NEW TRIBE Special Edition: Lessons Learned
Survivor Stories Intergenerational Issues HEAR What our Elders Have to Say The TRC How can YOUth Get Involved
FREE SPRING 2012 EXTENDED VERSION AVAILABLE ONLINE www.usay.ca
NEW TRIBE SPECIAL EDITION
Associate Editor Stacey Carefoot Art Director Elodie Caron
3 Greeting 4 Welcome 5 A Message from the Editor 6 The History of Indian Residential Schools 8 Half a Decade at Blue Quills 9 What is an Elder?/Vicki Whalen’s Story
Contributors Kelsey Bird-Quinney, Olivia Condon, Desirae Desnomie, Christine McFarlane, Sage Morin, SkyBlue Morin, Charles Atlas Shepard, Dean Shingoose, Susan Solway USAY would like to thank everyone who helped to make this project possible including The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and Father Lacombe High School Aboriginal Students Focus Group. This magazine has been funded by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) – Advocacy and Public Information Program.
10 A Day in the Life of a Residential School Student 12 The Apology and Settlement Agreement 14 All the Write Stuff: Author and Survivor Larry Loyie 16 Forgiveness 18 Indian Residential Schools in Canada: A Map 20/21 Elder Doreen Spence/Suggested Readings 22 The Lost Survivors 24 The TRC: How Can YOUth Get Involved? 26 Comic 28 Book & Movie Reviews 30/31 Release the Resentment/Word on the Street 32 The Psychological Effects of Abuse 34 Poem: Schools of Loss 36 Poem: Legacy of Residential Schools 37 Pen to Paper: Journaling Your Experience/About the Artist On the cover: Interior of classroom, Indian Industrial School. Brandon, Manitoba, 1946 Credit: National Film Board of Canada. Photothèque. / Library and Archives Canada / PA-048571 2 | NEW TRIBE Special Edition | Spring 2012
The opinions expressed in the articles are those of the writers and not necessarily those of USAY (the publisher). The publisher accepts no liability or responsibility for plagiarism in the works in this magazine, all writing is presumed to be the original work of the writers. This Special Edition of New Tribe Magazine (NTM) has been developed to engage youth of all cultures and backgrounds in the legacy of the residential school experience and its impact on Aboriginal communities across Canada. USAY encourages youth not to dwell on the past, but to learn from it instead; remember, we are all a reflection of our community. NTM is a monthly publication distributed free throughout the city of Calgary. NTM’s mission is to promote a positive outlook on Aboriginal living in an urban setting by promoting information sharing within the Aboriginal and youth communities. The Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth (USAY) is a not-for-profit charitable organization located in the heart of Calgary. By nurturing selfempowerment and fostering healthy collaboration and communication USAY strives to enrich the lives of all urban Aboriginal youth to ensure healthy future generations. USAY provides free services and programs to Calgary’s Aboriginal youth. NTM is USAY’s longest running and most successful program. For more information on USAY and NTM please visit www.usay.ca
Executive Director LeeAnne Ireland
Program Manager Rachel Paris Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth 1109, 615 Macleod Trail SE Calgary, AB T2G 4T8 403.233.8225
This magazine deals with topics that may cause trauma invoked by memories of past abuse. A National Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for former Residential School students. Please call the Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419 if you or someone you know is triggered while reading the contents of this magazine.
A Special Blessing New Tribe Special Edition is honoured to receive the following blessing from Elder Casey Eagle Speaker
“In all that the Creator gives, is life for to everyone to discover their strengths in all areas of one’s own person, to be able to grow with honor and dignity. It has always been and continues to be that we share and give kindness to all we encounter in our journey through life and it is through the understanding of knowledge that our ancestors carried that we are given; the bravery and courage to overcome adversity. The stories contained in this issue in regards to residential school hopefully will transfer the message of hope and strength, that we as a people can and will continue to express as we take our rightful place in society. We are never to give up for any reason but to stand tall with pride, humbleness, honor and respect of who we are as human beings and the peoples we come from. May the strength and courage of those who shared their story in this issue become a strength and an inspiration to all who read this special edition. We shall overcome and together we shall stand united and heal as a Nation of people without shame, but with absolute PRIDE.” Casey Eagle Speaker (Sorrel Horse) Casey Eagle Speaker is a member of the Blood Tribe in Southern Alberta within the Blackfoot Confederacy. He works tirelessly promoting cross- cultural awareness and is a determined advocate for Aboriginal youth.
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A Message from the Truth and Reconciliation Committee of Canada
PHOTO by Fred Cattroll
Greetings, On behalf of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, I would like to congratulate New Tribe Magazine for creating their special edition on the legacy of residential schools in Canada and for honouring the Survivors who have come forward to speak about their experiences. First Nations, Inuit and MĂŠtis are the fastest growing population in Canada. You are a young population, growing at a rate six times faster than the non-Aboriginal population. As the aging Canadian population retires and moves out of the work force, this not only creates a need, but an opportunity for skilled and motivated Aboriginal talent. Aboriginal participation in the Canadian economy has the potential to change and shape the perceptions of the Aboriginal population. This is just one reason why as young people, it is important for you to understand how the 150 year legacy of residential schools continues to impact you. While you may 4 | NEW TRIBE Special Edition | Spring 2012
not have attended residential school, you are indeed an intergenerational survivor. This is because while Aboriginal students were being taught in residential schools not to respect themselves, mainstream Canadians were also taught not to respect them. Through the work of the Commission, we will ensure that the whole world hears the truth about residential schools. While the journey towards reconciliation is a long one, we do not travel it alone. I applaud New Tribe Magazine and its young readers for taking a leadership role in providing the education that will help to forge new relationships between Aboriginal peoples and all Canadians. Education got us into this and it is education that will get us out. The Residential School system and its legacy is a part of Canadian history that has been largely hidden from the mainstream population. While the Commissioners and I are in agreement that uncovering the truth will be difficult, we also agree that achieving reconciliation will be even more challenging.
This is because Canadians are not yet agreed on what reconciliation means or what it will look like. That is a fundamentally important conversation which has yet to happen.
Education got us into this and it is education that will get us out Reconciliation will not happen overnight and certainly not in the duration of the Commission. I do know we will have to leave whatever we do in your capable hands-the youth of today and tomorrow. I applaud New Tribe for contributing to your knowledge. Sincerely, Justice Murray Sinclair, Chair, Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
A group of students and parents from the Saddle Lake Reserve, en route to the Methodist-operated Red Deer Indian Industrial School. Alberta Credit: Woodruff / Canada. Dept. Of Interior / Library and Archives Canada/ PA-040715
From the Editor Stacey Carefoot
A guy named Bernard Meltzer once said, “When you forgive you in no way change the past-but you sure do change the future.” Welcome to New Tribe’s Special Edition focusing on the Indian Residential School (IRS) system, the Settlement Agreement and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The theme of the magazine is The Long Road to Forgiveness. Like any road, the path that leads to forgiveness can be long and winding. It can have many bumps and the odd bridge, smooth sections and deadends. This Special Edition has all of that and more.
Charles Atlas Shepard gives us a brief background on the IRS, consider this our road’s beginning. From there Christine McFarlane outlines the Apology (Was it enough?) and Settlement Agreement (Is it enough?) and then we move straight into survivor stories where brave survivors share their experiences. In our travels we must sometimes stop to look at a map, see our Elder profiles and What is an Elder feature. Like today’s GPS, Elders help to guide our spirits; we are honored to have Casey Eagle Speaker’s blessing and the stories of Elders Doreen Spence and Vicky Whalen to inspire us. Enjoy the debut writing of Kelsey BirdQuinney as she shares with us A Day in the Life of a Survivor and soak up Desirae Desnomie’s Release the Resentment column. Olivia Condon takes a hard look at a real problem in Ask an Expert and Susan Solway shares her thoughts on the moving film, A Windigo Tale. The stories captured here will give you a glimpse of a widespread issue that has entrapped numerous generations of Aboriginal people in Canada. There are
a lot of unanswered questions and open wounds. The Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth (USAY) focuses on serving urban Aboriginal youth; this Special Edition of New Tribe Magazine is intended to inform youth of all cultures and backgrounds on the history and impacts of the IRS. This Special Edition is just a start for USAY in its efforts to educate both the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities about the impacts of the IRS. USAY promotes the road to healing and empowerment of future generations. Where is your road leading? Who is travelling with you? How long will it take you to get there? Will you ever get there or do you even care to go to that place they call forgiveness? Who knows, you might find the answers to some or all of these questions in the following pages. Wherever you’re at in your own journey, I wish you the Creator’s blessings and safe travels. Stacey Carefoot, Associate Editor New Tribe Special Edition NEW TRIBE Special Edition | Spring 2012 | 5
L’école industrielle indienne de Fort Qu’appelle et des tipis à l’extérieur de la clôture de l’école, Lebret, Saskatchewan.1884. O.B. Buell / Library and Archives Canada / PA-182246
Story by Charles Atlas Sheppard
Indian Residential Schoo - A Dark History “I reckon I got to light out for the territory ahead of the rest because Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and sivilize me and I can’t stand it. I been there before.” – The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn.
first place. There was no evil scheme to do harm to anyone. The paternalistic attitude was based on good intentions and godliness. They truly believed they were doing God’s work.
Huck Finn can be used as a fitting parable to the early history of Indian Residential Schools. In the novel “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”, Aunt Sally concentrated on Huckleberry Finn’s spiritual salvation while Aunt Polly attended to his educational needs, and both of them attempted to assimilate him into proper society. Of course, Huck Finn much preferred his life of fishing, hunting and floating along the river of life. Does that sound familiar?
Indian residential schools as we know them today date back to the early days of European contact. Before residential schools, there were industrial and boarding schools, prior to that there were seminaries, and long before the seminaries there were roving missionaries.
In order to understand the impact Residential Schools have had on our society it is important to understand the historical, religious and social context of how they came into existence in the 6 | NEW TRIBE Special Edition | Spring 2012
Records and archives have been lost through the passage of time so exact dates and times are imprecise. However, it is certain that attempts of “saving” the Indian, (using the term “Indian” as opposed to First Nations because that’s how history recorded us as back then), were made by various denominations simultaneously in different parts of the continent all along the east coast from
Florida to New Brunswick. The motives for doing so also changed throughout the centuries as European priorities shifted from survival to colonialism. Historians inform us that this continent was “discovered” in 1497 (of course, there is archeological evidence of contact prior to that but the Vikings didn’t try to convert us.) The earliest missionaries were dispatched from Spain to prevent the Conquistadors from exploiting and enslaving the indigenous people of the new world. This they accomplished, but in the meantime the missionaries tried to convert us into their Christian beliefs. Jacques Cartier explored the St. Lawrence River in 1534 and noted in his journals that the Indians would be easy to convert to Christianity. The religious fervor that followed consisted of competing
missionaries determined to save our souls. For the next century, missionaries travelled from tribe to tribe trying to convert Indians. They were met with varying degrees of failure. The Indians didn’t see why they had to adopt those strange European traditions that made no sense to them. It should go without saying that our people had their own spiritual practices and educational systems intact long before the missionaries came along. The French called us “Sauvage”, and Europeans considered us primitive savages because we had no physical structures to contain our systems of belief: No churches to praise God, no schools to teach children and
hools no court rooms to dispense justice. The first recorded attempts at full assimilation began in the early 1600s with the seminaries under the auspices of the Récollets, an Order of Franciscans. They recruited eight Huron Indian youths through bribery and coercion. Four of these young men were taken to France in the belief that they would be fully converted, civilized and ready to convert their brethren upon their return. In fact, they did return back into the fold but instead of converting the tribe, they took up their old traditions or risked geographical or social banishment by the tribe. This grand experiment was regarded as a failure. The Récollets abandoned their efforts in 1632. The Jesuits took over where the Récollets left off but with the new strategy of isolating the youths from the influence of their parents, indeed from their entire
culture. This was the only way they could fully integrate the youths into European civilization. The Jesuits continued sending select and promising recruits to France for full conversion and kept the rest in boarding and industrial schools. In the meantime, there were segments of European society that directly opposed the assimilation of Indians because the indigenous people served a useful purpose. During the first century of arrival, Indians provided safety and comfort in an alien environment. They were guides into the new wilderness. They were great warriors and proved to be great allies. Religion just got in the way of all that. Later, this sentiment would change. After the new world was conquered, the European priorities shifted towards commerce and economics. The Indians were in the way of progress. Boarding and industrial schools were seen as a way of keeping Indians out of the way. It was also believed that the Indians could be tamed and assimilated into white society as fully functioning members. It should be noted that at this time, boarding and industrial schools didn’t teach the three R’s. Children were often sent off to work the fields or become servants under the guise of apprenticeship. Employers were often physically, mentally and sexually abusive. During the treaty process of the late 1800s, mandatory attendance at boarding schools became law because parents wouldn’t allow their children into the system. Not only were the children abused, they were more prone to European diseases. Children often died in those schools. Boarding and industrial schools proved to be ineffective in educating and civilizing the Indians so they were slowly phased out starting in 1894 with The Indian Act. The first of the residential schools were created with a new aggressive attitude as early as 1909. The biggest difference between boarding schools and residential schools was that the Canadian government funded the schools and allowed the churches to operate them. Churches considered this as profitable. They were initially given real
estate, buildings and funding to establish 69 schools with over 1,100 students. At the peak in 1936, there were upwards of 80 Indian Residential Schools in operation. In total over 150,000 Aboriginal youth attended residential schools across Canada. The Indian residential schools finally evolved into the entity we know today. Children were literally dragged from their parent’s arms and sent off to school for months at a time. The church-run schools taught students reading, writing and arithmetic along with plenty of religious doctrine. They also taught them trade skills. Skills they would never use such as working as a printer in a newspaper, or shoe cobbler or seamstress, etc. It’s not that they were unwilling to use these skills, rather for the most part mainstream Canadian society was unwilling to hire them. The new policies prevented the students from speaking their language, and practicing their traditions. School officials felt that in order for Indians to adapt to white society, their own traditions would have to be forgotten. For the most part of the 20th century, that is how Indian residential schools operated. What really happened inside those walls and the lasting effect it had on our people is a completely different story. The last Indian residential school in operation was White Calf Collegiate in Lebret, Saskatchewan. White Calf closed its doors in 1996 and the school was demolished in 1999. Charles Atlas Sheppard is a First Nations artist, writer and freelance journalist. Originally from White Bear First Nation, he has worked all over Canada and the United States. He is currently working on a novel about his travels.
This magazine deals with topics that may cause trauma brought on by memories of past abuse incurred by either yourself or someone you know. A 24-hour Crisis Line has been established to support your emotions. Call 1-866-925-4419 if you or someone you know has been triggered by this publication.
NEW TRIBE Special Edition | Spring 2012 | 7
Half a Decade at Blue Quills Ted Quinney shares his homesickness, survival skills and escape attempts as he recounts his five-year stay at Blue Quills Residential School near St. Paul, Alberta. Story by Stacey Carefoot Researched by Kelsey Bird-Quinney Photo by Naomi Angel
As quiet as a mouse, he snuck past the nun’s bedroom. At six and a half years old, young Ted Quinney knew that if he was caught, he would be punished but he was willing to take that risk. He had planned his escape ahead of time and thought it through as best as a child could. “In my ignorance, I was trying to go out the same door that I came in,” says Quinney recalling his failed escape attempt from Blue Quills Residential School back in the 1960s. Although the night watchman caught him hiding behind a couch in the visitor’s room, Quinney never gave up the dream of being able to leave Blue Quills and return to the embrace of his family. “I missed my home, my parents, my younger brother and sisters, I missed the freedom of being a kid,” says Quinney. Quinney began his time at Blue Quills by being left on the front steps by his parents. With no preparation other than a brief conversation about being sent away, Quinney who was only five at the time was dropped off with three other siblings. “We had been washed, cleaned, put into our best clothes and put into the car,” he recalls. Having been told not to cry, the brave boy was offered a piece of fruit by the nuns while the adults had a quick conversation. “Our parents left and as soon as they were gone down the road we began to cry, we were left behind,” says Quinney. Overwhelmed with sadness Ted recalls that one nun took his sisters away while another led him and his brother in another direction. 8 | NEW TRIBE Special Edition | Spring 2012
Blue Quills Indian Residential School comes full circle. Originally built in 1931, it became Canada’s first indigenous controlled education center in 1971, serving the academic and training needs of the Saddle Lake Cree Nation. Eric Large, who attended Blue Quills from 19521965, stands outside the building as he reflects on the past. Large currently works as the Indian Residential School Coordinator and Resolution Health Support worker for the Saddle Lake, Alberta area.
“She took away the banana that she had given me, saying she would give it back to me later,” he says. “The nun that took us tried to comfort us, they were strangers, it didn’t feel loving. This was the first time I had seen a nun,” says Quinney whose inner spirit was telling him to be strong.
I missed my home, my parents, my younger brother and sisters, I missed the freedom of being a kid Not long after arriving at Blue Quills, Quinney’s survival instincts kicked in. Having to adjust to a new environment and rules, “looking back, we were becoming institutionalized,” he says. “Like prisoners, anything we did was controlled,” he says. To comfort himself, Quinney took to walking around with his arm across his chest, resting on the opposite shoulder. “I was protecting my spirit, keeping it from being broken.” Feeling strange and unsure and wondering if he was going to be okay, Quinney recalls
asking himself, “Am I going to be happy here?” Explaining the abuse set out by the nun who took care of the boys including strapping, ear pulling and name calling; Quinney doesn’t have to tell us the answer to his question. Like many other residential schools across the country, things at Blue Quills were very organized and sterile. “We were all assigned chores, we were always cleaning,” he explains. Quinney feared the unknown and wondered if he would ever see his parents again. Over his five years at Blue Quills, visits from family were few and far between. Aside from the interaction with his cousin, who was also a student at Blue Quills, Quinney was able to make friends. “All the boys there became friends, the best description I could give is that we became like the characters in Lord of The Flies,” he says. “We had become a band of brothers, whenever I see someone from my time there now, there is a genuine happiness in seeing each other, we have a connection for life,” he says. Although he was never successful in his attempted escapes at Blue Quills, Quinney left the school for good, through the front door, at the age of nine. Like other survivors he continues to manage the effects of living in an environment that lacked the love and support of a traditional family unit.
What is an Elder? Elders are role models and advisors. Elders live by their traditional practices and are able to communicate traditional interpretations to others. Elders are oral storytellers, language teachers and keepers of traditional medicines, songs and ceremonies. Elders should be able to counsel and run ceremonies. Elders should know legends,
understanding how we came to be and how we can collectively make things better.
Elders should be balanced inside and outside- balanced with the external environment. They teach us that everything has a purpose. They teach us values such as love, honor and respect. Elders say there is one ruling power or supremacy and that is the Creator.
Elders teach through stories, songs, chants and experiential knowledge. One should approach an Elder with much respect. One should provide an offering in exchange for guidance. Elders are here to give back. Thank you to Elder Doreen Spence for her guidance when it comes to explaining the role of an Elder within the Aboriginal community.
Elder Vicki Whalen helping others find their purpose Story and photo by Stacey Carefoot
Elder Vicki Whalen catches up on some administration work in her office.
Once Vicki Whalen starts to tell a story, it’s hard not to listen. As she shares the life experiences that have led her to where she is today, you can feel her pain as she recounts heartache and share in her joy when she speaks of her triumphs. Now an Elder who works for Native Counseling Services of Alberta, Whalen at one time felt alone and confused about her culture and beliefs.
“I felt like I was always walking this road alone,” she says. The daughter of residential school survivors, Whalen can recall having a connection with a higher power at a very young age. Although she attended conventional church services, she knew that her mother was secretly practicing traditional spiritual ceremonies at home, “she would tell us to go play,” says Whalen explaining that her mother didn’t want the family to get in trouble or go to jail for showing their beliefs. It’s her mother’s belief in the power of spirituality that perhaps saved Whalen’s life in the early 1980s. At 35, Whalen was diagnosed with cancer, which at that time many considered a death sentence. Upon hearing the grim news her mother insisted on Whalen attending a Sundance. “She said you come and you Sundance,” says Whalen of her mother. For four long days in July, Whalen danced from sunup until sundown. “I was dancing for my health so I made a commitment to the Creator, he had to teach me how to help people.” she says. At her next doctor’s appointment
Whalen learned that her cancerous tumour had dissolved. After her experience at the Sundance, Whalen set out to learn from her mentors and began her journey to becoming a highly regarded Elder. She has been employed with Native Counseling Services of Alberta since 1984 and currently works as a Program Facilitator. One of the biggest parts of her job is facilitating the In Search of Your Warrior program, a healing program for Aboriginal offenders caught in the cycle of violence. “I couldn’t imagine doing anything else,” she says. Although she did not attend residential school, Whalen sees the after effects in the many of the people she works with and can trace some of her own experiences as a child back to the trauma her parents faced. When it comes to the Settlement Agreement Whalen said that her parents, both survivors knew that they wouldn’t live to see compensation, and sadly they didn’t.
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Canada / PA-023093
To the left:
To the right: Indian residential school. [Fort] Resolution, N.W.T. Credit: Canada. Dept. of Mines and Technical Surveys / Library and Archives Canada / PA023095
Boys Dormitory, Industrial School, High River, Alberta Credit: S.A. Smyth / Canada. Dept. of Mines and Technical Surveys / Library and Archives
A Day in the Life of a Residential School Student
by Kelsey Bird-Quinney
“While they were in the same room, they could not acknowledge one another, even saying hello to your sister could get you in trouble.”
10 | NEW TRIBE Special Edition | Spring 2012
6:30 am: wake up and make beds. “It was military style, the nuns had to be able to bounce a dime off your bed, they would make sure of this,” says Ted Quinney a residential school survivor who attended Blue Quills Residential School near St. Paul, Alberta. After making their beds, students would then leave the sleeping quarters, and go to their dayroom, where they would retrieve their school clothes from their assigned lockers. “Everything that we owned while we were there had a number sewn onto it, or was written in black marker,” says Quinney. Once students were washed up and changed, one boy would begin to recite the rosary. “We said the rosary once a day, every day,” and they would do so until they were informed that breakfast was done. From the dayroom, the boys would form two lines of smallest to tallest, and walk to the cafeteria. Just like their belongings, students had assigned seating that was marked with their number. Here was one of the only times where the girls and boys could be in the same room. While they were in the same room, they could not acknowledge one another, even saying hello to your sister could get you in trouble. Before the children could eat, another prayer was said, and they were all expected to have proper etiquette. Manners were strictly enforced such as no talking while eating, no elbows on the table and finishing all of their food. When everyone was finished, another prayer was said in thanks. The boys would return to their dayroom, walking in lines of two, “we always travelled through the school that way; we were not allowed to
talk to one another, play around, nothing like that,” says Quinney. It was time to wash up and continue with the rosary until classes began. In designated classrooms, the national anthem would play and a prayer was said before class could begin. Aside from the cafeteria, this was the only other place that was co-ed. During recess the children were separated again, into boys and girls, and taken back to their respective
dayrooms. There they were given a snack of either a fruit or vegetable. Often times they were not allowed outside due to weather conditions and the nuns did not want the boys to dirty their clothes, thus they were also not allowed to play soccer, or horseplay with one another. So the boys invented games of their own. In one such game they would walk around in circles, and talk, usually about their dreams. “Sometimes there was only one large circle, other times there were many circles at once. But we all talked about dreams,” recalls Quinney. After recess students would return to their classrooms for another hour or two.
After their classroom session they would return to the dayroom to continue with the rosary while waiting for lunch. When lunch was ready, they would follow the same routine of travelling in lines of two, go to their designated seats, pray and eat. Following lunch they would return to class to finish for the day. When the school day was done, the boys would change from their school clothes to their everyday clothes, and they would have a snack before being sent outside to play. “This was when we were finally able to be little boys, play soccer, to get dirty,” says Quinney. Then they would be called back in to clean up, pick up with the rosary and have supper. After dinner students were given free time they were allowed to take a shower and watch television. “It was always whatever the nun wanted to watch, except Sundays when we got to watch Disney.” Finally, students would have to finish the rosary before going to bed, “it didn’t matter if we would be up late, the nuns would make sure we finished the rosary. We couldn’t go to sleep until we had done so.”
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The Apology and Settlement Agreement
Photo by Melissa Knapp, courtesy of the TRC Story by Christine McFarlane On June 11, 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, on behalf of the Government of Canada and all Canadians offered a historic formal apology to former students of Indian residential schools seeking forgiveness for the students’ suffering and for the damaging impact the schools had on Aboriginal culture, heritage and language. Harper stated, “The treatment of children in Indian residential schools is a sad chapter in our history,” he added, “We recognize this policy of assimilation was wrong, has caused great harm and has no place in our country. The Government of Canada sincerely apologizes and 12 | NEW TRIBE Special Edition | Spring 2012
asks the forgiveness of the Aboriginal Peoples of this country for failing them so profoundly.” Renowned Canadian poet, author and activist Lee Maracle, who hails from the Stó:lō Nation in British Columbia, recalls how her family reacted to the apology. They were gathered at Lee’s father’s house in BC. Robert Daniel George’s, a 90-year-old survivor at the time, huddled close to his television set. After hearing the long awaited words, the Tsleilwaututh First Nation Elder responded, “At least I know it’s not my fault.” Maracle recalls a very different reaction from her Aunt Marie George, “Sorry is not good enough;
it does not anywhere near cut it.” The apology was a way to reinforce numerous government initiatives designed to address the legacy of the Indian residential schools, including the ongoing implementation of the historic Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. The Settlement Agreement was a combination of: a Common Experience Payment; an Independent Assessment Process; and Commemoration Activities, which are all measures to support healing. In addition to those initiatives, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was created.
Canada for all of us,” said Harper during speech. The call for victim’s compensation began in 1990 when Phil Fontaine, then leader of the Association of Manitoba Chiefs called for the churches involved in the IRS to acknowledge the physical, emotional and sexual abuse endured by their students. Over the years, the government worked with the Anglican, Catholic, United and Presbyterian churches, all of which ran residential schools, to design a plan for compensation for former students. According to the Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada website, The Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA) is the largest class action settlement in Canadian history.
In his apology Harper detailed the absence of one for so long. “The Government recognizes that the absence of an apology has been an impediment to healing and reconciliation. Years of work by survivors, communities and Aboriginal organizations culminated in an Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. These are the foundations of a new relationship between Aboriginal People and other Canadians, a relationship based on knowledge of our shared history, a respect for each other and a desire to move forward together with a renewed understanding that strong families, strong communities and vibrant cultures and traditions will contribute to a stronger
On May 10, 2006, the Government announced the approval by all parties of the IRSSA. The Government’s representative, the Honourable Frank Iacobucci, concluded the IRSSA with legal representatives of former students of Indian residential schools, legal representatives of the Churches involved in running those schools, the Assembly of First Nations, and other Aboriginal organizations. In 2007, two years after it was first announced, the federal government formalized a $1.9 billion compensation package for those who were forced to attend residential schools. The compensation received was referred to as Common experience payments. The common experience payments were made available to the students who were alive as of May 30, 2005. Residential school survivors who attended eligible schools became entitled to $10,000 for the first year or part of a year
they attended school. In addition they could be paid $3,000 for each subsequent year. Funds remaining from the $1.9billion package will be distributed to foundations that support the learning needs of aboriginal students. Approximately $1.6 billion has been paid, reflecting 77,724 cases. It is understood that acceptance of the Common Experience Payment releases the government and churches from all further liability relating to the residential school experience, except in cases of sexual abuse and serious incidents of physical abuse. Residential school survivor Susan Burke, 63, from Aundek Omni Kaning (Sucker Creek) says, “For the amount that I received, it really has not changed my life in any way at all. Yes, I was able to buy a vehicle, and clear some bills, but to me it felt like you got a small amount for being kept a prisoner.” A complete copy of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s apology can be found at http:// pm/gc/ca/eng/media/asp?id=2146 Up-to-date payment stats can be found at http://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/ eng/1315320539682 Writer Christine McFarlane is a Saulteaux woman from Peguis First Nation. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a specialization in Aboriginal Studies in June 2011. She has a regular column in the Native Canadian newsletter, Life’s Journey, she freelances for Anishinabek News, First Nations House magazine and Windspeaker. Her fiction, creative nonfiction and poetry works have appeared in numerous publications across Canada. This magazine deals with topics that may cause trauma brought on by memories of past abuse incurred by either yourself or someone you know. A 24-hour Crisis Line has been established to support your emotions. Call 1-866-925-4419 if you or someone you know has been triggered by this publication. NEW TRIBE Special Edition | Spring 2012 | 13
All the Write Stuff by Susan Solway Author Larry Loyie trails off as he recounts the vivid memories of a time and place he will never forget. “Young five year olds, away from mom and pop, brothers and sisters…every night they would cry out, way into the early hours of the morning. This is what always sticks with me.” Loyie, whose Cree name is Oskiniko (Young Man) was born in 1933 in Slave Lake, Ab. Like so many others, he has experienced first hand, the wrath of being placed into the Indian Residential School System (IRS) at a young age. He was first enrolled in school at the Slave Lake public school from grades 1-3. He was removed from public school when he was 10 and placed into the St. Bernard 14 | NEW TRIBE Special Edition | Spring 2012
Mission School in Grourard, Ab, where he stayed until he was 14 years old. During this time of “protection” (a term that was used by the church and government at the time), Loyie used his imagination to escape the brutal realities of the school. He immersed himself into the world of fictional and non-fictional characters in whichever books he could get ahold of. Young Loyie was a dreamer, dreaming of a day when he could write as well as the authors of the books he read. No matter how sluggish the story line may have been, Loyie read everything he could, “Even books I didn’t like, I couldn’t put down,” he says, “I read them because I dreamed of becoming a writer, and to be strong I had to read everything,” he adds.
After leaving residential school, Loyie worked various jobs and explored other areas of interests. When he turned 18 he joined the Canadian Armed Forces and travelled the world.
“We wouldn’t put on the play unless we had some councilors handy because that’s how bad it was in the earlier part of the residential school years”
At a time when most people would be looking to retirement, Loyie began deeply exploring his passion. “In the mid1980s, I began reading again and pursued my dream of becoming a writer,” he says. Loyie’s first play, Ora Pro Nobis (Pray for Us), was based on his residential school experience. It was staged in Vancouver and five federal B.C. prisons (1994), at Weesageechak Festival in Toronto (1995) and in Alberta (1998). “In the play I can be quit honest and open. We wouldn’t put on the play unless we had some councilors handy because that’s how bad it was in the earlier part of the residential school years,” explains Loyie. Loyie has written two other plays as well as numerous books over the past two decades. His first children’s book, As Long as the Rivers Flow (Groundwood Books), written with Constance Brissenden, is about a First Nations boy’s last summer spent with his family in the bush before being taken to residential school.
Photos provided by Larry Loyie Above: St. Bernard Mission school At left: Larry Loyie at the Native Cultural Arts Museum in Grouard, Alberta. The museum is located in the former boys dormitory of St. Bernard Mission residential school Below: Larry Loyie is the first altar boy from the left, shown here serving at the funeral of a church official while he was a student at St. Bernard Mission.
“My goal is to build on the knowledge of our traditional lifestyles through my writing. I have several more books in the works, including a children’s book on the history of residential schools in Canada,” says Loyie. He believes that the real-life stories of his IRS experience are far too graphic for children to be reading, “I am careful what I write about in my children’s books, I try not to romanticize or Hollywoodize,” says Loyie. Writing about the history of the residential school system will be a challenge but one he’s ready to take on. “My vision is libraries full of books written by First Nations people. With my partner, writer Constance Brissenden, I encourage indigenous people to write their stories in a true fashion not just to make it sound good, or to sell,” says Loyie. He and Brissenden have worked together since 1993 and together created Living Traditions Writers Group to encourage writing within First Nations communities. They travel across Canada, sharing both their talent in writing and their knowledge of Aboriginal traditions and culture. “At first it was taboo to talk about residential school, now schools are doing programs about it so I am free to talk about it there, I lived that life and I know what it’s about.”
To learn more about Loyie and Living Traditions Writers Group go to www.firstnationswriter.com If anything you have read in this magazine has upset you or someone you know and you need to talk to someone call 1-866-925-4419 to access the Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line. Aboriginal crisis counselors are available 24 hours a day on a confidential basis. NEW TRIBE Special Edition | Spring 2012 | 15
We have been on a long arduous journey of loss upon loss, grief upon grief. We are now a people on a journey of renewed hope and healing.
Forgiveness Forgiveness A Column by Reverend Dean Shingoose In 1966 when I was only seven years old, I was enrolled as a student at the Brandon Indian Residential School in Brandon Manitoba. I attended IRS for two years, grades 2 and 3. It was not a pleasant or memorable experience. Four generations of my family attended Indian residential schools, (my great-grandparents, grandparents, father, two of my younger brothers and myself.) My father spent 10 years in several Indian residential schools in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. I am 52 years of age now and yet I can still vividly recall my IRS. Like other IRS survivors, as a child, I struggled with feelings of abandonment, insecurity, inferiority and distrust of established authority. During my teenage years, I went through a rebellious, self-destructive period that, in retrospect, was an expression of repressed anger and unresolved trauma from my IRS experience. Ironically, today, I am an authority figure as a spiritual leader of a faith community (19 years) and as a hospital-based chaplain (6 years). Understandably, IRS survivors and 16 | NEW TRIBE Special Edition | Spring 2012
their descendants continue to struggle with feelings of anger, resentment, and an inability to forgive the government, Christianity, and non-Aboriginal society as a result of their IRS experience.
â€œAs a people, retelling the story of our shared past will help us to write a story of shared hope and healing for the present and future.â€?
The traumatic intergenerational effects on individuals, families, and communities cannot be minimized or understated. The deep hurt and wounded nature of our Aboriginal people is clearly evident today through a malady of social problems that have a direct link to our past. The damaging
effects of unresolved intergenerational or historical trauma, continues to negatively affect the whole fabric of aboriginal society. Unfortunately, too many of us not only know of but have experienced the tragic stories behind the statistics. Is there a way for Aboriginal People to move beyond the tragic legacy of Indian residential schools and move forward to a more preferable future? The retelling of stories, it is hoped, will bring about some measure of healing for IRS survivors and their descendants, and help to educate Canadian society of its shameful colonial past. As a people, retelling the story of our shared past will help us to write a story of shared hope and healing for the present and future. Personally, in my own journey of healing, I have been given courage and strength by the Creator to grapple and come to terms with my past as an IRS survivor. In my journey of healing, I made a conscious, deliberate choice to forgive my oppressors for the wrongs and injustices committed
against my family, my community, my ancestors and myself. How do you learn to forgive? You choose to forgive. It is a spiritual act of the will. Of course, you cannot do it alone. With the Creator’s help and strength you can make a choice to forgive those who have hurt you. By choosing to forgive, I experienced an emancipation from my past a healing of the mind, emotions and spirit from my past childhood trauma. Today, I do not hold any anger, bitterness, and resentment toward my family, the government, Christianity or society for what happened in my past. Of course, there are times when dark shadows from my past come back to harass and haunt me, but because of the healing that I have experienced (and continue to experience), I have learned to put my thoughts and feelings in a healthy context and chose not to be oppressed by the trauma of my past.
Now, as I look back, I feel that individually and collectively we, as Aboriginal people, were caught in history. We have been on a long, arduous journey of loss upon loss, grief upon grief. We are now a people on a journey of renewed hope and healing. The essential and integral part of our healing journey has been the reclamation of our identity, language, culture, spirituality and history through our stories. Let the shared healing story continue . . . .
Reverend Dean Shingoose M.A. is a member of the Saulteaux Cote First Nation. He currently serves as Chaplain, Spiritual Care Services Covenant Health St. Mary’s Hospital in Camrose, Alberta. Prior to moving to Camrose he was the Aboriginal Spiritual Care Advisor at Calgary’s Foothills Hospital. Photo: Indian Industrial School. Brandon, Manitoba, ca. 1900-1910. Ruth Kitchen Collection / Library and Archives Canada / C-030122.
When it comes to our life history and experience we are all at different points of a continuum of healing. I began my healing journey almost 34 years ago when I was 19 years old. I experienced a spiritual awakening, an experience and relationship with the Creator that has carried me through the good times and the bad times for over three decades. Several years ago, I returned to the Brandon Indian Residential School with my wife and children. Sometimes we need to revisit or retrace part of the path our life has taken us. It can be a therapeutic experience. The building was decrepit and in disrepair and was scheduled for demolition. I walked in and went up the stairs to the second floor into the boy’s dorm where I spent two years as a seven and eight year old boy. It was a strange experience, like entering the twilight zone of a past life. As I looked out the same second floor window that I did as a child I could see that 35 years had changed my perspective. Of course, I was still saddened by my IRS experience and how I did not have any control over the decisions that were made on my behalf, decisions that would affect me for the rest of my life. NEW TRIBE Special Edition | Spring 2012 | 17
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Doreen Spence World-renowned Elder works tirelessly building bridges to cover the gaps among all nations Story by Susan Solway Cree Elder Doreen Spence (Bald Eagle Woman Who Leads) is definitely a leading lady when it comes to indigenous and traditional knowledge. She has spent the better part of her life leading ceremonies and teaching others about their culture and the importance of keeping spiritual traditions alive. Spence, 74, was born near Goodfish (Whitefish) Lake First Nation in Northern Alberta. She was raised by her grandparents in a very traditional way and credits them for much of her teachings. Spence managed avoid entering into the Indian residential school system, protected by her grandfather and hidden from the Indian agent. “My grandpa had a certain whistle. If he whistled in a specific way I had to run and hide,” says Spence. “It was like he was playing hide and seek with me. He had a way of whistling again, like very quick whistles, and that meant that I could come out. I had no idea what was going on, but sometimes it did not feel like fun,” she explains. “I found out later, from my grandpa that the Indian agent would come and he would take the pitch fork to check that no one was hiding in the hay,” she continues. Being her grandmother’s shadow allowed her to gain knowledge of different herbs and plants. “We would go berry picking together and I went fishing with my great grandpa and grandfather. We lived off the land so we would get up with the birds. My grandparents always started the day with blessings 20 | NEW TRIBE Special Edition | Spring 2012
and gratitude,” says Spence. When she was 19, Spence realized that one of her purposes in life was to break every myth and stereotype Aboriginal People had in mainstream society. “That meant you really had to be self disciplined, you had go deep within yourself. Who are we? Who were we? Why are we here? What is our mission? What is our purpose now and how do we go about in embracing those values?” says Spence. Attempting to answer all of those questions, she has travelled the world researching colonialism’s impact on indigenous people, fighting for human rights and searching for ways to overcome negative stereotypes. Over the years she has had the opportunity to speak at various international indigenous conferences and she has received a number of awards and recognitions, including a 2005 nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. Spence is the founder and executive director of the Canadian Indigenous Women’s Resource Institute, and sits on many local and international committees and organizations such as the Calgary Urban Aboriginal Initiative, the International Circle of Elders (New Zealand), and the National Centre for First Nations Governance. Today, in addition to all of ther other commitments, Spence teaches at the Wildrose Holistic College and the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business.
As an Elder, Spence sees herself as a teacher and a counselor. She guides people through sweat lodge ceremonies, full moon ceremonies, and vision quests. She teaches through song, dance, singing and drumming and passes on her knowledge of herbs and medicines. On occasion Spence has done traditional weddings and naming ceremonies and often performs pipe ceremonies. “The way I was brought up, an Elder is someone who confronts their inner demons, who has gone within. I was in my 30s when I was given the pipe, but I gave it away the first opportunity I had, at a Sundance or ceremony, to an older grandmother. Every time I was given a pipe, I would give it away because there was always someone more worthy than I,” she says. Until that last pipe that I have, it dates back to 1201 and
is identical to my great grannies pipe so I kept it,” says continues. Spence believes that the Settlement Agreement was “too little, too late,” considering many of the victims were already well into their golden years. While Spence sees no direct healing within the community just yet, she does see examples of wellness and a coming together of community. At a recent memorial fundraiser for a fellow community leader, Spence was moved at how many people rallied together and the amount of funds generated as a community, “That is a new thing for me. I have never witnessed that before in our community. Usually it’s a lot of planning, sitting, talking, but no action. But the action seems to be there now. It was amazing.” Photo submitted by Doreen Spence
Suggested Readings Unsettling the Settler Within: Indian Residential Schools, truth telling and Reconciliation in Canada Paulette Regan UBC Press 2010 The Circle Game: Shadows and Substance in the Indian Residential School Experience in Canada Rolond David Chrisjohn Theytus Books 2006 Two Trails Narrow: A Novel Stephen Mcgregor Theytus Books 2008 A Stranger at Home: A True Story Christy Jordan-Fenton Annick Press 2011
No Time To Say Goodbye: Childrens Stories of Kuper Island Residential School Sylvia Olsen Sono Nis Press 2001 “A National Crime”: The Canadian Government and the Residential School System, 1879-1986 John S. Milloy University of Manitoba Press1999 Shingwauk’s Vision: A History of Native Residential Schools J.R (James Rodger) Miller University of Toronto Press1996
Song Over Quiet Lake Sarah Felix Burns Second Story Press 2009 Residential Schools: The Stolen Years Linda Jaine Extension Division Press, University of Saskatchewan 1993 Finding My Talk: How Fourteen Native Women Reclaimed their Lives After Residential School Agnes Grant First House 2004 Three Day Road Joseph Boyden The Penguin Group 2005
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The Lost Survivors Story by Desirae Desnomie
Photo by Stacey Carefoot
SkyBlue Morin doesn’t start her workday in an office. She begins by walking the streets of downtown Calgary looking for homeless residential school survivors. Morin helps individuals apply for funds they may be entitled to through the Settlement Agreement. Without the care and persistence of individuals like SkyBlue Morin, former students of residential schools who are homeless in Alberta would not have the opportunity to be heard. SkyBlue Morin works for the Indian Residential Schools Health Support Program (IRSHSP) through Metis Calgary Family Services. 22 | NEW TRIBE Special Edition | Spring 2012
She helps former students of residential schools who are living on the streets apply for Common Experience Payments and go through the Independent Assessment Process (IAP) where they can feel validated that someone has finally listened to their side of the story. She assists them to have an opportunity to tell their residential school experience to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission at their Statement Gathering events where their truth is accepted without question. In Calgary, Morin, armed with backpacks full of necessities (socks, toiletries), tracks down homeless former students. “Backpacks are like gold to homeless people, so I have been giving out backpacks to former students of residential schools and their second generation family members,” says Morin who began this gesture back in 1999 when she started attending the Aboriginal Standing Committee on Housing and Homelessness meetings. “Initially, I
would donate one backpack a month to the Calgary Drop-In Centre. When the Indian Residential School Health Support Program (IRSHSP) started in April 2008, I redirected my donations to that program,” says Morin. On a typical day, she searches bottle depots and drop-in agencies around the city. She also drives through areas where homeless people frequent such as parks and back alleys. She provides homeless survivors with her cell phone number if they need support. If she needs to contact a residential school clamant, she leaves messages in the drop-in centres usually getting responses the next day. “It is difficult for these people to even feed themselves or find a suitable place to rest their heads at night, so for them to be able to get in contact with lawyers for their settlements with no fixed address is very hard,” says Morin. One major roadblock for homeless
“We need to continue to educate the public about the root causes of homelessness.” former students of residential schools is lost identification. “This causes delays in applying for the Common Experience Payment (CEP) and the Independent Assessment Process (IAP),” says Morin. Another roadblock is the desperate situation that homeless former students of residential schools are dealing with through the use of addictions. “When they drink, they are usually drinking in a public place because they do not have homes. This results in getting tickets from the police for public drunkenness. As they are drunk when they get the ticket, they have no idea that they have a number of outstanding tickets; often these tickets don`t get paid and this results in homeless people being picked up and taken to jail. At times, I do not see my clients for months because they are incarcerated or have gone for treatment,” explains Morin whose job goes far beyond simply helping people fill out a few forms. Morin is constantly collecting items to help the homeless with basic necessities such as fleece vests, warm jackets or coats and shoes or boots. “My vehicle is usually packed with these items as I make my rounds to areas that homeless people frequent. Native Network provides homeless hampers from the foodbank to distribute to homeless people, and have provided me with essential items for the backpacks,” says Morin
Morin finds providing support to homeless former students of residential schools a rewarding experience, as the needs are immediate. However, it is not without it’s challenges. “Homeless people do not choose to be homeless which is a popular misconception, critical circumstances got them to the state of being homeless. When they reached the state of being homeless, they may choose to be roughsleepers and not involve themselves with any agency, but this does not mean that they choose to be homeless. We need to continue to educate the public about the root causes of homelessness.” she says. Morin would like to see shelters begin to provide cultural teachings for homeless residential school survivors so they can be given the opportunity to work through and resolve the triggering effects of their experiences in residential school. Common Experience payment applications have been extended for exceptional circumstances until September 19, 2012.
If anything you have read in this magazine has upset you or someone you know and you need to talk to someone call 1-866-925-4419 to access the Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line. Aboriginal crisis counselors are available 24 hours a day on a confidential basis.
Calgary Homeless Count of Residential School Survivors and their Second Generation Children to date: IRS & Second Generation Homeless-167 IRS Homeless- 92 survivors (69 men & 23 women) IRS 2nd generation homeless-75 (58 men & 17 women) IRS 3rd generation homeless- 55 (youth) Calgary Young Offender Centre-30 (youth)
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Photo by Fred Cattroll, Courtesy of TRC. L-R: Justice Murray Sinclair, TRC Chair receives an eagle feather staff from Patrick Etherington Jr. on behalf of the Truth and Reconciliation Walkers at the TRC National Event in Winnipeg, while TRC Commissioners Marie Wilson and Chief Wilton Littlechild look on.
YOUth Get Involved? How Can What is the TRC? The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) was established as a result of the 2007 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement – the largest class action settlement of its kind in Canada. Its mandate is to inform all Canadians about what happened in the 150 year history of the Residential Schools, and guide and inspire a process of reconciliation and renewed relationships based on mutual understanding and respect.
traditional dancing, poetry, art, carving, photography, videos, etc. Youth may also choose to get involved in TRC Hearings, Regional or National Events by volunteering, attending, witnessing or by providing a public or private statement. How can YOUth benefit from being involved with the TRC?
How can YOUth get involved with the TRC?
Understanding the impact that residential schools has on health, language, culture and education is critical to the wellbeing of our generation.
As intergenerational survivors of the residential school system, Aboriginal youth in Canada have unique experiences. For this reason, the TRC is interested in understanding what the impact and legacy of this system has on you.
Youth involvement in the TRC has the potential to set the stage for more active involvement of youth in local and national initiatives that assist in reconciliation and healing of individuals and families.
All youth are asked to provide a submission to the TRC about how the legacy of residential schools has impacted them, their families, their communities, even Canada.
This is an opportunity for youth to become involved in creative ways that are relevant to them and their communities.
Youth are asked to draw on their strengths to inspire creative submissions to the TRC that may include: written statements, performing plays, musical performances such as hip hop or 24 | NEW TRIBE Special Edition | Spring 2012
How can YOUth contact the TRC to find out more? For more information visit trc.ca
Youth Involvement in TRC National Events Youth have been involved in TRC National Events in a variety of ways. They have been volunteers, participants in Education Day, Honourary Witnesses, supporters and presenters. While each of these youth has their own personal reasons for being involved, they also have a similar goal in common - to make their communities a better, healthier place.
During the Atlantic National Event Patrick Jr. also fulfilled the role of Youth Honourary Witness.
Marlisa Brown (Gwich’in) and Molly Tilden (non-Aboriginal) are two youth from Yellowknife who gained National Media attention when they presented their documentary film at the TRC’s Northern National Event in Inuvik in June 2010.
Patrick Etherington Jr. is a 28-year-old member of the Moose Cree First Nation who walked nearly 4,000 kilometres in his father’s shoes. In 2010, he walked 31-days with his father Patrick Etherington Sr. and three others to attend the first TRC National Event in Winnipeg. In 2011, Etherington and a group youth walked from Cochrene, ON to the TRC’s Atlantic National Event in Halifax, N.S.When asked why he participated in the walks, Patrick Jr. had this to say: “I did it for the Survivors - but more for the youth. There is a big problem with suicide in my community. The youth are lost. I think the reason for suicide is indirectly linked to residential school. When our parents went to residential school they became hard, they didn’t know how to love and they passed this on to us. I don’t want to pass this on to my kids.” Patrick went on to say that he also did the walks to support his father who is a Survivor. He added that even if their efforts only bring awareness to a few people, they will have succeeded.
Their film Our Truth: The Youth Perspective on Residential School demonstrated how some of Canada’s youth have indifferent or racist attitudes about Aboriginal people who attended residential schools. Marlisa and Molly said in the course of putting their documentary together, they discovered a lot of ignorance among younger generations. “We were going around asking people if they wanted to be interviewed. When we said residential schools, many people said, ‘What’s that? I don’t know anything about that,’” explained Molly. Marlisa and Molly said if young people better understood what residential school survivors have gone through — in part by hearing survivors’ first-hand accounts — they may have different opinions.
The Health Support Worker Michael R. Denny is a 24 year old from Eskasoni, Nova Scotia working toward a Bachelor of Science in Community Studies at Cape Breton University. He is a sober drummer and believes this is an important leadership quality and accomplishment. At the TRC’s Atlantic National Event in Halifax, Michael served as a Resolution Health Support Worker (RHSW) and support person. He provided mental health and emotional support services to Survivors and their families who participated in the event. “I decided to become a RHSW because my father is a former student of the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School in Nova Scotia. While he was at the school for 8 years, he never forgot who he was or where he came from. Despite his school experience, he relearned his Mi’kmaq language and culture.” “This act of resilience is what inspired me to follow a career in helping Survivors and their families. I have seen what they are capable of doing and achieving.” Michael was also the only person who gave a statement at the Atlantic National Event in his traditional language, Mi’kmaq. He explains that he did this in the hope of inspiring other youth to learn and speak their languages. NEW TRIBE Special Edition | Spring 2012 | 25
Artist: Lydia Prince
Book & Film Reviews Broken Circle: The Dark Legacy of Indian Residential Schools By Theodore Fontaine, Heritage House Publishing Co. Ltd, Reviewed by Susan Solway Through his personal memories Theodore brings readers into a harsh unimaginable past while sprinkling in moments of love and triumph. When reading this memoir, readers may find themselves on an emotional rollercoaster. An overwhelming sadness is evoked through the experiences shared of a past that a young child has no control over. Fontaine shares childhood, teenage and adult experiences in a way that instils hope and healing for not only himself but for other survivors of the IRS system, as well as for the generations that follow who may have fallen victim to the effects. Fontaine recounts his life as a child living in a traditional world. Fontaine knew freedom along the shores of the river. He knew peacefulness sitting around the fire. He knew love
No End of Grief: Indian Residential Schools in Canada By Agnes Grant, Pemmican Publications Inc. Reviewed by Desirae Desnomie A book filled with personal accounts of individual experiences, No End of Grief takes you from early camp life of Aboriginal People to placement in residential schools. The chapters are broken down into sections examining the past, traditional education, early history of the church and the state, health conditions, staff, language, resistance, abuse, and the aftermath. No End of Grief has stories from survivors that are intensely heartbreaking. No End of Grief brings a better understanding of the history of Aboriginal People, the government’s role, the religious aspect of the IRS and the individual agendas. This book
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with the embrace of his parents and he knew trust within his close community. This was all taken away from him before he turned seven. After the age of seven his life experiences before residential school became precious memories that he would hold onto for the rest of his life. Fontaine makes it clear that his parents believed that the church run education system was the way to a successful life. Fontaine clearly develops examples of issues relating to the history of the Indian residential school system, such as distrust in the education system, the distinguishing of language and the belittlement felt by being a “real” Indian. From a loss of culture, to a loss of self, Fontaine shares both the pitfalls and triumphs he experienced after residential school. Fontaine does not fail to bring forth the injustices of the federal government, the Church, and the teachers involved in the IRS as he covers specific effects he carried, and in some instances still carries with him as a result of traumatic events. This is a passionate, well written memoir that is complimented by a number of descriptive photos.
brings to light how the school system evolved and how the children were taken away and treated with such brutality. It’s easier to comprehend who I am today as an Indian person, and to accept and understand my family, my relatives and my ancestors who have all been directly or indirectly affected by Indian residential schools. I believe that in order to know and understand yourself you have to try to know and understand the history of your people. No End of Grief can give you the knowledge of the issues Indian people face today as a result of the experiences former students struggled through to survive residential school. This book is a great tool for people searching for in-depth details about the evolution of the residential school system. The history and the raw detail make it a compelling read.
As Long as the Rivers Flow
By Larry Loyie, Groundwood Books Reviewed by Olivia Condon As Long as the Rivers Flow is the carefree yet dramatic tale of residential school survivor Larry Loyie and the last summer spent with his family before being taken to a residential school in the fall of 1944. As an adventurous and brave 10-year-old boy, Lawrence befriends and cares for Ooh-Hoo, an abandoned baby owl with his brothers and sister. Learning new skills and traditions from his Kokom and Mosoom, Lawrence, the eldest of four children, describes many new and exciting experiences with his family throughout the summer. After overhearing an adult conversation about school, Lawrence’s curiosity spikes as the family begins preparations for their twoweek stay at their summer camp near the river.
A Windigo Tale
Directed by Armand Garnet Ruffo Reviewed by Susan Solway In the dark drama, A Windigo Tale, Harold (Gary Farmer) finds himself in a desperate attempt to teach his nephew a lesson by telling the story of a burden caused by the Indian residential school experience and the strength it took for one community to become victorious.
“You have to stand tall. Soar like an Eagle! It’s about not forgetting.”
With a cast of award winning and influential stars such as Farmer (Cayuga), Andrea Menard (Metis) and Jani Lauzon (Metis), the setting of the film takes place on an isolated First Nations community of Six Nations, Ontario, in present day. The film pays homage to the contemporary rendition of the issue, rather than bringing the audience into the late 1930s like in the 1989 television drama, Where the Spirit Lives. The film takes the shape of three stories intertwined, all relate to the negative and intergenerational impacts of the residential school system. In the beginning we are introduced to Curtis (Eliot Simon), a displaced teen on the verge of a hard knock life. Curtis’s uncle Harold (Gary Framer) is trying to motivate and encourage him. Through the act of storytelling, Harold begins voicing a journey of truth and healing, telling Curtis of the dark secrets hidden in the community in which they both belong. From here we are introduced to Doris (Jani Lauzon) who is dealing with the death of her husband in ways that bring forth her faith
The four chapters of Loyie’s beautifully illustrated book take readers on a journey, conveying each new challenge and emotion Lawrence faces in this coming of age story. Testing the boy’s bravery, Kokom and Lawrence encounter one of North America’s largest grizzly bears, earning Lawrence the name Oskiniko (Young Man) from his Mosoom. With his newfound sense of freedom and responsibility, Lawrence embraces his heritage and the teachings of his elders. Unfortunately this was short lived as Lawrence and his siblings are abruptly torn from their home and taken to a residential school in northern Alberta. The epilogue gives a brief description of the residential school system and touches on some of the traumatic experiences faced by Lawrence and his peers.
in Christianity as well as her traditional beliefs. We also watch the relationship between Doris and her daughter Lily (Menard) unfold. Brought together after years of separation both women must face the abuse of the dead man once more. With the expectation of his spirit becoming Windigo, they, with the help of Lily’s boyfriend David (Philip Riccio), face the spirit in the effort to rid him forever. Within all of this, the story of Lily’s life is understood. First time director Ruffo, spends adequate time on the back drop, by establishing shots that focus on the amazing scenery within the Six Nations territory. While it is evident that the feature length film was created on a low budget, it gives the film an edgier feel that it deserves. Those who do not understand the story of the Windigo would be advised to do some research prior to viewing. The film comes together during the climatic scenes where the acting skills of Menard, Lauzon, and Riccio are amped up displaying the dramatic portrayals of their characters. The soundtrack to the film is diverse, ranging from hip-hop, blues, to indie. It includes big name artists such as Digging Roots, Ostwelve, Eekwol, and Serena Ryder. The film was made possible through funding from the Aboriginal Healing Foundation with written support of Aboriginal Organizations such as the NWAC, NAFC, AFN, The Achievement Foundation, and others. NEW TRIBE Special Edition | Spring 2012 | 29
Release the Resentment a column by Desirae Desnomie
“We will never forget what happened to our people. Generational effects can still be seen today. Take a look around.” It is important to educate ourselves about residential school. It is imperative to know the history of our people, the good, the bad and the ugly. In order to understand who we are, we must understand where we come from. The people who went to residential schools survived an ordeal of humiliation, poor living environments and terrible abuses often to the extreme. These people did not receive a normal education. They were children pulled away from their families, deprived of love and any teachings necessary for a child. These children hid their emotions to conform, to survive. In turn, they came out of this experience broken. They did not have the skills necessary to be whole, balanced human beings like our ancestors. We will never forget what happened to 30 | NEW TRIBE Special Edition | Spring 2012
our people. Generational effects can still be seen today. Take a look around. We are dealing with the effects long after the schools have closed their doors. One of our traditional teachings is to live a balanced life in all areas of our being. How can that be done when so much was taken from our people emotionally, physically, mentally and sexually? In my opinion, we need to forgive, as hard or as challenging as that may be. We have to collectively educate and enlighten ourselves about residential schools and history to understand our upbringings. We need to teach our younger generations this history. Our ancestors once lived a life of harmony where traditional teachings were commonplace. Every individual had a role to play in the community. In our communities today there are a lot of bad characters. Alcoholics, abusers, users, the list goes on. Right now there is a breakdown of our whole community, we are becoming more about ourselves where as our ancestors would make sacrifices for the whole the community. Now many of our people resort to complaining on facebook instead of approaching an Elder for guidance. We have let drugs and alcohol destroy our people long enough. It is not for us. When
you’re clear and free from those things in your life you’ll start making better choices. Hurt and pain shows that you’re alive, but holding onto hurt and pain will result in resentment, anger and stress. To know your triggers and understand yourself is becoming your own Creator. Be the person you know you have the potential to be. It is imperative that we take responsibility for our lives now and make decisions and choices for the betterment of our children and ourselves. It is now our chance for our generation to heal, bring balance to our lives and to teach our children our traditional ways before it’s too late. Our youth need to find their own identity as Indian people. They need to know where they come from. They need to start asking questions. What can be done in the simplest form is to ask the Creator to forgive those who have hurt us, ask the Grandfathers and Grandmothers to help you through the tough times. When we are strong we will be able to relate to others who need help and realize that we all have the ability to make a difference, one person at a time. We need to make our own history today for a better tomorrow.
WORD ON THE STREET Special Edition staff writers hit the streets to find out what youth know about Indian Residential Schools in Canada. They weren’t surprised to learn that today’s youth are informed, knowledgeable and not afraid to share their opinions when we asked them...
“What do you know about the legacy of Indian Residential Schools in Canada?” Alannah
Jenny Philbrick “My Grandparents went to residential school and they were trying to colonize and assimilate them to basically take the Indian out of them. I see a lot of grandparents not really showing affection and I think our generation is really changing that. You see a lot of people dependant on alcohol but I also see a lot of people standing up and straying away from stereotypes and it makes me really proud.”
Alannah Providence “From what I heard through my relatives, they had bad experiences and they said it was very horrible and I’ll take their word for it. I think it’s important to spot the light on what actually did happen. Cultural genocide is what I think it is.”
Dion Simon “My knowledge of the legacy is that it’s a dark era in Canadian history. Our ancestors and family members came out of that period different and it’s that difference that affects our people.” Interviews compiled by Desirae Desnomie photos by Olivia Condon
Anonymous “I know that they scarred our people. It wasn’t right and it was like prison for the kids. You can see the effects lurking around.” Seth Cardinal “It is very powerful, it shows us who we are now as First Nations. You can see how different people have different ways of dealing with it; when it comes to anger and parenting to name a few. It affects me because I’m speaking English right now instead of speaking my traditional language and the way I dress, everything it affects who I am. I’m taking social studies right now and in my giant text book there is a little wee paragraph about residential schools in the whole book.” Megan Benoit “I know that residential schools weren’t a good thing in history and basically natives were forced into these schools and they weren’t treated very well.”
Joshua Cadegan-Syms “From what I understand it was like residential schools was a way to introduce First Nations into the greater Canadian culture and society. They stripped away a lot of basic human rights and a lot of their culture and identity. It was less about a cultural mosaic and more to amalgamate them into the greater population.” NEW TRIBE Special Edition | Spring 2012 | 31
After enduring the effects of the Indian residential school system, generations of Aboriginal people have turned to substance abuse. Olivia Condon speaks to Clinical Psychologist Dr. Brenda Saxe about the issues. 32 | NEW TRIBE Special Edition | Spring 2012
Olivia Condon: Tell me a little bit about yourself Dr. Brenda Saxe: I’m a clinical psychologist. I’m one of the founders of the Center for Treatment of Sexual Abuse and Childhood Trauma here in Ottawa. I’ve been practicing since 1991 at the center. I stepped back in some respects to make way for the younger generation in the field however, I still have a huge private practice. I do a lot of teaching and lecturing in the area of childhood trauma. Some of my specialties are dissociation. In my
early days, I visited Sanikiluaq, Nunavut to work with Inuit individuals who were dealing with a lot of residential school abuse. Our center is very open to working with Aboriginal individuals through the Health Canada system that supports them. There are a lot of substance abuse problems in trauma survivors everywhere but particularly with Inuit and Aboriginal populations especially those who have suffered through residential school abuse. O: What is your personal definition of an addiction?
The Psychological Effects of Abuse were taken out of their environment, they were taken out of their culture and what did we offer them? We offered them harshness, strictness in the residential schools, a lack of attachment, a lack of care and further abuse. When people are ripped away from their parents, as you can imagine that’s a trauma that lasts a lifetime.
Interview by Olivia Condon Photo by Stacey Carefoot B: When someone obsessively and compulsively needs substances external to themselves in order to self soothe- I think is one of the best definitions of any type of addiction. O: What role do you believe Indian residential schools have played in aboriginal substance abuse? B: Well I think it’s probably one of the major issues here. If we are taken out of our environments and away from our parents who are our guardians, our lifelines and our attachment figures, then a huge rip occurs in the fabric of human nature. They
O: How do you think turning to the very thing that was taken away from Aboriginal people, their culture, is an integral part of the healing process? B: I think that the basic culture was a wonderful culture- an amazing, nourishing and safe culture. The nourishment that it gave to the people that ascribe to the culture was wonderful. When your culture is taken away, you don’t have anything left to cling to. You don’t have any belief system, any mythology [tradition], which we all need; no idea of what is right and what’s wrong and what’s good for our families and us. I mean, we are basically left exposed to the elements and so I think that we have to return to the culture. Aboriginal people have to see the culture as a warm, nurturing environment that they may then grow from and use to heal from the tragic reality of residential schools. O: What advice would you give people who have experienced physical and sexual abuse and turned to substance abuse in response to their Indian residential school experience?
B: They have to seek safety. That’s number one. They have to find a place that is safe for them. Secondly, they have to find a person that is safe for them. It’s only in safety that people can heal. We cannot heal when we don’t feel safe and I believe that culture provides this safety. To expect this to just heal all by itself without any intervention at all is difficult. Proper intervention and the proper resources that are funded honestly is a start. Government systems seem to fail the Aboriginal People and I don’t know why. I’m not a politician, I’m just a therapist but when I hear things like that in the news, it just breaks my heart. The priorities need to be the people. It’s really the Aboriginal people that have to do their own healing; it’s their journey. I want them to be able to feel confident and to be able to see that there are nonAboriginal people here that are on their side. Dr. Brenda Saxe is a clinical psychologist registered with the College of Psychologists in Ontario. She is an associate at the Center for Treatment of Sexual Abuse and Childhood Trauma. Dr. Saxe specializes in diverse forms of trauma including sexual, physical, and emotional abuse in childhood and rape and physical violence in adulthood. She has worked with Inuit tribes in Nunavut dealing directly with the aftermath of Indian residential school and the people still feeling the effects. Dr. Saxe lives with her husband in Ottawa. NEW TRIBE Special Edition | Spring 2012 | 33
SCHOOLS OF LOSS Blazing red is the church that we’re brought to Only to forget what we know and now are taught to be as you are and live in your ways Since you’re convinced how we live is a phase It’s how we live What we love what we say It’s everything about us you take away There’s a debt to be paid my name has been changed Who am I? Can you tell me where did I come from? What am I trying to run to or run from? Too many problems to undo one… two… I’m done Too many to count but I don’t hate you Right before you break me I’ll make a breakthrough My ancestors I will never be without you Proud to have a nation that will stand tall Strike us down we won’t fall that’s about all But today we’re stronger than you’ll ever be we lived here longer All of it was free And we’re gonna stay here cause we know you’ll never leave Face to face we meet but we believe that we’re lookin’ straight into the eyes of a thief You took so much more than some land and some men Our spirits were shackled and trapped know we will be free again We stood our ground only to be shot down in the blood soaked ground Look at all that’s left All the ups and downs all the losses felt Left me feelin’ lost ‘n lonely With no help I’ve been changed And pain is the cost No man owns all ‘cause he’s holding a cross Two white sticks together never known as the boss So take a minute go slow and pause Residential Schools Only schools for loss. My name is Sage and I admit to being an actor, for so many years saying I was a happy camper, you say what’s wrong I can’t manage to find an answer, Mother Earth why me? but I don’t dare to ask her my roads been paved with my own blood ‘n pain figures why I like sadness why I love the rain I did my best kept my head held high still I look down to the ground and let love lie people from back in the day, can say that Sage has changed, I been cut deeper than the scars on my face, I been scarred for life but it’s hard to say, cause this pain won’t play no part today,
my piece of mind u get a part of me, when u look into my eyes am I hard to see? troubled mind tries not to cause trouble, humbled mine my mind’s workin’ double. geah:.s-a-g-e.: Go n say that I’m different I’m better than many many men An the way that I’m livin’ I want it to restart not to end Come walk with me around the bend I got some stories to tell Bout lovin’ livin’ life, losin’ friends My heaven also my hell And like many men I won’t fail I’m a veteran cant you tell Once Upon A Time he rhymed that is my tale.. Flowin’ long like a marathon Homey be goin on an on Know this isn’t a song I’m on Just writin’ verses all night long Sober flowin’ not hittin’ bongs Only growin’ so move along Homeys knowin’ his flow is strong Bro is glowin’ his shine is strong Put one finger on mine it’s on This the reason why I was born I have seen hell and even more But what I don’t know is what’s in store In the rap game foots in the door gimme more.....geah Producers got me shoppin’ For sumthin’ to have ‘em jumpin’ Beats needed to have ‘em poppin’ Flows added to stop n shock ‘em They pumpin’ n flowin’ free I’m comin’ from 403 Make you stop, lock, drop it I see you in front of me When I breathe up on the beat People jumpin’ up out the seat Steppin’ up there’s a crowd for me Only thing that I wanna see That my parents are proud of me.... My people are strong We are all Braver and brave They wanted us wiped out Instead of made into slaves Stole the children away Today this all hasn’t changed We children are still lost Intox fading away Its time for change So I’m making the change today. Osawa siyo pi yi so I’m movin’ for a dream but its leadin’ me on, I suggest don’t believe what you hear in a song, dreams turn to nightmares quick so keep moving along, stay true to yourself n you’ll never be wrong -By Sage Morin
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LEGACY OF INDIAN RESIDENTIAL SCHOOLS a poem by SkyBlue Mary Morin Then the mass exodus of children from Indian Reserves, Inuit, Inuvialuit, Innu and Metis communities… exodus to Residential Schools Indian, Inuit, Inuvialuit, Innu and Metis children forcibly taken from families by Indian agents... by Northwest Mounted Police and red coated Royal Canadian Mounted Police arresting mothers and fathers if they stood in the way.... the dark era of our ancestors. E man sa ki wi sta ka ya... they cut their hair...their spiritual connection to Mother Earth while children with long and braided hair stood in fear took away their sacred feathers, medicine pouches and animal kinship ties breaking children’s spirit by teaching them the fear of God and burning in hell Forced them to memorize, recite foreign prayers... learn the hierarchy of a new god force through spiritual abuse.. where traditional native songs and chants turn into hymns.. instilling fear of their own Pipe Ceremonies, Sweat lodges, Yuwipi and Sundances instilling fear of their own sacred objects: prayer pipes, ceremonial rattles and drums so they will ever be fearful to return to their culture. To take the Indian out of the child... take the culture away... stop the language, call it the devil’s language, machi man’to pekes kwe win.. beat their language out of them Break their minds… force through mental abuse... calling them dumb and stupid.. as if children didn`t see their craziness... as if they weren’t crazy trying to change god’s creation take away their name giving them a number.. that would forever replay in their minds.. Break their hearts through emotional abuse... with names like savage, pagan and heathen tell them lies like your parents don’t want you... don’t love you take their kinship away... cut the ties to cousins, aunties and uncles and grandparents so they will forever lose their connection to family and community. Forcing physical abuse washing bodies in lye soap...brushing teeth untill they bled hits to the head with wooden rulers and sticks, sometimes wooden planks.... straps with a machinery belt... physical pain forever implanted in the body and brain. breaking children’s bones... no one would know or question an accident the final assault.... using children as sexual objects.... sexual assault to kill the child’s soul sending the Indian agent to retrieve runaways… dead of alive Those who came back alive chained or handcuffed to their beds hiding children’s dead bodies behind residential school buildings to hide their crimes Children’s spirits lurk from hiding places... behind those residential school walls where children left their spirits to protect themselves... from residential school horrors crying alone children, beaten children, raped children, broken spirit children their attempt to break the Spirit, Heart, Mind, Body... our Medicine Wheel of Life. Today`s sixth generation residential school survivors live with their private pain not wanting to re-live painful trauma and horrors of residential school experience existing forgotten and homeless rough sleeping on streets, parks, back alleys and dumpsters, discriminated homeless in a grieving state of addiction... drinking and drugging to kill heart`s pain some lost youth lost in addictions.... drowning in abandonment we need to reconnect youth to the land through natural law and nurturing Mother Earth to teach today’s Seventh Generation, each generation to come, our leaders of tomorrow the Haudonasaunee Great Tree of Life and the Way of the Mide wewin, the Seven Rites of the Lakota and the Way of the Medicine Societies, the Way of the Sacred Pipe and the Sweat Lodge and Smudge Purification Ceremonies the Yuwipi, the Sundance, the Potlatch and the Tea Dance ceremonies the Way of our Medicine Wheel of Life and its Seven Sacred Laws…All My Relations
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Are you a child of a survivor? Children of residential school survivors may find help in Pen to Paper’s journal booklet titled, “Journaling through being a child of a Residential School Survivor.” Journaling your feelings can be a tool to help process your feelings and thoughts onto paper for better understanding. Pen to Paper is a personal growth company that encourages journal writing as a way to help people change their lives for the better; they have created numerous journals focusing on a wide range of topics. Pen to Paper uses a one line at a time style of workbooks for a focused journal-writing path. They ask journal writers to answer questions like, “What I know to be true about my parent’s residential school experience is…” and ask them to share things like memorable family moments and what they learned from their parents. Creator of the workbook, Leona Daniels uses her Masters of Social Work degree to encourage people to quit blaming the victim. “Let’s look at the system and how it has affected our lives and move forward,” says Daniels. “There is great importance to look at the whole experience as a
her business partner Leah Morgan came up with the business to help people by providing holistic healings with mainstream strategies. Daniels is Ktunax and has been an avid journal writer since she was 13. Daniels credits journal writing for her sobriety and her ability to be a good parent and partner. Leah Morgan is Gitksan and has 25 years of experience working with Aboriginal people with addictions problems, people living with HIV and people who have been dispirited due to trauma. failure of a system and not our loved ones,” she continues. Pen to Paper has sold over 300 of these specific journals to date. Daniels, and
In addition to their journals, Leona Daniels and Leah Morgan also provide a wide range of other services. Check them out at www.pen-to-paper.com
About the Back Cover In her own words, artist Lydia Prince describes her artwork on the back cover. Prince was commissioned by USAY to create a piece that depicts her interpretation of the Indian residential school experience. Prince’s 18”x24” acrylic work of art is titled REACH and is dedicated to all residential school survivors.
Photo by Stacey Carefoot
“The piece is about a dark moment in Canadian history. Most residential school students went through so much pain and torture however they were somehow able to survive and are continuing their lives. I think it’s just so amazing how strong Aboriginal People can be. I wanted to show that strength and resilience in my piece. Through pain and sadness, many survivors were able to pull through and live on. The theme of the piece I created for USAY is centered on the idea of healing, growth and change. The person in the painting represents the children inside of the residential school survivors; the children that experienced and lived through IRS. The tree
symbolizes our voices as Aboriginal people. We are only able to heal, grow and change through communication, our voices. With the colors I tried to create an atmosphere. I tend to use several different colors in all of my work. With this piece I used predominately dark colors to represent the dark history of residential schools. The light colors represent the hope and healing of our survivors. Aboriginal people are resilient as a nation. Despite the fact that our history is mostly tragic, we are still here and thriving.” For more information about Lydia Prince please go to her website at www.mookisdelight.com NEW TRIBE Special Edition | Spring 2012 | 37