Orange Shirt Day

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begins with Mother Earth. In all its beauty of the medicines of the insects, four legged, two legged, wing one, fin one, the rivers, the trees, the day and the night, the good and the bad, the warriors female and male that has a connection to our spirit.

The Merritt Herald and participating advertisers have prepared this supplement for Orange Shirt Day to honour those who survived Canada’s Residential School system, and to share our collective grief for those who did not.

We need to balance ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually to be grounded and balance. Less we forget our identity, our culture, our traditional teachings, ceremonies, language and songs. The Elders have this knowledge which was passed down to their generations and for this we say all our relations.

To the many children now being found at former Residential School sites across the nation, we raise our hands.

LNIB Elder - Richard Jackson Jr.

On Sept. 30, we pause to show our respect and acknowledge the deep losses of our Indigenous community members, and to support them in their healing.


12 • THURSDAY, September 30, 2021


Surviving the residential system: a KIRS story Kamloops residential school survivor Eddy Jules is on a constant path towards healing.



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EVERY CHILD MATTERS Eddy Jules Morgan Hampton REPORTER@MERRITTHERALD.COM Hundreds of children attended Kamloops Indian Residential School (KIRS) during its more than eighty years of operation. Many, forcibly removed from their families and communities, faced years of sexual, physical, emotional, and mental abuse as well as neglect, malnutrition, and disease. Like numerous other Residential Schools across Canada, those who managed to eventually leave are not referred to as ‘graduates’, but rather as ‘survivors’, a telling indicator of the conditions children endured within the institutions.

One such survivor is Eddy Jules, a member of the Skeetchestn Indian Band near Savona, BC. Jules attended the school for eight years, beginning in the fall of 1968, after first attending Skeetchestn Day School and then Savona Elementary. “When I first went, the first day I was kind of excited because it was going to be a new experience and I didn’t know nothing about that school before I went there,” explained Jules. “Nobody ever talked about it. I just knew a lot of community members had gone there, and when they came back, they never said TURN TO Page 13 anything about

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ORANGE SHIRT DAY From Page 12 the place.” The day that Jules and other children from his community were to enroll in the school, his uncle, Chief Charlie Draney, took them all for a picnic along with Jules’ grandmother, who raised him and around 15 other children according to Jules’ recollections. Jules’ mother lived and worked off reserve, sending money home to support him and his siblings. The children were happy to be going on what they felt was a new adventure, but Jules noticed that something was upsetting his uncle. “He was standing there, and tears were running down his face,” said Jules. “He was looking up at the mountains and not saying very much to us and not being himself.” Draney was very familiar with the school, and it was only after he had arrived that Jules began to understand why his uncle was heartbroken to be delivering the children of his community to the doorstep of a place that, according to poet and KIRS survivor Dennis Saddleman, was a “monster”. “They took me up to the dorm with all the other boys and they took my clothes and those disappeared,” said Jules, detailing the beginning of what would become many years of cultural erasure. The Oblate Brothers, who oversaw the day-to-day operations, told Jules that his clothes would not be returned because they were “dirty, heathen” clothes, an experience which closely mirrors that of Orange Shirt Day founder’s, Phyllis Webstad who attended St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School in Williams Lake.

“The first thing they did to me, they took me into where the guy was giving everybody haircuts and shaved off all of my hair, and my hair was long,” said Jules. “I was asking them why they had to cut my hair and they said it was because all you Indians have lice and you carry all kinds of bugs on you, bedbugs and you’re lower than animals so we have to make sure that you’re clean, so you don’t infect the rest of the people here.” Jules didn’t understand the hostility of the Brothers and became frightened. “They took me downstairs into what was a gang shower and they washed me with bleach. If you ever get bleach in your private parts, it really hurts. They bleached me and washed me off then they took me upstairs and showed me what would be my room, and that’s when everything changed.” Jules had sisters at the school, but he was forbidden from communicating with them, and so, cut off from them and his grandmother and family at home, Jules felt alone and frightened his first night in the dormitory. “The first night I was there I was so scared, I never ever peed my bed, but I peed my bed the first night I was there,” said Jules. “I think it was within the first week was the first time I was sexually assaulted. I was taken to the Father’s office by his sidekick who all of us kids called Hawkeye, because he was always watching you.” Jules explained that when he first arrived at the school as a young boy, he was what he called “chunky” because at home his grandmother had kept him well fed and healthy, and Jules believed this was the reason he was chosen for abuse by the KIRS principal. “He liked boys that were chunky, I put that together because all the boys, my friends, that he raped were a

little overweight,” said Jules. Within six months, the well documented lack of adequate, nutritional food had begun to take its toll on Jules, who lost weight, becoming “unattractive” to his abuser. Unfortunately, Jules alleged that despite this, he was abused by no fewer than four other men employed at KIRS during the remainder of his time at the school. “I knew that there were other bad things happening there,” said Jules. Sometime in 1969, Jules got the measles and was kept isolated in the infirmary for six weeks where once a day, a “rough, mean” nurse would come and put lotion on him to reduce itching. One day, the lotion ran out and he was instructed to go to the medical room to get more. “I went down there, and I opened the door to go into the medical room and there was blood all over the floor,” recalled Jules. “The door was ajar and there was this young girl laying there and this old non-native guy with glasses was holding something in his hands, and all the blood was on the floor. The girl, I never saw her after that day, and I realized what he was holding was a little baby that he just aborted, and it probably belonged to one of the men that worked there. He used a coat hanger, so I think that while he was pulling the baby out, he killed this young girl and she disappeared.” As Jules was standing there, in shock, his nurse appeared. “The nurse hit me as hard as she could, and I hit the floor and she said what the heck are you doing down here you little so and so, and I was so scared I ran back upstairs to the room because she was hitting me,”

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From Page 13 explained Jules. “Then I realized I still needed the medicine so I had to go back, because if I didn’t get the medicine she would beat me for that, too. When I was going past the boiler room, the janitor was there and he had the fetus in his hand and he was throwing it into the furnace… and that’s when I really realized that they could do anything they wanted to use there, and there’s nothing I could do, or anybody could do to get out of the situation.” Irene Favel, a student of the Muscowequan Residential School in Saskatchewan from 1944 to 1949 related a similar event she witnessed, wherein a baby was born at the school and then disposed of. “I tried telling people in my community and all of them ignored me, because I didn’t realize they were all survivors of the Residential School, and they went through the same thing I went through, and they knew they couldn’t do anything about it,” explained Jules. “I went to the cops and the cops wouldn’t believe me, because I’m a drunk Indian.” By the time Jules entered the annex where the eldest boys lived at KIRS, alcoholism was already rampant among the students. “There was a lot of alcohol happen-

ing there because everybody was trying to hide what happened,” said Jules. “They were making alcohol out of anything they could find. Probably about 60% of those people that I went to school with are dead, from alcohol, overdoses, being on the streets, all trying to hide their pain.” Jules became an alcoholic himself and did everything he could to numb himself to his experiences and trauma. When his 16-year-old brother died when Jules was 14, he found he couldn’t feel anything about it. “I could not cry because I had no empathy, it didn’t matter to me, I didn’t care,” said Jules. “And I know now that that’s what you would call a protective shell, you just disappear into it and everything around you. Feelings, you don’t feel anything, it doesn’t hurt anymore. Even when I cut myself it wasn’t a big deal, I didn’t feel the pain. If I got into a fight with one of the other boys and I got a black eye or a broken nose, you didn’t feel the pain because you can block it out, you go into your little safe place.” This emotional paralysation lasted until Jules was 21. That year, at Christmas, Jules took stock of his life and realized that, despite working since he had left Residential School, he had nothing to show for it as his TURN TO Page 15 only focus had been


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ORANGE SHIRT DAY From Page 14 intoxication. “The alcohol and the drugs were a way to get away from all the bad feelings about that school and all the dark thoughts I had,” said Jules. “You go into a stupor where things don’t matter and being drunk was a good thing and sometimes you had laughs and other times you cried and other times you were mad, but at least you didn’t feel the pain. I had feelings of suicide, I tried shooting myself, but my best friend saved me, he kicked the gun out from underneath my chin. I was in the hospital for six weeks for that.” By that time, Jules said he was no longer thinking about the Residential School, but rather the emotions that had come after, and his life as it stood then. “I just wanted to stop doing what I was doing to myself, always abusing my body, drinking, trying to hurt myself, trying to commit suicide.” He made a promise to himself that he would quit drinking that New Year’s Eve, and to this day Jules, now 63, has kept that promise to himself to never drink again. He also became a councillor of the Skeetchestn Band, a role he has returned to on and off over the past 30 years. Wanting to restore joy and pride to his community, he realized he would

have to heal himself in order to help the Skeetchestn people heal. His wife, Lori, was also instrumental in helping Jules come to terms with his experience and to work through the trauma he endured. Part of his healing process was being involved in the book project Behind Closed Doors: Stories from the Kamloops Indian Residential School, which includes the testimonials of 32 survivors. Finally, years after his uncle Charlie Draney’s death from cancer, he was also able to come to terms with the hatred he had developed during his years at KIRS and forgive Draney. “I had such hate for him while I was in that school,” said Jules. “It wasn’t until I wrote this story that I realized it had nothing to do with him. He was crying because he knew what was going to happen to us and he couldn’t do nothing about it. He didn’t want us to be there, period. But, if he didn’t, my grandmother and him would wind up in jail. That was the bottom line. And I feel so bad because prior to going to the school, I loved the man with all my heart. He did so much with us when we were kids… he used to take us all over the mountains, he took me to my first rodeo in Williams Lake when I was, I think, seven years old; all of these things. And then you turn around and hate him TURN TO Page 16 because he brought

Orange Shirt Day (September 30th) is a day when we honour the Indigenous children who were sent Orange Shirt (September is a day when away to Day residential schools30th) in Canada. we honour the Indigenous children who were sent away to residential schools in Canada.

L I D H M C A T Y T E R R S E V E The giggles, the smilies the little squeals of joy that children have are lives little gifts we receive. May we learn from the past and may every child experience such joy.

16 • THURSDAY, September 30, 2021


From Page 15 nephew will forgive me when he realizes that it wasn’t me’,” said Draney’s wife. Jules also went to his uncle’s grave to lay tobacco and sage and to pray in the traditional way of the Secwepemc people, telling him he was sorry and wished he could make up for the years they lost, but which the Residential School system had disrupted. It was this traditional healing that Jules used to move forward in his own life and help others, even now, as thousands of probable grave sites have been discovered at former Residential Schools, including up to 215 at the former Kamloops Residential School. These graves were something Jules and other survivors had alluded to for years, knowing that their peers were dying and being buried there, despite Jules being told there was no way that children were buried on the grounds by the time he attended. “No, it was still going on when I was there… you see stuff. You’re eleven years old and you see a light down there in the middle of the night,” said Jules, referring to the apple orchard where Ground Penetrating Radar has so far discovered the probable remains. When children went missing other students were often told that they had returned home to their reserves, but Jules said that

in reality many had died, some by trying to swim across the Thompson River. “They didn’t want to go across the bridge, because old Hawkeye and his cronies, they watched the bridges all the time so you couldn’t run away, and anybody that’s from Lillooet or across the river, you have to cross the river to get home,” said Jules. “And those kids have never been found.” A student with a cleft palate disappeared one day and students were told he was going to have an operation to correct the defect. “Well, years later we found that he was murdered, killed, because he pissed some guy off at the Residential School that didn’t like the way he sounded.” Despite the re-traumatization happening to many Residential School survivors, Jules believes that the only way forward is to not only discover the lost children, but to repatriate them to their home communities. “I’m ecstatic that all of these Residential Schools are being looked at, and now we’re at 6,500 people or graves they’ve found, and who knows, there’s probably more,” said Jules. “It’s the kids’ turn. It’s their turn, and their lives matter, and to me the only way the healing can happen is if these kids, these bodies, they’re identified and sent back to their communities.” Jules stressed TURN TO Page 17 the fact that he

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ORANGE SHIRT DAY schools.” From Page 16 To this date, no person or entity has been criminally charged for operating the harbours no animosity towards any indischools and to Jules’ knowledge, no individuals, non-indigenous or otherwise, over vidual was charged or held accountable the Residential School system, he just hopes for the abuse they inflicted on students at to hold the Canadian government and the KIRS during his time there. churches accountable for their role in the As Canada grapples cultural genocide inflicted on Canada’s with this black spot on Indigenous people. its legacy, Jules said that “All I want is healing,” said Jules. the importance of “I’m over it, I want to move forbringing all relevant ward, and I want people to move information forward with me. Let’s deal with the to light issue, period, and get the information cannot be out to non-natives so they know what understated happened and they’ll be more as many supportive to change are suffering it all. I used to the intergenhate everyerational impacts d l i h body because of Residential ry C rs of what hapEveMatte Schools. pened to me, I “I would don’t anymore. say to my fellow All I want to survivors, if you do is make friends really want to deal with the with everybody,” Jules issue, talk about it,” said Jules. continued. “Talk about it and get it off your chest “I want them to know because if you keep holding it inside, you’re what happened there, so they never going to deal with it, it’s always going understand why the First Nations they see to be there and you’re always going to be on the streets that are drunk and maybe hating people. Your life will revolve around doped up or looking homeless out there, it, and that isn’t what life is about, life is there’s a real reason for that, and it’s our about moving forward and making things mental health because of the residential better, and enjoying what you’ve got.”

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recognizes the harm done to generations of children, by the Residential Schools and is an affirmation of our commitment to ensure that every child matters.

ORANGE SHIRT DAY also recognizes our commitment to reconciliation, anti-racism and anti-bullying in general.

We wear orange in recognition of the injustice and harm caused by the residential school system and to pay remembrance to the many lives claimed in this unspeakable tragedy. Now, more than ever, it is time to come together in unity and awareness because



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Drumming for truth and reconciliation Canadians are being asked to sing and drum at 2:15 p.m. on September 30.

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From Page 18

by the confirmation of the missing children from the Kamloops Indian On May 27, 2021, Tk’emlúps te Residential School found in unmarked Secwépemc announced that they had graves on the grounds. Now that the discovered the probable remains of cries of the missing children have been up to 215 children, heard, it is time to students of the forshow them love, honmer Kamloops Indian our, and respect. They Residential School, an were children robbed institution in operation of their families and ‘‘They were for more than 80 years their childhood, and and once the largest children robbed now we need to give Residential School in them the dignity that of their families Canada. they never had.” and childhood, Following this disA search conducted covery, the Canadian and now we need by Ground Penetrating government elevated Radar (GPR) in an to give them the Orange Shirt Day, a apple orchard on the dignity they never day during which surformer school grounds, vivors of Residential had.” now the Secwepemc Schools are honoured, Museum and Heritage — Chief Rosanne to a statutory holiday Park, revealed between known as the National 200 and 215 probable Casimir Day for Truth and burial sites, relying on Reconciliation to be direction from eyewitobserved every year on nesses and survivors of Sept. 30. the school, with some recalling, “chil“This is the very first Canadian dren as young as six years old being National Day of Truth and woken in the night to dig holes for Reconciliation,” said Tk’emlúps te burials in the apple orchard.” Secwépemc Chief Rosanne Casimir. TURN TO Page 20 “It is made even more meaningful


“A day to honour the many innocent victims and survivors of the Canadian Indian Residential Schools and to start building a better world for future generations, based on mutual respect, honesty, integrity and good will.”

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ORANGE SHIRT DAY From Page 19 This was corroborated in part by the previous discoveries of both a juvenile rib bone and tooth surfacing within the survey area and being excavated during a shovel test pit. Despite the restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc wanted to come up with a way of educating, connecting and engaging those who wished to honour the children whose lives were lost at Kamloops Residential School, and other schools across Canada and North America. “The confirmation of the Kamloops Indian Residential School missing children has impacted people locally, regionally, nationally and even globally,” said Casimir. “There has been an outpouring of sympathy and collective grief, so we wanted to create a moment to share an important aspect of our traditions and how we will deal with grief loss and healing.” It was with this intention that the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc came up with the Drum for the Children event, during which everyone is called upon

to drum and sing to honour the missing children of the Residential School system. A short video has been made available on Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc’s social media channels and website, teaching people how to drum and sing the Secwepemc Honour Song. Then, on Sept. 30, 2021, at 2:15 p.m. PDT, participants worldwide are invited to join together to sing and drum. “We chose 2:15 because it was that number that made a ripple around the world, at the end of May of this year, about the truth of missing, unmarked graves at the sites of former Kamloops Indian Residential School, as it revealed the truth of the historic mistreatment of indigenous children,” said Casimir. “It’s time to honour the children, and the unrelenting spirits of these ancestors. It’s time to drum for the healing of the Indian Residential School Survivors, who carried the burden of knowing where the children were buried, and to drum for the healing of the families and communities whose children did not come home.” The instructional video can be viewed at

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Residential schools: a history Morgan Hampton REPORTER@MERRITTHERALD.COM

It is estimated that Indigenous people, the first inhabitants of North America, have occupied this continent for tens of thousands of years. In the early 1600s, the first European settlers began to arrive on the eastern shores of what would become Canada and establish colonies. By the mid 1600s, the Jesuits and Catholic Church, as well as the Anglican Church, began to establish schools specifically for Indigenous children, referred to as Mission Schools. These were typically small schools, often with just one teacher such as the village priest, and, unlike schools today, did not necessarily follow a curriculum beyond reading, writing, arithmetic and religious studies. Canada became a country through Confederation in 1867, with the west-

ernmost province of British Columbia joining in 1871. During this time, the government of the newly formed Canada became very serious about westward expansion, promoting European settlement across the nation and hoping to increase economic growth. As more settlers arrived in Canada and the pressures for land and resources increased, tensions between Indigenous peoples and settlers began to intensify. Although treaties were negotiated, reserve lands established and certain territorial rights granted, the Canadian government soon turned their thoughts to a solution to their so called “Indian problem”. It was decided that the most efficient method would be through “aggressive assimilation”. One facet of this assimilation was the Residential School system

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From Page 21 which followed a model employed by colonial governments in the United States, Ireland, South Africa, Sweden, Australia and New Zealand. The first Residential School in Canada was the Mohawk Institute, which opened its doors in 1831, more than 35 years before Confederation. Over the course of more than 160 years, 139 Residential Schools operated in every province and territory in Canada, with the exception of Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. Canada’s native peoples are divided into three distinct groups, First Nations, Métis and Inuit, and it is estimated that at least 150,000 children from all groups were funneled through the federally funded Residential School system. Attendance was mandatory from 1894 to 1947, but the final Residential School, Kivalliq Hall in Rankin Inlet was not closed until1997- though there is some dispute over whether this particular institution qualifies as the final school to close, or if Gordon’s Indian Residential School in Punnichy, Saskatchewan brought an end to the official system in 1996. The goal of the Residential School

system was to “kill the Indian, save the man” which was achieved through practices now recognized as cultural genocide. Children were forcibly removed from their homes and families and placed in Residential Schools where they were forbidden to speak their language, interact with their siblings, consume traditional foods, wear traditional clothing or engage in their own cultural and spiritual practices. Living conditions within the schools were often substandard, with children suffering from malnutrition, neglect, illness and disease, and even cold temperature exposure. Perhaps most disturbing of all were the allegations of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse that took place within the Residential School system, with thousands of former students coming forward to detail their horrific experiences at the hands of those in charge, or in the employment of, the Residential Schools. The Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission provided a conservative estimate that between 4,000 to 6,000 children had died in Residential Schools, although that number is suspected to be much higher. Survivors of Residential Schools are honoured on Orange Shirt Day. On Sept. 30, we acknowledge their trauma.


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