Scared Circle 2012 conference of the Anglican Church of Canada held in Pinawa, Manitoba. He shared how the residential schools affected five generations of his family and what they were doing to rebuild.
DILLY Knol easily lists the problems facing her William Whyte neighbourhood.
Addiction’s the big one, she says, followed closely by poverty, lack of safety, gangs, poor housing and limited employment opportunities.
"We have a lot of second-, third-generation residential- school families. They love their kids. They just lack skills.
"Some had their kids taken. They were never a parent. The kids never had parents. We give them tools.
That’s what we try to do."
Ted Quewezance of the National Residential School Survivors Society shares his family story with Sacred Circle. He talked about how residential schools affected five generations of his family, and how they have worked hard to rebuild their sense of identity.
Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission is at the Kenora District Jail Thursday to take statements on how the Indian Residential School experience affected the lives of many inmates.
This is the first time the commission will visit a correctional institution. In the Kenora jail, 92 per cent of the inmates are Aboriginal.
That's why the Truth and Reconciliation Commission chose the facility for its first visit, said Ry Moran, the director of statement gathering for the commission.
"We thought that number was especially high,” he said.
“In further conversations we decided that this would be a good area to focus on because that particular area around (Kenora) ... has been so affected by the residential school legacy.”
Des anciens étudiants saskatchewanais de pensionnats autochtones affrontent leur passé pour mieux vivre l'avenir, dans le cadre d'un événement de la Commission de vérité et réconciliation du Canada.
Les membres de la bande de Lac La Ronge ont construit une réplique du genre de bateau qui était utilisé lors des voyages de transport des jeunes vers les écoles.
Ils ont revécu mercredi le voyage en bateau qui les avait emmenés loin de leur famille dans le nord de la Saskatchewan.
Le bateau symbolique, qui a été mis à l'eau mercredi, avec à son bord des anciens et des enfants, sera brûlé jeudi lors d'une cérémonie spéciale qui a pour but d'enterrer le passé.
A symbolic boat burning took place Thursday as part of a healing process for survivors of Indian Residential schools.
The boat was constructed to recall how children in remote parts of Saskatchewan were taken away from their families to attend the school.
Elders from the Lac La Ronge Indian Band recalled the trauma of the trips.
Tom Roberts, a support worker for survivors of the Residential School experience, explained that sharing stories of what happened is a major part of the healing process.
"The elders have stories to tell, and each story they will write it down on a piece of paper and put it in the boat ... and we're going to burn them," he said. "It's like a sacred fire. And when its burned to ashes hopefully some of the memories will be left behind. Hopefully."
A special ceremony on the Lac La Ronge First Nation Thursday saw survivors of residential schools gathering in hopes of putting the past behind them.
Members of the First Nation built a wooden boat, a replica of one that patrolled Lac La Ronge for decades. Each September, it would pick students up from remote communities around the lake and take them to residential schools.
The Indian Band built this boat for survivors with the intention to set it ablaze and hopefully burn away a dark legacy that hangs over their people. But first, to bridge the past and the future, they invited school children to take a ride in it with the elders.
Residential school survivors in northern Saskatchewan hope to see some bad memories go up in flames.
They've been invited to write their experiences down and put the notes in a replica of a boat that was used to take students from the La Ronge First Nation to the schools.
The boat was pulled and dragged to a burning site behind a reserve school Wednesday.
An exhibition of masks and other work by artist Beau Dick will break the usual rules in the art world by showing pieces for sale alongside ceremonial items with a practical value that will be used in a potlatch in Alert Bay.
Because of their spiritual and historical significance to the Kwakwaka’wakw artist and his culture, one group of 40 masks won’t have price tags on them. Before the potlatch on the Labour Day weekend, they’ll be taken from the exhibition to the community on Cormorant Island, northeast of Vancouver Island, where they will be worn by dancers in a potlatch for the fourth time. In Kwakwaka’wakw tradition, four is a sacred number. Once the masks are worn for four dances, they’re believed to have completed their ceremonial lives. Afterward, all 40 masks will be thrown into a fire and burned.
One of Dick’s works for sale is a chair with a long history. Although he’s not certain, he thinks he could have sat in it during his drinking days, which ended 25 years ago.
Once part of the furnishings in the beer parlour at the Harbor Inn in Alert Bay, the chair was later one of several collected by Dick for the carving workshop at St. Michael’s, the former residential school which played a role in trying to eradicate Kwakwaka’wakw traditions and language.
Years later, when the remaining two chairs were ready for the junk pile, Dick took them home. That’s when he started to see something in them.
On the back of the one he’s modified is a distressed box design. On the seat, one of his ghost masks acts like a paperweight on top of a copy of the Indian Act. He calls it The Ghost Confined to the Chair.
“Once people find out what it is, they’re quite touched,” he said. “That’s really something, the history of the chair. People can make what they want out of it. To me it is a playful, whimsical piece that I’m very serious about. It came out splendidly.”
I’ve been doing some more research on Kevin Annett and have found what is quite likely the most disturbing story anyone will ever hear about him. I’ve written before about how Annett has slandered indigenous elders like Jan Longboat, which is bad enough- but, today’s story is about how Annett slandered one of Canada’s most heroic residential school survivors--Willie Blackwater. It put tears in my eyes just thinking about this story.
Former students of Indian Residential Schools recall being taken by boat away from their homes in Saskatchewan's north.
The Lac La Ronge Indian Band built a replica of the type of boat that was used for the trips that transported youngsters to schools.
"Sometimes it wasn't too good," local elder Elizabeth Charles said of the experience. "We were already lonesome by the time we got to the first portage there in Stanley Mission."
"We didn't like it," Helen Visintin, another elder, recalled. "Most of us used to cry."
The replica boat was on the water Wednesday as part of Truth and Reconciliation events to aid in the healing of the negative elements of the Residential Schools era.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) will make its first visit to a correctional institution on August 8 and 9, when it will hear statements from inmates at the Kenora Jail in northwestern Ontario.
“Canadian correctional institutions house a disproportionately high number of Aboriginal inmates,” said TRC Chair Justice Murray Sinclair. “The Commission is committed to ensuring that they have an opportunity to be heard concerning the impact the Indian Residential Schools have had on their lives.”
“There’s perhaps no other group of individuals in this country that better exemplifies the schools’ tragic legacy,” he added.
On August 8 and 9, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) will gather statements from aboriginal inmates who attended Indian residential schools, marking its first visit to a correctional facility.
The visit will take place at Ontario’s Kenora Jail, where aboriginal inmates make up 92 per cent of the prison population. Most are descendants of children who were taken from their families and sent to residential schools in the Kenora area. These schools included the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School, run by the Presbyterians; the St. Mary’s Indian Residential School, run by the Roman Catholics, and the MicIntosh Indian Residential School, which was affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church and run by the Oblates.
A replica of the boats used to transport First Nations children to a residential school in La Ronge will be burned this week following an elaborate public ceremony in the northern community.
"We are hoping to put the past to rest and hope for healing in the future," said Tom Roberts, one of the event organizers.
Today, the plywood boat will be loaded with children, as well as one of the former students of the Anglican Church-run La Ronge Residential School, and driven across Lac La Ronge. It will dock near downtown La Ronge, former site of the school.
Volunteers will drag the boat to an elementary school and a number of events will take place today and Thursday.
Former students will share their experiences with residential schools and the boat will be loaded with their notes, photos or other mementos. On Thursday, the boat will be packed with bark and kindle and set on fire by elder and former student Elizabeth Charles.
Three education projects about Indian residential schools are designed to deepen Canadians' knowledge about their impact and get First Nations people to share their experiences with each other.
Where are the Children? and 100 Years of Loss: The Residential School System in Canada were both installed at Algoma University's George Leach Centre during Shingwauk 2012 Gathering and Conference over the long weekend.
"There is a general level of awareness that a residential school system existed at some point in history, but many people don't realize the magnitude of that," said Tina Cooper-Bolam, director of legacy projects for Aboriginal Healing Foundation.
Former residential school students have only seven weeks left to avail themselves of an out-of-court process to resolve claims of sexual abuse, serious physical abuse and other “wrongful acts” suffered at the residential schools.
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada is reminding former students that the deadline for compensation under the Independent Assessment Process (IAP) is Sept. 19, 2012.
I was born July 16 1962. My residential school tag number is 2616. If you reverse the numbers it gives you a year and a date. I attended Alert Bay Residential from the winter of 1966 to the summer of 1976.
The Department of Indian Affairs and RCMP came and pushed my parents door open. My mom told me in our language to hide and I went behind the wood stove. All the 4 and a half year olds had to go. I was the only one. I remember everything that happened like it was yesterday; the weather, the road to the Alert Bay school.
When the apology and claims process started years ago, I didn’t want anything to do with the people from the churches. I decided to go through with it in order to help provide my children grandchildren with a better future.
A major obstacle faced Garnet Angeconeb when he wanted to forgive the man who sexually abused him at a residential school.
In 2002, the Lac Seul First Nation member learned his assailant died two years earlier at a halfway house in Winnipeg.
Former Anglican priest Leonard Hands was sentenced to four years in prison in 1996 after pleading guilty to 19 counts of sexual assault against young boys. The assaults happened at Pelican Indian Residential School between 1966 and 1971.
"I wanted to have dialogue with him, at least shake his hand," said Angeconeb during Shingwauk 2012 Gathering and Conference.
"That gave a bit of a barrier to move forward with being able to forgive."
The University of Western Ontario journalism graduate chose a second path. At a gathering in Sioux Lookout, Ont., similar to the one that drew several hundred residential school survivors to Algoma University this past weekend, Angeconeb publicly forgave Hands, a dormitory supervisor, for what he did to him in Pelican Falls in northwestern Ontario.
The Shingwauk 2012 Commemoration Gathering and Conference: Healing through Education began late yesterday afternoon with a Commemoration Ceremony for all those who attended one or more of the many Residential Schools across Turtle Island.
Shingwauk Hall and the Shingwauk/Fauquier Chapel and Cemetery, (The Shingwauk site) were dedicated as a national memorial to residential school survivors and to all the many children who never returned home from the residential schools.
The first time Lori Rainville attended a gathering of Shingwauk Hall Residential School survivors as a teenager, she didn't quite get what it was all about.
Ten years later, in 1991, she began to understand the place where her mother spent most of her childhood.
“That was my first real understanding of why the school was there, and of the children that were taken and placed in the school,” said Rainville, 50.
The Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association's eighth annual commemorative gathering begins Friday, and Rainville is scheduled to speak during its opening that afternoon.
Comissioner Marie Wilson, of the residential school Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, will name Shingwauk Hall, as well as the church and the cemetery at the site, a national memorial to the thousands of residential school students who didn't return to their families.
The three-day gathering also includes a conference, which organizers say is a way to allow the next generations – the children and the grandchildren of those who were forced into Canada's residential schools – keep the discussion going.
On behalf of the Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association (CSAA) and our partners on the organizing committee, we invite all Residential School Survivors, their families and communities, and members of the larger Sault Ste. Marie community and beyond to join us for a Commemoration Ceremony August 3, 2012, to open the Shingwauk 2012 Commemoration Gathering and Conference: Healing through Education.
All Gathering and Conference Events will be held at Algoma University in Sault Ste. Marie, August 3-6, 2012.
This ceremony will see the unveiling of two plaques that name the Shingwauk site, which includes Shingwauk Hall and the Shingwauk/Fauquier Chapel and Cemetery, as a national memorial.
The Honourable John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, unveils artwork commemorating the legacy of Indian Residential Schools. Métis artist Christi Belcourt's artwork will be transformed into stained glass and installed in Centre Block on Parliament Hill.
L'honorable John Duncan, ministre des Affaires autochtones et du développement du Nord canadien, dévoile l'œuvre qui commémorera les séquelles laissées par les pensionnats indiens. L'artiste métisse Christi Belcourt verra son œuvre transformée en vitrail qui sera installé dans l'édifice du Centre de la Colline du Parlement.
A gathering for Shingwauk residential school students has evolved into an event that welcomes all aboriginal peoples who attended similar institutions.
Shingwauk 2012 Gathering and Conference drew 328 pre-registrants. More were expected during the three-day event that ended Sunday at Algoma University.
Most attendees were from Northeastern Ontario, said Jonathan Dewar, director of Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre. Others came from Thunder Bay, the Sioux Lookout area and Montreal.
The majority of participants were residential school survivors who were joined by their family and friends.
Former RCMP officer Monty Robinson is a free man, though one can make a very strong case that he shouldn't be.
Four years ago, Robinson was driving a vehicle that collided with a motorcycle, killing its rider. But rather than remain at the scene, Robinson went home and consumed two shots of vodka, which, he said, was to calm his nerves.
But of course the vodka could have masked the five beers he had consumed before the collision. And as B.C. Supreme Court Justice Janice Dillon found Robinson intentionally tried to cover up his previous alcohol consumption, she convicted him of obstruction of justice.
So far so good. But at sentencing, Dillon rejected the Crown attorney's recommendation that Robinson be jailed for three to nine months, and instead imposed a one-year conditional sentence with one month of house arrest.
Dillon cited a number of factors why she declined to send Robinson to jail, but the one that is receiving the lion's share of attention concerns Robin-son's aboriginal background. Specifically, Dillon said that she considered Robinson's ethnic background in fashioning a non-custodial sentence. While this has provoked outrage in the community, with people charging that aboriginal status now amounts to a get-out-of-jail-free card, it's clear that Robinson's ethnicity is only one factor among many that influenced Dillon's decision.
An overgrown piece of prairie surrounded by a faded, wooden fence sits off Pinkie Road, west of Regina.
The plot, as of yet untouched by the encroaching industrial development, may hold the bones of an unknown number of people, as it was once the cemetery of the Regina Indian Industrial School.
Now owned by an Ontario company that plans to develop the site, the cemetery is a topic of discussion for a City of Regina committee.
"There is some feeling of urgency because we don't want anything to happen to this site," said David McLennan, a member of Municipal Heritage Advisory Committee (MHAC), which is looking into the future of the site. "We also want to be sensitive and make sure that people don't get unduly upset."
Separated from the surrounding development by the old fence, the cemetery sits on the valuable, street accessible portion of the property, said McLennan.
Two years after hiring her lawyer, an Edmonton woman has learned she has less than eight weeks to get her claim for I-A-P compensation registered with the government.
APTN's Noemi Lopinto has that story.
In her emergency room on Sunday Dr. Anna Reid treated patients in the throes of delirium tremens — severe alcohol withdrawal after a weeklong binge. One arrived with life-threatening seizures.
The incoming president of the most influential doctors' group in the country also saw homeless patients with cellulitis — deep, severe and fast-spreading infections in their feet and lower legs from wearing the same pair of ripped, worn and wet shoes for more than a year.
"Those are the kinds of things I see on a daily basis," Reid says — homeless, addicted and mentally ill patients stranded in her Yellowknife emergency room, some of them residential school survivors who can't function in society, she says, "because they don't have any sense of who they are anymore."
The health divide between rich and poor perhaps gets no more blatant than in the North. "It's in your face everywhere you turn," she says.
The emergency physician at Stanton Territorial Hospital assumes the helm of the Canadian Medical Association in August, when more than 300 delegates gather in Yellowknife for the CMA's 145th annual general council meeting.
Reid will be the first CMA president from the Northwest Territories. It will also be the first time the annual meeting will be held in the Northwest Territories.