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Three weeks before he died, Don Seymour sat down in front of a video camera and told his story.
In those few minutes that he stared at the lens — stopping only once to regain his composure — the man who knew his days were limited told a tale of a life both destroyed and made strong again.
It was a story of a little boy and the Kamloops Indian Residential School.
The kids at Glendale are speaking out about residential schools — and they're doing it without uttering a word.
In the high school's latest stage production, Ten Miles Out, students use music, movement and multimedia to depict the abuse thousands of children suffered under Canada's residential school system.
They don't, however, use language — their teacher took that away three weeks ago.
In 1907, Canada's Department of Indian Affairs dispatched Dr. Peter Henderson Bryce to investigate residential schools in Manitoba and the Northwest Territories. Bryce found dilapidated buildings, rampant tuberculosis and shocking death rates. In some schools, only 31 per cent of children survived to graduation.
Bryce submitted a lengthy report detailing the appalling conditions. The federal government buried his report for 15 years until Bryce became so frustrated that he published his findings in a book.
By the time the last school closed in 1996, at least 3,000 aboriginal children had died in the residential school system.
Not always something openly discussed, Canada’s residential school system has become better known in recent years.
In hopes of bringing awareness of the system to a greater level locally, the Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC) is creating a virtual museum on the subject.
Last month, the museum’s curator began compiling audio testimonials, photographs and artifacts that will be featured in the virtual museum -- a multimedia website chronicling the lives of local area First Nations and Métis people.
Hundreds of people who say they suffered abuse at the hands of their teachers gathered at Winnipeg's Indian and Metis Friendship Centre Thursday.
They call themselves day school survivors.
While they were not in the residential school system, they say the abuse they suffered was the same.
Patricia Desmoulin sold handicrafts to be able to make the trip from Pick River First Nation, Ontario to find healing.
The negative impacts felt by aboriginal children forced to attend residential schools will be heard loud and clear next month in Red Deer.
Remembering the Children Society held a news conference on Wednesday to highlight the importance of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission coming on June 6 and 7 at Red Deer College.
The meetings, open to the public, run 9 a.m. to 4: 30 p.m.
One by one, the students read aloud the names of children buried in this grassland graveyard beside a dirt road marked only by two plaques erected by the government of Alberta. Then they released butterflies in the children’s honour.
Shivering, wide-eyed and slightly wet under the light rain of a chilly morning, a group of elementary students paid tribute Wednesday to those who faced the injustice of residential schools.
As part of the Human Outreach Project at Strathcona Tweedsmuir School, the 32 Grade 4 to 6 students added to their study of aboriginal education by visiting the site of the St. Joseph Industrial School, which operated from 1884 to 1924. It’s also known as the old Dunbow School grounds just south of Calgary.
Charlottetown’s Samantha Silliphant shudders at the thought of what life must have been like for aboriginal students in the days of residential schools in Canada.
The 12-year-old Stonepark Intermediate School student researched the harsh realities faced by the many unfortunate students that were on the receiving end of the Canadian government’s policy called “aggressive assimilation,’’ that saw aboriginal children taught at church-run, government-funded industrial schools, later called residential schools.
Samantha learned how students were discouraged from speaking their first language or practicing native traditions. If they were caught, they would experience severe punishment.
Residential school survivors in Williams Lake, B.C., are reuniting this weekend to remember and heal.
Though St. Joseph's Mission School was torn down in the 1980s, the painful memories are still fresh for the school’s former students.
Esketemc Chief Fred Robbins was taken to the residential school when he was six years old.
An Indian residential school survivor has issued a challenge to Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt to review archival files that prove the government of Canada deliberately destroyed residential school documents.
Valcourt denied the Canadian government ever destroyed residential school documents last Thursday during a House of Commons committee of the whole appearance.
“If he wants, we can send him documentation on the department’s own, old letterhead verifying that it was factual and it was done,” said Michael Cachagee, who was four and-a-half years old when he was taken to residential school. “I challenge him on that publicly. We will send it to him just to refresh his memory.”
The horrors of Canada's residential school system were on full display at the Civic Centre in Prince George Monday.
Marvin French from Takla Landing says although he avoided the dreaded schools he still felt their affects because his brothers and sisters attended them
Truth and Reconciliation Hearings are coming to Prince George next week.
The Carrier Sekani Tribal Council is hosting the event which aims to inform the public about the Residential School system and how it's affected the First Nations community.
Tribal Chair and Chief Terry Teegee says those affects are still with us today.
Re: Commission collects 'archive of pain' on shameful chapter in Canadian history, April 29
I read with great interest the article describing a gathering hosted by the Truth and Reconciliation Commissioners. The three leaders, each respected professionals in both First Nations and non-First Nations circles, are to be commended for their dedicated leadership. Each of these settings, which invite former residential school students to talk about their school experiences, must be as emotionally draining for the commissioners as the participants.
History -- in the spoken words of those who lived it. That history comes to life this evening with the official opening of the Oral History Centre at the University of Winnipeg, where researchers have made virtually immortal the voices and stories of residential school survivors, labour union pioneers and refugees.
There's even the history of the Winnipeg Roller Rink on the site of the U of W's new science building, told by the people who skated there for generations.
The Rev. Jennifer Bourque spent most of her time in the ”Churches’ Listening Area” at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Quebec national event, held here April 24 to 27.
She was among those who welcomed individuals who came looking for photographs—of themselves, their brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles who had gone to Indian residential schools.
“One woman said to me that she was looking for her mom; she hadn’t seen many pictures of her when she was young,” said Bourque, an Anglican priest from the diocese of Montreal who is chaplain at Montreal Children’s Hospital.
Temperatures in the nation’s capital are on the rise and so are political tensions.
This week APTN’s political panel talks about pipelines and the Auditor General’s report examining the release of residential school documents.
Joining APTN’s Nigel Newlove was Conservative MP Chris Warkentin, NDP MP Charlie Angus, Liberal MP Kirsty Duncan and Green party MP Elizabeth May
Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt says he’s unaware of an internal analysis drafted by his department outlining Ottawa’s position to officially deny Indian residential school documents were ever intentionally destroyed.
Valcourt faced questions from the NDP during question period Thursday following an APTN National News story based on an Aboriginal Affairs internal analysis describing the reason behind Ottawa’s policy to claim missing residential school documents were accidentally destroyed.
The department’s analysis said an admission that residential school documents were ever intentionally destroyed would open the federal government to litigation.
OTTAWA – In the wake of a damning auditor general’s report casting doubt on creating a legacy of Indian residential schools, opposition members are calling for an extension of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission – especially if the government wants to avoid a court challenge.
With only 15 months left in the commission’s five-year mandate, NDP and Liberal members say there likely isn’t enough time to create a historical record of residential schools because the government has yet to release a host of documents held at Library and Archives Canada.
The $60 million commission was created in 2007, after a $1.9 billion settlement with residential school survivors, many of whom were physically and sexually abused. The work got going in 2009, after the original commissioners quit the previous year.
The chair of the commission creating a historical record of Canada’s Indian residential school system thinks he can still get the task done, despite the auditor general’s conclusion that the task has been mired in discord.
“We have an obligation to ensure that our mandate is complied with. I don’t think we can just walk away from this,” a determined Justice Murray Sinclair, chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, told Postmedia News.
The commission has wrestled with how to pry essential historical documents from the federal government – a key part in painting a full portrait of the sometimes painful past of Canada’s indigenous population.
The federal auditor general says two of the government's key pillars meant to improve the lives of aboriginal peoples have gone awry because of infighting, poor co-ordination and lack of planning.
Auditor General Michael Ferguson says attempts to deal with the fallout of the residential school system are a mess, as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission bickers with the federal government over what historical documents need to be provided and how they should be preserved.
And he says Ottawa's plans to deal with rising rates of diabetes — especially on First Nations reserves — are showing no results because government programs aren't working together or checking the effectiveness of their projects.
Time is running out to fulfill a commitment to document Canada's dark Indian residential school legacy, Auditor General Michael Ferguson said Tuesday.
In his spring report tabled Tuesday in the Commons, Ferguson said the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development have been unable to co-operate "in the spirit of reconciliation" to document the government-funded assimilation program in place from 1870 to the 1990s.
An estimated 150,000 aboriginal children passed through the system.
Despite holding evidence to the contrary within its archival vaults, the federal government refuses to admit it purposely destroyed Indian residential school documents, fearing it could face additional legal action, internal government records show.
Indian residential school documents were pulped and incinerated as a result of three major rounds of government-wide document destruction directives issued between 1936 and 1973.
Yet, the federal government maintains that no residential school documents were ever purposely destroyed, but fell victim to floods and fires at the schools, according to an Aboriginal Affairs analysis obtained by the National Residential School Survivors’ Society through the Access to Information Act.
If you’re a lawyer or judge who has Aboriginal law experience and looking for new challenges, this may be the job for you.
After five years on the job, Daniel Ish, chief adjudicator of the Indian Residential Schools Adjudications Secretariat, is stepping down and a search has begun for his replacement.
A request for proposals was issued April 29 seeking individuals interested in applying for the chief adjudicator job that oversees the Independent Assessment Process, which makes decisions on individual claims of abuse related to the Indian residential schools system.
Despite a scathing report released Tuesday by Canada's top auditor stating that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) set up to deal with the fallout of the residential school system is floundering due to poor planning, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo expressed continued support for the process.
"We are very much supportive of the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission first of all, and support the survivors," Atleo said during a visit to Saskatoon on Tuesday.
"We support the notion that the work has to progress, and that means supporting the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and encouraging the federal government and the TRC to conclude the work that was originally set out."
There may not be enough time or money left in the mandate of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to complete the necessary work, the head of the commission said Tuesday. Justice Murray Sinclair told the Free Press he hasn't asked for an extension yet, but has warned the parties involved of the growing time crunch, mainly because of delays getting documents on residential schools from the federal government.
"I think they're taking the matter seriously now," he said. "Our concern is whether we have enough time and money."
DON (HOST): Let's go to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Chair Justice Murray Sinclair. And he's coming to us from Winnipeg. Justice Sinclair, you did hear what the Auditor General just said. What did you think of his comments and is it fair comments?
JUSTICE SINCLAIR: Oh, it's a fair comment. I don't think there's any question of that. And we had a chance to see the content of the report as well and what the report talked about was that there was an inability on the part of the two parties, us and Aboriginal Affairs Canada, to come to an agreement about what documents they had to produce to us. We were so concerned about that that we took the matter to the supervising judges who monitor the settlement agreement and asked them to give direction, and the supervising judges agreed with our position, that all of the documents that are in Library and Archives Canada are available for us to see in order to determine if they're relevant to the residential schools story.
DON: Are you confident you'll, A) get that information, and, B) get it in time to do the report for the July 2014 deadline?
OTTAWA — Canadians may never learn the full history of the Indian residential school system because the federal government and a commission responsible for studying the matter are at odds over how to assemble the facts, the auditor general has found.
The federal government and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission have disagreed on basic questions such as who will cover what costs, the time frame that should be covered, and which documents are relevant to the historical record, according to the report tabled in the House of Commons on Tuesday.
The result, the audit found, is that with only 15 months remaining in the commission’s five-year mandate, no one knows what’s needed to create the historical record, what remains to be done, and how much time and money is needed to do the job.
A lack of co-operation on the part of the government is jeopardizing its promise to record and preserve the sad history of abuse that took place behind the walls of Canada’s aboriginal residential schools, the Auditor-General has found.
In a report released Tuesday, Auditor-General Michael Ferguson says his office has found that the Aboriginal Affairs department and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the body established to record the legacy of the church-run schools, have not been able to agree on the most basic of things.
Locals affected by residential schools are getting the opportunity to share their experiences today and tomorrow in Kamloops for healing and to piece together Canadian history.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has travelled throughout Canada to hear the affects of residential schools from the people involved.
"One of the sad facts about Indian residential schools in Canada was that they were hidden from people," Commission Chair Justice Murray Sinclair said today in his opening remarks in Kamloops.