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About 37,000 or nearly half of the 80,000 former students who applied for Common Experience Payment under the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement (IRSSA) also filed claims for sexual, serious physical abuse and other “wrongful acts” suffered at residential schools, according to Justice Murray Sinclair.
This illustrates the scope of the harm inflicted by Indian residential schools in Canada, said Sinclair, chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada.
Justice Murray Sinclair has travelled across Canada collecting nightmares for almost four years now.
The head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was tasked with recording the abuse thousands of aboriginal children suffered during their time in the country’s residential school system. Wherever he travels, he carries a growing archive of pain with him. At each of the TRC’s new destinations, there’s a whole new universe of pain waiting for him and his fellow commissioners.
Residential schools engaged in "cultural genocide," former prime minister Paul Martin said Friday at the hearings of the federal Truth And Reconciliation Commission, adding that aboriginal Canadians must now be offered the best educational system.
"Let us understand that what happened at the residential schools was the use of education for cultural genocide, and that the fact of the matter is — yes it was. Call a spade a spade," Martin said to cheers from the audience at the Montreal hearings.
"And what that really means is that we've got to offer aboriginal Canadians, without any shadow of a doubt, the best education system that is possible to have."
An impressive roster of high-profile Canadians was at the third day of the Truth and Reconciliation hearings in Montreal, listening to the emotional stories of abuse from survivors of Indian Residential Schools.
Former Prime Minister Paul Martin, along with former Auditor General Sheila Fraser, sat with New Democrat MP Romeo Saganash, himself a survivor of the schools.
Hosted at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel, the goal of the hearings is to listen to the stories and “honourably carry on these stories in the sacred First Nations sense,” explained CTV Montreal reporter Tarah Schwartz.
Romeo Saganash says he has accepted that he’ll never regain the childhood that was taken away from him.
Saganash spent the most formative decade of his life in residential school. And while he survived and went on to become a lawyer and member of Parliament for the NDP, his brother never made it out of the Moose Factory residential school alive.
Survivors of a residential school in Williams Lake, B.C. will gather together this week for a month-long reconciliation project.
St. Joseph's residential school was torn down 26 years ago, but it left a painful legacy for survivors and their families.
Over the next month, there will be several events where survivors will share their stories. There will also be a reunion for the former residential school students.
Elementary and high school teachers and students in the Montréal area gathered for “Education Day,” an event convened by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) to kick off the TRC’s historic Québec National Event, scheduled from April 24 to 27, 2013.
Education Day will introduce young people to the history and legacy of Indian Residential Schools in Québec and the rest of Canada through a variety of activities, dialogue, displays, and films.
Quebec National Event is the fifth of seven such events to be held by the Canada TRC in the course of its mandate. In a recently recorded interview, TRC’s Commissioner Marie Wilson explains the significance of national events.
With a welcome to the traditional Mohawk Kanien’kehá:ka territory, the Truth and Reconcilation Commssion opened its Quebec national event in Montreal April 24.
“Today’s event is part of a collectively determined drive to make reconciliation a reality,” said Andrew Saranchuk, assistant deputy minister for resolution and individuals affairs, at the opening. “Testimony is an important element of reconciliation. Though we cannot experience what former residential school inmates went through, we must listen attentively to those former students, who thus become our instructors.”
David Decontie took to the stage holding a black-and-white photo in his right hand.
The elderly Algonquin man sat down before the audience and showed them the grainy picture.
"This is the child I never knew," he said. "It's a picture of me."
More witnesses, many speaking with voices choked with emotion, told their wrenching stories at the Truth and Reconciliation Hearings in Montreal Thursday.
One of the witnesses explained that recounting her sufferings was a nearly-impossible task.
“This is really difficult for me to say,” said Sheri Lynne Neapetung, one of six survivors of Indian residential schools asked to tell her story on the day.
These are photos taken by Michael Tansey of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission national event in Montreal, April, 2013. They are viewable on the IRSAS Intranet page under the Photo Alblum tab.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada opened hearings Wednesday in Montreal at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel that will run through Saturday — and there are a number of reasons you should be there.
The commission was created after the $1.9-billion residential-schools settlement in 2007 between the government of Canada (along with partner Roman Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian and United churches) and the Assembly of First Nations.
Marcel Petiquay was 6 years old when they took him away.
He says a nun literally snatched him from his mother’s arms and put him on a train that sent him 700 kilometres west of his home on the Wemotaci territory. When he arrived at the St. Marc’s Indian Residential School in Amos, he was separated from his siblings, given an ID number and forbidden from speaking Atikamekw — his native language.
“It was a long, lonely ride to a place I’d never been before,” Petiquay told The Gazette. “I was a child, it was terrifying. I’ll never forget that day.”
It may be painful and profoundly troubling, but Canadians need to have a serious conversation about residential schools.
Michaëlle Jean's voice resounded sharply as she described the need for all Canadians to embrace aboriginal issues as their own. The former governor-general was in Montreal Wednesday to take part in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission — a $60-million project aimed at documenting the systematic torment suffered by generations of aboriginals who were forced into Canada's residential school system.
Lawyers representing clients with claims under the Independent Assessment Process of the Indian Residential Schools settlement are concerned that the system is not working the way it should.
They say federal lawyers are more adversarial and getting clients’ records is taking longer than expected, which makes it harder for former Residential School Survivors to move on.
Law professor Kathleen Mahoney says Crown lawyers are getting picky at IAP hearings, trying to get more cases tossed out for flimsy reasons.
Hundreds of Metis who claim they were physically, sexually and emotionally abused while attending the Timber Bay residential school in northern Saskatchewan are hoping a judge will certify their lawsuit seeking compensation.
A Saskatoon judge heard arguments Tuesday regarding the 12-year-old class-action suit filed by the Merchant Law Group on behalf of about 2,000 students who attended the school at Montreal Lake between 1952 and 1994.
Lawyer Tony Merchant said the judge will then determine whether the claim can proceed.
The amount that the federal government will have to pay to First Nations, Inuit and Métis people who were abused at church-run residential schools is expected to swell to over $4-billion.
New statistics posted on the website of the Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat show the number of former residents of the schools who have applied for compensation after alleging serious sexual, physical or emotional harm has climbed to 37,716, more than three times the original estimates.
Pendant des décennies, on a vidé les réserves de milliers de petits autochtones dans le but avoué de les assimiler à la société canadienne. Dans les pensionnats, on a volé leur enfance. Coupés de leur famille, ils n'ont jamais appris à devenir parents. Une génération plus tard, leurs propres enfants en subissent les conséquences. Et leurs petits-enfants. Pour marquer le début des audiences à Montréal de la Commission de vérité et réconciliation du Canada, voici l'histoire d'une tragédie qui n'en finit plus.
Mary Coon était à des centaines de kilomètres de la maison quand sa mère est morte. Arrêt cardiaque. Elle n'a jamais pu lui dire adieu. Le pensionnat indien de La Tuque qu'elle fréquentait a refusé de lui donner congé pour assister aux funérailles.
Leurs parents ont été arrachés à leur famille pour être envoyés dans des écoles résidentielles. Une génération plus tard, ils ont eux aussi été déracinés de leur communauté, mais cette fois... par les services sociaux.
La commissaire Marie Wilson ne compte plus les "victimes intergénérationnelles" venues témoigner devant elle dans le cadre des audiences de la Commission de vérité et réconciliation sur les pensionnats autochtones au Canada.
This story covers the abuses that have occurred by lawyers involved in the Independent Assessment Process, and discusses the reasoning behind the abuses, what steps could have been taken, and what we may expect in the future.
For Alvin Dixon, one of the hardest parts of surviving residential school was simply talking about it.
Just like generations of aboriginal children before him, Dixon was forcefully taken away from his family and sent to a boarding school to be assimilated into white Canadian society.
During the eight years he spent at the Alberni residential school in coastal Vancouver Island in the 1950s, Dixon was made to feel ashamed of his aboriginal heritage and his native language, and he was subjected to unspeakable acts of abuse.
Sometimes the light goes on. It happened one day not long ago while discussing the forthcoming Truth and Reconciliation Commission event in Montreal.
“You know,” I said, “I have Indian friends and I’m pretty sympathetic to the tough times they’re having in some places, but I don’t understand all this guilt about residential schools. It was years ago. I didn’t have anything to do with it. I wasn’t there. What’s this got to do with me?”
The Grade 10 history students of Garth Webb Secondary School got a firsthand lesson in aboriginal affairs from Elder Gary Sault of the Mississaugas of the New Credit.
Sault was at the school April 10 to smudge and bless tiles the students had made, each one representing a survivor of residential schools.
“Because they’re making these plaques, they’re looking at survivors that went through the residential schools,” said Sault.
The search for a new chief adjudicator to oversee Indian residential school claims is on.
The position has been vacant since February when Daniel Ish stepped down.
Applicants must have a law degree, 15 years legal experience and a significant knowledge of Canadian Aboriginal people, their history and culture.
A Truth and Reconciliation Commission commissioner says the federal government’s legislation is counterproductive.
Chief Wilton Littlechild says there needs to be a meeting between the TRC and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Littlechild says this willÂ avoid a brewing uprise by First Nations.
The search for a new Chief Adjudicator for the Independent Assessment Process was launched today with the release of a Request for Proposals for individuals who are interested in applying.
The Chief Adjudicator (CA) oversees the Independent Assessment Process, which adjudicates individual claims of abuse related to the Indian Residential Schools system. The CA also directs the work of the Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat, the administrative body that manages the IAP hearing process.
The long, sad history of Canadian residential schools and its long, sad aftermath have left scars on our society that are most visible in Vancouver around Hastings and Main.
The residential school legacy of broken homes, addiction and myriad other social ills can be seen in the First Nations people who make up a disproportionate number of the homeless and poor on its crowded sidewalks.
Rick Chapman has seen it in childlike whimpers, afflictions hidden under heavy-duty addictions to alcohol, drugs and solvents.
An Anglican pastor with Edmonton’s ecumenical Inner City Pastoral Ministry, Chapman’s work puts him in full view of the brutal daily effects of residential schools. Roughly 60 per cent of Edmonton’s homeless have an aboriginal or Métis background, Chapman said, many directly touched — or a generation removed — from the trauma they experienced there.
”Hold on, help is coming.”
This message, among thousands more, is shaping a new chapter in Canadian history. The art and words of younger generations are being immortalized in commemorative art exhibits dedicated to those who suffered in Canada’s residential schools.
Work is complete on a gift that Prince Rupert students will be hand-delivered to the Government of Canada on June 13 as part of the National Day of Healing and Reconciliation, and on April 10 students and staff gathered for the blessing of the art.
In order to raise awareness of the impact of residential schools and to aid in the reconciliation process, students at Charles Hays Secondary created a tile mosaic honouring students who died in residential school to be put on display at a museum in the nation's capital. In order to carry the tiles, students also created a bentwood box with a bear statue tethered to the top using cedar rope to signify the past, the presence and the strength of Aboriginal people to persevere.
Canada’s Indian Residential School System is one of the country’s most painful legacies.
After Prime Minister Stephen Harper officially apologized for government’s role in the affair on June 2, 2008, First Nations artists are bringing this hidden history into the light.
Kevin Lorings’ 2009 Governor General Award-winning play Where the Blood Mixes was one of the first theatrical works centering on the residential-school experience. Now award-winning Ontario playwright Drew Hayden Taylor presents God and the Indian.
The community gathered in Bella Coola on April 5 to recognize survivors of residential school. It was a grey morning as chiefs, elders, and community members assembled in front of the totem pole downtown that had been carved four years ago in the survivors’ honour.
The event was called a ‘celebration’ for a reason. While it was intended to acknowledge the suffering residential schools had inflicted on the survivors and their communities, its greater purpose was to begin the healing journey. Survivors were finally given the opportunity to collectively bring closure to this dark chapter in their lives, and, hopefully, begin to let go.
In the early 1960s kids as young as six-years-old were chosen to take part in an art class while attending the Port Alberni Indian Residential School.
In a solemn ceremony this past weekend the artists were reunited with the artwork they created as children.
Artwork some had no memory of ever doing.
The Fallen Feather opened her eyes to the historical reality of residential schools and the glaring need for “right relations,” says Rev. Dawne Taylor.
When the documentary is shown on Friday night at TRU’s Alumni Theatre, she hopes others will be similarly moved, particularly in light of the ongoing Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
“The whole point is not to dwell on residential schools,” said Taylor, one of the organizers of the event. “The point is to move to right relations of respect, mutuality and equality.”
It took a long time for Georgina Cootes to get used to art teacher Robert Aller, a volunteer who worked with students of the Alberni Indian Residential School from 1959 to 1966. It took a long time not to be afraid that he would do to her what other adults had done to her in the school, she said.
“But he didn’t.”
Aller instead provided a safe space for Cootes and other First Nations children from AIRS to create; to see something in their mind’s eye and put it down with paint on paper without fear of reprisal.
Lake of the Wood Museum’s award-winning exhibit on residential schools in the Kenora area will be hitting the road with a little help from the Common Ground Research Forum.
The research forum gave its last $5,000 in its community partnerships fund earlier this month so the museum could buy equipment to transport its exhibit called “Bakaan nake’ii ngii-izhi-gakinoo’amaagoomin: We were Taught Differently: The Indian Residential School Experience.”
Prominent Canadian lawyer Tony Merchant, married to Saskatchewan Liberal Sen. Pana Merchant, has stashed at least $1.7 million in a sunny offshore tax haven - cloaked in secrecy, the CBC and Radio Canada has reported.
An in-depth investigation based on 2.5 million documents, obtained by the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and shared with 38 news organizations, shows 450 Canadians have money hidden offshore.
In a ceremony packed with emotion, the Anishinabek Nation unveiled a stone monument on March 25 to honour thousands of its citizens who have felt the impacts of Indian Residential Schools.
“We are here today to celebrate the strength of our people,” said Elder Brian Nootchai who gave the opening thanksgiving address. “Resilience. That’s a powerful word to describe our people who went through the residential school.”
When Lewis George looks at the paintings he created as a child more than half a century ago, he sees artwork that changed the course of his life.
George, an Ahousaht First Nation hereditary chief, was sent to Alberni Indian Residential School when he was about six years old. Soon after his arrival, he jumped at the chance of taking art classes because they would get him out of early bedtime.
“They used to put us to bed at 6 p.m. and the art classes were between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.,” he recalled.
These paintings were done by students at a notorious residential school on Vancouver Island more than 50 years ago, and appear in today'sGlobe and Mail. Until recently, the artworks lay in bags and boxes in an archive, forgotten.
They were rediscovered two years ago by a field studies class at the University of Victoria. This weekend, they'll be celebrated at a repatriation ceremony in Port Alberni, B.C.
Students at the school faced abuse and difficult lives, as teachers - obeying government policy at the time - tried to suppress their culture. They were also subjected to a dorm supervisor who has since been labeled a "sexual terrorist" by Canadian courts.