14 Mar 2011

Edmonton mural celebrates Catholic bishop's role in the horrific abuse of aboriginal children in residential schools

Edmonton Journal - Canada February 12, 2011

Mural at LRT station offensive, rider says

The late Bishop Grandin's links to residential schools, colonialism don't merit celebration


I have a secret to admit: I love the LRT. I know some people hate it, complaining endlessly about how, in bigger cities, the subways never come late, but I personally love the feeling of crossing over the North Saskatchewan River in the LRT and seeing our beautiful city from the river valley. Recently, however, I had to get off at Grandin/Government Centre station to run an errand, and my love affair with the LRT hit a major road bump.

Having just left a class recounting the impacts of the residential schooling system on aboriginal people in Alberta, I was horrified at seeing the mural in Grandin station. Called the Bishop Vital Grandin Mural, the artwork is a celebration of residential schooling and aboriginal displacement and a historical narrative of colonialism and conversion.

Bishop Grandin was an early Catholic pioneer who arrived in Canada in 1854. He was, indeed, a seminal figure in Alberta history, but one of his most significant "contributions" was as an overseer of numerous residential schools.

To quote from a study by the University of Toronto, during the later part of the 19th century, Grandin became convinced that "attempts to civilize and evangelize native adults would have negligible results" and it would be more prudent instead to "wean children from their native lifestyle." Thus, it was because of Grandin's work that schools such as St. Joseph's at Dunbow near Calgary were set up. Today, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, working to alleviate the pain and suffering caused by the residential school system, recognizes many of Grandin's "civilizing projects," such as St. Joseph's, as residential schools, where Blackfoot children were taken away from their families and forced into an abusive system.

In a bizarre twist, though, the mural at Grandin/ Government Centre, far from decrying that history, seems to revel in it. On the accompanying plaque, which includes the signature of the City of Edmonton, it claims Grandin was a pioneer, upon whose arrival "the West was a vast wilderness." That would make sense, if the aboriginal people who had been living in Alberta for centuries before Grandin arrived were just a part of a background "wilderness" of assorted animals; indeed, according to the mural, the aboriginal people had no civilization of their own and had to thus be civilized.

In the mural, Grandin looks ahead, staring bravely into the future. Beside him, a woman wearing a crucifix holds an aboriginal baby, apparently carrying the infant away from its family. In the background, we see what is presumably the family, faceless, being escorted by another missionary to train stations.

Some might say I am misinterpreting the painting. That is possible. But here are the cold, undeniable facts: Grandin helped operate residential schools. In the painting, Grandin's female associate holds an aboriginal child, separated from family. The mural is supposed to be a celebration of this history. The mural is placed in an incredibly important place; the station is the centre for those going back and forth from the Alberta legislature. In a sense, this is a view that is seen as legitimate by the Government of Alberta and by the city. Am I the only one who feels nauseated by this?

The residential school system might be dead, but the Grandin mural continues to sing its praises in the heart of Edmonton.

Mustafa Farooq is a third-year political science honours student at the University of Alberta.

This article was found at:

Edmonton Journal  -  Canada  February 17, 2011

Grandin deserves a mural


Re: "Mural at LRT station offensive, rider says; The late Bishop Grandin's links to residential schools, colonialism don't merit celebration," by Mustafa Farooq, Ideas, Feb. 12.

Mustafa Farooq is nauseated by the Grandin mural at the LRT station? Thankfully, times have changed, but it is only very recently that rightful recognition has been given to the indigenous peoples of the world, even by our federal government.

Bishop Vital Grandin was part of a civilization that considered its way of life as best of all, an unfortunate characteristic of humanity. At the time, this colonial view was wholeheartedly supported by the Canadian government.

Remember how Chief Sitting Bull was treated? In fact, it was because of federal policies that the use of indigenous languages was discouraged in schools, policies Grandin had to submit to as well. In fact, scholars have shown that Grandin's proposed method of educating the native peoples of the Canadian northwest was categorically rejected by the federal government and that he had to base his schools on the federal model.

It was through individuals such as Grandin and other religious communities that health care, social assistance and education were brought to this part of the world, when there was no social safety net other than charity.

Who do you think cared for the sick of St. Albert during the 1870 smallpox epidemic, when, out of a population of 700, 300 died?

The oblates and the Grey Nuns helped nurse the sick and bury the dead. Grandin was there, helping and often weeping at the bedside of the dying. He had come through Fort Carleton when smallpox had struck and spent some time there caring for the sick. He returned to St. Albert to help and, upon learning that smallpox was devastating the Métis hunters and their families on the Prairies, he joined them there too, comforting, helping and doing what he could.

Granted, perhaps the mural should be reinterpreted, but it is much too easy to pin the blame for the residential schools on one individual.

Juliette Champagne, PhD, history, Edmonton

This article was found at:

Edmonton Journal  -  Canada   February 21, 2011

We don't need reminders


Re: "Grandin deserves a mural," by Juliette Champagne, Letters, Feb. 17 and "Mural at LRT station offensive, rider says; The late Bishop Grandin's links to residential schools, colonialism don't merit celebration," by Mustafa Farooq, Ideas, Feb. 12.

Juliette Champagne ends her glowing letter with the words, " . much too easy to put the blame for the residential schools on one individual."

As a survivor of a residential school run by oblates, I am concerned about this mural, because it focuses on an individual and therefore misrepresents Canadian/native history.

Regardless of good works, Grandin was part of a system that perpetrated horrendous damage and suffering to native people. Whatever might have changed in Champagne's view, nothing can ever erase the cultural loss and psychological, physical and sexual abuse that occurred in these schools, precisely because the intergenerational effects still exist in native communities. This kind of history does not change, nor can it be forgotten, but neither should we be continually confronted by stereotypical images of our colonial past.

Maybe Grandin deserves to be honoured by his supporters, but do we have to have a mural in a public place, such as an LRT station? Mustafa Farooq provides evidence that images are all powerful and I appreciate his insight in this matter.

Elizabeth Lightning , PHD , Education , Edmonton

This article was found at: 

Edmonton Journal  -  Canada   March 1, 2011

Grandin mural about living in harmony: artist

by Sylvie Nadeau, artist, author and copyright owner of the Grandin mural

RE: "Mural at LRT station offensive, rider says; The late Bishop Grandin's links to residential schools, colonialism don't merit celebration," by Mustafa Farooq, Ideas Feb. 12, and "Grandin deserves a mural," by Juliette Champagne, Letters, Feb. 17.

"I was horrified at seeing the mural in Grandin Station," said Mustafa Farooq.

In answer to that, never in my wildest dreams have I thought a spiritual journey and love-based masterpiece would find itself the object of controversy and even horrify someone.

A big thank you to Juliette Champagne, PhD history, for adjusting everyone's glasses (including mine), and giving us a clearer and more global picture of this phase of our history.

This mural was commissioned by the French Association of Alberta and created in 1989 to be offered as a gift to the City of Edmonton.

The mural was to express the journey of Bishop Grandin, his impact on our history, his relationship with our indigenous people, the contribution of the Grey Nuns, the treaties, the advent of the train and its impact on church and school locations and so on.

The late Bishop Grandin does deserve respect; so do the Grey Nuns and so does every indigenous person depicted in this mural.

This mural is about love, compassion, learning to live and build in harmony together, through mistakes if we must, a future that respects us all.

This painting is not about a woman with a crucifix, taking away a child from its parents. It's about the love, the caring and compassion for the smaller of us, protecting and helping to be part of that.

This is the spirit in which I painted this Grey Nun and the child she is holding. The child is at peace and content.

Look at every person in this painting: they have respect and self-respect.

There is more wisdom in the old wise man (indigenous person) looking into the scene, over the treaties than words can say. Only the future will tell us the results.

There is self-respect and respect of one's destiny in the indigenous woman standing by the boat in the same panel as the elderly, both looking at the train, the fort and the church there.

Look at the love in each stone that built the Grandin School, the cathedral, the church; like each step of our history, I discovered something beautiful in mankind's creation and its spirit at every stroke of the brushes, for just being more present and finally paying attention.

You might say we have paid the price to be where we are today, to be standing side by side.

As the last three panels say: we must build in harmony a present leading to a better future, not for, but with, our children, and this should be done block by block.

I speak, not to criticize, but to express the spirit in which I painted it, and what it symbolizes.

This article was found at:

Edmonton Journal  -  Canada   March 8, 2011

Rose-coloured view lost on abuse victims

by Donita Large , residential schools adviser, Sherwood Park

Re: "Grandin mural about living in harmony: artist," by Sylvie Nadeau, Letters, March 1.

Artist Sylvie Nadeau, in describing residential schools, says, "This painting is not about a woman with a crucifix, taking away a child from its parents. It's about the love, the caring and compassion for the smaller of us, protecting and helping to be part of that. This is the spirit in which I painted this Grey Nun and the child she is holding. The child is at peace and content."

As a First Nations educator and a residential schools adviser, I have heard residential school victims consistently recount their experience of being forcibly taken away from their parents.

Being ripped from your birth family will hardly leave a child with peace and contentment in the arms of a Grey Nun.

Were there nice Grey Nuns? I am sure there were, but many Grey Nuns are also named as abusers in thousands of current residential school claims through the Indian Residential Schools Independent Assessment Process -nuns who were not parents, but guards who ruled and abused by using religion as a weapon of guilt and fear.

I don't think these indigenous children, who are now adults, would look at this mural and hold Nadeau's sentiments.

Juliette Champagne (Letters, Feb. 17) says it is "much too easy to pin the blame for the residential schools on one individual."

This is correct and I do not think anyone is saying Bishop Grandin is solely responsible.

He was, however, a part of a system that was specifically designed to eradicate the Indian in the child through legislated domination.

He was a bishop, which meant he had power and authority in this era and would have been privy to the atrocities occurring in the schools.

Perhaps Ottawa can commission an artist to create a mural that puts a positive spin on internment camps in Canada, as a lesson of building harmony through mistakes as well.

According to Nadeau, all you need to do is paint each person showing respect and self-respect even if the act itself was given an apology by the federal government, as it was wrong.

Bishop Grandin has no doubt contributed to Edmonton's and Alberta's history. If the mural had been created with the intention of honouring the victims of residential schools and the impact on the people, then there could be some respect in that choice.

But to create an image of residential schools through rose-coloured glasses perpetuates ignorance of a dark and painful past for many victims.

So it appears Mustafa Farooq's (Ideas, Feb. 12) disgust was warranted. The Grandin mural does continue to sing the praises of residential schools in the heart of Edmonton.

A mural honouring Grandin for railroads seems reasonable, but not residential schools.

This article was found at:


Jesuits pay record settlement for decades of psychological abuse and rape of over 450 Native American children

Nuns among worst perpetrators of horrific violence and sex abuse in Jesuit-run schools and missions on Indian reservations

Canadian Indian residential school hearings identify thousands of abusers including some students who were also abused

Survivors of Indian residential schools need to tell their stories to restore self-worth after trauma of abuse

A brief history of Canadian residential schools designed to indoctrinate and assimilate aboriginal children

Canadian Truth Commission investigates fate of thousands of aboriginal children who died in mysterious circumstances

Canadian residential school Truth Commission begins to address over a century of child abuse, thousands of children still missing

‘Apology? What apology?' Church’s attempt at reconciliation not enough, says counsellor

Church-run Canadian residential schools denied human rights to all aboriginal children in their custody

'This Is How They Tortured Me' [book review]

Mothers of a Native Hell

Red Cross emergency mission to Indian reservation exposes Canadian apartheid

Fugitive priest hiding in Belgium and Lourdes, France sent back to Canadian territory Nunavut to face sex abuse charges

Canadian priest convicted of pedophilia, wanted by Interpol for 15 years, surrenders in Belgium but authorities let him go

Pope expresses 'sorrow' for abuse at residential schools - but doesn't apologize

When will church learn lessons about abuse scandals?


Canadian Indian residential schools designed to assimilate natives traumatized individuals and generations


  1. Amazing Blog and mindset that produced it. Woliwon Brother (thank you) for speaking your heart with an educated mind.
    Maliseet First Nation.

  2. Parliament window to mark residential schools

    CBC News October 27, 2011

    A painful chapter of Canada's history will soon be on display over the door MPs use to enter the House of Commons every day.

    Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan announced Thursday the legacy of Canada's Indian residential schools program will be permanently etched on Parliament Hill in stained glass.

    An aboriginal artist will be commissioned to design a new centre panel for the window over the members' entrance to the House of Commons foyer in Centre Block.

    "The art work will honour the First Nation, Inuit and Méis children who attended Indian residential schools and the families and the communities who were impacted by its legacy," Duncan said, looking straight at the external window where the art will be installed.

    A panel of art experts will choose an artist to design the window. The panel has not yet been convened, and Duncan couldn't estimate a total cost, but the minister said the government planned to have the art installed in 2012.

    "We’re not making this a long term project. We want to get it done," Duncan said.

    'Gesture of reconciliation'
    The minister said the window is intended to "encourage all Parliamentarians and visitors for generations to come to learn about the history of the Indian residential schools and Canada’s reconciliation efforts."

    Duncan said he's consulted with aboriginal leaders about the window as an "important gesture of reconciliation" and "they get it."

    On June 11, 2008 the federal government made an official apology for the residential school program in the House of Commons. It was the highlight of a series of commemorations and reconciliation efforts that continue through the work of the federally-funded Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

    Duncan said Thursday that "the history of residential schools tells of an education policy gone wrong."


  3. Residential school abuse claims surpass federal estimates

    by GLORIA GALLOWAY, The Globe and Mail July 23 2012

    The number of people coming forward to say they were seriously abused at Canada’s Indian residential schools greatly outstrips early federal estimates and will boost the cost of settlements by more than $2-billion, federal officials say.

    It is a situation that suggests the problems at the government-funded, church-run institutions that operated for most of the previous century were far more pervasive than originally believed.

    With the Sept. 19 deadline for applications for compensation approaching, federal officials said Monday they expect the number of former students alleging serious sexual, physical or emotional abuse at schools to reach 30,000. That is 17,500 more than anticipated when the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement was signed in 2006.

    And, with average settlements of $117,613 also higher than estimated, the final costs could easily top $3.5-billion – far more than the $960-million originally budgeted. Combined with the money that is being offered under the Common Experience Program – which pays the former students according to the number of years they spent at the schools – the total compensation awarded to former residential school students could approach $5.4-billion.

    Akivah Starkman, executive director for the Independent Assessment Process Secretariat, told reporters that the original estimates were based on the experiences of other countries in similar situations.

    Since they were calculated, said Mr. Starkman, eight more schools have been added to the list of eligible institutions and an intensive outreach campaign has created broad awareness among survivors of the potential entitlements. In addition, he said, “I think it appears, based on the numbers, that the incidents of abuse may have been more widespread than what was initially anticipated.”

    Chief Robert Joseph, executive director of the Indian Residential School Survivors Society, says the authorities completely underestimated the harm that was done.

    “Because the residential school situation is historic and ongoing, they had no idea just how pervasive the abuse was. And in some ways that’s a form of denial,” Mr. Joseph said. “I think they tried to weigh the balance of good that might have come out of residential schools against the bad that did happen. And I think they were hopeful that things were better than they really were, and they weren’t.”

    With the deadline looming, Mr. Joseph said he is not surprised to see a spike in the number of people applying for compensation. The survivors were all little children when the abuses occurred, he said. Many “were uncertain about the process and how open and receptive and fair it might be considering these abuses happened so long ago and we sometimes doubted ourselves about the times and dates and incidents,” Mr. Joseph said.

    But, even if some question whether the amount awarded is reasonable, Mr. Joseph said he believes the the adjudicators have been sensitive to the aboriginal experience and have been as fair as possible in assessing the stories of survivors.


  4. Ottawa taken to court over release of residential-schools documents

    by GLORIA GALLOWAY OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail December 03 2012

    The commission examining the treatment of aboriginal children at Canada’s residential schools is taking the federal government to court for refusing to release millions of documents that were supposed to form a permanent and public record of the abuses committed.

    The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) – established in 2008 as part of the settlement between former students, the Canadian government, the churches that ran the schools, and others – has asked an Ontario Superior Court judge to decide whether Canada is obligated to hand over the material. Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized in 2008 for the forced assimilation of more than 150,000 first nations, Inuit and Métis children at the schools. However, Ottawa’s failure to produce the documents threatens to undermine the aboriginal community’s faith in the government, says the Assembly of First Nations.

    The commission has been provided with almost a million documents over the past 12 months, all of them held by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. But it contends that millions, and possibly tens of millions, are being withheld. In addition to what may still be with Aboriginal Affairs, some are in the possession of other departments, some are stored within Library and Archives Canada, and some are church records obtained by the government.

    For instance, the commission has received no documents from the RCMP. Parents complained to police at the time their children were in the residential school system that their children were being abused or had even disappeared. Survivors believe there may be documents in the possession of the national force that would help them determine what happened to those complaints.

    The government cannot get away with releasing a million documents when millions more remain undisclosed, said Julian Falconer, the commission’s lawyer. “Put simply, a half loaf in the form of one million documents isn’t going to do it,” he said. “What is at stake here is control over history.”

    The commission said in an interim report last February that it had hit a wall in its attempts to pry the documents out of Ottawa’s hands. In an application for legal intervention, it says the stonewalling continues and the government has provided only a subset of an existing database of known material. “The commission is taking this step very reluctantly and with a sense that it has been left with no alternative,” Justice Murray Sinclair, the commission’s chairman, said in a statement.

    The commission’s application will be heard by Justice Stephen Goudge on Dec. 20 and 21 in Toronto. Judge Goudge is being asked to decide whether the commission’s term should be extended as a result of the delay in the production of the documents.

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  5. Jason MacDonald, a spokesman for Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan, said the government remains committed to bringing closure to the legacy of residential schoolsand it will continue to honour the settlement. “We are working with 22 other government departments and with the TRC to ensure all relevant Indian Residential Schools related documents are made available to the TRC,” Mr. MacDonald said in an e-mail. “Canada aims to disclose all of its remaining documents relevant to the TRC’s mandate by June 30, 2013.”

    But the commission argues that Ottawa has “erected a myriad of obstacles” to avoid fulfilling its obligations.

    According to court documents filed by the commission, the government has taken issue with the commission’s interpretation of “relevant,” has not agreed to compile all of the documents housed in the Library and Archives in a organized manner, has withheld documents obtained from the churches, and has failed to produce documents produced by other departments.

    The commission argues that the government should not be allowed to rely on privacy considerations or cabinet confidence to keep the documents from being released. And it wants the government to bear what could end up being the very large cost of copying reams of original material that has been gathered over the decades.

    Ken Rubin, an expert in accessing government documentswho has been working on this issue for a number of weeks, said the government is still arguing over what is and is not a relevant record. “Get on with it fellows,” said Mr. Rubin, “this is not a matter that you are going to play petty politics with. This is national reconciliation and history that’s at stake.”


  6. Uncomfortable truths: Dr. Marie Wilson on the history of residential schools in Canada

    BY JONATHAN SAS, rabble.ca DECEMBER 6, 2012

    "The indigenous capacity for forgiveness and reconciliation is almost beyond belief."

    Few Canadians can speak with a genuine understanding of that capacity. Dr. Marie Wilson, who sits on Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), is one of them.

    Commissioner Marie Wilson communicated this powerful message while in Montreal last week to deliver the annual Jeanne Sauvé Address. There she spoke to the incredible leadership being shown by survivors of Canada's Indian Residential Schools as thousands have courageously come forward to tell the country their stories.

    Established in 2008, the TRC is in year three of a five-year mandate scheduled to end in the spring of 2014.

    The commission's task is daunting: to record the experiences of children and anyone else who was impacted by the residential schools; to tell Canadians the truth about those experiences and the lasting impacts they have had; and finally, to guide a process of reconciliation "between and within Aboriginal families, communities, churches, governments, and Canadians."

    It's an ambitious and vitally important mission, one being made that much more difficult by the actions of the current Federal government. This past Monday, the Canadian Press reported that the TRC reluctantly decided to take the Feds to court over their refusal to release millions of documents the TRC believes are integral to fulfilling its mandate.

    Commissioner Wilson, however, never once mentioned the troubling lack of co-operation on the part of government in Montreal.

    Instead, her remarks communicated the "enormity" of the trauma wrought by the residential schools on Aboriginal Canadians and outlined how imperative the deeper engagement of non-Aboriginal Canadians remains if meaningful reconciliation is to be achieved.

    Truth and trauma

    Between the 1870s and 1996, over 150,000 First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children were taken from their families and put in some 130 government-funded, church-run schools across the country.

    The intent of the Residential Schools was to assimilate and to christianize. According to official government records and correspondence, "the fastest and most effective way to do that was to get at the families through the children."

    The Canadian government wished to 'kill the Indian in the child' so that within a generation there would be no more Indians in this country, and no more 'Indian problem.'

    "Try to imagine if these were your children," commissioner Wilson challenged the audience. "They are four, five, maybe six or seven years old, and a Priest, or an Indian Agent, or an RCMP officer comes to take that little one away from you to a place where you could not see them; where they were routinely punished if they tried to speak the language you taught them; where they could not be close to you, or comforted by their brothers or sisters; where food was foreign, punishment was swift and abuses, in many places, rampant."

    Just as difficult to imagine is that entire communities were emptied of children. As one of the survivors told the TRC of this phenomenon: when the children were taken, "even the dogs cried."

    Those same little children are among those Commissioner Wilson now recognizes and honours as this country's unsung leaders. Leaders because in spite of the severity of the trauma they endured, they had the determination to speak up in the 1980s and 1990s, while the last of the schools were still operating, to take legal steps to address the harms they’d experienced.

    Their courageous acts are what led to the largest out of court class action settlement in Canadian history in the 2007 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement; the settlement that established the TRC as a requirement.

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  7. Now, through the TRC's hearings and national events, a picture of just how severe and long-term the impacts of the residential school system are is emerging.

    High rates of addiction and mental health issues are commonplace in Aboriginal communities, the epidemic of suicide in many regions Commissioner Wilson described as “an urgent and national crisis.”

    She has little doubt these issues are related directly to "the continuing trauma of [having] separated children from parents." These traumas reverberate through generations. The effects of having been raised outside of the home, without loving parents and often under brutal conditions, have left deep and lasting impacts on the parenting capacity of many survivors.
    "I have had many, many survivors come forward and say each in their own words: the thing I have greatest regrets about is the way in which I raised my own children."

    Reconciliation: The real two solitudes

    In light of the enormity of the wrongs suffered by Aboriginal individuals, families and communities as a result of the residential schools, it's a wonder what's driving the desire for reconciliation?

    For many survivors, Commissioner Wilson said, it's their willingness to finally forgive themselves, their desire not "to carry other people’s garbage any longer."

    "They were told when they were little that they were bad, they were dirty, they were savage. As little children they took those messages literally and grew up thinking they were true."

    Listening to others share similar stories at commission hearings can help in the acknowledgement that this wasn’t their fault; that they were children, and the blame for the shame, anger, and other devastation lies with the adults who were then responsible.

    Speaking at the hearings, Commissioner Wilson said, can offer tremendous release for some survivors; especially for those that have been carrying around their story, and often their shame, as a secret for 50 or 60 years.

    "Some of the survivors will sit with their wife or husband right beside them and say: 'I have never told anyone this before, even my spouse!'"

    While the TRC continues to record the stories, meticulously stockpiling these truths and providing space for the sharing of experiences within Aboriginal families and communities, ensuring that non-Aboriginal communities hear the truth and take part in the reconciliation process remains a real challenge.

    "We must be honest about the real two solitudes in this country, that between Indigenous and non-Indigenous citizens, and commit to doing tangible things to close the divide in awareness, understanding and relationships."

    Non-Aboriginal Canadians, Commissioner Wilson said, need to do something in response to the real harms and needs that survivors are coming forward to describe. They need to know that Canada cares, that Canadians are listening to them.

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  8. At least right now, that means non-Aboriginal Canadians, along with representatives of elected leadership and representatives of the media, need to show up to bear witness at the TRCs hearings, and to attend and cover the national events.

    It seems a small request in light of the immense injustices suffered.

    "We can no longer afford to be strangers to each other in this country that we now share. We could actually come to know each other not just as labels or hyphenated Canadians but rather as neighbors and as friends, as people that we care about."

    The alternative to opening up a genuine space for dialogue is the risk of repeating the betrayal and aggravating relations.

    Uncomfortable history, uncertain future

    For Commissioner Wilson, the residential schools are a sustained ribbon of story line in Canadian history. To date, they remain part of a “sustained ribbon of ignorance." It is a defining part of how Canada has come to where it is today, with hugely disproportionate numbers of Aboriginal peoples on the streets, in the prisons, in the emergency wards, and, troublingly, in the child welfare system.

    The fact remains that for many, if not most, non-Aboriginal Canadians, the legacy of the Residential Schools simply isn't on the radar. In turn, this (perceived) lack of interest means there are few if any media outlets that dedicate reporting staff with any consistency or attentiveness to Aboriginal issues, let alone to the important work of the TRC.

    "At some point we have to ask ourselves: How is it that we as a country devoted so much air time to the TRC say in South Africa but [which have] dedicated so little to our own on a sustained national basis."

    Commissioner Wilson said Canadians need to own the residential school system as Canadian history, not Aboriginal history. In an effort to do just that, the TRC has challenged Ministries of Education in provinces across the country to make the teaching of residential schools mandatory in the curriculum.

    That it remains absent from the curriculum of every province illustrates just how far there is to go in the quest to raise awareness, partnership building aside.

    But there have been some promising breakthroughs. The governments of Nunavut and the North West Territories have already taken up the curriculum challenge. No high school student in the North will graduates ignorant to the legacy of residential schools.

    Importantly, these governments worked directly with survivors, many of them able to capture their experiences in Indigenous language, to include their stories as part of the new curriculum.

    There is a limited window of opportunity, Commissioner Wilson pointed out, for the other provinces to do the same, to consult survivors within their own borders when making curriculum.
    "Most Canadians who do learn about the schools share a sense of outrage at what happened, are upset at not being told about it and have a genuine desire to help set things right."

    Institutionalizing the teaching of this fuller, if more brutal Canadian history, in our classrooms would at least be a start.

    "This is not comfortable subject matter," Commissioner Wilson said.
    "You have to get uncomfortable to get honest about all of this."

    To find out more about the TRC's work, visit their website at: www.trc.ca

    Hearings will begin in Quebec in January and the next national event will take place in Montreal on Wednesday April 24, 2013.

    Jonathan Sas is a 2012/2013 Sauvé Scholar . He is the former editor of The Mark News and holds an MA in political science from the University of British Columbia.


  9. Ottawa balked at high cost of releasing residential school records

    by GLORIA GALLOWAY OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail December 19, 2012

    It was meant to be a permanent and public record of a sad chapter in Canadian history.

    But it has evolved into a court battle between the government and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission over who is responsible for collecting millions of documents about the country’s aboriginal residential schools.

    The government had intended the documents to be the basis of a resource centre at the University of Manitoba, where survivors and their families could find out what happened behind the walls of the church-run schools.

    Federal departments knew they were required to produce the material, but a senior bureaucrat has indicated they procrastinated for years, then dumped the burden on the commission when costs mounted and time ran short.

    The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was established in 2008 as part of the $1.9-billion settlement between former students, the Canadian government, the churches, and others, to record the experience of the schools.

    It says it has neither the time nor the resources to search for the documents. It is taking the government to court for refusing to release the material that could shine light on the abuse of first nations, Inuit and Métis children during the schools’ 130-year history.

    Testimony in the case begins in Toronto on Thursday. In related proceedings, David Russell, the Aboriginal Affairs Department’s director of national research and analysis, painted a picture of departmental stonewalling and unwillingness to do the time-consuming work of the document retrieval.

    With a budget of $60-million spread over five years, the commission’s mandate runs out in July, 2014. It is required to establish the resource centre and, at the outset, the government agreed to hand over all relevant documents.

    Aboriginal Affairs has provided almost a million records and has promised to produce another 270,000 by next June.

    But, on Nov. 27, under prehearing cross-examination by commission lawyer Julian Falconer, Mr. Russell agreed two to five million documents are outstanding. And when asked if the number was closer to five million, Mr. Russell said “I don’t have any reason to doubt it.”

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  10. Although the government has indicated a willingness to turn over the documents that Aboriginal Affairs generated, many more were created by 23 other departments including Citizenship and Immigration and National Defence. Minutes of a May, 2010, interdepartmental meeting of senior bureaucrats who were managing the production of the records say the RCMP alone had found 60,000 documents related to the residential schools.

    The minutes of that meeting, which took place four years after the settlement agreement was signed, also state that Library and Archives Canada told those in attendance that it is the responsibility of the departments to collect the documents wherever they are.

    Mr. Russell told Mr. Falconer that some departments were reluctant to find and identify the records because they lacked expertise in how to conduct the search and because of the time and expense. The costs have been estimated at more than $100-million.

    In September, 2011, government officials called TRC to say the commission’s researchers – and not the departments – would be responsible for searching the archives and retrieving the documents.

    Mr. Russell agreed under questioning that the commission was in no better position to find the papers than departmental staff. “That wasn’t part of the discussion,” he said.

    The commission has neither the funds nor the manpower to do the job that the government has refused to do, Mr. Falconer said on Tuesday in a telephone interview with The Globe and Mail. “In fact, the evidence shows that Canada recognized the magnitude of the task and shifted it over to the TRC when it became clear what kind of funding investment they would have to make.”

    About 150,000 aboriginal children attended the schools. Many were forced from their homes as part of a program of assimilation. Physical and sexual abuse was rampant, and mortality rates were as high as 50 per cent at some of the institutions.

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized in 2008 on behalf of the federal government for the residential-schools experience, but the Assembly of First Nations says the refusal to release the documents threatens to undermine that gesture.

    “In my view, what this is really all about is a hot potato over history,” Mr. Falconer said. “Canada did not start moving, clearly from the evidence, until 2010. And when it became clear to Canada that it couldn’t meet its obligations, it simply changed the ground rules of its obligations.”


  11. Residential school survivors will decide fate of testimony documents

    Survivors will decide whether to destroy or preserve records after 15-year retention period expires

    CBC News August 07, 2014

    A court has ruled that the individual testimonies of 40,000 Indian residential school survivors will be destroyed after 15 years, unless a survivor chooses to preserve their story in a national archive.

    Ontario Superior Court Justice Paul M. Perell released the decision Thursday saying that during the 15-year retention period, survivors can choose to have some of their documents spared from destruction. These documents would be redacted to protect the privacy of others and then transferred to the National Research Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.

    "This will be a huge relief to the thousands of claimants who have appeared at our hearings fully expecting that their accounts of the abuse they suffered at Indian Residential Schools would not be made public without their consent," said chief adjudicator Dan Shapiro in a written statement.

    Shapiro had argued that the promises of confidentiality made to survivors who provided testimony as part of the compensation process should be kept.

    The testimony covered claims of sexual abuse, physical abuse and other wrongful acts suffered during former students' time at residential schools, according to the ruling.

    Some survivors said that had they known their stories of their time at residential schools would ever be made public, they would not have revealed their past in the first place.

    Meanwhile, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission argued its National Research Centre was the safest and most respectful place for the records.

    During the 15-year retention period, a program will be in place to contact survivors and advise them of their choice to either have the documents destroyed or preserved.


    Related Stories

    Read Justice Perell's decision

    Fate of documents detailing abuse at residential schools undecided

    Residential school survivors fear testimony could be made public

    Indian residential school claimants stalled by document search

    Lawyer resigns over accusations he treated residential school clients 'like cattle'

  12. Garnet Angeconeb, residential school survivor, ends hunger strike

    Residential school survivor and Lac Seul First Nation negotiate end to protest over law firm

    By Jody Porter, CBC News September 15, 2014

    A tentative agreement was reached early Monday evening to end a hunger strike by a residential school survivor from Lac Seul First Nation in Northwestern Ontario, according to a source close to the negotiations.

    Garnet Angeconeb was in the fifth day of his hunger strike, protesting his First Nation's use of the Kenora law firm Keshen and Major. The firm is being investigated for its dealings with survivors.

    "What I see is vulnerable people being taken advantage of to the point where some of them, not all of them, but some of them are helpless and not being listened to wherever they try to take their concerns," Angeconeb told CBC News on Sunday.

    At least four survivors have reported various concerns to the Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat. The "information suggests the Keshen firm may have denied some IAP [Independent Assessment Process] claimants the full amounts of compensation for abuse suffered at Indian Residential Schools...," according to the Secretariat's website.

    A joint news release from Lac Seul and Angeconeb was expected to be issued later Monday night.

    'Never again'

    On Sunday, Angeconeb said his hunger strike was a show of solidarity with the survivors who sought justice for their abuse through the law firm and feel they were "re-victimized" in the process.

    "Really what this is about is to lend support to these people as they seek justice one more time," Angeconeb said. "Here we are as survivors thinking 'I thought we said never again' and here [they] are being hurt by someone else's actions."

    A news release from Lac Seul First Nation, dated Sept. 12, said the community has suspended ties with one of the partners in the firm, Doug Keshen, but not Will Major.

    "By suspending the services of Douglas Keshen, but not the entire firm, we are trying to find the right balance that serves the best interest of the entire membership," Chief Clifford Bull said in the release.

    But the chief said ending the relationship with Major would jeopardize an ongoing court case.

    "It's been my belief that you can't have one foot in the door, and the other out," Angeconeb said. "The First Nation really has to support the survivors as they pursue their own struggles, before supporting lawyers who've worked with the First Nation."

    Justice Murray Sinclair, the chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, helped mediate the dispute.

    Angeconeb is a diabetic who also has a muscular degenerative disease, so going without food and medications created significant risks.


  13. PTSD epidemic in aboriginal communities

    Residential school survivors among the many with common symptoms linked to the disorder


    Gerald Kiesman was a young First Nations man whose life was stable until a former National Hockey League player publicly confessed to abuse he had suffered as a child.

    Sheldon Kennedy’s revelations in the mid-1990s about being sexually abused by his hockey coach triggered memories for Kiesman, now 49, about the abuse he’d suffered himself when he was nine years old.

    The effect on his life was dramatic. He developed post-traumatic stress disorder and suffered flashbacks and anxiety.

    “It totally changed my way of living, it impacted my education, employment, sports and recreation activities,” he said.

    It also put him squarely among the large number of First Nations and residential school survivors battling the same affliction, at rates far higher than the widely publicized PTSD rates in the Canadian military.

    A report in the Journal of Aboriginal Health in 2009 noted that a 2003 study on B.C. residential school survivors put PTSD rates as high as 64 per cent. Some believe these rates are far higher in some First Nation communities.

    Michael Pond, an author, social worker and psychologist who has worked with First Nations communities for more than 40 years, estimates PTSD rates could be as high as 90 to 95 per cent. “It’s rampant, it’s epidemic, I believe.”

    By contrast, various studies have shown the prevalence of PTSD in the Canadian military is anywhere from two to 10 per cent.

    Kiesman’s first reaction to his flashbacks and anxiety was to head to his local health centre in Prince Rupert. The doctor’s only remedy was a prescription for antidepressants, which Kiesman later tore up.

    He had other ideas about how to release the negative energy inside him: His first outlet was writing and art.

    “I did journal writing and I did a lot of native art, and I’d never done native art before,” said Kiesman, whose mother’s ancestry is Haida from Old Massett Village.

    Turning his attention to researching and educating himself about PTSD, he moved to Victoria to take a professional counselling course, and later founded Restoring Balance Consulting, which provides workshops and training for First Nations communities dealing with trauma.

    Kiesman said that after coming to terms with his experiences, he’s now able to “focus on the future and moving ahead.” He said the workshops he’s done all across Western Canada have helped raise awareness about PTSD both in himself and in the communities he’s visited.

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  14. But he remains concerned about the lack of understanding of PTSD in First Nations communities, specifically the lack of education and resources available on the disorder.

    “When we go into a lot of First Nations health centres there’s posters on diabetes, cancer, HIV, AIDS, safe sex, quitting smoking — those are a lot of symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder — but we see very little information and awareness about what post-traumatic stress is and what it’s causing to the people,” said Kiesman.

    “A lot of these people are suffering intergenerational effects of the residential schools.”Both Pond and Sandra Olson, who works with the British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society, condemn the lack of sustained help for First Nations communities with high rates of PTSD.

    “Usually they parachute in these professional experts for a weekend or whatever, they do these fancy workshops, you pay them a ton of money and then they fly out,” said Pond.

    Olson said these flying visits sometimes do more harm than good, as they open old wounds without offering any real closure. “People would come in, from outside the community, they would do a couple of feel-good workshops, they’d make everyone start to feel good and then all of a sudden they’d leave, and some of the workshops really opened up some of these really bad memories.”

    Daria Shewchuk, a Metro Vancouver psychologist who has worked in First Nations communities, said one of the greatest causes of PTSD in them is “generations of residential school experiences.”

    Shewchuk said she saw first-hand the effects of residential schools while working on a reserve in northern Canada in the late 1970s and early ’80s at the start of her career.

    “These little kids would come in, they didn’t speak English, they were separated from their brothers and sisters. … The kids were kidnapped on the trap lines at the age of five by government officials and forced to go to school,” Shewchuk said. “I was horrified, I could not believe this was happening in Canada.”

    Richard Jock, vice-president of policy, planning and strategic services for the of the new B.C. First Nations Health Authority, said the organization is taking a number of measures to help First Nations groups struggling with PTSD and mental health issues. These include working more closely with regional authorities and trying to improve emergency reaction times for those in mental distress.

    “In every region, mental health has emerged as the No. 1 priority,” he said.The authority, the first provincewide health authority of its kind in Canada, in 2013 assumed the programs, services and responsibilities formerly handled by Health Canada’s First Nations Inuit Health Branch — Pacific Region.

    Tyler Hooper is a recipient of the Langara College School of Journalism’s Read/Mercer Fellowship, given annually to four deserving students to produce a piece of journalism that will add to the dialogue on an issue of public concern. The award is named in honour of Province columnist Jeani Read and her playwright husband Michael Mercer, both of whom believed in helping young journalists begin their careers.


  15. Truth is hard but residential school reconciliation harder: Murray Sinclair

    CBC News October 31, 2014

    Justice Murray Sinclair, head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, says reconciliation for survivors of residential school abuse starts in today's school system.

    That way, all Canadians can understand what it was like for those who lived through it, he told a standing-room-only crowd at the University of Manitoba on Thursday.

    “Aboriginal people have been oppressed in many ways that people just don’t understand and appreciate, including being traumatized by their experience in residential schools through physical, sexual abuse," he said, delivering the 2014 Knight Distinguished Visitor lecture.

    "Getting people to understand that will allow us to appreciate the significance of putting changes into our curriculum so that there's a more balanced approach to the teaching of Canadian history and about aboriginal people.”

    Sinclair was delivering the 2014 Knight Distinguished Visitor Lecture, titled: If you thought the truth was hard, reconciliation will be harder.

    Government-funded, church-run residential schools for aboriginal people in Canada date back to the 1870s. More than 130 residential schools were located across the country and the last closed in 1996.

    They were set up to eliminate parental involvement in the intellectual, cultural, and spiritual development of aboriginal children.

    During this era, more than 150,000 First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children were placed in these schools often against their parents' wishes. Many were forbidden to speak their language and practice their own culture. While there is an estimated 80,000 former students living today, the ongoing impact of residential schools has been felt throughout generations and has contributed to social problems that continue to exist.

    On June 11, 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper delivered a formal apology in the House of Commons to former students, their families, and communities for Canada's role in the operation of the residential schools.

    The TRC was created soon after with a a mandate to learn and inform all Canadians about what happened in the schools.

    The commission will document the truth of what happened by relying on records held by those who operated and funded the schools, testimony from officials of the institutions that operated the schools, and experiences reported by survivors, their families, communities and anyone personally affected by the residential school experience and its subsequent impacts.

    The TRC final report is due out in June 2015.


  16. Aboriginal children express pain differently: IWK research

    By Julia Wong Video Journalist Global News November 10, 2014

    WATCH: Researchers at the IWK are looking into the different ways Aboriginal children describe and express pain. They hope their findings help healthcare professionals better treat and assess Aboriginal patients. Julia Wong explains.

    HALIFAX – New research out of the IWK Health Centre aims to help Aboriginal children better express their pain and assist healthcare workers in better assessing and treating them.

    Dr. Margot Latimer, an associate professor at the Faculty of Healthcare Professionals at Dalhousie University and faculty member of the IWK’s Centre for Pediatric Pain Research, is the co-lead of the Aboriginal Children’s Hurt and Healing Initiative (ACHH). The project is believed to be the first of its kind in the country.

    Latimer and her team completed a project on the Eskasoni reserve interviewing children from Grade one to 12, their parents, health professionals and elders.

    “We learned a consistent theme,” she said. “Children are stoic with their pain and they hold it in. There seemed to be some relationships with the residential school experiences of their grandparents.”

    “They wouldn’t express themselves. They wouldn’t show it on their face. They wouldn’t cry so it’s desirable to be brave and tough out your pain.”

    But she said that impacted how the Aboriginal community interacted with the healthcare system.

    “We learned they feel frustrated at times. When they do seek treatment for their pain and hurt conditions, that they don’t feel satisfied with that. They don’t feel they’ve been able to convey their level of pain.”

    “We heard if they were hurt, there was a process of keeping it in, maybe keeping it to themselves and trying to deal with it themselves. It wasn’t condoned to talk about their hurt or their pain.”

    The findings are something Alan Syliboy is familiar with.

    The Mikmaq artist recalls going to the IWK as a child and finding the environment very intimidating.

    “For a Native child that has never been away from the community, it’s a very foreign environment. It was very difficult,” he said.

    “You sort of retreat and you’re not open.”

    Syliboy grew up to become an artist and now uses his paintings to express his feelings and emotions, such as pain.

    He is partnering with ACHH to reach out to Aboriginal youth and asking them to paint their pain. He describes his involvement with ACHH as a way to help bridge the gap between the Aboriginal and medical communities.

    “I can help Native children express themselves easier,” he said.”And on the other side, the medical profession can also be plugged in and be able to benefit as well.”

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  17. Latimer said she heard many stories of frustrated parents taking their children, who were in pain but were stoic, to the emergency department.

    “We teach health professionals to assessed pain based on [children's] facial expressions, their cry, their ability to describe their pain. But if you grow up in a household where pain isn’t discussed, where it’s desirable that you suppress your pain, that’s the way you’re going to be.”

    “So from a health professional perspective, if you’re looking in a room and you want to know who’s in the most pain and if a child is not expressing it, then that’s not a trigger for you to do anything about it. You’re going to take the child who’s crying first.”

    Latimer said Aboriginal community members felt they were being discriminated against in the healthcare system. She hopes her research helps better train doctors and nurses in triaging and assessing Aboriginal patients.

    Dr. Allen Finley, the director of the Centre for Pediatric Pain Research, said pain in children, ranging from acute pain from sickness to pain from needles and surgery, is already under-recognized and can often lead to short-term and long-term consequences.

    He adds Aboriginal communities are under-served and overlooked by the healthcare system, which can further complicate the situation.

    “We know that if you don’t treat acute pain well, you probably set up barriers to getting healthcare in the future. People are reluctant to come back to health professionals and hospitals if they have been hurt before,” Finley said.

    Kara Paul, a co-collaborator on the project and the head of the Aboriginal Health Sciences Initiative at Dalhousie University, said the discrepancy between how Aboriginal patients express pain and how the general public expresses pain needs to be addressed.

    “If their pain is not being picked up on or recognized, they’re not being fully assessed properly. That affects their lives,” she said.

    “Pain can be very debilitating. From our research, we found half of our students miss school due to pain. What happens is, when you focus on pain, it’s very difficult to learn other things.”

    She said better education about Aboriginal children’s pain experiences will help them in the long-term.

    “If we can recognize their pain early on and they’re not living with chronic pain, that can only enhance their school experience and their life experience all around.”

    Latimer said she is now expanding her research to include Aboriginal communities in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

    She hopes to one day expand it across the country to look for patterns and trends.

    A website for ACHH will launch later this week.


  18. Labrador residential school lawsuit postponed

    Warning: Some language in this story may be offensive

    CBC News Posted: Nov 18, 2014

    As the residential school class action lawsuit against Ottawa gets postponed in St. John's, one survivor says the Labrador school that was supposed to educate her turned into her prison.

    Former students of residential schools in Labrador were at the Supreme Court on Tuesday, expecting the trial against the federal government to go ahead, but the lawyers representing Newfoundland and Labrador, Moravian Mission and The Grenfell Association were not ready to proceed.

    Justice Robert Stack is set to decide on a new trial date on Monday. It will likely proceed in late 2015.

    Nora Ford was five years old when she first attended the residential schools in North West River and Cartwright, where she went for 10 years, and says her mother thought she turned her daughter over to be educated and get a chance at a better life — but that's not what happened.

    "There are no words. I can't describe how it felt — it was just as if I died," she said. "I wanted to run away from the time I got there."

    Ford said there was abundant name-calling that eventually changed the way she saw herself and her heritage.

    "When someone is calling you a dirty S'kimo, or blackie, or huskimoo or [N-word], the words that they used to describe us or make fun of us, it destroyed us. Literally destroyed the Inuit culture within you," said Ford.

    "By 13, I was very ashamed of what I was. I rejected my Inuit ancestry, I denied everything. I didn't even want to be seen with my mother in public, that's what it did to me."

    Ford said she was a prisoner at the place meant to be her school, and was even forced to eat porridge she had thrown up into her bowl.

    Waiting for apology

    In 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued an apology and a compensation package for survivors of Canada's residential school system. However, lawyers for the federal government said it wasn't responsible for schools in St. Anthony, Cartwright, North West River, Makkovik and Nain.

    People in this province launched a class-action lawsuit to get an apology and compensation package.

    Ford said she was "insulted" that people from Labrador were excluded from the apology.

    "I said this isn't even for us. Labrador people are invited here. I said, you know what this this is. I'm a token Inuk here," she said.

    "I want an apology, and I want to be validated because all these things that we have gone through, all the punishment and cruelty that was inflicted on us and that was allowed to be done to us at the hands of people who were supposed to take care of us and nurture us."

    Justice Stack will release his decision on Nov. 24 on a new date for the trial to begin.


  19. NOTE FROM PERRY BULWER: the following excerpt from a New Republic magazine article shed further light on the issues discussed in the article posted above at: 13 November 2014 16:13 "Aboriginal children express pain differently: IWK research". That research found a consistent theme: “Children are stoic with their pain and they hold it in. There seemed to be some relationships with the residential school experiences of their grandparents.”


    The Science of Suffering

    Kids are inheriting their parents' trauma. Can science stop it?

    By Judith Shulevitz, New Republic November 16, 2014

    Lowell, Massachusetts, a former mill town of the red-brick-and-waterfall variety 25 miles north of Boston, has proportionally more Cambodians and Cambodian-Americans than nearly any other city in the country: as many as 30,000, out of a population of slightly more than 100,000. These are largely refugees and the families of refugees from the Khmer Rouge, the Maoist extremists who, from 1975 to 1979, destroyed Cambodia’s economy; shot, tortured, or starved to death nearly two million of its people; and forced millions more into a slave network of unimaginably harsh labor camps. Lowell’s Cambodian neighborhood is lined with dilapidated rowhouses and stores that sell liquor behind bullet-proof glass, although the town’s leaders are trying to rebrand it as a tourist destination: “Little Cambodia.”

    At Arbour Counseling Services, a clinic on a run-down corner of central Lowell, 95 percent of the Cambodians who come in for help are diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. (In Cambodia itself, an estimated 14.2 percent of people who were at least three years old during the Pol Pot period have the disorder.) Their suffering is palpable. When I visited Arbour, I met a distraught woman in her forties whom I’ll call Sandy. She was seven when she was forced into the jungle and 14 when she came to the United States, during which time she lived in a children’s camp, nearly starved to death, watched as her father was executed, and was struck in the ear by a soldier’s gun. She interspersed her high-pitched, almost rehearsed-sounding recitation of horrors past with complaints about the present. She couldn’t concentrate, sleep at night, or stop ruminating on the past. She “thinks too much,” a phrase that is common when Cambodians talk about PTSD. After she tried to kill herself while pregnant, her mother took Sandy’s two daughters and raised them herself. But they have not turned out well, in Sandy’s opinion. They are hostile and difficult, she says. They fight their grandmother and each other, so bitterly that the police have been called. They both finished college and one is a pharmacist and the other a clerk in an electronics store. But, she says, they speak to her only to curse her. (The daughters declined to talk to me.)

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  20. On the whole, the children of Cambodian survivors have not enjoyed the upward mobility of children of immigrants from other Asian countries. More than 40 percent of all Cambodian-Americans lack a high school diploma. Only slightly more than 10 percent have a bachelor’s degree. The story of Tom Sun, a soft-spoken, pop-star-dapper thirtysomething (he doesn’t know his exact age) is emblematic, except, perhaps, in how well he’s doing now. His mother was pregnant with him during the Khmer Rouge years. His father died before the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia and drove the Khmer Rouge back into the jungle. When he was very young, he, his mother, and a little brother made their way from a Thai refugee camp to the United States and eventually settled in Lowell. The two boys and two other brothers, born after they arrived in the United States, were left to raise themselves. Illiterate and shattered, their mother gambled, cried, and yelled at her sons. “My mother, she’s loud,” Sun told me. “She’s got a very mean tone. I still hear it in my head.” His stepfather, a mechanic, also a survivor and also illiterate, beat them until welts striped their bodies. By the time Sun should have entered seventh grade, he had joined the Tiny Rascals, perhaps the largest Asian American street gang in the United States. “It was comforting,” he says. “We weren’t into drugs or alcohol.” They were into being a substitute family. They were also into guns. Sun was involved in a shooting that led to a stint in prison, which led to a GED, some college credits, and some serious reflection on his future. He left the gang in his mid-twenties. His brothers were not so lucky. Two of them are serving life sentences for murder.

    The children of the traumatized have always carried their parents’ suffering under their skin. “For years it lay in an iron box buried so deep inside me that I was never sure just what it was,” is how Helen Epstein, the American daughter of survivors of Auschwitz and Theresienstadt, began her book Children of the Holocaust, which launched something of a children-of-survivors movement when it came out in 1979. “I knew I carried slippery, combustible things more secret than sex and more dangerous than any shadow or ghost.” But how did she come by these things? By what means do the experiences of one generation insinuate themselves into the next?

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  21. Traditionally psychiatrists have cited family dynamics to explain the vicarious traumatization of the second generation. Children may absorb parents’ psychic burdens as much by osmosis as from stories. They infer unspeakable abuse and losses from parental anxiety or harshness of tone or clinginess—parents whose own families have been destroyed may be unwilling to let their children grow up and leave them. Parents may tell children that their problems amount to nothing compared with what they went through, which has a certain truth to it, but is crushing nonetheless. “Transgenerational transmission is when an older person unconsciously externalizes his traumatized self onto a developing child’s personality,” in the words of psychiatrist and psychohistorian Vamik Volkan. “A child then becomes a reservoir for the unwanted, troublesome parts of an older generation.” This, for decades, was the classic psychoanalytic formulation of the child-of-survivors syndrome.

    But researchers are increasingly painting a picture of a psychopathology so fundamental, so, well, biological, that efforts to talk it away can seem like trying to shoot guns into a continent, in Joseph Conrad’s unforgettable image from Heart of Darkness. By far the most remarkable recent finding about this transmogrification of the body is that some proportion of it can be reproduced in the next generation. The children of survivors—a surprising number of them, anyway—may be born less able to metabolize stress. They may be born more susceptible to PTSD, a vulnerability expressed in their molecules, neurons, cells, and genes.

    After a century of brutalization and slaughter of millions, the corporeal dimension of trauma gives a startling twist to the maxim that history repeats itself. Yael Danieli, the author of an influential reference work on the multigenerational dimensions of trauma, refers to the physical transmission of the horrors of the past as “embodied history.” Of course, biological legacy doesn’t predetermine the personality or health of any one child. To say that would be to grossly oversimplify the socioeconomic and geographic and irreducibly personal forces that shape a life. At the same time, it would be hard to overstate the political import of these new findings. People who have been subject to repeated, centuries-long violence, such as African Americans and Native Americans, may by now have disadvantage baked into their very molecules. The sociologist Robert Merton spoke of the “Matthew Effect,” named after verse 25:29 of the Book of Matthew: “For unto every one that hath shall be given ... but from him that hath not shall be taken.” Billie Holiday put it even better: “Them that’s got shall have; them that’s not shall lose.”

    But daunting as this research is to contemplate, it is also exciting. It could help solve one of the enduring mysteries of human inheritance: Why do some falter and others thrive? Why do some children reap the whirlwind, while other children don’t? If the intergenerational transmission of trauma can help scientists understand the mechanics of risk and resilience, they may be able to offer hope not just for individuals but also for entire communities as they struggle to cast off the shadow of the past.

    continue reading the full article at:



    Indigenous Corporate Training, November 14, 2014

    There has been some discussion in the media recently about residential school people having post traumatic stress disorder, sometimes referred to as the residential school syndrome. The term was coined by Dr. Charles Brasfield, a psychiatrist in British Columbia, to describe the symptoms presented by some Aboriginal people who attended residential schools. While the symptoms are similar to post traumatic stress disorder, the cause is very different.

    Between the 1870s and 1996, approximately 150,000 children attended 142 residential schools. The schools were federally administered but managed by Anglican, Catholic, Presbyterian and United churches. The intent of the schools was to assimilate, integrate, and educate Aboriginal children into the colonizer society. Children as young as four were forcibly removed from their families and communities, were forbidden to speak their language, dress in their own clothes, or practice their culture, and were punished if they did so. The children were forced to do manual labour, were poorly fed and in some situations, food was withheld for malnutrition experiments. Parents who tried to shield and hide their children were punished, sometimes imprisoned. Children were allowed to return home for holidays but always with a warning of what would befall the parents if the children were not returned.

    Despite being in “school” many children received a substandard education. They were supposed to be instructed in math, science and English but frequently were out of the classroom for chores or punishment; also, according to a Department of Indian Affairs (now Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development), over 40% of the teaching staff did not have professional training as teachers.

    When those children, after years of being forced to behave, speak and think like European Canadians, did return to their family and community as young adults they frequently did not fit in. Their connection with their culture was either damaged or lost altogether, same with their language, their connection with the land, with oral traditions. Because they had not experienced parental love or nurturing, they in turn did not know how to love or nurture their own children. Because they had suffered abuse and trauma many learned to abuse others in order to survive.

    When approximately 150,000 children experience trauma, physical and emotional abuse, shame, neglect, feelings of abandonment (neither they nor their parents understood why the children were being taken), marginalization (from their community and society) and racism and all of that is unresolved, those experiences and emotions are internalized. Those internalized emotions manifest as depression, anxiety, addiction, suicidal inclinations, rage, and mental illnesses - this is residential school syndrome.

    The Truth and Reconciliation Commission spent four years travelling across the country gathering statements from survivors on the effects of their experiences in residential schools. In June 2015, a report detailing those effects will be released.

    This can be a very difficult topic to discuss and it makes many non-Aboriginal people uncomfortable when challenged with statements about residential schools. In my workshops I discuss residential schools and appropriate responses. Contact us to learn more about our workshops - we can customize them to fit your particular needs.

    Here are 23 things to not say or do:


  23. Vanishing Voices

    Home for millennia to the majority of Canada’s Native tongues, BC has recently been designated an endangered language hotspot.

    By Lori Thicke, MFA’86, UBC TREK Magazine December 2014

    “It’s lonely when you’re one of the last speakers,” says Michele Johnson, PhD’14. “You’ve got no one left to talk to.” At the age of 46, Johnson has found her life’s work – her chawt – in saving the nsyilxcən language from dying out with the last few elders who speak it natively.

    Johnson is a language activist, a language teacher and a passionate advocate for indigenous languages. One of UBC Okanagan’s first two Aboriginal PhD graduates, she learned the language of her father’s nation through the remaining elders. Now she is trying to create enough new speakers to bring it back from the brink of extinction.

    After two years of intensive study, Johnson is an intermediate speaker of nsyilxcən – also known as Okanagan, or Interior Salish – and sufficiently proficient to teach a community class of adults – plus, as she puts it, “one extremely persistent 13‑year‑old.”

    With fewer than 100 native speakers of nsyilxcən left, this work couldn’t be timelier. But nsyilxcən isn’t the only language at risk. All Aboriginal languages across Canada are considered endangered.

    First Nations, First Languages
    Before the arrival of the European settlers, North America was home to hundreds of indigenous tongues. Even though many have now disappeared due to colonization, there are still more living languages in Canada and the United States than in Europe. The Ethnologue – a catalogue of the world’s languages – counts 313 Native languages north of the Mexican border versus 280 for all of Europe.

    In 2011, the national census reported more than 60 Aboriginal languages in Canada. Over half of them are found in just one province; British Columbia’s coasts and valleys have been home, for millennia, to the majority of Canada’s Native tongues.

    BC’s pocket of linguistic richness has attracted the attention of National Geographic, which, along with the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages, recently designated the province as one of the most endangered language hotspots on the planet, threat level: severe.

    The “hotspot” designation refers not only to the sheer number of languages at risk, many of which were traditionally spoken in a single valley, but also to the unusual linguistic diversity. BC’s indigenous languages come from seven distinct language families, with two isolates (languages possessing no known relatives), compared with just three language families in Europe (with Basque as the sole language isolate).

    For people like Michele Johnson, this diversity of languages, almost unparalleled in the world, is a heritage worth preserving.

    Kill the Language to Kill the Culture
    First Nations communities lost everyday use of their languages over the course of the last century, when generations of children as young as five were taken from their families and confined in residential schools whose main purpose was to assimilate them by cutting them off from their culture and their language. Punishments for children who were caught speaking their own language, even if they knew no other, included beatings, shaming, food deprivation and needles shoved in their tongues.

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  24. In the book Stolen from our Embrace, former Musqueam Nation chief George Guerin recalls that “Sister Marie Baptiste had a supply of sticks as long and thick as pool cues. When she heard me speak my language, she’d lift up her hands and bring the stick down on me. I’ve still got bumps and scars on my hands. I have to wear special gloves because the cold weather really hurts my hands.”

    According to Patricia Shaw, founding chair of the UBC First Nations Languages Program and a professor in the Department of Anthropology, “the residential schools very frequently would not only refuse to let the kids speak their languages to each other – and they came in monolingual – but they also spoke of the languages as being primitive, as the language of the devil, so the children internalized those beliefs. Now they are beginning to see that these languages are rich and a unique cultural heritage. But that psychological trauma of having had their personal and cultural identities so devalued has had a huge impact.”

    This failed policy of residential schools, the subject of a recent exhibition at UBC’s Museum of Anthropology, all but wiped out the indigenous languages. The scars can still be seen today in Canada’s Native communities, which suffer disproportionately from poverty, marginalization, violence, addiction, malnutrition and suicide. A 2013 study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and Save the Children Canada found that half of status First Nations children live in poverty. In a 2011 fact sheet, the Assembly of First Nations concluded that “a First Nation youth is more likely to end up in jail than to graduate high school” and that “suicide rates among First Nation youth are five to seven times higher than other young non‑Aboriginal Canadians.”

    In 2007, researchers Michael Chandler and Darcy Hallett from UBC and Christopher Lalonde from UVic found a correlation between Aboriginal language knowledge and youth suicide. In communities where fewer than 50 per cent of the elders retained some knowledge of their language, they found that young people were six times more likely to take their own lives.

    Youth suicide is a powerful indicator of extreme community distress, and the researchers found language health was the strongest of six key indicators of community health. The youth suicide rate “effectively dropped to zero in those few communities in which at least half the band members reported a conversational knowledge of their own ‘Native’ language.”

    Musqueam elder and UBC adjunct professor Larry Grant is not surprised by this finding. “The importance of language is that it grounds the youth, and the ones without language don’t have something to ground them,” he says.

    Like Johnson with nsyilxcən, Grant is engaged in his own battle to preserve his language after the last native speaker of the Musqueam dialect of hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ (Halkomelem) died in 2002. “The major challenge,” he says, echoing Johnson on the loneliness of the last speakers, “is that we don’t have speakers, and the ones that are trying to speak don’t have anyone to speak to.”

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  25. Grant who was born and raised in the Musqueam territory, co‑teaches with Shaw at UBC, but originally joined the First Nations Languages Program in 1998 as a student after retiring from a 40‑year career as a tradesman. On completing his second year, he was offered a contract to teach.

    Gerry Lawson also sees a strong community imperative for revitalizing Aboriginal languages. A member of the Heiltsuk First Nation, Lawson is the coordinator for the Oral History and Language Lab at UBC’s Museum of Anthropology. Working on a project called Indigitization, funded by the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre at UBC, Lawson has assembled a toolkit to digitize First Nations oral history and language to preserve them for future generations.

    “Facilitating cultural and language revitalization is really facilitating community health,” says Lawson. “I grew up in a fairly unhealthy environment in the ’70s. [With revitalization] I’ve seen the health of those communities become stronger and stronger. Language is directly related to culture. Who you are can only be expressed properly in your own language.”

    Linguistic Diversity, Biodiversity

    Languages are not only important for community identity. They also reflect the unique connection between people and their environment. There may not be 21 words for snow in Inuit, as the apocryphal story goes, but there are certainly 11 words for rain in Squamish, including raining continuously (lhelhmxw), raining hard (timitsut), be pouring rain (yixwementsut) and not be raining so hard (chay).

    According to linguist K. David Harrison, co‑founder, along with Greg Anderson, of the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages, the areas of highest linguistic diversity (defined as the greatest number of languages per square kilometre) also tend to be areas with the highest biodiversity. Languages in danger can be a clear sign of an environment in distress.

    Indigenous languages contain ancient knowledge about the natural environment that could help protect biodiversity. “In languages there are invested millennia of environmentally contextualized knowledge systems that the indigenous peoples who speak those languages have acquired,” says Shaw. Ancient languages don’t just encode names but also complex information, as in the way “poison ivy” is both a name and a description.

    A local example of ancient knowledge surpassing modern scientific knowledge can be seen in the classification of salmon. In the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ language of the Musqueam, cutthroat trout and steelhead trout are not classified in the trout genus but as salmon. It took a while, but modern science has caught up. According to Shaw, “not until the 1980s did Western genetic scientists working with fish species discover that these two species of so‑called trout are actually salmon.”

    But when languages become extinct, the knowledge they contain disappears as well – knowledge that could well help us protect biodiversity, maybe even find a life‑saving new drug.

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  26. Hope for the Future
    Today, efforts are gaining speed to save BC’s First Nations languages while there is still time. Across the province, teachers and language activists like Johnson, Shaw and Grant are paving the way for motivated learners to bring their languages back.

    “The interest is beginning to grow,” says Grant. “Right now a lot of things are happening around the value of indigenous knowledge, cultural activities, spirituality and, most important of all, self‑identity.” He pauses. “I love seeing the light go on with young people, the ah‑ha moment: ‘This is who I am.’”

    Novel approaches are being taken by some language activists, usually second‑language speakers themselves. Khelsilem (formerly known as Dustin Rivers), for example, is working to revitalize his own language, which has just eight native speakers left. He is planning to spend a year in a language house with three other “twentysomethings,” who will speak only sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) to each other. He is also the founder of squamishlanguage.com. By creating fluent speakers among 18‑ to 30‑year‑olds, Khelsilem’s goal is parents who will raise their families speaking Squamish so “our children’s first language (will be) the same as our great‑grandparents’.”

    According to Bill Poser, adjunct professor of linguistics at UBC, there is still hope for bringing the First Nations languages back from near death. It happened with Hebrew. “Hebrew ceased to be the language of daily communication for the great majority of Jews around 300 BC,” says Poser. “Hebrew survived as a language that people could read, but for the most part it was not a language that people spoke.” Then, in the late 19th century, “a few people decided they were going to use Hebrew at home. Newspapers were published in Hebrew, people started speaking Hebrew with their children, and today Hebrew has come back as the language of daily life in Israel.”

    Saving BC’s dying Native languages is a way to help restore communities to health by returning what was, in a very real sense, stolen. It is also a political choice. Says Shaw: “Language is political. It’s political whether we use English or French. Some communities that have held onto the language use it as their secret language; the Nisga’a were known for using the language to talk among themselves while in treaty negotiations to strategize on their own.”

    Grant agrees. “Language is very political. If you examine whenever indigenous language is used at a rally or a political event, look at what the response is. It can be visceral.”

    Political they may be, but most of all the languages are an irreplaceable heritage. “Who else speaks these languages in the entire world?” asks Shaw. “They are complex systems with rich spiritual traditions – a unique legacy. No one else in the world speaks Haida natively other than those who live in Haida Gwaii. It’s very special.”

    Find out more about UBC’s First Nations Language Program: fnlg.arts.ubc.ca.


  27. Sixties Scoop case moves forward as class action lawsuit

    CBC News December 03, 2014

    The Ontario Superior Court has dismissed an appeal by the Canadian government to strike a landmark case on the deprivation of cultural identity — also known as the “Sixties Scoop" of First Nations children.

    The case can now proceed as a class action lawsuit.

    “For the first time in Western law, a court has recognized our First Nations’ connection to our culture as a whole, and not as specific Aboriginal land, fishing or hunting interests, and that our peoples’ connection to our culture is an interest that cannot be disputed,” said Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Deputy Grand Chief Goyce Kakegamic.

    Between 1965 and 1985 an estimated 16,000 Aboriginal children in Ontario, including members of NAN First Nations, were removed from their homes and placed in other — mostly non-native — communities, NAN said in a press release issued Wednesday.

    “An entire generation lost its Aboriginal identity and culture through what is known as the “Sixties Scoop,” the release stated.

    “This is the first time a court in the Western world has given this importance to cultural identity and granted permission for a legal case to proceed where a people were robbed of their cultural identity.”

    Marcia Brown Martel — now Chief of Beaverhouse First Nation — and Robert Commanda launched a lawsuit in February 2009 against the Attorney General of Canada under the Class Proceedings Act.

    Prior to Tuesday’s decision, two judges had ruled in favour of the class action proceeding, allowing Chief Brown to be a representative plaintiff for Sixties Scoop survivors in Ontario.

    “It has been a difficult path to litigation for these courageous plaintiffs and we will continue to support their efforts to hold the federal government accountable for transgressions that have permanently scarred countless First Nations,” Kakegamic said.

    “It has taken a long time, but it is a beginning.”

    So far there has been no comment from the federal government on the ruling.

    The ruling follows.

    See document at:


  28. A lost tribe

    Child welfare system accused of repeating residential school history

    by Adrian Humphreys | National Post December 15, 2014

    Elders from the Wabaseemoong First Nation in north-western Ontario remember the bus that drove around their reserve picking up children and shuttling them to a waiting plane for a 345 kilometre flight north to Sandy Lake, a remote community with no outside road link, except for ice roads built on frozen lakes and rivers during the winter.

    “When the planes landed at the dock, families there were told they could come down and pick out a kid,” said Theresa Stevens, executive director of Anishinaabe Abinoojii Family Services, the current child protection provider for Wabaseemoong.

    Such mass apprehension of children from troubled Wabaseemoong, including those flights in the 1970s, have been draining the reserve of its youth for decades, until, in 1990, the community had had enough.

    A band council resolution was passed: the Children’s Aid Society was forbidden from entering the reserve.

    “They stood at the reserve line on tractors with shotguns saying ‘You aren’t coming into our community and taking any more of our children,’ ” said Ms. Stevens.

    The situation was desperate: a third of the reserve’s kids were in foster care; the dip in school-age children made teachers redundant.

    “From that day forward they’ve assumed more and more control over their children,” said Ms. Stevens.

    In that community near the Ontario-Manitoba border, known in English as Whitedog, standoffs and feuds preceded a new sense of stability. Ms. Steven’s agency has been handling child welfare since 2001, and doing it with the province’s approval since 2006.

    “We went from having almost 300 children in care to where we are down to just slightly over 100 for that community. And that is huge,” she said.

    A Wabaseemoong elder, Eli Carpenter, poignantly told her the difference it has made. One day he was struck by the uplifting sound of children playing; so many kids had been taken it had been years since he had heard that.

    “That’s when we finally started to know we were making inroads and changing the tide of what had happened,” said Ms. Stevens.

    Wabaseemoong is not yet a place to be pointed to as a universal model of success in tackling the problems of aboriginal child welfare, but it stands as a marker of hope and a portrait of the hard journey native child welfare reform takes.

    Today, after the public apologies and restitution over the government’s residential school system, disproportionately high rates of aboriginal child apprehensions continue across Canada.

    “There are more First Nation children in care today than during the height of residential schools,” said Shawn Atleo, former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. “We cannot lose another generation to the mistakes of the past. First Nations are the youngest and fastest growing segment of the population. We are the future. This is about Canada’s future.”

    Goyce Kakegamic, a residential school survivor who is now deputy grand chief for the Nishnawbe Aski Nation — covering two-thirds of Ontario in an arc from Quebec to Manitoba — said it is the missing children of today, not just of the past, sapping vitality from native communities.

    “So many of our children have been taken away they are like a lost tribe,” Mr. Kakegamic said.

    While all child welfare systems in Canada face challenges, the added complexities of aboriginal child welfare bring a seemingly unbearable quandary.

    About 15% of kids in care in Canada are aboriginal, despite natives comprising only 3% of the population; children on reserves are close to eight times more likely than other children to be taken into care.

    continued below

  29. These statistics alone suggest a problem worthy of attention, but they are coupled with studies saying a majority of native child apprehensions are not over allegations of abuse but, rather, concerns of neglect — with serious questions of what role culture and poverty plays in defining neglect.

    “The child protection system for aboriginal children and youth is broken,” said John Beaucage, who was the first Aboriginal Advisor to Ontario’s Minister of Children and Youth Services.

    “We see the same type of things repeating: aboriginal children taken away from their community, taken away from their culture and usually … these children find themselves, as adults, trying to figure out who they are, where they belong and are somewhat lost.

    “We, as a country, have been repeating the same mistakes over and over again.”

    Among those mistakes: not doing enough to tackle root causes that lead to legitimate child apprehension; not finding ways of keeping more native children out of state care by ending unnecessary apprehensions; and finding a balance between meeting demands for aboriginal cultural integrity while maintaining critical standards of care.

    “If we keep on doing the same old stupid things, we’re not going to see it stop,” said Mr. Beaucage. “We’re going to see it continue to rise without real benefit and without real change.”


    In 1955, the federal Indian Act was changed to allow provincial laws to apply on native reserves and the provinces then went into the business of providing aboriginal child welfare services, although funded by Ottawa.

    “We had social workers untrained in the experience of First Nations people; they’d walk onto these reserves, see all this poverty and devastation and children from the residential school system — who are now parents — in a lot of trauma and, instead of seeing that for what it was, they removed the kids all over again,” said Cindy Blackstock, the Executive Director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada and an associate professor at the University of Alberta.

    The federal policy ushered in what is referred to now as the “60s Scoop,” when an estimated 20,000 native children were taken for foster care and adoption, primarily into non-aboriginal families in Canada, United States and Europe.

    In 1973, the Siksika First Nation, east of Calgary, became the first band to kick provincial child protection workers off their territory and start their own agency. Manitoba bands soon followed.

    There are now 108 aboriginal agencies in Canada mandated to handle child welfare services; at least one in every province except Prince Edward Island and with none in the northern territories.

    More are on the horizon. In Ontario, for instance, the seven mandated aboriginal children’s aid societies will almost double if six “pre-mandated” agencies gain full authority; two are on the verge of full mandate status.

    Meanwhile, the demands to recognize native culture in child welfare are becoming codified.

    In Ontario, the Child and Family Services Act was amended in 2006, requiring child protection workers to ask whether a child has Indian status so that it can be taken into account in care decisions.

    In Manitoba, where 80% of children in care are aboriginal, the Authorities Act now states that values, customs and traditional communities must be respected in cases involving aboriginal people.

    And last year in Nunavut, where the population is mostly Inuit, the Child and Family Services Act was revised to allow interpretation according to Inuit societal values.

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  30. Along the way, the federal government has tinkered with funding in a patchwork approach with provinces: Ontario struck the Indian Welfare Agreement in 1965, allowing the province to bill Ottawa for services it provided for First Nations, although at about 93-cents on the dollar. A funding directive covered the rest of Canada from 1991 until 2007 when Ottawa unveiled an Enhanced Funding formula that brought new money to Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.

    All child protection agencies across Canada start their cases based on a range of suspected maltreatment, including physical, sexual or emotional abuse. Increasingly, children are apprehended without evidence of actual maltreatment but, rather, for concern over neglect, substance abuse, lifestyle or living conditions.

    That can hit native families particularly hard.

    “It is quite heartbreaking,” said Katherine Hensel, a lawyer who has represented First Nations and aboriginal organizations across Canada.

    “First Nation families are still experiencing the wrongful taking of their children on spurious grounds. There is still widespread, unnecessary and unwarranted removal of children.

    “Many, many loving and perfectly good aboriginal homes don’t meet a province’s standard of requirements for being foster homes. There are different cultural norms on how children should be raised,” said Ms. Hensel.

    Practices by many aboriginal people — such as parent-child co-sleeping, shared housing and multi-generational responsibility for childrearing — are often seen in social work as signs of dysfunction.

    “If we deem a home to be a good home and a safe place for a child — but it might not meet all the provincial standards — we try to be as flexible and creative as we can,” said Ms. Stevens, from Anishinaabe Abinoojii Family Services.

    While such flexibility and creativity may solve short-term problems, Ms. Blackstock wants long-term solutions. Her organization, along with the Assembly of First Nations, filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission in 2007 with the aim of prying more money from Ottawa. The complaint says the government discriminates against aboriginal children living on reserves by providing less funding than is available for non-native children.

    Ottawa funds child welfare for on-reserve First Nations while the provinces fund child welfare for non-native children. The gap between the two funding models is estimated to be 22%, the hearing heard.

    Ottawa fought to quash the case but the tribunal pressed ahead, holding 72 hearing days in Ottawa ending in October. A decision is expected by the spring.

    Answers may come from other directions, too.

    Mr. Kakegamic was born in Keewaywin First Nation in Northern Ontario and has experienced a spectrum of native life, raised on the land in a traditional lifestyle by his extended family and also placed in a residential school. He is university educated and now responsible for social services for member bands across northern Ontario — most remote, fly-in only reserves with poor infrastructure.

    “We don’t need someone with a PhD to come and tell us what the problems are. We know what the problems are. Because they end up in child care, they end up in drugs and alcohol,” he said; feelings of “futurelessness” lead to high youth suicide rates. “It wounded us to our core and sometimes it is hard to move forward when you are wounded.

    “But the answers do not all come from Ottawa.

    “We need to look at ourselves. We can do more as a community. We can do more as parents… it’s not only more money and more resources.”

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  31. He wants to strengthen and expand aboriginal child welfare agencies in his territory and push more resources into prevention and early intervention.

    “We have the skill, we have the capacity, we have the experience — now give us the way to help our own people.”


    Moving toward aboriginal jurisdiction over child welfare is not a quick fix.

    Last year, a joint Edmonton Journal-Calgary Herald investigation found that, proportionately, more children died in the care of an on-reserve Delegated First Nations Agency than in Alberta’s Children and Family Services Agency.

    The continuing problems of aboriginals in the child welfare system also became a focus in Manitoba with the inquiry into the death of Phoenix Sinclair, a 5-year-old native girl who died in 2005 after abuse in her mother’s home on Fisher River reserve, north of Winnipeg, three months after returning to her mother’s care.

    Even after the intense public attention of the inquiry, gaps in native child welfare still invite tragedy, including 15-year-old Tina Fontaine of Sagkeeng First Nation who was in the care of a Child and Family Services agency in Winnipeg and, within a month, her body found sexually abused and wrapped in plastic in the city’s Red River.

    Galvanized by another tragedy, the government has announced another round of changes.

    Ms. Stevens, from Anishinaabe Abinoojii, said aboriginal agencies have two concurrent goals: “We have a mandate that is both from the government but also from our First Nations. We’re not just in the business of child welfare, we are also in the business of rebuilding our nation by rebuilding our families.”

    A year ago, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, B.C.’s Representative for Children and Youth, released a scathing report on the province’s aboriginal child welfare, calling it a “colossal failure of public policy.” She said the province spent at least $66 million on “talking” about problems “without a single child being actually served.”

    Moving toward new aboriginal agencies is part of the adjustment agencies need to make, said Mary Ballantyne, Executive Director of the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies, where the boardroom is decorated by a quotation from Sitting Bull, the Indian chief who led the native resistance at Little Big Horn.

    “More and more, there is recognition that we need to find unique solutions in unique community circumstances.

    “But we also need to make sure that the kids are OK. Aboriginal parents don’t want their kids in appalling conditions anymore than anybody else wants their kids in appalling conditions.”

    Nico Trocmé, director of the McGill Centre for Research on Children and Families in Montreal, said he supports First Nations control over child welfare services—“with one enormous caveat: Simply dumping those services on First Nations communities and not providing the funding and resources needed is not going to change much of anything.”

    “It is not going to be a quick and dirty solution,” said Mr. Beaucage, the former Ontario aboriginal advisor. “A lot of governments, they want a solution before the next election. You have to gauge your success by a different timeframe.

    “The solution is not measured in months or years but maybe in ten years, or tens of years.”

    see links, photos and videos at:


  32. Stephen Harpers comments on missing, murdered aboriginal women show 'lack of respect'

    Prime minister says national inquiry not high on government's radar

    By Tanya Kappo, Opinion, CBC News December 19, 2014

    In a span of a week, the Conservative government confirmed their feelings of indifference, disregard and utter lack of respect for indigenous people.

    It seems that their contempt is solely aimed at First Nation men, First Nation women, and First Nation girls.

    This is the very attitude that underlies the government legislation and (non) actions that have resulted in tragic consequences suffered by First Nation people for generations.

    The Indian Act. The Indian Residential School. Child Welfare. Theft of land. Theft of children. Theft of identity. Theft of existence. Genocide by legislation.

    This, coupled with deeply entrenched stereotypes, bears life and death consequences of violence, self violence, community violence, societal violence, and systemic violence.

    And it's the indigenous women and girls who suffer the brunt of this – going missing and being murdered in epidemic proportions in neighbourhoods, streets and highways in every part of this country.

    This very heavy, dark and painful truth is a reality that affects every single person who calls Canada home.

    Yet, in the very words of the prime minister: "… it isn't really high on our radar, to be honest."

    And when he weakly tried to defend the efforts of his government, the Harper distinctly removed himself completely from the equation.

    "Our ministers will continue to dialogue with those who are concerned about this," he said.

    There are many who are concerned about this. Many who have lent their voices to call on the Conservative government for a national inquiry. Towns, cities, police forces, schools, unions, artists, musicians and families of those who've lost their mother, sister, daughter, auntie or grandma.

    More than 1,200 human lives inexplicably gone, stolen. Children left motherless. Mothers left daughterless. And grandmas and aunties, gone.

    Not just an issue on reserves

    The prime minister continually says his government is making new laws, taking action and wants to ensure everyone is afforded the same protections.

    Yet there is no evidence whatsoever that these new laws (applicable only to First Nations on reserve) have made any difference in the face of this crisis.

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  33. The Conservative government seems to be committed to making Canadians believe the violence is attributed only to First Nation men, on reserves. Minister of Aboriginal Affairs Bernard Valcourt recently made a comment in this regard, but in doing so, put his finger squarely on the problem.

    "Obviously, there's a lack of respect for women and girls on reserves," he said. "So you know, if the guys grow up believing that women have no rights, that is how they are treated."

    It would seem that it's the Conservative government's attitude he is describing, not the attitude of First Nations men on reserves.

    Lack of respect? Absolutely.

    If someone grows up believing that others don't have rights, then they treat them as if they don't have rights? Yes, yes indeed.

    The Conservative government does not believe First Nation people have rights, and make their profound lack of respect painfully clear.

    Harper assault a travesty, not a 'situation'

    Recently, Rinelle Harper, who survived a brutal assault, challenged everyone to push for a national inquiry. And to that, Valcourt, gave a response that made me sick to my stomach.

    "Listen, Rinelle, I have a lot of sympathy for your situation. And I guess that victims … have different views and we respect them," he said.
    Rinelle is 16 years old. She is still a child. A child who survived a brutal physical and sexual assault meant to kill her and the aboriginal affairs minister refers to the assault as her "situation."

    It should never be OK to refer to such a brutal act as a situation, let alone one that was inflicted on a child.

    To allow the federal government to continue this approach is to accept the same results – more missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.

    I do not believe that this is what Canadians want.

    A national inquiry must be part of the action taken. Together.

    Indigenous people will always take responsibility for what belongs to them, including fault when appropriate and will always work towards solutions for the benefit of all.

    It's time Canadians demand their government do the same.


  34. Brandon experiments exposed

    Residential school kids ESP test subjects in ’40s

    By: Alexandra Paul Winnipeg Free Press January 12, 2015

    Children at the Brandon Indian Residential School were test subjects of extra-sensory-perception experiments during the Second World War, states a science journal recovered from a university archive.

    The article, ESP Tests with American Indian Children published in the Journal of Parapsychology, is believed to be the first hard evidence science experiments were conducted on residential school children in Manitoba.

    It was published in 1943 by a scientist named A.A. Foster, and its existence adds to a growing body of knowledge to show science experiments were regularly conducted in the 1940s and 1950s on children at residential schools, with the permission of federal officials.

    Canada's expert on such studies, McMaster University post-doctoral research fellow Ian Mosby, said by phone from Hamilton he's reviewed the article.
    Maeengan Linklater, the Winnipegger who stumbled across a reference to the study in a footnote and got a copy, forwarded it to him, Mosby said Sunday.

    It's significant because it shows how vulnerable Indian residential school children were to administrators, teachers and scientists, Mosby said.

    "When it came to science experiments, these students had no choice whether it involved experiments on ESP or nutrition," he said. "It makes you ask the question what experiments were done in these schools? What were the conditions that made it possible for scientists to walk in and do these experiments? The children were wards of the state," Mosby said.

    Mosby exposed alarming evidence of experiments in his 2013 research findings. News reports described them as noting children at Indian residential schools were deliberately starved in the 1940s and 1950s in the name of science.

    Their exposure outraged Canadians and indigenous experts and later played a role in a decision by Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission to go to court to extract tons of federal residential school records held by the federal government.

    Among those discoveries were that milk rations were halved for years at schools across the country, and essential vitamins were withheld. At the Cecilia Jeffrey school in Kenora, students were subject to test trials of TB vaccine as well as a series of experimental antibiotics for ear infections: Some students subsequently lost their hearing, according to one news report, Mosby said.

    "They had no control over most of the aspects of their lives and their parents had no choice (either). They were forced to assume school administrators were acting in the best interest of their children, which we well know they weren't," Mosby said.

    All of that was profoundly disturbing; what happened in Brandon is simply bizarre, Mosby said.

    Fifty students at the Brandon school -- approximately one-third of the student body -- were selected for a slate of ESP experiments in the winter of 1940-41.

    continued below

  35. They included boys and girls ranging from the ages of six to 20. Younger students were given candy, older ones took part out of "curiosity, interest or as a personal favour" to the matron of the school, who conducted tests for the scientist who published the study.

    Students were led through a total of 250 trials involving playing cards, the results of which purported to indicate the presence of ESP. "It may be said that at least one group of American Indian children have given scores in ESP card tests that are ascribable only to the ability known as extra-sensory perception," the study concluded.

    It went on to boast, "The fact that the subjects are of the American Indian race is of special interest, since this is the first report of ESP tests given to members of that racial group."

    Mosby and Linklater said that finding is disturbing for many reasons, not the least of which are the racial assumptions prevalent in that era.

    "I'm not an expert on ESP, but it seems to me the study was reaching to make some kind of connection between (indigenous) spirituality and ESP.

    "That there could be some sort of proclivity to ESP is really problematic," Mosby said.

    The best that can be said is the Brandon study didn't set out to hurt anyone.

    "It's definitely not nearly as disturbing as the other studies. There was no real harm to the students, and it wasn't premised on causing harm but like those other studies, it highlights the vulnerability of residential school students to the whims of administrators and teachers,'' Mosby said.

    "The main thing that occurred to me when it came to ESP experiments was how bizarre it was, even for that time (period)," Mosby said.

    Little is known about the study's author. The accompanying standard abstract merely described Foster as a former staff member at Duke University at the parapsychology lab. He'd moved on to Toronto for work related to the Second World War when this study was conducted.

    The Winnipegger who found the study said it raises troubling questions for him on personal and professional levels.

    Both his parents attended residential schools. "I see the effects today with all the social challenges indigenous people face," said Linklater, a longtime volunteer on community service boards in the city.

    He stumbled across a reference to the study in a 1997 copy of Manitoba Mysteries by fellow guild writer and UFO researcher Chris Rutkowski.

    A librarian found a copy archived at the University of Regina and Linklater got it last week.

    "In my opinion, it dehumanized the students and it spoke to the control that the administrators had over the students (that) they could offer them up to a research study. The language of the article provides insight into their attitudes, in which we were monocultured and lived in primitive conditions."

    The study casually described the Brandon students in language that would be condemned today:

    "The western Canadian plains Indian leads a much more primitive life than the Indians of the United States... hunting, fishing and trapping. Many of the children had (known) the most primitive life (and) had never seen trains or motor cars."



    By Debora Steel, Ha-Shilth-Sa January 15, 2015

    Port Alberni —
    Students from école Alberni Elementary School visited in front of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council Jan. 14 to view the Alberni Indian Residential School Commemoration Pole in honour of late Arthur Thompson. The pole was carved by Gordon Dick.

    Reg Sam, NTC’s Pathways/ Student Success Supervisor, shared the history of the AIRS site and talked about the commemoration pole.

    The late Art Thompson, a world-renowned artist in his own right, was a student at AIRS and was among the first to bring worldwide attention to the legacy of mistreatment of students who attended the school.

    The pole sits in place of a holly tree that was removed from the site because it triggered negative memories of the school.

    Sam explained the nature of a residential school. That the students went to school there and lived there, not going home. He kept the discussion quite general, he told Ha-Shilth-Sa, in keeping with the age of the students, describing what the animal carvings represented and the Nuu-chah-nulth legends about transformation, as it is demonstrated on the pole.

    The two Grade 4 Alberni Elementary classes were accompanied by Nuu-chah-nulth Education Workers Deb Masso and Jean Thomas and were met onsite by the president of the tribal council, Deb Foxcroft, who welcomed them.

    The students have just kicked off a unit on Nuu-chah-nulth-aht and they took a trip to the Tseshaht Nation, which welcomed the group and opened the longhouse, which is in the same building complex as the tribal council building.

    They started the visit learning a bit about the mural which adorns the side of Maht Mahs gym, located beside the longhouse.

    The theme of the mural, selected by elder Bertha Gus, is “A Place Where First Nations Pull Together.” Artists were Sterling Watts of the Tseshaht First Nation and Walter Collins and Brad Piatka of Port Alberni.

    The mural represents one of the Tseshaht villages on a beach in the Broken Group.

    Maht Mahs is used as a gathering place where people pull together, including during cultural events like potlatches and Nuu-chah-nulth meetings.

    The scene depicts 15 canoes in the water waiting for permission to come ashore. The canoes represent the Makah, Pacheedaht, Ditidaht, Huu-ay-aht, Uchucklesaht, Toquaht, Tla-o-qui-aht, Ahousaht, Kyuquot/Cheklesaht, Ehattesaht/Chinehkint , Nuchatlaht, Mowachaht/Muchalaht, Hupacasath, Hesquiaht and Ucluelet Nations. Tseshaht's canoes are already on the beach.

    “We then went to see the totem pole,” said Masso, and Sam came outside to explain the significance of the pole. There was also a brief lesson about the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council offices.

    The next stop was the other memorial piece on residential schools within the complex done by Connie Watts.

    The sculpture called “Strength From Within” serves as a reminder of the horrors that occurred at AIRS, honors all who didn’t return to their families, and pays tribute to the resiliency of those who survived their time there.

    See our story here: http://www.hashilthsa.com/news/2014-10-02/art-installation-ensures-peopl...

    Students will be doing additional lessons on the residential school system, Nuu-chah-nulth people, as well as the importance of the cedar tree, including its use in the longhouse, canoes, bentwood boxes, and the uses of cedar bark.


  37. Aboriginal diabetes epidemic linked to loss of mother tongue: Study

    QMI AGENCY Toronto Sun JANUARY 23, 2015

    A University of Alberta researcher has found the diabetes epidemic among First Nations is linked to the declining knowledge of their indigenous languages.

    Senior author Richard Oster said prior to the 1950s diabetes was unheard of in Canadian aboriginal populations, but it has since exploded to rates two to five times higher than in the general population.

    "What we found is that those communities that have more people speaking and knowing their language, and who are presumably more connected to their culture, have significantly less diabetes," Oster said. "In fact, some of those communities had diabetes rates that were lower than the general public rate."

    The researchers analyzed diabetes rates on 31 First Nations communities in Alberta and compared them to the indigenous language rates.

    The average diabetes rates in the communities was 9.5% — the lowest was 1.2% and the highest 18.3%. The percentage of residents who spoke their aboriginal mother tongue varied from 10.5% to 92.8%.

    Researchers compared the diabetes rate with other factors, such as median household income, unemployment, and high school completion, and found only the knowledge of traditional language was a significant predictor of the disease.

    Rick Lightning, a First Nations leader in Maskwacis, Alta., diabetes sufferer and co-author of the study, said the findings are a wake-up call.

    He said diabetes began in First Nations around the time residential schools were created and was the result of trauma and a loss of culture.

    Oster says aboriginal languages need to be protected.

    "Try picturing yourself in those shoes. You live in poverty, you are discriminated against every day and your life is in chaos. Then think about residential schools and the impact they have had and continue to have on families. Eating healthy is just not really up there on the list of priorities. It's difficult to do," Oster said.

    "Our study provides proof of something (First Nations people) have known for thousands of years — that health and culture are inseparable."

    The study was published in the International Journal for Equity in Health.


  38. Residential Schools History Book Launched in Toronto

    Two Row Times February 04, 2015

    Residential Schools, With the Words and Images of Survivors, is a book documenting and honouring the history of the survivors and former students who attended residential schools. Designed for the young adult reader as well as the general reader, this accessible, 112-page history offers first-person perspectives of the residential school system in Canada, as it shares the memories of more than 70 survivors from across Canada, as well as 125 archival and contemporary images (65 black & white photographs, 51 colour photographs).

    This essential volume, written by award-winning author Larry Loyie (Cree), a survivor of St. Bernard Mission residential school in Grouard, AB, and co-authored by Constance Brissenden and Wayne K. Spear (Mohawk), reflects the ongoing commitment of this team to express the truths about residential school experiences and to honour the survivors whose voices are shared in this book.

    “We wanted to write a readable history that shared many views of the schools,” said Larry Loyie. “The biggest challenge was how to handle the material so that it could be read by all ages.

    Residential school histories are usually written for adults. The book explains the schools for all readers no matter what their age or background.”

    Along with the voices, readers will be engaged with the evocative, archival photographs provided by the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre (SRSC) with the assistance of curator Krista McCracken.

    “Residential Schools reflects exceptional research and production quality,” said Jonathan Dewar, the Director of the SRSC. “Above all, it is a residential school history from an Aboriginal perspective, inspired by the personal experience of a Survivor dedicated to sharing this history with the world.”

    The book begins with the moving introduction by Larry Loyie, and continues through seven chapters that explore the purpose of this school system; cultures and traditions; leaving home; life at school the half-day system; the dark side of the schools; friendship and laughter coping with a new life; changing world–the healing begins; and an afterword. A detailed, full colour map showing residential school locations across Canada, timeline with key dates, glossary, and a helpful index (including names of survivors and schools) make this vital resource a must-have for schools, libraries, and the general reader.

    Author Larry Loyie wants this book to “show Canadians the strength and courage of the children who went to the schools. All former students share a kinship that is hard to explain to the world. I’ve tried to share it through the words and images in the book. I hope I’ve achieved this.”

    Co-published by Indigenous Education Press and Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre, this publication was officially launched during the Ontario Library Association’s Superconference (OLA) in Toronto on January 29th and 30th, 2015. This new publication was released through official distributor GoodMinds.com during the event.

    Jeff Burnham, president of GoodMinds called the launch successful in two ways. First, the book took over 20 years in the research phase and 3 years to write, and commemorates 73 years since Larry Loyie first attended St Bernard Mission residential school in Grouard, Alberta. Second, this publication celebrates the official debut of Indigenous Education Press. Burnham explains this new entity is not-for-profit and will fill the gap in the First Nations education market. All future releases will be distributed by the GoodMinds.com website.


  39. Vatican may be asked to repeal Papal Bulls of Discovery on 'heathen' aboriginals

    Many argue proclamations legitimized the treatment of Aboriginal Peoples as "less than human."

    By Chinta Puxley, The Canadian Press February 10, 2015

    Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission is weighing whether to ask the Vatican to repeal the Papal Bulls of Discovery that granted 15th-century explorers the right to conquer the New World and the "heathen" aboriginals who called it home.

    Chair Murray Sinclair says the commission examining the impact of Canada's Indian residential schools is looking carefully at the 1455 and 1493 Catholic edicts as part of its final report.

    Many argue the proclamations legitimized the treatment of aboriginal people as "less than human." Crown sovereignty in Canada can be traced back to those papal bulls, and neither Canada nor the United States has repudiated them, Sinclair said.

    "The movement to repudiation is very strong and is moving ahead," Sinclair told CBC News. "If we as the commission are going to join that movement or endorse it … we have to come to a conclusion that it's necessary for reconciliation to establish a proper relationship between aboriginal and non-aboriginal people."

    A growing chorus in Canada is calling on the Vatican to help begin a new relationship, with aboriginal people on equal footing.

    The discovery bulls and others in the same vein gave Catholic explorers "full and free power, authority, and jurisdiction of every kind," and outlined their "duty to lead the peoples dwelling in those islands and countries to embrace the Christian religion."

    If aboriginal people refused, the Vatican granted its envoys the authority to enslave and kill. If the commission recommends the bulls be rescinded, Sinclair said, it has to weigh the legal implications, which could strike at the core of Crown sovereignty over land.

    "What would be the basis for rationalizing Crown sovereignty if the Doctrine of Discovery is no longer available?" Sinclair said.

    "We have to consider that question and perhaps give some direction about how that relationship can be re-established in a proper way … on a nation-to-nation level."

    A special rapporteur appointed by the United Nations in 2009 found the bulls lie "at the root of the violations of Indigenous Peoples' human rights."

    The edicts have resulted in the "mass appropriation of the lands, territories, and resources of Indigenous Peoples," the UN found. They also form the legal basis of many modern-day land claim disputes, it said.

    Keith Matthew, former chief of Simpcw First Nation in British Columbia, has been quietly building support in Canada for their repeal. He recently got the support of the Assembly of First Nations, which passed a resolution at its December meeting endorsing the revocation of the bulls.

    It's about hitting the "reset button on our relationship," Matthew said.

    "The papal bulls put us in a position no better than animals," he said. "We know better today. We're just as civilized and human as anyone else in this world. It's really about righting a historic wrong.

    "I'm no animal. I'm a person, a human being."

    Hayden King, director of the Centre for Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University, said simply calling for the edicts to be repealed isn't enough for reconciliation. He said it would be more significant if the government recognized its sovereignty was based on a "fairy tale" that aboriginal people are not human, and further recognized aboriginal title to land.

    "Unless there was corresponding action, it would seem kind of hollow," King said.



    How do you tell the story of aboriginal women in Canada today? You can do it with horror stories and grim statistics: 1,200 missing and murdered; 54% more likely to suffer assault, abuse, threats of violence. You can do it with politics: national outrage, political roundtables, calls for a formal inquiry.

    Or you can reach out to the people most directly affected and give them the tools to tell their stories. This unique project put cameras in the hands of 12 aboriginal girls from Maples Collegiate in Winnipeg and taught them how to document the reality of their lives. We took the conversation to the frontlines.
    Here’s what the girls had to say. We all need to listen.

    A partnership between National Post, Centennial College and Maples Collegiate
    Cameras generously donated by Henry’s.
    Text by Sarah Boesveld. Portraits by Tyler Anderson.

    View the photos and videos at http://news.nationalpost.com/silent-no-more/

    WINNIPEG — “Do you worry for your safety — whether you may end up like Tina or Rinelle?”

    A group of teenage girls — most of them strangers to one another — all raise their hands.

    “Do you trust the police?”

    Each girl shakes her head “No.”

    “How many of you have had loved ones disappear or get killed?”

    They shoot quick glances at one another. Then, slowly, arms are raised: One, then two, finally about three-quarters of the room, signal to the others that they know this kind of pain.

    At least half say someone in their family has been sexually abused. Some talk about what their own mothers endured. Every single girl says her grandparents suffered abuse at residential schools.

    There are 12 girls in this classroom, all aboriginal students at Winnipeg’s Maples Collegiate Institute. They range from 15 to 19 — about the same age as Tina Fontaine, whose body was found wrapped in plastic in the Red River last summer, and Rinelle Harper, who survived a brutal assault and was left for dead on the banks of the adjoining Assiniboine River.

    The group gathered at the end of a year of mounting outrage over murdered and missing indigenous women — an RCMP report last May logged 1,181 of them — and calls for a national inquiry. On the day the girls met up, Rinelle Harper added her voice to the cause at a speech before the Assembly of First Nations’ Special Chiefs Assembly in Winnipeg.

    The issue remains in the spotlight: This weekend, there will be marches in cities across Canada to pay tribute to murdered aboriginal women. Later this month, federal, provincial and indigenous leaders, including ministers responsible for the Status of Aboriginal Affairs and the Status of Women, as well as victims’ families, will meet in Ottawa for a roundtable on the crisis (there is no current plan for a government inquiry).

    But what’s too often missing from these discussions is what it’s like for young aboriginal women to just go on, day-to-day, in the shadow of the headlines. What it’s like to face grim statistics about your future: 54% of girls like you will be sexually assaulted, beaten, choked or threatened with a gun or a knife; you are four times more likely to be victims of a homicide.

    The girls at Maples are chosen for a four-day workshop — a partnership between the National Post and the School of Communications, Media & Design at Toronto’s Centennial College — to help them share their point of view. They are selected because teachers at the school think they’ll get something out of a crash course on basic photojournalism and storytelling techniques. A few are joined at the hip, but otherwise the girls are chosen at random.

    continued below

  41. All of them could in some ways be considered “lucky.” They aren’t on the streets. They aren’t without hope, or choices. Their grades range from just passing to the 90s, but they all plan to go on to college or university or to pursue a trade. They play hockey and guitar, volunteer and work part-time jobs. They are regular teenagers, who complain about how long it takes to get ready in the morning — “the worst part about being a girl,” one of them says — and find solace in the lyrics of their favourite songs.

    The girls live in a neighbourhood called Maples. It borders the rough north end of Winnipeg, but is an up-and-coming suburb where the average family income is $45,000 (higher than the city’s median income) and the streets are lined with modest bungalows and low-rise apartment buildings. While aboriginal students make up just 15% of the student body at Maples – one of the biggest, most diverse schools in the city, with 1,625 kids – the school strongly supports indigenous culture. The week they participate in the workshop, a new wing of the school is blessed with a traditional pipe ceremony.

    Despite their relative advantages, however, most of these girls have been touched by tragedy: They talk about a cousin murdered in her own home; a friend discovered dead on a snowmobile trail — brutalized so badly locals thought she was attacked by dogs; relatives who’ve gone downtown to meet somebody and never returned; parents who succumbed to drug addiction.

    Some of the girls also say they have been bounced from home to home, or displaced from reserves they’re not sure they’ll ever return to.

    They are surprisingly open about how all of this makes them feel. They talk about their struggles with depression, anxiety, eating disorders and abusive partners. They also express that typical teenage feeling of not quite fitting in — a feeling amplified by identity and circumstance.

    They are also keenly aware of the subtle and not-so-subtle racism aboriginals face – particularly in Winnipeg. The week of their workshop, a teacher at Kelvin High School, across town, wrote a Facebook post about aboriginals that made headlines: “They have contributed NOTHING to the development of Canada. Just standing with their hand out. Get to work, tear the treaties and shut the FK up already. Why am I on the hook for their cultural support?” (The teacher was later put on unpaid leave.)

    It’s probably just a community or a group of people that’s targeting aboriginals. It’s not so much a coincidence. I think it’s a plan

    The girls experience reverse-racism as well. Despite deep roots on reserves – many of them were born there and still visit close family members, others have left only for the opportunity to finish high school in Winnipeg – the girls say they are often criticized for living away from their traditional land. They are bullied, and called “whitewashed.”

    And yet they have deep pride in their traditions. They don’t despair about their futures – if anything, they have grand dreams and ambitions, both for themselves and the wider aboriginal community.

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  42. These girls are certainly not victims.

    But they are afraid. The biggest threat, they believe, lurks outside of their communities, on the streets of Winnipeg. The girls say aboriginal women are being “targeted” by strangers. They share warnings posted on Facebook, for example, about a black van that’s been driving around “kidnapping girls/women for sex, then dumping their bodies.”

    “It’s probably just a community or a group of people that’s targeting aboriginals,” one girl says. “It’s not so much a coincidence. I think it’s a plan.”

    The reality is more complicated: The RCMP report on murdered and missing aboriginal women released last May showed how close the majority of victims are to perpetrators; 40% of aboriginal women die at the hands of spouses or boyfriends, 23% are killed by family.

    The week after the girls’ workshop, the Winnipeg Police Service said the black van warning was a “hoax.”

    We must all stand together to condemn these senseless acts of violence, particularly by our own people. We must stop hurting one another, we must end the pattern

    So is there actually targeting going on, or is this violence primarily within aboriginal communities? How much of how the girls see their world is influenced by social media, by one another? It’s tough to parse, when even First Nations leaders and politicians are still grappling with the forces behind the violence and racism experienced by so many.

    Cameron Alexis, Alberta’s AFN Regional Chief, acknowledges the challenges within the aboriginal community. In December, he issued a statement saying, “We must all stand together to condemn these senseless acts of violence, particularly by our own people. We must stop hurting one another, we must end the pattern.”

    But in a recent interview, he says that he also believes there is “targeting” going on. “It appears to me [that aboriginal women] are vulnerable because of the colour of their skin.”

    That’s why a national inquiry is critical, he adds — only scrutiny of each of the 1,181 documented cases of missing and murdered aboriginal women will help us understand what is going on and how to stop it.

    The girls in the workshop don’t usually share their fear or frustration with loved ones, let alone other girls their age, or teachers, or the press. It’s painful.

    It appears to me [that aboriginal women] are vulnerable because of the colour of their skin
    For most of them, expressing all this started with this workshop, an experience they describe as both difficult and empowering.

    After the first day of talking, Indigenous Peoples teacher Reuben Boulette lights sage in a smudge bowl, an opalescent half shell.

    “This has been pretty heavy,” he says, as he passes the bowl around.

    Each girl takes a turn waving the sage’s medicinal smoke inward, towards their hearts and over the top of their heads, the “purification” ritual meant to banish bad thoughts and recalibrate the mind.

    One girl says, “No one has ever asked us about this before.”

    It’s clear by the end of the workshop that the girls have forged a bond. And that they’re being heard in a new way.

    “It’s kind of a harsh realization that we don’t talk about these things,” says another teacher, Ryan Cook. “The more we talk about them, the easier it’s going to get.”

    Sarah Boesveld, with files from Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah, Samira Mohyeddin and Jennifer Lee

    View the photos and videos at


  43. Haunting Vancouver Island Residential School Demolition Ceremony Set

    By Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press February 15, 2015

    VICTORIA - A crumbling, omnipresent red brick building has been a haunting presence for thousands of British Columbia aboriginal people who say they faced physical and sexual abuse at the site.

    Many of those who attended see the planned demolition of St. Michael's Indian Residential School as the removal of a cancer that has been eroding the remote Vancouver Island community of Alert Bay.

    St. Michael's, operated by the Anglican Church from 1930 to 1975, has been the focus of heart-wrenching community debate for decades. Residents and survivors have tried to decide whether to leave the ominous empty hulk of a building as an example of past wrongs, or knock it down and remove it from sight and, hopefully, memory.

    The first church-run residential school in the Alert Bay area dates back to 1882.

    A massive survivor ceremony hosted by the Namgis First Nation is scheduled for Wednesday on the school grounds to celebrate the demolition of St. Michael's.

    First Nations leaders, Anglican church representatives, political officials and survivors and their families will attend the day-long ceremony. Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde and BC Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Jody Wilson-Raybould will also attend, as will Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Minister Bernard Valcourt.

    St. Michael's survivor Robert Joseph said he was six years old when he arrived at the residential school from nearby Kingcome Inlet on the Lower Mainland. He left when he was 19 years old.

    He said he still remembers the day he stepped out of the school for good in 1958.

    "I walked out the front door and I stood at the top of those front steps and I looked out and the shock hit me," Joseph said. "I had absolutely no idea what I would do with the rest of my life: no sense of purpose, no sense of value. I had learned nothing in this institution and I was a broken boy."

    Joseph said he suffered physical and sexual abuse at St. Michael's. It started upon his arrival as a young boy.

    "I went through that," he said. "There were far too many children who went through that. As much as I'm optimistic today, it's still not a good memory."

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  44. Joseph said he told his story to the reconciliation commission that held residential school hearings across Canada. He said he received a compensation payment from the government but didn't want to discuss the amount.

    "Money is never the real question," he said. "It's never enough. But it's the idea that somebody acknowledged that these harms happened."

    Today, Joseph acts as a Reconciliation Canada Ambassador to help heal the wounds of the past.

    Reconciliation Canada is a charitable, national initiative seeking to promote reconciliation by engaging Canadians in dialogue and experiences that aim to revitalize relationships among Aboriginal peoples and Canadians. It's estimated 160,000 aboriginal children attended residential schools across Canada.

    Joseph, who lives in a house in Alert Bay about 225 metres away from the St. Michael's building, said the decision to tear down the building is historic and symbolic.

    "It has been a constant reminder of the experiences," he said. "It really has cast a dark shadow for so long. Symbolically, it's a liberation from the haunting past. Symbolically, it's really important for the survivors because it allows us to have hope and optimism."

    Joseph said he remembers not wanting to get out of bed when he was at St. Michael's. He said seeing that building come down is a major step towards healing wounds.

    "It used to be a place I hated to come to," he said. "But we have to seize the opportunity to celebrate the idea that nobody will ever be treated that way again."

    St. Michael's school held aboriginal people from northern Vancouver Island and B.C.'s north coast, including from Bella Bella, Bella Coola, the Nisga'a territories and Haida Gwaii. Former Nisga'a Nation president Joe Gosnell, a well-known treaty pioneer in B.C., spent time at St. Michael's.

    Claire Trevena, who represents Alert Bay for the Opposition New Democrats in the B.C. legislature, said the community's decision to demolish the school removes a dark cloud that has hung around far too long.

    "There's a sense of haunting about it because it's so imposing," she said. "It's almost like a Victorian prison, out of a work house, out of Oliver Twist or something."


  45. The intergenerational trauma of First Nations still runs deep

    by KEVIN BERUBE, Special to The Globe and Mail February 16 2015

    Imagine a knock on your door. You open it and are met by strangers accompanied by a police officer. These people are speaking a different language so you don’t understand what they’re saying. Eventually, you come to the surreal realization that they’ve come for your children. There is some time given to pack clothes and say goodbye. Any resistance is met with the threat of arrest by the police. You’re not sure where your children are going or if you will ever see them again. You’re wondering what you did wrong. You have no idea what is happening as you helplessly watch this nightmare unfold before your eyes.

    How does an event like this affect the child? The parents? The community?

    This sounds like something that happened long ago, somewhere far away, but this was the reality only a half-century ago with the residential-school education project across Canada and the Sixties Scoop – the “scooping up” of First Nations children by the planeload for adoption, under the guise of protection, unbeknownst to their family and community across North America and Europe.

    Can communities simply learn to move on, or will these two remarkable events in Canadian history reverberate through future generations – and for how long?

    Many years after the last residential school closed its doors and most of the First Nations children taken from their homes through child welfare removal were returned, these events continue to have an impact on individuals, families and communities.

    Intergenerational trauma, or transgenerational trauma, is what happens when untreated trauma-related stress experienced by survivors is passed on to second and subsequent generations. The trauma inflicted by residential schools and the Sixties Scoop was significant, and the scope of the damage these events wrought wouldn’t be truly understood until years later.

    Intergenerational trauma is usually seen within one family in which the parents or grandparents were traumatized, and each generation of that family continues to experience trauma in some form. In these cases the source can usually be traced back to a devastating event, and the trauma is unique to that family.

    What makes the intergenerational trauma in the case of First Nations people different is that it wasn’t the result of a targeted event against an individual – it was a set of government policies that targeted and affected a whole generation. Children were traumatized when they were taken from their parents and placed into either government-funded, church-controlled, residential learning institutions or into foster homes. Many children suffered horrific abuse while in these homes and institutions. And parents and communities were traumatized when their children were taken away from them with little or no idea if or when they would return.

    continued below

  46. Direct survivors of these experiences often transmit the trauma they experienced to later generations when they don’t recognize or have the opportunity to address their issues. Over the course of time these behaviours, often destructive, become normalized within the family and their community, leading to the next generation suffering the same problems.

    Many self-destructive behaviours can result from unresolved trauma. Depression, anxiety, family violence, suicidal and homicidal thoughts and addictions are some of the behaviours our mental health therapists see when working with clients who have experienced direct or intergenerational trauma. In most cases, the self-destructive behaviour exists because the client is having a difficult time dealing with the pain of remembering the past, or trying to survive an abusive situation now.

    Talking with a mental-health therapist can help break the cycle of trauma. Family therapy may also be required to prevent behaviours continuing among the younger generation. The goals of the therapeutic relationship are to acknowledge the negative behaviour; help the individual and their family make the connection between the behaviour and the historical trauma; introduce healthy alternatives and coping mechanisms; and provide support and feedback to the individual and family as they carry on with their lives.

    People reaching out for help may seek the support of traditional healers to assist them on their healing journey. Traditional healing, along with conventional therapeutic methods, have been effective tools in addressing intergenerational trauma. We must always be mindful to put the individual at the centre of the healing plan, critical not just in working with trauma survivors, but in the development of any patient plan that is going to yield the best outcomes. We need to recognize that patients know themselves better than anyone, and services should work together to consider their holistic needs.

    Kevin Berube is director of the Mental Health and Addictions Program at the Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre, which provides health services to 30 First Nations communities in Northwestern Ontario. A band member of Flying Post First Nation, he has more than 20 years of experience in child welfare, mental health and addictions working with First Nations communities.


  47. Marking the End of a Dark Era

    Residential school demolition ceremony gives former residents a chance to heal.

    By Katie Hyslop, TheTyee.ca February 18, 2015,

    It's been 70 years since Pauline Alfred, then six years old, started at St. Michael's Indian Residential School in Alert Bay, a tiny village on Cormorant Island just off the northeast coast of Vancouver Island. Operated by the Anglican Church from 1929 until 1974, the school housed up to 200 aboriginal children a year, forced to attend by the local government Indian agent.

    Alfred remembers how school officials addressed her -- not by name -- but by her student number, 564, during the six years she spent at St. Michael's.

    "I'm surprised I remember my name," said Alfred, 76, a member of the Kwikwasut'inuxw First Nation. "If they found your jacket on the floor they'd yell your number out, and you had to run for it to grab that jacket to hang it up. If you didn't then you got hit with a strap."

    Alfred still lives in Alert Bay where she met her husband and raised seven children. She looks at the crumbling brick building almost every day; a disturbing sight, which she says has kept some St. Michael's survivors from returning to Alert Bay.

    That will change today when as many as 600 visitors are expected to descend on the island of less than 1,300 people for a healing ceremony to mark the demolition of St. Michael's, although the building itself will be taken apart in stages because of asbestos inside.

    "So many survivors are reminded of their experience in there [by the building], and of course that's traumatizing for many of them," said Chief Robert Joseph, hereditary chief of the Gwawaenuk First Nation, who spent 11 years as a student in St. Michael's and is organizing today's event for the 'Namgis First Nation.

    "Part of the reason why they're really welcoming the demolition is that it's going to remove that blight on the landscape and that blight in their mind's eye about their life experience there."

    Dark memories

    Born on Gilford Island -- about 100 kilometres from Alert Bay -- and raised by her mother, grandmother and great-aunts, Alfred recalled happier times before St. Michael's: "They spoiled me, they hugged me, and they said they loved me, and they would sing songs for me."

    Her memories of residential school are much darker. The first day she arrived, Alfred only spoke Kwakwala language. She didn't understand the words staff said to her when they threw out the pretty dresses her mother had made and packed for her.

    With no nurturing adult figure in her life at school, Alfred was plagued by loneliness and hunger. She can still smell the bacon and eggs cooked for staff when children were forced to eat porridge. Alfred said some kids told her their meals contained worms.

    "They brought us to that school so we could be good Christian girls," she said. "But it just taught us how to steal because we're hungry. It taught us how to lie because if we told the truth we'd get strapped."

    continued below

  48. One of 18 residential schools in BC St Michael's opened in 1929 and took students until 1974 when it closed. After that, the 'Namgis First Nation took over and had several uses for the building including housing its own school, a restaurant, a nightclub and band offices.

    As recently as 2001, the band wanted to house a language centre in the building to help preserve and revive the Kwakwala language. But it was unable to raise the $15 million necessary. Eventually the space was used for carvers, but the cost of heating and maintenance became too much and the band closed St. Michael's doors for good in 2012.

    Chief Joseph, 75, was a couple weeks away from turning seven when he started at St. Michael's in 1946. For over a decade he suffered physical and sexual abuse at the hands of staff. He believes even the students who were never touched are traumatized.

    "There was no redeeming grace about taking little children away from their families, homes and communities; destroying their sense of pride and their language; and stripping them of the ability to have loving relationships with their parents and family," he said.

    Day of prayers and speeches

    Today's day-long ceremony will feature prayers and speeches from former students -- including Alfred, who will lead the Survivors' Prayer -- representatives from the 'Namgis First Nation, an Anglican Church representative, the Assembly of First Nations, the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, and Reconciliation Canada, an aboriginal-led charity aiming to bridge the divide between indigenous communities and settler Canadians.

    Former students and their families will have the chance to strike back by throwing stones at the building, as well as honouring students -- through songs and prayer -- who did not return to their homelands after they left the school.

    Alfred isn't looking forward to the ceremony. "Why would I throw rocks at that school?" she asked, noting that it was people who caused harm -- not the building. "It was the people that built it, and the Indian agent, and the white staff."

    Chief Joseph says no one will be forced to participate if they aren't comfortable.

    "The main theme in this gathering is to mark the passing of a dark era, and look to the future with hope and optimism," he said, adding that includes survivors finding their own path to healing.

    "We should no longer be defined by that building and that history, otherwise we'll be doomed to pass on the same characteristics of the next generation."


  49. St. Michael's Residential School: Demolished but Not Forgotten


    On Wednesday, Feb. 18 The Tyee's Katie Hyslop reported on the demolition of St. Michael's Indian Residential School in Alert Bay, British Columbia. A day-long ceremony honoured St. Michael's survivors with prayer, speeches and song.


    Though the building is set to disappear from the landscape, the experiences of these survivors will not be forgotten. This video piece by Ed Carswell captures a personal account of survivor Verna Flanders, as told to a class of young students in Courtenay, B.C.


  50. Macdonalds legacy not entirely golden


    The recent bicentennial celebrations of Sir John A. Macdonald’s birth have left me flinching in a family conflict kind of way. Part of me feels proud to be related on my mother’s side to the so-called “Father of Canada.” I am fond of an heirloom circular table, which he once used, that sits in the corner of my home office.

    However, when I gaze at his sombre face on our current stamps, another part of me feels embarrassed. His Canada Post portrait reminds me that I share the same blood as someone whom our history books should more rightly call “father of residential schools.” Centuries of official accounts in this country have ignored Macdonald’s role in initiating and approving the forced assimilation of aboriginal children, which launched Canada’s residential school system.

    A new, thoroughly researched hardcover book, which I edited, aims to correct the popular image of this crusty politician, my ancestor, and expand our vision of Canadian history.

    In Residential Schools: With the Words and Images of Survivors (Indigenous Education Press and Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre 2014), residential school survivor and award-winning author Larry Loyie challenges our widely accepted version of how Macdonald shaped this nation.

    Under the heading “John A. Macdonald: Friend or Foe?” he and co-authors Constance Brissenden and Wayne K. Spear write: “His dream of a nation stretching from sea to sea had one major obstacle ... Aboriginal people were in the way.”

    Our first prime minister and his Canadian government gained complete control over the nation’s aboriginal people, thanks to the British North America Act of 1867 and the Indian Act of 1876.

    But the reserve system, which put aboriginals under strict government control in designated areas, was not enough to reassure early would-be settlers that it was safe to put down roots in Canada’s undeveloped west. Macdonald reasoned that aboriginals needed to adjust their beliefs and behaviours to the European way of life, starting in childhood.

    Hence, he endorsed the forced assimilation of aboriginal children, initiating the system of “Indian” boarding schools. This policy was identified as “aggressive civilization” in an 1879 report to the Canadian government.

    continued below

  51. The first official residential schools in Canada opened in 1892, a year after Macdonald ended his final term in office. But the model for these schools began more than 60 years earlier. The Mohawk Indian Industrial School, also known as the Mohawk Institute in Brantford, Ont., opened in 1828. It was financed by a Protestant missionary society based on the U.S. East Coast. With a former British army officer in charge, the school took in boarders from the Six Nations Reserve in 1831. Children as young as five received strict army-style training.

    Macdonald endorsed this military model of assimilation. Under his legacy, more than 150,000 aboriginal children attended an estimated 144 residential schools from the late 1800s to as late as 1996. They suffered verbal, physical, emotional and psychological abuse at many of these schools.

    The co-authors of Residential Schools are determined to put Macdonald’s role within a truer, broader framework. They hope that their book, identified on the cover as “A National History,” will be used as a textbook across Canada. As a whole, it provides a coast-to-coast look at the long-term impact of colonization and assimilation policies on aboriginal culture and traditions.

    I’m not surprised that aboriginal-rights advocates recently demanded the removal of Macdonald’s statue in downtown Hamilton; to our nation’s aboriginals, he is a symbol of genocide. About two dozen people staged a protest Jan. 11 in front of the statue, disrupting a local society’s celebration of Macdonald’s bicentennial birthday.

    Just as Columbus Day in the U.S. ignores aboriginal culture and presence by celebrating European colonization, Canada’s official bicentennial celebrations for Macdonald’s birthday disregarded more than a century of abusive treatment launched by our first prime minister’s policies.

    “The hidden history of residential schools must be known to ensure the human rights of all Canadian children,” says Loyie.

    It is vital that in the telling of history, whether it’s of a nation or a family, we are honest about the influence, in all its forms, of a prominent figure. Otherwise, we present only a whitewashed version of the past, which does a disservice to us all.

    Heather Conn, MFA, is an author of two history books and a former oral historian. A history graduate from the University of British Columbia, she works as a freelance writer, editor, writing coach, and communications consultant.


  52. Canada is Killing Our People

    Genocide? Murder? Criminal Negligence? Or Passive Indifference?

    by Pam Palmater, Indigenous Nationhood February 20, 2015

    Racism doesn't just hurt our feelings - racism kills. The two senseless deaths of First Nations children in a house fire in Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation in Saskatchewan from an unpaid bill of less than $4,000 has sparked outrage across Canada. In no other place in Canada would an ambulance, fire fighter or police officer ask a provincial resident if they had paid their taxes before answering an emergency call for help. Canada has a deep-seated racism problem which is killing our people. But to truly understand Indigenous outrage and sadness, one must understand both the context and true depth of this problem in Canada.

    In the mid-1700’s, colonial governments in what is now Nova Scotia considered the Mi’kmaw Nation to be “rebels” because we refused to give up our land. As a result, Governor Cornwallis issued a scalping proclamation that decimated the Mi’kmaw Nation by as much as 80%. In 1971, Donald Marshall Jr., was sentenced to life in prison for murder and spent 11 years in jail before his wrongful prosecution was exposed. A subsequent Royal Commission found the reason for his imprisonment was racism against Mi’kmaw people by all levels of the justice system.

    In 1999, the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed that the Mi’kmaw right to fish and trade it commercially was protected in our constitutionally-protected treaties. The result? Canada sent in law enforcement to beat, pepper spray and run over our fishing boats – in addition to legal charges. In 2013, Elsipogtog First Nation and other members of the Mi’kmaw Nation who supported their anti-fracking stance in Mi’kmaw territory were labeled “terrorists”, “militants” and “bad Indians”. The scalping law was not used but our people were beaten and imprisoned.

    From small pox blankets and scalping bounties to imprisonment and neglect – Canada is killing our people and Canadians will be next if nothing is done to change the value (or lack thereof) that we collectively put on human life – all human life. This dictatorial, police state is not what newcomers to Canada had in mind when they came to Canada. A territory shared with Indigenous Nations based on formal agreements (treaties) and information agreement (alliances) were founded on three principles: (1) mutual respect, (2) mutual prosperity and (3) mutual protection. Indigenous peoples, their families, communities and Nations protected and cared for newcomers. Our people fought in Canada’s world wars to protect our shared territory and people. Now it’s time for Canadians to stand up for Indigenous peoples.

    continued below

  53. In 1971 Helen Betty Osborne was kidnapped and murdered in The Pas, Manitoba. Her grieving friends and family were treated like criminals while the accused men were given the royal treatment by law enforcement and left to walk free for years. This wasn’t the first time our Indigenous women and little girls have been victims of a racist Canada, but no action was taken. Today, Canadians are well aware of the thousands of Indigenous women and little girls have gone murdered and/or missing in Canada. Yet, there is no sense of alarm in Parliament, nor has the Canadian state taken any steps to work with First Nations to embark on an inquiry or implement an emergency action plan.

    By 1996, the last residential school had closed which was supposed to mark an end to the theft of Indigenous children from our Indigenous families, communities and Nations. Literally thousands of Indigenous children were victims of murders, rapes, tortures and medical experiments – and upwards of 40% never made it out of some of those schools alive. The legacy of thousands of our children who died as a matter of state law and policy should at least have included a promise to stop stealing our children. Today, we have more than 30,000 Indigenous children in care and growing. The problems have not stopped – they are getting worse.

    The use of small pox blankets on our people to try to kill us off faster has been described by medical doctors as the first example of “biological warfare” during non-war times. Indigenous women and little girls were forcibly sterilized without their knowledge and consent for decades in an effort to stop us from reproducing. The Canadian state does not need to use such blatant policies to reduce our populations anymore – willful neglect has the same lethal effect. Federal, provincial and municipal governments are standing by while our people die. This is not an “Indian problem” – this is a Canadian problem that impacts every single Canadian and our collective future.

    In 2005, Jordan River Anderson, a little boy from Norway House Cree Nation with many medical issues, died in hospital at 5 years old never having seen his home because the federal and provincial governments couldn’t stop arguing over who would pay. In 2008, Brian Sinclair, a double amputee, whose family had roots in Berens River and Fort Alexander First Nations, died after waiting 34 hours in a hospital waiting room waiting for treatment for a bladder infection – while nearly 200 people passed him by – including staff who wrongly assumed he was “sleeping it off”.

    The former Auditor General for Canada raised the alarms about discriminatory funding and the failure by Indian Affairs to take action on programs that would significantly impact the lives of First Nations. The Office of the Correctional Investigator has called the increasing over-representation of Indigenous peoples a crisis that needs to be addressed. The United Nations Special Rapporteur has made numerous recommendations on how Canada can address this multi-faceted crisis in First Nations. But Canada fails to take action.

    continued below

  54. Despite Canadas failure to act First Nations continue to try to raise the alarm bells on this lethal situation. A failure to address the chronic underfunding has led to First Nations being 10 times more likely to die in a house fire than Canadians. Indian affairs own report done in 2011 indicated that a minimum of $28 million dollars was needed to prevent deadly fires in Manitoba alone – yet all 633 First Nations in Canada only get $26 million.

    Canada sits back and watches our people die needless deaths while we struggle to heal our families and communities, to rebuild after the theft of our lands and resources and to resist ongoing attempts to assimilate and eliminate us. The herculean effort at the grassroots level to protect our people is made more difficult by state propaganda that would blame us for our own misery, or deflect media attention by vilifying our leaders. Now Bill C-51 will make those of us who speak out against such inhumanity all “terrorists”. Then who will defend this territory?

    The Chief Coroner for Ontario released an especially rare and powerful report in 2011 on the child suicide epidemic in Pikangikum First Nation which had declared a state of emergency – a desperate call for help that went unanswered by Canada. Within a two year period between 2006 and 2008, 16 children between the ages of 10-19 committed suicide. 16 children died – not from accidental car crashes or unpreventable diseases but because the “basic necessities of life are absent” in Pikangikum who struggles to heal and survive amidst the “backdrop of colonialism, racism and social exclusion” and government neglect.

    16 little First Nation children committed suicide because the Canadian state creates and maintains the conditions of life that will either kill them or make them so hopeless they will kill themselves. That’s the UN definition of genocide.

    In the words of the coroner, this “was not a story of capitulation to death, but rather, a story of stamina, endurance, tolerance, and resiliency stretched beyond human limits until finally, they simply could take no more.”

    In what vision of Canada are the ongoing deaths of our people ok? We need Canadians to stand beside First Nations and support us as we defend the health of our lands and waters as well as the rights and freedoms of Canadians. This should not be our burden to bear alone anymore. Help us turn this ship around before we lose any more precious children.

    #StopBillC51 #RacismKills #Genocide #FirstNationsLivesMatter #foodfor7gens #mmiw

    P. Palmater, Genocide, Indian Policy and legislated Elimination of Indians In Canada (2014) vol.3, no.3, Aboriginal Policy Studies 27-54.

    P. Palmater, Stretched Beyond Human Limits: Death by Poverty in First Nations (2011) No.65/66, Can. Rev. of Social Policy 112-127.


  55. Residential school day students seek compensation

    Tk'emlups Indian Band Chief Shane Gottfriedson says day students also suffered abuse in residential school

    By Daybreak Kamloops, CBC News March 24, 2015

    The Tk'emlups Indian Band and the Sechelt Indian Band are fighting for compensation for First Nations children who attended B.C. residential schools but did not live there.

    Lawyers representing the bands will be in court next month, arguing for the certification of a class action lawsuit launched in 2012 that seeks compensation for all day scholars who attended residential schools.

    Tk'emlups Chief Shane Gottfriedson says the two bands will argue that day scholars — students who returned home every night — suffered the same abuse and mistreatment that many residential school students endured.

    They also suffered the same loss in culture and language, the bands will argue, yet they were never compensated.

    "We just want our people to be treated fairly," Gottfriedson said in an interview with Daybreak Kamloops. "I think it's a human rights issue."

    The Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement was implemented in 2007. It allowed, among other things, residential school survivors to receive $10,000 for their first year at a listed school, plus $3,000 for each additional year.

    In addition to financial compensation for day scholars, Gottfriedson says he is also seeking compensation for their descendants, as well as money for a healing fund.

    "At the end of the day, there's no money that could ever replace or compensate anybody for what happened," he said.

    "I think those are deep-rooted issues that traumatized many people, and that's why we're looking for a community healing fund so we can look at building programs and better services for our people."

    The court hearing is expected to take place on April 13 in Federal Court in Vancouver.

    Stolen children

    Residential schools were opened in Canada in the 19th century as part of the government's "aggressive assimilation" policy, which aimed to get aboriginal children to adopt Christianity and Canadian customs and diminish native traditions.

    In all, about 150,000 aboriginal, Inuit and Métis children were removed from their communities and forced to attend the church-run, government-funded industrial schools. It is not known how many day scholars also attended the schools.

    Throughout the years, children studied and lived in substandard conditions and endured physical and emotional abuse. The aims of assimilation meant devastation for those who were subjected to years of mistreatment.

    Over the past two decades, there have also been more than 12,000 lawsuits launched against the federal government and churches alleging sexual, physical and other kinds of abuse.

    To hear the Interview with Chief Shane Gottfriedson go to:


    see this related article from 2012: Residential school day scholars launch class-action lawsuit


  56. Study shows link between continued abuse of aboriginal women, residential schools

    by ALLAN MAKI, The Globe and Mail April, 10 2015

    Young aboriginal women in B.C. are more likely to be victims of violence if they were sexually abused as children or had a parent who attended a residential school, a landmark study has found.

    Researchers for a survey called the Cedar Project say their study to be released on Friday is the first in Canada to show a statistical connection between continued abuse and the residential schools. (B.C. had 22 of them, the most of any Canadian province.)

    The Cedar Project interviewed 259 women, ages 14 to 30, several times over seven years. The report says they were “nearly 10 times more likely to be sexually assaulted later in life if they had a history of childhood sexual abuse.” It said the women were also at a high risk if at least one of their parents had spent time at a residential school.

    Until the late 20th century, native children were taken from their families and placed in residential schools, where many were beaten and sexually abused. At least 3,000 children died at the schools. Some survivors suffering from the effects of the abuse became abusers themselves.

    Of the 259 women recruited from Vancouver and Prince George, B.C., all used drugs, 28 per cent reported that they were sexually assaulted during the seven-year period, and 41 per cent of that group were assaulted more than once.

    Researchers from the University of British Columbia’s School of Population and Public Health and the Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences tabulated the information.

    “Our mothers, wives, sisters, nieces – they have been demeaned and dehumanized,” said Chief Wayne Christian, a Splatsin First Nation leader and project investigator. “The importance of the data is that people may see the numbers, but these are human beings.”

    continued below

  57. The women in the study were recruited through health-care providers and street contacts and were interviewed every six months. Christina Tom was one of the participants, who was an alcoholic when she began the survey. During the seven year, she fought for her sobriety and to find a stable relationship and has become a spokesperson for other aboriginal women. Despite being HIV positive, Ms. Tom considers herself “one of the lucky ones.”

    “My peers are still continuing to self-medicate because of all the traumas they’ve been through,” she said. “Because of me being able to clean up and be sober, I’m a lot stronger than other women are. I’m able to speak on their behalf.”

    Aboriginal chiefs in B.C. have already begun attempts to find solutions to some of the issues that arose in the survey. Last year, 54 northern B.C. chiefs passed a resolution to build a child advocacy centre (CAC) for aboriginal young people in Prince George. CAC’s are places that provide all the services abused children need at one location.

    The chiefs visited former NHL hockey player Sheldon Kennedy, a survivor of sexual abuse who founded a CAC in Calgary.

    Mr. Kennedy said he is confident a centre structured around aboriginal culture and spiritual beliefs would help keep abused kids from following in their parents’ footsteps.

    “We have a clear picture now of the cycle of abuse and the violence that it leads to,” Mr. Kennedy said. “Now we’re learning how to deal with it.”

    Chief Christian said he supports the idea of a CAC. He said that as a 10-year-old, he knew what it was like to be sexually, physically and emotionally abused. At 12, he said, he and his 10 brothers and sisters were apprehended by Child Welfare officials and put in foster homes. At 13, he was suicidal, as was his younger brother, who used Chief Christian’s gun to end his life.

    He said an advocacy centre could be the salvation of those with nowhere else to turn. The next step is applying for government funding.

    Two months ago, Federal Minister of Health Rona Ambrose announced a 10-year, $100-million investment to “prevent, detect and combat family violence and child abuse.”

    With a report from Matthew McClearn


  58. Missing and murdered aboriginal women crisis demands a look at root causes

    New CBC database highlights some patterns behind violence

    By Connie Walker, CBC News April 10, 2015

    Roxanne Isadore was already a survivor by the time she reached her sixth birthday.

    "She used to scream at night … 'That guy is after me.'" Her grandmother Angeline recalls how the sexual abuse Roxanne experienced as a child haunted her for years.

    As she got older, she continued to struggle. There were suicide attempts, addictions. And when she was 24, she disappeared.

    Roxanne is one of hundreds of missing or murdered indigenous women in Canada. Women who were born into lives that forced them to fight for survival in communities rife with poverty, trauma, abuse and, inevitably, violence.

    Individually, their stories are tragic and heartbreaking. Collectively, they are horrifying.

    A CBC News database launched earlier this week found more than 230 indigenous women across Canada whose deaths or disappearances are unsolved.

    We interviewed 111 of their families and told their stories. Not just about the death or disappearance of a loved one, but who she was and how she lived.

    Each one of those women is unique, each story is gut-wrenching. Yet reading these profiles together, you begin to see patterns emerging. The underlying causes associated with missing or murdered indigenous women become hard to ignore.

    "We grew up in a home where emotions were masked with alcohol," Candice L'hommecourt said when asked about her missing sister Shelly Dene. "I don't want to make excuses, but I want to say we were like from the forgotten-children era because of residential schools."

    About a week before Rhonda Runningbird went missing in March 1995, she showed up to her mom's house and could barely climb the stairs. The 25-­year-­old mother of three had been beaten so badly she was given a colostomy bag and scheduled for surgery at the end of the month, said her mother Mavis Crowchild.

    Bernadette Ahenakew had a difficult life before she was killed, according to her sister Nancy Masuskapoe. Not only was she in government care for 10 years, she also experienced physical and sexual abuse. Life before foster care wasn't any easier. Masuskapoe says their life at home was often filled with violence, neglect and alcohol.

    Although their stories are different, the similarities arise again and again. Abuse, trauma, child welfare, addictions. And almost always, poverty.

    continued below

  59. The harsh reality is that the murdered or missing indigenous women are not the only victims. Look to Canada's jails, homeless shelters and hospitals to see others.

    Aboriginal women make up nearly 34 per cent of all female prisoners in Canada. And there are more indigenous children in care now than during the height of residential schools.

    That can be traced back to colonization and policies rooted in assimilation, says advocate and lawyer Christa Big Canoe.

    "We have to contextualize everything. We have to look at the history and roots of institutionalization of aboriginal people in this country, including things like residential schools, the '60s Scoop and, most importantly, the criminalization which has incarcerated a lot of people in our communities," Big Canoe said.

    A study released today supports the idea that the violence currently faced by indigenous women has roots in the past.

    The Cedar Project followed 259 aboriginal women for seven years. Researchers found that survivors of childhood sexual abuse are 10 times more likely than the average person to be sexually assaulted. Children of residential school survivors are 2.35 times more likely to be sexually assaulted.

    These issues are not limited to aboriginal women. Indigenous men are equally affected and over-represented in the Canadian justice system. And according to the RCMP, they are also the main perpetrators of violence against aboriginal women. RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson says 70 per cent of the murders of aboriginal women that have been solved were committed by aboriginal men.

    But does it really matter who is committing the violence? Are indigenous women less worthy of sympathy or support if the perpetrators are of their own race?

    The RCMP's statistics on violence against indigenous women reinforce the fact that there are systemic issues that continue to affect all aboriginal people.

    We must continue to tell the stories of every missing or murdered indigenous woman or girl. Each leaves behind a family who loved them and communities struggling to deal with their loss.

    But if you look beyond the individual stories, it becomes painfully obvious that dealing with these issues is not just a matter of violence prevention, it's crisis intervention.

    We can't ignore the patterns that are being repeated again and again in the lives of these women.

    Until the root causes are addressed, the violence will continue.





  60. Residential school survivor Augie Merasty - We were treated like animals

    CBC Radio, April 16, 2015

    "I wanted to tell the world how we were treated as Indian kids. It was a terrible place to be to tell you the truth" - Augie Merasty

    Augie Merasty, or Joseph Auguste Merasty, was a young boy getting in trouble for swearing in Cree at an Indian Residential School called St Therese Residential School, in Sturgeon Landing, Manitoba.

    Augie Merasty was just five-years-old when he first went there, late in the summer of 1935.

    Like so many aboriginal children, he experienced abuse. And like so many others, he didn't talk about what happened inside those walls after he grew up.

    But now he has. He's put his story down in a new book called, "The Education of Augie Merasty: A Residential School Memoir."

    David Carpenter spent more than a decade helping to write that memoir. He was in Campbell River, B.C.

    Arlene Merasty is Augie Merasty's daughter. She was in La Ronge, Saskatchewan.

    This segment was produced by The Current's Josh Bloch.

    hear the program at:


  61. Day Scholar Certification Hearing Concludes Hundreds of Residential School Survivors are Still Suffering

    by pmnationtalk on April 22, 2015

    In a decaying brick building in Kamloops up the stairs and into the hallways lay the ghosts of torture that affected the lives of thousands of Canadian children who were systematically stripped of their language, culture and self identity by adults who were trained in theology and performing the work of the christian ethos of ‘Do unto others as you would have then do unto you.’

    Randy Joe is a first time Councillor for the shishalh Nation and he recounts vividly his mother dragging this frightened little boy just five years old, up the hill to residential day school and he would look back and see his little heel marls dragging in the dirt all the way to the front door of the school. He recalls on the second day of school he was crying in fear and the head nun placing him on a little stool and then with all her might slapping him in the face so hard it scarred him for the rest of his life.

    So it was for those who attended residential schools during the day and returned home at night. The same atrocities took place, the sexual, physical and psychological abuses at the hands of christians who encouraged the residential boarders to beat up the Day Scholars who themselves were forced to literally had to run home to save their lives. Why were they any the less deserving of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s apology back in 2007 or his recognition of their suffering and pain and why was a compensatory package denied them?

    What Stephen Harper was saying in essence was ” It wasn’t alright to torture and abuse children as young as four or five years of age while they were full time residents of these schools but it’s just fine to torture them if they go home at night.”

    The case against the crown began in federal court in Vancouver on Monday April 13th 2015 but the preparations were five years in the making. Lawyer Peter Grant represented his clients the shishalh Nation and the Kamloops Indian Band before Justice Harrington who will decide upon hearing the evidence whether a class action can be brought to trial.



  62. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) is holding its Closing Event in Ottawa from May 31 to June 3, 2015

    For more than 120 years, tens of thousands of Aboriginal children were sent to Indian Residential Schools funded by the federal government and run by the churches. They were taken from their families and communities in order to be stripped of language, cultural identity and traditions. Canada’s attempt to wipe out Aboriginal cultures failed. But it left an urgent need for reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples.

    The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) is holding its Closing Event in Ottawa from May 31 to June 3, 2015.

    Be a part of the National Journey for Healing and Reconciliation!

    • Survivor Sharing Circles
    • Walk for Reconciliation
    • Actions of Reconciliation
    • Education Day
    • Traditional Ceremonies
    • Cultural Performances
    • Films, Archival Photos and more

    Come and share your truth about the schools and their legacy. Witness and celebrate the resilience of Aboriginal cultures!

    All gatherings are held at the Delta Ottawa, unless otherwise indicated. Open to the public and admission is free.


    The Indian Residential School Survivors Society: IRSSS provides essential services to residential school survivors, their families and to those dealing with intergenerational traumas.


  63. Paul Leroux to serve more time for residential school sex abuse

    Sentence increased from 3 years to 8

    CBC News May 05, 2015

    Paul Leroux, a former dormitory supervisor at a northern Saskatchewan Indian Residential School, has been ordered to return to prison to serve a longer sentence for the sexual abuse of boys at the Beauval school in the 1960s.

    The Court of Appeal for Saskatchewan made the order in a decision, released Tuesday, that reviewed the 2013 conviction and sentencing of Leroux.

    Leroux's sentence has been increased from three years to eight. He was given two days, from the May 4 decision date, to turn himself in. Leroux was granted parole after serving one year of the initial three-year sentence. That sentence was given after RCMP charged Leroux in 2011, following a lengthy investigation.

    The appeal court noted that Leroux had regularly and repeatedly abused boys as young as nine years old. According to the decision, Leroux would give the youngsters mixed drinks, including martinis, before assaulting them. In some cases the assaults took place in his quarters at the school. Sometimes the boys were assaulted in their bunks.

    Leroux had previously been convicted, and sentenced to 10 years in prison, for sexual assaults that took place at another residential school, Grollier Hall in Inuvik, from 1968 to 1979. That case went through the courts in the 1990s.

    In the Saskatchewan case, the appeal court found that one of the ten convictions, relating to a total of eight victims, had to be quashed because the judge mistakenly mixed up the facts.

    Leroux, now 74, represented himself on the appeal.

    see court document at:


    see earlier article at:


  64. This is somebodys young kid

    The unmarked graves of Brandon’s residential school


    Growing up, Katherine Nichols went past the Brandon Indian Residential School everyday in her school bus, but she had no idea what it was. After the school was torn down in 2000, and her parents took her to see the ruins, all she knew was that it was a school for aboriginal children.

    It wasn’t until she took a first-year Native Studies course at university that she learned about the residential school system — Canadian history’s “sad chapter.”

    And so when choosing a topic for her master’s thesis at the University of Manitoba, the budding forensic anthropologist was drawn back to the Brandon school, which operated from 1895 to 1972. She wanted to see if she could unravel its darkest secrets — and document all the students who had died or gone missing and where they were buried.

    The small cemetery just north of the school has a cairn listing 11 students, but Nichols had heard whispers in the community about unmarked graves, and how they weren’t well-kept. She was certain there were secrets to be revealed.

    She would be right.

    After combing through reams of records in libraries and archives, and surveying swaths of the school’s property using ground-penetrating radar and aerial drones, Nichols recently published her findings: she uncovered the names of 70 students who died while attending the school and believes all of them are likely buried in or near the property — mostly in unmarked graves.

    “In Western society, it is often assumed that our dead will be brought home,” Nichols wrote. “However, almost all of the parents of the children who attended and died at the (school) were not afforded this basic human right.”

    Vincent Tacan, chief of the South Valley Dakota Nation, which owns the land, said it’s good to finally get some certainty about how many bodies are buried there. It goes to show, he said, how the school’s administrators seemed to make little effort to return children to their families or bury them properly.

    “With the list of names we’ve managed to get as a result of Katherine’s work, it’ll be helpful in obtaining closure for some folks,” he said.

    Tacan said his mother attended the school, and often tells the story of a “little Eskimo boy” — not older than three — who was brought to the school and cared for by the female students. One day, the boy, nicknamed “Jimmy Snow,” went missing and no one came looking for him.

    “This is somebody’s young kid,” he said. “For all we know, he could still be on the site somewhere.”

    Nichols’ research mirrors the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which has spent years compiling stories and records related to the 150,000 aboriginal children who, over a century, were sent to 140 church-run residential schools, where they faced disease, malnutrition, and abuse.

    One of the commission’s goals was to identify the students who died while attending the government-funded schools — as of last year, there were 4,100 reported cases — and locate where they were buried.

    continued below

  65. The commission will release its final report within weeks.

    Set up in the late 1870s, residential schools were designed to, in the words of one government official, “get rid of the Indian problem” through aggressive assimilation. Students, some of whom were placed in schools against parents’ wishes and taken away in large cattle trucks, were not allowed to speak their language or practice their culture.

    Death and disease, overcrowding and malnourishment were rampant, said Ry Moran, director of the Winnipeg-based National Research Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, which will house all the records collected by the commission.

    Often, students were buried at their school, but their parents couldn’t get to them, he said. “Their parents never had the ability to say goodbye because they may live 600 kilometres away.”

    Untold numbers also died after being sent away to sanatoriums or hospitals. The lack of systematic record-keeping of student deaths meant many families did not know where their loved ones were buried.

    The Brandon Indian Residential School, run first by the Methodist Church and then the United Church, was no different.

    Built near the Assiniboine River and next to an experimental farm, the school’s location was chosen for its proximity to a settler community, where, in the words of one government official, the white population could “save them from relapsing into ignorance and barbarianism.”

    Students, brought from as far as Alberta and Quebec, were forced to work in the school’s barns, agricultural operations and vegetable gardens. Some girls also worked as domestic servants for the school’s principals.

    A handful of the school’s survivors shared with Nichols stories of physical and sexual abuse. One story “broke my heart and left me with no words, except to say that I was sorry for what had happened,” she wrote.

    Substandard diets and “appallingly inhumane nutritional experimentation” also contributed to student deaths, Nichols wrote.

    Nichols’ attempts to retrieve death and burial records or cemetery maps often proved frustrating, however. Records were either missing or inaccessible or didn’t sync up.

    In 1905, the Department of Indian Affairs’ annual report noted five deaths at the school, while the Methodist Church records showed three. Only nine deaths were registered with the Manitoba Vital Statistics Agency during the school’s 77-year run.

    Diane Haglund, a retired United Church archivist in Manitoba who served as Nichols’ mentor, had encountered the same challenges years ago when a couple from northern Manitoba asked for help finding the remains of their daughter. Haglund worked with a provincial archaeologist to try to help the desperate couple but came up empty.

    “For First Nations folks, tracing that genealogy, that ancestry, and knowing where their dead are buried, it’s extremely difficult,” she said. “You just can’t get the record in the way that the rest of us, relatively easily, can.”

    continued below

  66. But the records Nichols did find suggest more students are buried at or near the school than was previously thought.

    Correspondence from the school’s principal confirmed that the school had operated a cemetery just south of the school, near the river, from 1895 to about 1912. Separate records showed that 51 students died at the school between 1895 and 1911. Thus, it is “very plausible” they were buried at this location, Nichols wrote.

    Today, the site is occupied by a private campground. There are no gravestones or markers, just a fenced area containing a small monument with a plaque that reads “Indian Children Burial Ground.” Nichols was denied permission to do forensic work on the property because the landowner was under the impression it was only a “memorial garden,” not a cemetery.

    Nichols had better luck getting access to the school’s second cemetery — the one north of the school with the cairn listing 11 names.

    Records unearthed by Nichols indicate there may actually be 26 individuals, who died from 1912 to 1957, buried there — not all of them students.

    That finding is buttressed by some of her fieldwork. Nichols got permission to survey the site using electromagnetic ground conductivity equipment and ground-penetrating radar, which can detect anomalies beneath the surface. The survey work supported the potential existence of 24 to 26 graves, she said.

    Further, interviews with three of the school’s survivors strongly suggested three more bodies were buried directly behind the school, Nichols wrote. They remembered going out to hang the laundry and being told by the matron not to go into a treed area because of three student graves.

    Recently, the school’s ruins were cleared away. The long-term vision for the site is to turn it into a healing lodge, Tacan said.

    Moran said the research started by Nichols and the commission must continue: there is a lot of work still to be done. “Locating the graves, understanding which children attended the schools and then never returned, is a huge research task.”

    Nichols is certain the 70 students’ names she uncovered do not represent all those who died at the school. She said she cannot imagine what it’s like not knowing where your own child is buried.

    “It’s a sense of not having any closure, the sense of unknowing. People can’t move on without knowing where their loved ones are buried, where they ended up and what happened to them.”




    In conjunction with the final national event of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and Time for Reconciliation KAIROS Gathering, Octopus Books, KAIROS Canada and Mennonite Central Committee proudly present an evening of conversation based on two books—Up Ghost River, A chief's Journey Through the Turbulent Waters of Native History and Norval Morrisseau, Man Changing Into Thunderbird—that portray life journeys impacted by Canada's Indian Residential School System.

    7 PM
    Monday, June 1 2015
    Christ Church Cathedral
    414 Sparks Street, Ottawa

    Hosted by Shelagh Rogers, host of CBC's The Next Chapter and an honorary witness for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

    Up Ghost River, A chief's Journey Through the Turbulent Waters of Native History by Edmund Matatawabin and Alexandra Shimo is a powerful, raw and eloquent memoir about the abuse former First Nations chief Edmund Metatawabin endured in a residential school—one of the worst in Canada: St. Anne's in Northern Ontario—in the 1960s, the resulting trauma, and the spirit he rediscovered within himself and his community through traditional spirituality and knowledge. Edmund's story gives a personal face to the problems that beset Native communities and fresh solutions, and untangles the complex dynamics that sparked the Idle No More movement. Haunting and brave, Up Ghost River is a necessary step toward our collective healing. Foreword by Joseph Boyden.

    Norval Morrisseau, Man Changing Into Thunderbird by Armand Garnet Ruffo is an innovative and rich biography of Ojibway shaman-artist Norval Morrsseau considered by critics, art historians and curators alike one of the most innovative artists of the twentieth century and arguably Canada’s greatest painter. Drawing upon years of extensive research, including interviews with Morrisseau himself, and his own Ojibway heritage, Ruffo evokes the artist’s life from childhood to death, in all its vivid triumphs and tragedies. Captivating and readable, this is a brilliantly creative evocation of the art and life of Norval Morrisseau, a life indelibly tied to art.

    Edmund Metatawabin, former Chief of Fort Albany First Nation, is a Cree writer, educator and activist. A residential school survivor, he has devoted himself to righting the wrongs of the past, and educating Native youth in traditional knowledge. Metatawabin now lives in his self-made log house in Fort Albany, Ontario, off the reserve boundary, on land he refers to as my “Grandfathers’ Land.” He owns a local sawmill and also works as a consultant, speaker and researcher.

    Armand Garnet Ruffo is an Ojibway, the author of four books of poetry, Opening In the Sky (Theytus Books, 1994),Grey Owl: The Mystery of Archie Belaney (Coteau Books, 1997), At Geronimo’s Grave (Coteau Books, 2001) and the Thunderbird Poems (Harbour Publishing, 2015). He has also edited and co-edited(Ad)Dressing Our Words: Aboriginal Perspectives on Aboriginal Literatures (Theytus Books, 2001) and An Anthology of Canadian Native Literature in English(Oxford University Press, 2013). His screenplay, A Windigo’s Tale, has been shown across Canada and at film festivals internationally. He is an Associate Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at Queen’s University, and lives in Kingston, ON.



  68. Multiple foster homes like boot camp for homelessness


    The author of a new book on the ’60s scoop says being in foster care is “a great boot camp for becoming homeless.”

    Jackie Maurice used her own experience as a Metis child raised in 14 foster homes as a case study for her PhD thesis. She revisits it in her new book, The Lost Children: A Nation’s Shame.

    The practice of placing aboriginal children in white foster homes or adoptive homes from the 1960s through the 1980s created a generation of people cut off from their families, communities, culture and language — effects similar to those caused by the 100-year Indian residential school era that preceded it.

    Now, as even more aboriginal children live in foster care, the child welfare system is creating a new generation of lost children. Maurice calls it the millennium scoop.

    “Not every story was a traumatic story,” Maurice said, noting that many children of the ’60s scoop were placed in stable, loving foster families that replaced the parents, siblings and relations they left behind.

    However, for many, like Maurice, the child welfare system provided a life of constant change. By the time she was three and a half years old, Maurice had lived in five homes.

    She recalls the strangeness of arriving in a new place, among new people, gradually beginning to trust, love and depend upon them, only to be taken with no choice but to begin the process again in the next home.

    The grief from those accumulated losses — Maurice called the experience “dispiriting” — was never acknowledged, and there was never any chance of going back.

    “Imagine driving home to discover your house has burnt to the ground, all your things, your place to be, is just gone. Now imagine they tell you your whole family was in that house,” she said.

    The system had no process for maintaining contact with birth families. By the time some children reached adolescence, they had no connection to anyone. For others, who found biological family members, the lack of shared life experience and unaddressed trauma often led to disappointment and continued alienation.

    “There’s a time when you break down. Who can you turn to? Who can you trust?” Maurice said.

    “Being in foster care is a great boot camp for becoming homeless. The next natural step for many is to belong to a gang or to the street. You don’t have anyone to run to.”

    For every child taken, there is a mother and a family suffering a loss that can be compared to that of the families of missing and murdered indigenous women, she said.

    “Being part of the child welfare system, you go missing from your community, your family. When you try to go back, you’re a stranger in your own community.”

    The deliberate removal of indigenous children from their culture and communities has fallen into disrepute, but Maurice questions whether anything has fundamentally changed in child welfare systems that still oversee thousands of children.

    While there have been efforts to provide supports to keep at-risk families together, governments need to commit greater human and financial resources to the task, she said.

    Counsellors and other helping resources in schools, health care settings, correctional institutions and social services offices need adequate staffing to do the work and thorough followup to ensure accountability, she added.

    When children do end up in care, they need to feel safe and validated when talking about their experience as foster children, just as victims of bullies have been supported, Maurice said.

    “Don’t shame children. Shame on government systems that have taken away children’s most valuable resource — family, community, relationships. That’s where the blame lies.”


  69. NOTE FROM PERRY BULWER Although the following article does not mention Indian Residential Schools, it does illustrate the child welfare tragedies discussed in the previous article above:

    B.C. Youth Representative Criticizes Province For Aboriginal Teen's Death

    By Laura Kane, The Canadian Press May 14, 2015

    VANCOUVER - She was found unconscious on sidewalks and transit buses. Once, paramedics pulled her from a basement with a 14-year-old friend who was naked and covered in blood. A police officer warned she may be hurt or killed while drunk.

    These are just a few of the horrific incidents documented by a report examining the life and death of Paige, a 19-year-old legally blind aboriginal girl who overdosed in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

    Social workers who were supposed to protect her did nothing to help, revealing a broken system that casually disregards the needs of aboriginal children, says British Columbia's representative for children and youth.

    "Paige's files are rife with examples of situations in which workers seemed to throw up their hands and declare: 'What can we do?' rather than doing everything that was in their power," Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond said in the report.

    "If a parent in B.C. had treated their child the way the system treated Paige, we may be having a debate over criminal responsibility. Yet there appears to be systemic resistance to naming this problem."

    Paige's aunt, Frances Robson, and uncle Lorne shook with tears after Turpel-Lafond finished delivering the scathing report at a news conference Thursday.

    Robson said it was painful to hear new details of her niece's troubled life.

    "It was just hard seeing her picture up there," said Robson. "When you see her there and you see that she's actually gone, that was the hardest part."

    She and her husband tried several times to get custody of their niece, but were rejected when they asked for money to pay for a two-bedroom apartment and groceries, Robson said.

    Paige, whose last name is not revealed in the report, died in a washroom in a city park in April 2013.

    The report describes her as a bright young girl who loved animals and was eager to learn, despite her chaotic life. Her mother struggled with substance abuse and moved her more than 50 times to different homeless shelters and hotels.

    She suffered from Marfan syndrome, which left her legally blind without her glasses and caused heart problems. The teen developed her own substance abuse issues, was found unconscious or incoherent 17 times and was involved in more than 40 police files.

    Turpel-Lafond said she couldn't comprehend why the Ministry of Children and Family Development repeatedly returned Paige to her mother, even when the woman was being sought by police for extortion, unlawful confinement and uttering threats.

    She called on the ministry to immediately take steps to address the "indifference" of police, social workers, health care workers and educators toward aboriginal youth. She also demanded the province ensure that no children in care live in single-room occupancy hotels.

    Turpel-Lafond said the investigation is among the most troubling her office has conducted, but it is sadly not unique. She estimates there are about 100 to 150 aboriginal youth similar to Paige in the Downtown Eastside.

    Children and Family Development Minister Stephanie Cadieux said she was horrified by the report and vowed to create a "rapid-response team model" to intervene early in the lives of youth in the neighbourhood.

    But she offered few details of the plan on Thursday, telling reporters she will begin with getting together ministries, police and the City of Vancouver to discuss the issue.

    Mayor Gregor Robertson called Paige's tragic death a "damning indictment" of the current system and promised to continue to fight for the province to invest more in social housing and drug treatment.


  70. Memories of a residential school survivor


    The Indian Residential Schools experience looms large in the history of my family, just as it does for so many Native families across the country. Written from the vantage point of December, 1965 when he was 33 years old, the following excerpts from his memoir recount my late father Russ Moses’ experiences at the Mohawk Institute Indian Residential School (“the Mush Hole”) in Brantford, Ontario which he attended from 1942 to 1947.

    Russ and his older brother Elliott and younger sister Thelma had the misfortune of attending the Mohawk at the height of the Second World War, when any pretence toward providing education or training had largely been abandoned. The children were there to provide the forced agricultural labour necessary to keep the large farming operation going, as a contribution to the industrial-scale food production effort on the home front. The Mohawk sat on 350 acres of prime southern Ontario farmland with livestock and numerous crops and orchards under cultivation.

    The children themselves derived no benefit from this, and were reduced to begging on the streets of Brantford to sustain themselves. Russ’s memoir remains of historical interest, predating as it does our current era of retrospection and reflection concerning the schools. It is presented here in recognition of the upcoming closing national event of the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission to be held in Ottawa from May 31 to June 3. Russ refused to be defined by his residential school experiences. He was a loving husband, father and grandfather, as well as a proud Korean War veteran of the Royal Canadian Navy and later the RCAF, and finally a federal public servant specializing in employment equity matters. He died in Ottawa on May 22, 2013 and is buried at his home community of the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory.

    – John Moses

    Russell Copeland Moses around the time he wrote his memoir in 1965. He served in the RCAF from 1955 to 1965 following his years in service with the Royal Canadian Navy. Moses died in Ottawa on May 22, 2013 of cancer.

    The policy of the Mohawk Institute was that both girls and boys would attend school for half days and work the other half. This was Monday to Friday inclusive. No school on Saturday but generally we worked.

    The normal work method was that the children under Grade V level worked in the market garden in which every type of vegetable was grown and in the main sold – the only vegetables which were stored for our use were potatoes, beans, turnips of the animal fodder variety. The work was supervised by white people who were employed by the Institute and beatings were administered at the slightest pretext. We were not treated as human beings – we were the Indian who had to become shining examples of Anglican Christianity.

    I have seen Indian children having their faces rubbed in human excrement, this was done by a gentleman who has now gone to his just reward.

    The normal punishment for bed wetters (usually one of the smaller boys) was to have his face rubbed in his own urine.

    The senior boys worked on the farm – and I mean worked, we were underfed, ill clad and out in all types of weather – there is certainly something to be said for Indian stamina…

    continued below

  71. Religion was pumped into us at a fast rate, chapel every evening, church on Sundays (twice). For some years after leaving the Institute, I was under the impression that my tribal affiliation was “Anglican” rather than Delaware.

    Our formal education was sadly neglected; when a child is tired, hungry, lice infested and treated as a sub-human, how in heaven’s name do you expect to make a decent citizen out of him or her, when the formal school curriculum is the most disregarded aspect of his whole background? I speak of lice, this was an accepted part of “being Indian” at the Mohawk – heads were shaved in late spring. We had no tooth brushes, no underwear was issued in the summer, no socks in the summer. Our clothing was a disgrace to his country. Our so called “Sunday clothes” were cut down First World War army uniforms. Cold showers were provided summer and winter in which we were herded en masse by some of the bigger boys and if you did not keep under the shower you would be struck by a brass studded belt…

    It was our practice at the “Mohawk” to go begging at various homes throughout Brantford. There were certain homes that we knew that the people were good to us, we would rap on the door and our question was: “Anything extra”, whereupon if we were lucky, we would be rewarded with scraps from the household – survival of the fittest.

    Many children tried to run away from the Institute and nearly all were caught and brought back to face the music — we had a form of running the gauntlet in which the offender had to go through the line, that is on his hands and knees, through widepread legs of all the boys and he would be struck with anything that was at hand – all this done under the fatherly supervision of the boys’ master. I have seen boys after going through a line of 50 to 70 boys lie crying in the most abject human misery and pain with not a soul to care – the dignity of man!

    As I sit writing this paper, things that have been dormant in my mind for years come to the fore – we will sing Hymn No. 128!

    This situation divides the shame amongst the Churches, the Indian Affairs Branch and the Canadian public.

    I could write on and on — and some day I will tell of how things used to be — sadness, pain and misery were my legacy as an Indian.

    The staff at the Mohawk lived very well, had a separate dining room where they were waited on by our Indian girls — the food, I am told, was excellent.

    When I was asked to do this paper I had some misgivings, for if I were to be honest, I must tell of things as they were and really this is not my story, but yours.

    Russ Moses attended the Mohawk Institute Indian Residential School (“the Mush Hole”) in Brantford, Ontario which he attended from 1942 to 1947. He died in Ottawa in 2013.


  72. Bishop Horden residential school survivors fight Ottawa in court

    Claimants want judge to compel federal government to search for key documents

    By Karina Roman, CBC News May 20, 2015

    A group of aboriginal residential school survivors was in Ontario Superior Court Wednesday asking a judge to force the federal government to search for documents the former residents believe will help corroborate their claims of abuse.

    The nine former students attended Bishop Horden residential school in Moose Factory, Ont. in the 1960s. They have pursued claims through the independent assessment process, the system set up under the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement for former students to seek compensation for abuse.

    Under the arrangement, the federal government is obliged to provide information about the former residential school, the people that worked there and any charges or convictions on record.

    But in documents filed in court, the claimants say the government's disclosure does not mention what these former students say they witnessed: namely, that some of the supervisors at Bishop Horden were arrested by police and some supervisors were fired.

    They believe there must be documents, perhaps within the RCMP, to back up their recollections.

    "To the adjudicator and [Department of Justice] counsel appearing at the IAP hearing, and even to the claimant's counsel, with no documents coming forward about police involvement, it looks like a huge mistake or lie by that applicant," the claimant documents say.

    The former students say that while the government has come up empty in a search of historical records at the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and at Library and Archives Canada, it has not made searches of the RCMP or the Department of Justice.

    The judge reserved his decision Wednesday.

    Similarities to battle over St. Anne's school

    The case is similar to a court battle won by survivors of another Ontario residential school, St. Anne's, in Fort Albany, Ont., to get thousands of pages of police records, which documented convictions of staff at that school.

    continued below

  73. Edmund Metatawabin heads up a St Annes survivor group and is the former chief of Fort Albany.

    "We know from past experience that there is no incentive for the government to do a proper search," he told CBC News.

    But the federal government says, in its documents filed in court, that there is no evidence such records exist and that the government "has made extensive and good faith efforts to gather documents for use in the IAP."

    The government also argues the claimants are "misguided" in their concern that, without the documents, their allegations in their IAP hearings will appear to be a "huge mistake or a lie."

    But Metatawabin says that view is not how the hearings work in reality.

    "They say it's not adversarial, but it is very adversarial, we find," he said.

    Charlie Angus is the New Democrat MP for the area in which the Bishop Horden school used to operate.

    "If there were police investigations, if there were people who were removed because of their abuse of children, those records should exist," he said in an interview.

    "Are we to trust a government that was willing to suppress court evidence from the 1990s on the St. Anne's abuse and trust them that they're actually going to look out for evidence from the '50s or '60s from Bishop Horden? There is no trust here."

    The office of Bernard Valcourt, the minister of aboriginal affairs, said in a statement to CBC News that the government remains committed to the fair, full and timely implementation of the settlement agreement.

    "Our government has already produced all documents in its possession relating to Bishop Horden school for use in the independent assessment process," the statement said.

    The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has spent six years hearing horrific stories of abuse from survivors of residential schools across the country. Its final public events are to take place over the next two weeks.


  74. First Nations group wants wider search for files related to residential school abuse

    The Assembly of First Nations and a lawyer representing some survivors of Canada’s residential schools wants Ottawa to search all departments and agencies for historical records related to abuse in the schools.

    By Donovan Vincent, Toronto Star News reporter, May 19 2015

    The Assembly of First Nations and a lawyer representing some survivors of Canada’s residential schools are set to ask a judge Wednesday to order Ottawa to search further for documents related to abuse that victims suffered in the schools.

    The First Nations umbrella group wants Canada to search all federal departments and agencies for the historical records, while Ottawa lawyer Fay Brunning, who is representing nine former attendees of one particular school in Ontario, wants the search to “at least’’ involve the RCMP, Health Canada and Department of Justice.

    “The RCMP had jurisdiction over the vast majority of Indian residential schools in Canada when they were operating,’’ Brunning said in an interview.

    The First Nations group, Brunning and lawyers representing the justice department and other interests are scheduled to argue the matter in Ontario Superior Court in Toronto Wednesday, before Justice Paul Perell.

    It’s not the first battle over historical records involving hearings related to the Truth and Reconciliation process.

    After a protracted legal fight, a disk with approximately 12,300 documents, including OPP records from the 1990s detailing abuse at St. Anne’s a residential school in northern Ontario, was handed over by Ottawa last June, following a judge’s order the previous January.

    Five former employees at the school were convicted when the OPP investigated at the time.

    But prior to the judge’s order federal officials had initially stated there were no known incidents of sexual abuse at St. Anne’s.

    The Indian residential schools settlement agreement created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, where aboriginal survivors of sexual and physical abuse in the now-defunct schools have told their personal stories.

    The agreement also established an Independent Assessment Process, where survivors who suffered serious abuse have brought forward claims seeking compensation.

    continued below

  75. In her factum Brunning says one of her clients who says she was sexually abused in the 1960s while attending Bishop Horden residential school at Moose Factory on James Bay, also claims to have witnessed a severe beating of a student by a supervisor at the institution.

    The alleged incident happened in the girls’ dorm at the school and left the victim with 32 stitches, the witness claims. The claimant recalls supervisors were fired and there were arrests.

    Other Bishop Horden claimants represented by Brunning recall similar events.

    But in its factum Ottawa says it has searched its records and not found anything to confirm these alleged incidents.

    “There is no modicum of evidence before this honourable court that would suggest that the alleged documents exist,’’ the factum says.
    Brunning says the settlement agreement also called for Ottawa to scour historical records for documents pertaining to the schools including “at the very least”
    documents about abuse.

    But Brunning says the federal government didn’t meet its legal obligations to do so. Only records kept by Libraries and Archives Canada and Indian Affairs were searched as part of the compensation process, she adds.


    Sept. 19, 2007 — The Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement comes into force. Aside from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the agreement provides two forms of compensation for claimants, including the independent assessment process for more serious abuse cases.

    June 1, 2008 — The launch of the commission’s hearings into victims’ stories and research.

    June 11, 2008 — Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologizes in the House of Commons for the abuses in the past abuses in residential schools, one of the conditions of the settlement agreement.

    January 14, 2014 — Justice Paul Perell orders that OPP documents relating to sexual and physical abuse at St. Anne’s residential school in Fort Albany, Ont., be handed over by the federal government.

    June 20, 2014 — Lawyers for claimants are sent a disk with about 12,300 documents pertaining to St. Anne’s and the OPP investigation of abuse there.


  76. Indian Residential School survivors urged to complete IAP compensation claims

    As claims process wraps up, adjudicator searching for hundreds of former students with incomplete cases

    CBC News May 22, 2015

    As the process to compensate Indian residential school survivors who suffered severe abuse winds down, efforts are being made to reach out to former students who started claims and have not followed up.

    Anyone who suffered sexual or severe physical abuse at one of the schools First Nations children across the country were forced to attend could make a claim for compensation under the Independent Assessment Process or IAP.

    That compensation is over and above the one-time common experience payment all former students received under the 2007 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. Making an IAP claim also precluded survivors from suing any of the parties involved with the schools.

    But now that the IAP is starting to wrap up, the search is on for hundreds of former students who have not completed their claims, known as "lost claimants."

    "We are on track to complete hearings for claimants who suffered abuse at Indian Residential Schools by the spring of 2016," said Chief Adjudicator Dan Shapiro.

    "However, there are over 400 claimants that we have not heard from for an extended time. We need to reach these individuals in order to resolve their claims."

    No trust in system

    The news that hundreds of former students have not finished pursuing their IAP claims shows there have been problems with the process, said Timmins-James Bay MP Charlie Angus.

    "I know many people in the James Bay region who did not want to go through the trauma of telling their story because they didn't believe they would be trusted. They didn't believe it would be a fair process," he said.

    Angus has assisted former students who have had trouble accessing evidence related to the abuse they suffered at residential schools such as St. Anne's in Fort Albany and Bishop Horden in Moose Factory.

    Survivors of both schools have taken the federal government to court over a lack of disclosure of evidence.

    The IAP requires the federal government to turn over historical records related to residential schools.

    But this week, former Bishop Horden students asked a judge to force the federal government to search harder for documents they believe exist and will help corroborate their claims of abuse. The federal government argues it has disclosed everything that is available.

    The judge in the Bishop Horden case has yet to rule.

    But the case is similar to a court battle won by survivors of St. Anne's. In 2014, a court forced the federal government to disclose thousands of pages of police records, which documented convictions of staff at that school.

    Claimants urged to call

    The Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat said it has received 37,962 applications for compensation under the IAP.

    More than 83 per cent of the claims have been resolved, and more than $2.78 billion has been paid out in compensation by the federal government. There are still over 6,300 claims in progress.

    The adjudication secretariat said thousands of notices have been distributed to band offices, friendship centres, health centres and other community organizations in an effort to reach remaining claimants, while still respecting their confidentiality.

    Claimants who have unresolved claims or who have not heard anything about the progress of their claim over the last several months are urged to contact their lawyer, or call the IAP Information line at 1-877-635-2648 to ensure that their claims continue to move forward.


  77. Teachings about aboriginals simply wrong says Murray Sinclair


    Canadians must acknowledge that for generations their public schools have fed them misinformation about aboriginal people, says the chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

    Justice Murray Sinclair, whose commission has examined the history and abuses that took place in Indian residential schools, made the comment in a personal interview with the Citizen.

    Sinclair’s commission has finished six years of hearings and research and will publicly release its findings in Ottawa on June 2.

    The TRC’s report will provide a detailed account of how 150,000 aboriginals were stripped from their families starting in the 1880s and sent to church-run schools established by the federal government. The last residential school closed in the 1990s.

    The report will chronicle the abuse many faced, and how the system scarred several generations of aboriginals, leaving their communities in shambles.

    But Sinclair emphasized that one of the most important messages that will come from the report is that the consequences of the school system are far more wide-reaching than many realize.

    “This is not an aboriginal problem,” he said. “This is a Canadian problem. Because at the same time that aboriginal people were being demeaned in the schools and their culture and language were being taken away from them and they were being told that they were inferior, they were pagans, that they were heathens and savages and that they were unworthy of being respected — that very same message was being given to the non-aboriginal children in the public schools as well.”

    As a result, he said, many generations of non-aboriginal Canadians have had their perceptions of aboriginal people “tainted.”

    “They need to know that this history includes them,” Sinclair said of Canadians.

    He said many people have told the commission they did not know their country had set up a school system that treated aboriginal children so poorly.

    Sinclair said the commission decided during its work that it needed to be “gentle” with Canadians as they learned of their country’s past.

    “We needed to be sure that people were brought to the table of knowledge about this in a way that didn’t scare them, didn’t push them away, didn’t make them feel ashamed or guilty or that they were to blame.

    “But they needed to see that they were victims, too, of this history.”

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  78. In their report Sinclair and his co commissioners former journalist Marie Wilson and Alberta Chief Willie Littlechild, will make recommendations to federal and provincial governments. It’s clear one of them will be to ensure schools teach children about the residential schools and indigenous culture.

    “By including teaching around residential schools in Canadian curriculum,” said Sinclair, “we are not only opening the door to having aboriginal people become part of the circle, we are also opening the eyes of Canadians to the fact that they have been educated in the public schools about aboriginals historically, and even today, in (a way) that is simply wrong and doesn’t contain accurate information.”

    Sinclair’s commission was established as part of a class-action lawsuit settlement between residential school students and the federal government and churches.

    In addition to telling the truth behind the school saga, the commission hopes to foster reconciliation between Canada’s aboriginals and non-aboriginals.

    “The message for all Canadians is it’s important for us to understand that it’s now time for us to live up to the reputation that we think we had, that we thought we had — and we don’t have,” he said.

    “It’s important for us to understand that we have deluded ourselves as a country to a certain extent because we have not educated ourselves about this experience.”

    The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which heard testimony from more than 7,000 former residential school students, has helped shine a light on their experiences.

    Sinclair said that now that those stories about “damaged” people have been told and it is clear that “Canada is responsible for that damage,” it’s time for aboriginals and non-aboriginals to forge a better relationship.

    “This is about your grandchildren,” Sinclair said he often tells people.

    “Because we’re leaving them this society. And do we want to leave them a society in which they are always in conflict? Or do we want to leave them a society in which they see themselves as partners in this wonderful nation that we want to have, but we don’t yet have.”


  79. Residential School Report Just Beginning Of Canada's Healing: Survivors

    By Chinta Puxley, The Canadian Press May 29, 2015

    Mike Cachagee was just four-and-a-half when he was taken from his home and sent to a residential school in northern Ontario.

    For the next 12 years, he never celebrated a birthday.

    He was never hugged.

    He never heard "I love you."

    He was never encouraged or praised.

    He was beaten and sexually abused.

    When he and his younger brother finally returned home, his mother had remarried and started a new family. She barely recognized her sons.

    It took Cachagee two failed marriages, years of alcohol and drug abuse and therapy before he started to come to grips with what happened to him.

    His brother never did. He descended into a life of addiction on Winnipeg's streets.

    "He was only three years old when he went there," Cachagee said.

    "He came out when he was 16 and the rest of his life was just a mess with alcoholism. Just horrid. He never had a chance — all because he was sent off to a residential school."

    The brothers rarely speak now.

    The Truth and Reconciliation Commission examining Canada's Indian residential schools is to release a summary of its final report Tuesday after hearing testimony from 7,000 survivors. The final report marks the end of a five-year exploration of one of the darkest chapters in Canada's history.

    About 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Metis children were taken from their families and forced to attend government schools over much of the last century. The last school closed outside Regina in 1996.

    For survivors such as Cachagee, the torment doesn't abate with the commission's report.

    "We don't need to heal, we need to rebuild," said Cachagee, who now counsels other survivors in Sault Ste Marie, Ont.

    Ken Young remembers the day in the 1950s when he was taken from his home at age eight along with his brothers and sisters.

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  80. He remembers boarding a train with other aboriginal children and the laughter while on the novel journey.

    Then they reached the Prince Albert Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan.

    "We were lonesome," Young said. "I remember a lot of us crying a lot."

    There were public floggings in the dining hall.

    Children had their heads shaved and their legs shackled in pyjamas because they had tried to go home.

    The school was more like a prison, he said.

    "I thought it was normal because I was just a young guy. Later, I realized how bad that was that adults would treat children like that," said Young, a Winnipeg lawyer. "I was ashamed to be who I was because that's what we were taught."

    It took a long time to let go of his anger.

    Young is hoping the commission will recommend a healing strategy developed by survivors that will address the aftermath of Canada's failed policy to "take the Indian out of the child."

    But he suspects the commission's report will go the way of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.

    "There'll be recommendations made and then it will go on a shelf like all the other reports that have been sanctioned by government.

    "I'm not overly optimistic."

    David Harper is more interested in what happens after the final report.

    Harper's mother was in a residential school, but the first time he heard details of her abuse was at her compensation hearing with adjudicators before she died.

    "Every word that came out of her mouth, I kept thinking, 'How dare you Canada, allowing this to happen to my mom.'"

    Just recently, Harper, who is the grand chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak representing Manitoba's northern First Nations, learned one of his uncles was in a residential school and was whipped until he defecated.

    Those stories are just starting to be told, Harper said.

    Harper points to Israel where one of the Holocaust memorials includes an eternal flame.

    "I would like to see something like that for our First Nations, where they could go and sit down and tell their stories to their children," he said.

    "We want to make sure we don't pass on this generational curse."


  81. Chief Justice says Canada attempted ‘cultural genocide’ on aboriginals

    by SEAN FINE - JUSTICE WRITER The Globe and Mail May 28 2015

    Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin says Canada attempted to commit “cultural genocide” against aboriginal peoples, in what she calls the worst stain on Canada’s human-rights record.

    Genocide – an attempt to destroy a people, in whole or part – is a crime under international law. The United Nations’ Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, adopted in 1948, does not use the phrase “cultural genocide,” but says genocide may include causing serious mental harm to a group.

    Chief Justice McLachlin appears to be the highest-ranking Canadian official to use the phrase. Former Liberal prime minister Paul Martin used it two years ago in describing residential schools for aboriginal children when he testified before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up by the Conservative government. That commission is to make its report public next week.

    “The most glaring blemish on the Canadian historic record relates to our treatment of the First Nations that lived here at the time of colonization,” Chief Justice McLachlin said. She was delivering the fourth annual Pluralism Lecture of the Global Centre for Pluralism, founded in 2006 by the Aga Khan, spiritual leader of Ismaili Muslims, and the federal government.

    After an initial period of inter-reliance and equality, she said Canada developed an “ethos of exclusion and cultural annihilation.”

    “The objective – I quote from Sir John A. Macdonald, our revered forefather – was to ‘take the Indian out of the child,’ and thus solve what was referred to as the Indian problem. ‘Indianness’ was not to be tolerated; rather it must be eliminated. In the buzz-word of the day, assimilation; in the language of the 21st century, cultural genocide.” She made clear that this treatment extended well into the 20th century.

    John Borrows, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law at the University of Victoria, called the Chief Justice’s use of the term “unparalleled” in Canadian history.

    He said the term is unlikely to have legal consequences, but carries symbolic importance coming from the Chief Justice. “A lot of indigenous people and other people have been asking for that word to be part of our vocabulary because it does more fully communicate the weight of what happened.”

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  82. Peter Russell a political science professor emeritus at the University of Toronto, said that Chief Justice McLachlin shares with virtually all Supreme Court judges since a landmark rights case in 1990 “a tremendous sense of sorrow about the denial of very fundamental rights to Canada’s native people.”

    Chief Justice McLachlin, who has been on the court since 1989 and chief since 2000, is its longest-serving chief justice. She cited early laws barring treaty Indians from leaving reservations, rampant starvation and disease and the denial of the right to vote.

    She also pointed to the outlawing of aboriginal religious and social traditions, such as the potlatch and the sun dance, and to residential schools, in which children who had been taken from their parents “were forbidden to speak their native languages, forced to wear white man’s clothing, forced to observe Christian religious practices and sometimes subjected to sexual abuse.

    The objective was to ‘take the Indian out of the child,’ and thus to solve what John A. Macdonald referred to as the ‘Indian problem.’”

    Chief Justice McLachlin authored the court’s unanimous ruling last June that legal observers called the most important aboriginal-rights decision in Canadian history. The court determined that native Canadians still own their ancestral lands, unless they signed away their ownership in treaties with government. While they do not retain absolute control, the ruling gives them enormous leverage in negotiations with outside parties that wish to develop their lands. The court granted title to the Tsilhqot’in Nation to an area more than half the size of greater Vancouver, though only 400 people lived there when when the British Crown asserted its sovereignty in 1846.

    In her speech, she said Canada had learned from its mistakes, and she cited Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s 2008 apology to aboriginal peoples for the abuses of the residential schools.

    The event was held in partnership with The Globe and Mail.


  83. Residential schools Promises of reconciliation saved in bentwood box

    Canadians offered hundreds of items to commission at events over 6 years

    By Duncan McCue, CBC News May 30, 2015

    A broken brick from a demolished residential school. A hockey jersey. Star blankets. A leather-bound book of pledges. DVDs. A miniature birch bark canoe.

    These are just a few of more than 1,300 items presented to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission into Indian Residential Schools (TRC) in the past six years.

    The objects were all placed gently in the bentwood box carved specially to house them, representing commitments to work toward reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples.

    "What's actually in there are deep and sincere promises to make this country a better place and address past wrongs," says Ry Moran, director of the National Research Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.

    The idea behind the TRC's bentwood box was to create a sacred space at eachnational TRC event, where participants were encouraged to make concrete commitments to improve relationships with indigenous peoples.

    These "Expressions of Reconciliation" — usually represented by a physical object and an oral statement in front of an audience — were made by everyone from residential school survivors to church representatives and government officials.

    "It was more than just words on paper or a handshake in front of cameras," says Moran. "The materials placed in there are a springboard to move this country to a brighter future for all peoples."

    The bentwood box objects are being archived at the National Research Centre at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. Moran is determined to make sure the items don't "end up on shelf collecting dust and withering," but travel the country to inspire other Canadians.

    "We hope people will understand, 'Yes, there is something I can do: in myself or my organization, to meaningfully address past harms and try to move this country to a better place.'"

    Here are five things you'll find in the bentwood box:

    1. Suitcase

    In 2013, at the Montreal TRC event, residential school survivor Marcel Petiquay placed the small brown suitcase his mother had lovingly packed for him before sending him off to Amos Indian Residential School. It contained clothes, his favourite toys and a pair of moccasins. The suitcase was taken away and returned empty when he left school, 12 years later.

    "This represents the many suitcases packed by parents of the children, with ceremonial clothes, dried meats, beaded moccasins," says Moran. "Most of the suitcases were immediately removed when the child got through the front door."

    Petiquay inscribed the suitcase with a poem he wrote and packed it with aboriginal medicines before placing it in the Bentwood Box. The suitcase represents his commitment to healing, sobriety and caring for his family.

    2. Ballet slippers

    In 2014, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet offered a shadow box containing a pair of ballet slippers entwined with tiny beaded moccasins, along with a promise to create a ballet based on residential school experiences. That promise was fulfilled with the production of Going Home Star last year.

    "What was important for me was this whole production would be a process between aboriginal and non-aboriginal people," says Andre Lewis, artistic director of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. "I always felt reconciliation shouldn't be just about indigenous people, or just about non-indigenous people, but us working together."

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  84. Anishinaabe author Joseph Boyden wrote the ballet and the Winnipeg production featured an indigenous installation artist and indigenous singers. Going Home Star will go on national tour in 2016.

    3. Blue Rodeo song lyrics

    Canadian country rock band Blue Rodeo offered a handwritten copy of the lyrics of Fools Like You to the Bentwood Box, after performing at the first TRC event in Winnipeg.

    Greg Keelor wrote the song in 1990 to decry the Canadian government's neglect of First Nations. "What you preach for others/Why don't you practise that first-hand?" Keelor asks in one verse. He feels the song could apply to the government's relationship with the TRC today.

    "The government pays [the TRC] lip service, but then they do all these things that seem to be against it," says Keelor. "That's the dance native people and our government have been doing since Day 1. Every treaty is broken. It's just such a horrible thing."

    4. Broken chalice

    In 2011, officials from the United Church presented a piece of pottery shaped as a cracked chalice, along with a promise to work toward repairing the church's broken relationship with aboriginal peoples.

    "The concept of brokenness is a useful starting place," says Moran of the chalice. "If, in fact, the relationship is this broken, it will take a long time to repair all the pieces."

    In another a gesture of reconciliation, United Church councils in British Columbia hired a "mobile counsellor" — a full-time person to provide psychotherapeutic services for survivors and their families — who met with more than 300 families over three years.

    As an aside, Moran adds an amusing story about finding the broken chalice while unpacking the box at the end of the Atlantic event.

    He thought it had shattered in transit. "Oh my god, I'm dead," he thought and was frantic to find the broken pieces — until someone explained it was meant to be that way.

    5. Saskatoon police hat

    In 2012, Saskatoon's police chief placed a police hat in the Bentwood Box to mark efforts toward improving the relationship between police and the aboriginal community.

    The Stonechild Inquiry in 2004 had lambasted police for the common practice of "starlight tours," where police would drop off perceived troublemakers on the outskirts of town on deathly cold winter nights, leaving them to make their way back home on their own. Some, like Neil Stonechild, froze to death.

    "Saskatoon went through a rough time at the beginning of the century with a few inquiries," says Chief Clive Weighill. "I thought it was important for us to come forward to say we've worked very hard with the aboriginal community and list some of what we accomplished."

    Key changes include hiring more aboriginal members and compulsory diversity training. Weighill also highlighted annual meetings he now holds with aboriginal elders, which led to him participating in his first sweat lodge. "It really is a very moving spiritual event."

    Weighill also committed at the TRC to creating a memorial to missing and murdered indigenous women. That's expected to be finished this autumn and erected in front of police headquarters in Saskatoon.

    see photos in this article at:


  85. Truth and Reconciliation Aboriginal people conflicted as commission wraps up after 6 years

    #MyReconciliationIncludes hashtag shows skepticism many Aboriginal Peoples have

    By Connie Walker, CBC News Posted: Jun 01, 2015

    After six years of travelling the country to hear testimony from 7,000 witnesses about their experiences at residential schools, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission wraps up this week in Ottawa.

    The final event kicked off yesterday with thousands of people participating in a reconciliation walk through the nation's capital. The summary of the commission's report will be released Tuesday.

    "I never, ever envisioned that this would happen, that thousands of people would gather to give expression to the idea that we are … all one," said Chief Robert Joseph, ambassador for Reconciliation Canada and a member of the National Assembly of First Nations elders council.

    "And that includes me, somebody who was so terribly beat up in these residential schools that I felt absolutely worthless, no purpose in my life. And now here I am and I see all this humanity, and I'm inspired to my soul that people care enough to come out and walk with us today. And we walk together."

    When the commission began in June 2010, there were high hopes it would help repair the relationship between aboriginal people and the rest of Canada. However, as the TRC winds down, many seem conflicted about the state of reconciliation in Canada.

    About 150,000 children attended residential school over more than 100 years, starting in 1880s until the last school was closed in 1996. Many students as young children were forcibly removed from their families and sent to the schools to live. The commission heard thousands of statements about their experiences, which often included emotional, physical and sexual abuse.

    Viv Ketchum, a survivor who travelled to Ottawa to attend the final TRC event, was hopeful after hearing Prime Minister Stephen Harper's apology in 2008, but has since been disappointed by the process.

    "I don't expect much to happen after, I don't think," she said. "This is just going to be one final hurrah for us and we're just going to be placed aside. I think that's the reality for us [survivors]."

    Some of the truths about residential schools uncovered in the last six years include horror stories of homemade electric chairs, malnutrition experiments and the deaths of more 6,000 children.

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  86. Justice Murray Sinclair head of the commission said that number is likely higher.

    "Undoubtedly, the most shocking piece of information that we uncovered was the number of children who died in the schools," Sinclair said. "The number of children who died was a significant number, and we think that we have not uncovered anywhere near what the total would be because the record keeping around that question was very poor."

    Final report

    Sinclair will release a 300-page executive summary of the final report on Tuesday.

    "The report itself — just by its size alone — is going to document as full a story of residential schools as has ever been documented in the past." Sinclair told CBC News last week.

    The report will include recommendations, and many expect Sinclair to argue that Canada's treatment of aboriginal people in residential schools be deemed "cultural genocide."

    In an interview with CBC's Power and Politics on Friday, Sinclar said the "evidence is mounting that the government did try to eliminate the culture and language of indigenous people for well over 100 years."

    "They did it by forcibly removing from their families and placing them within institutions that were cultural indoctrination centres, really," he said. "That appears to us to fall within the definition of genocide — within the UN convention of genocide."

    Last week, Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin also said Canada attempted "cultural genocide" against aboriginal people.

    It's a term some residential school survivors themselves used when giving testimony about the abuse they endured in the schools. A volume of survivor testimony will be released in the final report, which will eventually contain six volumes and approximately two million words, according to Sinclair.

    Vivian Ketchum has never told her full story at one of the national events. It is too painful for her to recount. She hesitated travelling to Ottawa to take part in the final event, but said she came to honour her ancestors.

    "A lot of open wounds. A lot of memories are just coming back to me right now, some that I didn't even know were there," she said.

    Tweets reveal

    The hashtag #MyReconciliationIncludes continued to gather steam over the weekend. It was started by renowned Métis artist Christi Belcourt with this tweet on Friday.

    Christi Belourt, Métis artist, started the #MyReconciliationIncludes hashtag with this tweet

    The hashtag quickly went viral and the tweets illustrate the hope and skepticism many aboriginal people have about the idea of reconciliation.


  87. Truth and Reconciliation chair urges Canada to adopt UN declaration on Indigenous Peoples

    Justice Murray Sinclair reveals some report recommendations in CBC interview ahead of Tuesday release

    By Haydn Watters, CBC News June 01, 2015

    Truth and Reconciliation Commission chair Murray Sinclair says his panel's much-anticipated final report on Tuesday will recommend that the Canadian government implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

    In an interview with CBC News chief correspondent Peter Mansbridge on Monday's edition of The National, Sinclair said the UN's declaration is the starting point for reconciliation.

    The UN declaration outlines the minimum human rights standards for indigenous people around the world and their rights to self-determination.

    Canada didn't sign the document when it was accepted by the UN in 2007, but Sinclair says the federal government has since supported it.

    "They did adopt it as an aspirational document, and that's their words. And we agree with that," he said.

    "It should be an aspirational document. So what we're saying to them is, 'Aspire to it.'"

    Education 'the key to reconciliation'

    Tuesday's report by the commission comes after six years of testimony from more than 7,000 witnesses about their residential school experiences, which often included emotional, physical and sexual abuse.

    The report calls the UN's declaration the "framework for reconciliation." It recommends all levels of government to fully adopt and implement the declaration and asks the federal government to create a plan to ensure the declaration's goals are accomplished.

    The commission's full report and recommendations will be released Tuesday morning at 11 a.m. ET.

    Tuesday's report also includes several recommendations for a royal proclamation to be issued by the Crown.

    In Monday's interview, Sinclair called the proclamation "the way to go."

    The report says the proclamation would reaffirm the relationship between Aboriginal Peoples and the Crown.

    The commission demands it include commitments to implement the UN charter, renew treaty establishments and change constitutional and legal orders to make Aboriginal Peoples full-fledged partners in Confederation.

    CBC News has followed the embargo process put in place by the commission ahead of the report's release on Tuesday. It was given this specific section of the report by an independent source.

    Sinclair also revealed that the report's recommendations aren't just directed at the federal government. He says the recommendations also target business leaders and municipal and provincial governments, among others.

    Another key recommendation in Tuesday's report that Sinclair stressed in the interview with Mansbridge is the use of education.

    "Education is what got us into this mess — the use of education at least in terms of residential schools — but education is the key to reconciliation," he said.

    "We need to look at the way we are educating children. That's why we say that this is not an aboriginal problem. It's a Canadian problem."


  88. Truth and Reconciliation Commission By the numbers

    Tuesday's final report only a first step in reconciliation

    By Daniel Schwartz, CBC News June 02, 2015

    The Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Canada's Indian residential schools issues its summary report this morning, and TRC chair Justice Murray Sinclair has hinted the report will cite a form of genocide to describe what happened to the 150,000 or so aboriginal children and their families while the schools operated.

    In media interviews, Sinclair has also revealed that the TRC has documented the deaths of over 6,000 students while in residential schools, adding that there are probably more.

    That would put the odds of dying in Canadian residential schools over the years they operated at about the same as for those serving in Canada's armed forces during the Second World War.

    The commission is a requirement of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement reached in 2007, the largest class action settlement in Canadian history.

    In an earlier report, the TRC said "the residential schools were intended to bring about the end of Aboriginal people as a distinct group within Canadian society," adding that the effort failed, because "Aboriginal parents and children continuously resisted residential schooling."

    Residential schools

    Years the residential schools program operated: 1883 - 1996

    By 1979, only 12 residential schools were still operating. The program largely wound down during the 1980s.

    Total number of schools over time: 139

    Listed on the official court website for the settlement of the Residential Schools Class Action Litigation

    According to the TRC interim report, "At least nine other schools were not included in the settlement agreement because they closed in the early twentieth century."

    Peak number of schools operating at the same time: 80, in 1931

    Share of the schools operated by the Roman Catholic Church: up to 60 per cent

    Total First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children placed in residential schools: more than 150,000

    Estimated number of residential schools student deaths: over 6,000, according to TRC chair Justice Murray Sinclair

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  89. Odds of a student dying over the life of the program: 1 in 25 (if 6,000)

    Odds of dying for Canadians serving in the Second World War: 1 in 26

    According to Saturday Night magazine, reporting on residential schools, Nov. 23, 1907: "Indian boys and girls are dying like flies.... Even war seldom shows as large a percentage of fatalities as does the education system we have imposed on our Indian wards."

    Odds of a residential school student dying in the early years of the program: 1 in 2

    Duncan Campbell Scott, then deputy superintendent-general of Indian Affairs, wrote in 1913: "It is quite within the mark to say that fifty per cent of the children who passed through these schools did not live to benefit from the education, which they had received therein."

    Former students living today: 80,000

    Compensation for sexual or serious sexual assaults

    Claims resolved by the independent assessment process: 31,970

    Claims in progress: 5,995

    Total compensation paid: $2.8 billion

    IAP compensation numbers, as of April 30, 2015

    Like the TRC itself, the IAP comes from the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, to resolve claims out of court.

    Any former students could also receive what's called a common experience payment of $10,000 for the first year of residence and $3,000 for each additional year of residence.

    Truth and Reconciliation Commission

    Statements received by the TRC from witnesses: over 6,750

    Hours of recordings collected by the TRC: 1,355

    National events held by the TRC: 7

    Volumes of the TRC final report: 6 (projected)

    Truth and Reconciliation chair urges adoption of UN declaration on Indigenous Peoples

    Residential schools findings point to 'cultural genocide,' commission chair says

    Truth and Reconciliation: More stories, analysis, photos, videos


  90. Truth and Reconciliation report brings calls for action, not words

    Commission releases 94 recommendations to confront 'cultural genocide' of schools

    By Chloe Fedio, CBC News June 02, 2015

    Canadians must believe in the need for reconciliation with Aboriginal Peoples to repair the damage caused by residential schools, aboriginal leaders said Tuesday, as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its summary report and findings.

    Justice Murray Sinclair, chair of the commission, called for changes in policies and programs, as well as commemoration through education and memorials, in introducing the commission's summary report and 94 recommendations.

    ​"Words are not enough," Sinclair said, to address the "cultural genocide" of residential schools on aboriginal communities.

    "Reconciliation is not an aboriginal problem — it is a Canadian problem. It involves all of us."

    Aboriginal leaders, church representatives and government and opposition leaders all acknowledged the commission's work is just the beginning, with many agreeing the history and legacy of residential schools should be part of the Canadian education curriculum.

    Sinclair said seven generations were denied their identity as they were separated from their language, culture, spiritual traditions and their collective history.

    "Survivors were stripped of the ability to answer these questions, but they were also stripped of the love of their families. They were stripped of their self-respect and they were stripped of their identity," he said.

    The commission's report was released Tuesday after six years of hearings and testimony from more than 6,000 residential school survivors and their loved ones. Sinclair received lengthy standing ovations while speaking to a packed Ottawa ballroom about the recommendations.

    Sinclair also called for an annual "State of Aboriginal Peoples" report and action on the overrepresentation of aboriginal children in the child welfare system, as well as aboriginal people, especially youth, in custody.

    But during the largest ovation, for the commission's support for a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt remained seated. The Harper government has consistently refused calls for a national inquiry on the issue.

    "Our recommendations should not be seen as an itemization of a national penance but as an opportunity to embrace a second chance at establishing a relationship of equals, which was intended at the beginning and should have continued throughout," he told the crowd.

    "Our leaders must not fear this onus of reconciliation. The burden is not theirs to bear alone, rather, reconciliation is a process that involves all parties of this new relationship."

    Later, during a news conference, Sinclair said the report is meant to "stand the test of time," and is not just for the current government.

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  91. Remember and change

    Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, delivered a joint statement with representatives from the Presbyterian, United and Catholic churches, acknowledging the "heartbreaking stories" of young students at schools that were administered by the churches.

    "We know and declare that our apologies are not enough," he said. "Those harmed were children, vulnerable, far from their families and their communities. The sexual, physical and emotional abuse they suffered is well-documented, particularly in the work of the TRC."

    The summary report released today called on the Pope to issue an official apology, to be delivered in Canada within a year. In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI expressed "sorrow" for abuse aboriginal students suffered at residential schools run by the Roman Catholic Church.

    Valcourt said reconciliation is not to "forgive and forget, but to remember and change."

    He said "it's not going to be an easy journey" to arrive at reconciliation, but that the government was committed to continue to work to improve relationships between aboriginal and non-aboriginal people.

    "I'm confident that we can build on the important work that's been done and continue to heal as a nation," he said.

    NDP Leader Tom Mulcair hailed the report, saying aboriginal affairs touch the future of the economy, the development of resources and the environment.

    "Let's recognize the harm that's been done and let's change our attitudes," he told reporters. "We can't let this incredible work not constitute the opportunity to change things for the future."

    Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau offered "unwavering support" for the report's recommendations.

    Assembly of First Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde said that while Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued an apology to former residential school students in 2008, it's time for the next step.

    "It really is an empty, meaningless apology without action," Bellegarde said.

    After a meeting with Harper and the minister of aboriginal affairs, Sinclair said in a statement Tuesday that he is still concerned by the "government's resistance to the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples."

    Sinclair said the prime minister was "open to listening to some of our concerns and inquired about some of our recommendations" and that the commissioners have offered to meet again once Harper has read the report.

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  92. Inuit leader Terry Audla urged the Canadian government to recognize survivors of residential schools in Newfoundland and Labrador and the Inuit regions, as well. The federal government has denied responsibility for those schools that were not directly funded by Ottawa.

    Phil Fontaine, a former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations and a residential school survivor, said it's been a "long and painful" journey to arrive at this "historic moment" in Canadian history.

    "This day will help us put that pain behind us," he said. "This day, Canada has come of age."

    Must make 'broken country whole again'

    In between the commissioners' speeches, videos presented residential school survivors speaking emotionally about what they experienced while in the schools. Many of the survivors broke down while recalling dark, disturbing moments in explicit detail.

    The videos also included speeches from aboriginal leaders, former prime ministers Paul Martin and Joe Clark and non-aboriginal people, including schoolchildren, talking about the need to confront the legacy of the residential schools

    Commissioner Marie Wilson thanked residential school survivors for their bravery and trust in sharing their experiences.

    "And now we must — we must demand that same bravery and trust from all Canadians. Not just government officials, not just elected leaders, but every person in Canada," she said.

    "We need reconciliation so that a broken country can become whole again."

    At least 3,200 students never returned home from residential schools — in a third of those cases, their names were not recorded and in half their cause of death was not recorded, she said. Children were buried at schools that often had graveyards but no playgrounds, she said.

    "Parents who had their children ripped out of their arms, taken to a distant and unknown place, never to be seen again. Buried in an unmarked grave, long ago forgotten and overgrown. Think of that. Bear that. Imagine that. The reason of death a mystery," she said.

    The commission established the National Residential School Student Death Register in an effort to record those names.

    She called for changes to fill the gaps in Canadian history classes.

    "How frank and truthful are we with Canadian students about the history of residential schools and the role our governments and religious institutions played in its systematic attempt to erase the cultures of aboriginal people?" she said.

    Report commissioner Chief Wilton Littlechild spoke of his own time in a residential school, and emphasized how the importance of families resonated in the commission's work.

    "Families that had been attacked, both individually and collectively, by a policy designed to tear families apart and to remove the spirit of indigenous people. A policy that sought to turn families against each other," he said.

    "That did, and continues to, impact aboriginal families and intergenerational survivors. Despite these immense obstacles, our families remained resilient."​

    see photos and videos at:


  93. Truth and Reconciliation Commission urges Canada to confront 'cultural genocide' of residential schools

    Testimony from thousands of residential school survivors leads to 94 recommendations

    CBC News June 02, 2015

    Canada needs to move from "apology to action" if reconciliation with Aboriginal Peoples is to succeed, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission says in its landmark report, which includes 94 recommendations for change in policies, programs and the "way we talk to, and about, each other."

    The summary of the final report, released today after years of hearings and testimony from thousands of residential school survivors and many others, makes many bold and potentially costly recommendations — not just to the different levels of government, but to schools, societies, churches and aboriginal governments.

    The goal is to repair the relationship between aboriginal people and the rest of Canada.

    The recommendations include the creation of a National Centre and Council for Truth and Reconciliation and the drafting of new and revised legislation for education, child welfare and aboriginal languages.

    CBC News previously reported some of the recommendations — including the implementation of the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples — during an interview with Justice Murray Sinclair, the head of the commission, on The National on Monday night.

    The commission was launched with a mandate to explore the history and legacy of the residential school system, and the process has faced hurdles — including the replacement of commission members and battles with the government over documents.

    Tuesday's full release comes after the commission travelled the country, listening to six years of testimony from nearly 7,000 witnesses. The more than 360-page document provides some stories from survivors, including tales of children taken from parents, siblings separated and abuse and neglect at residential schools.

    From the outset, the long-awaited summary report blasts more than 100 years of Canada's aboriginal policy, saying in the introduction that the "establishment and operation of residential schools were a central element of this policy, which can best be described as 'cultural genocide.'"

    Speaking to CBC's chief correspondent Peter Mansbridge before the findings were released, Sinclair said the document is not just addressed to government: "Many of our elements, many of our recommendations and many of the calls to action are actually aimed at Canadian society."

    Key recommendations

    Below are summaries of some of the policy recommendations made. Read the full summary report on the TRC website.

    HEALTH: An acknowledgement that the current state of aboriginal health is a direct result of previous government policies and the implementation of health-care rights for aboriginal people.

    EDUCATION: The creation and funding for new aboriginal education legislation, which protects languages and cultures and closes the education gap for aboriginal people.

    JUSTICE: A commitment to eliminate the overrepresentation of aboriginal people in custody and in trouble with the law, along with the collection and publication of data on criminal victimization of aboriginal people.

    PUBLIC INQUIRY: The creation of a public inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls.

    MONITORING: The creation of a national council for reconciliation, which would monitor and report on reconciliation progress, as well as the introduction of an annual State of Aboriginal Peoples report delivered by the prime minister.

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  94. LANGUAGE The government is asked to implement an Aboriginal Languages Act and appoint a language commissioner in order to preserve and promote it.

    FUNDING: The report calls for $10 million over seven years from the federal government for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation

    COMMEMORATION: The creation of a statutory holiday to honour survivors, their families and communities – and to ensure "public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process."

    MEMORIALS: The report asks for funding for memorials, community events and museums, including a museum reconciliation commemoration program, to be launched in time for Canada's 150th anniversary in 2017.

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued an apology to former residential school students in 2008, saying the "policy of assimilation was wrong, has caused great harm, and has no place in our country."

    More apologies are needed, the summary report says, calling on the Pope and clergy leaders to apologize to survivors for the abuse suffered in Catholic-run residential schools.

    But apologies alone are not enough, the authors say, noting that survivors and others who have spoken have told the commission that for "reconciliation to thrive in the coming years, Canada must move from apology to action."

    Reconciliation, the report says, is not a "one-time event," but is instead a "multi-generational journey that involves all Canadians" in schools and beyond.

    Closing the gap

    The recommendations also address the disparity between aboriginal and non-aboriginal people and push the government and other organizations to close this gap.

    The summary report particularly focuses on the gap in education, with the commission noting the disparity in both aboriginal education funding and in the performance and achievement of aboriginal students. Their recommendations task the federal government with developing a joint strategy to eliminate this discrepancy and present annual reports on progress.

    "What we have said to government leaders is that education is what got us into this mess, the use of education, at least, in terms of residential schools," Sinclair told CBC News Monday night ahead of the release. "But education is the key to reconciliation, because we need to look at the way we are educating children."

    "That's why we say this is not an aboriginal problem, it's a Canadian problem."

    Sinclair said he wants to see change to teaching in public and aboriginal schools to make sure people understand the "full and proper history of each indigenous group and the territories in which they live."

    More funding from the federal government is also needed to support aboriginal students who wish to go to post-secondary schooling, the authors say.

    The recommendations included in Tuesday's report are non-binding — the government doesn't have to act, but the commission is pushing for the implementation of its recommendations and urging Canadians to do the same.

    "Reconciliation is going to take hard work. People of all walks of life and at all levels of society will need to be willingly engaged," the authors say in the closing notes, where the authors thank survivors who "in tears and with anger, shared their pain."

    "They came forward to share their stories, not just to ease their burden, but also to try to make things better for their children and their grandchildren."

    see photos and links at:


  95. Secretary General Praises Canada’s Truth, Reconciliation Commission for Setting Example by Addressing Systemic Rights Violations against Indigenous Peoples


    Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message on the release of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, in Ottawa, today:

    I congratulate the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the peoples of Canada and the Government on the release of the final report to inform all about what happened in the “Indian residential schools” over the course of 126 years. I join Canada in honouring the memory of all whose human rights were violated in these schools through forced assimilation.

    The support of the United Nations for the work of the Truth Commission is rooted in a conviction that historical injustices contribute to a legacy of continuing disadvantages and ongoing violations of indigenous peoples’ rights. Recording and sharing the truth enables those affected to come to terms with their suffering, loss and grief. Informing society about how the rights of individuals and peoples have been violated is vital to preventing the recurrence of such tragedies.

    I would like to recognize the courage of the survivors who carried their childhood wounds into their adult lives, and have lived to tell the truth. I also admire those who have agreed to accept the findings of this report. Truth-telling is important but not sufficient for reconciliation. I encourage all involved in this effort to follow up on the report’s recommendations, using the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a road map.

    The United Nations stands with all peoples of Canada in remembering your losses and suffering, and calls upon other States with similar residential school practices to examine historic wrongs and legacies of injustice.


  96. Buffy Sainte Marie On Idle No More Stephen Harper And Residential Schools

    By Joshua Ostroff, The Huffington Post June 3, 2015

    Buffy Sainte-Marie, adorned in feathers, beads and a bad-ass black leather jacket, is smiling brightly in a sky-scraping hotel suite facing the CN Tower. The charismatic, how-could-she-be-74-years-old Cree singer-songwriter and political activist is a far ways from Saskatchewan’s Qu'Appelle Valley where she was raised. And far from the Kauai goat farm that she's called home since the 1960s.

    Sainte-Marie left the rez more than a half-century ago to become a leading figure in the folk music revolution that was fomenting in Toronto's Yorkville and New York's Greenwich Village. Her subsequent mainstream success broke down North America's cowboys-and-Indians stereotypes as she stormed the "Tonight Show," "American Bandstand" and "Soul Train" stages. She moved onto "Sesame Street" in the late '70s (after her anti-war activism got her blacklisted by radio) and even nabbed a best song Oscar in the 1980s. In the '90s, she was named to the Order of Canada, among many other honours.

    Now Sainte-Marie is back from biding her time in Hawaii — and devising an ingenious idea to solve the First Nations housing crisis — with an aptly named new album "Power in the Blood," one which she says alternates between "a fist point of view" and "hand around the shoulder guidance."

    Accordingly, the raucous agit-rock record can also be heard as something of a soundtrack to the Idle No More movement. And much like Buffy's been keeping busy while seemingly off the radar, she says she's not alone.

    "We've had an indigenous peoples grassroots movement all along. It didn't just show up because we didn't have anything to do that day," she laughs.

    "The way I see Idle No More is that it's not a structure at all. It's not a corporation or a club with somebody the president and somebody the vice-president. It's not like that. it's not a hierarchical organization. It really is life in a circle. That is just who we are."

    Sainte-Marie, however, also sees the Idle movement as much more than many of us think. Not only has the Canadian-born movement expanded southward, she says it now connects to "Planet Indigenous," drawing lines to the Sami people of Scandinavia, the Maoris of New Zealand, the Aboriginals of Australia and native peoples across Central and South America.

    This ability to think global without losing a local perspective is how she was able to take aboriginal music mainstream decades ago, and it's how she's developed a worldview that looks out for her people while acknowledging that everyone is facing the same threats, be it Climate Change, corporate "racketeers" or violence against women.

    Sainte-Marie tours with a red dress that she hangs on a coat tree onstage to "represent my missing and murdered sisters" and thinks there should be a focus on indigenous women but she also says there's a bigger issue at hand.

    "It's just horrifying [but] I think it goes even beyond to the way that women are treated globally — there's a lot of missing and murdered women. What we really need to be dealing with in the big picture is decolonizing men," she says. "There's something that we allow and even encourage in men that shows up all over the planet. Boys need to be raised to be human beings instead of 'soldierized' at a certain age. They kinda have their heart ripped out of them."

    Sainte-Marie would probably appreciate this acting as the segue to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, of whom she is no fan.

    "Oh, come on!" she exclaims when asked how she thinks he's handled aboriginal issues. "Again it's even bigger than how has he dealt with First Nations, it's how has he dealt with everything.

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  97. The man has no respect for life. Have you been to the tar sands? Oh brother, don't go. It's a nightmare. It's so much worse than I could've ever imagined. That's where Mr. Harper oughta live, we oughta build him a nice little house right there."

    "When you talk to indigenous elders," she continues, impassioned, "they signed away these lands because they thought 'We've lived in poverty all our lives. We were raise in residential schools. But our children are going to get a hospital, roads, schools.' And what did they get? The surface of the moon."

    But don't think that Sainte-Marie is discouraged. She says she's always finding little things that are being done in the right direction. Recently she even found a big thing right there in the land of the oilsands.

    "The Alberta election, that's a change, that's inspiring to a lot of people. Sometimes people get to feeling so dis-empowered when it appears that things are going wrong. We can pick up on momentum like the Alberta election or like Idle No More," she says.

    "What can government do? They can listen to their own people. But I'll tell you what citizens can do, when we elect one of these people — whether we think it's a good guy or a bozo — you got to stay on the case. You don't vote and go home and give them the keys to the car, he'll drive you right off a cliff. You have to help people to stay honest."

    Buffy also sees hope in the recent decision of the coastal B.C. Lax Kw’alaams nation to turn down a billion-dollar offer to build a natural gas plant on their land over fears of environmental devastation.

    "I think it's great that they had the guts to do that. In the 1700s, I think it was the Cheyenne that described gold as 'the yellow metal that drives the white people crazy.' And it really does. Symbolically, it's incredible thing that they've done.”

    Sainte-Marie will also be an honourary witness and performer on June 3 at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's closing ceremonies in Ottawa, something which hits particularly close to home as some of her own family were raised in residential schools.

    "You talk about all the foster home kids, some of those parents they grew up without parents. They never knew a parent. How were they supposed to know how a family works? What they learned was how to be a bullying nun, how to be a pedophile priest, that's what they learned. That's what we've been living with."

    She adds that the tragedies that her people have faced has been the topics of some her most famous songs, like "My Country Tis Of Thy People You're Dying."

    "It was about genocide and I brought it up in the '60s and, of course, nobody ever thought about the genocide of the Americas. That song dealt with a lot of the same things that we're dealing with now. People know about residential schools now but then they didn't. See why I see progress? Truth and Reconciliation has ripped back the bedclothes of horror that Canadians have to understand in order to keep going on and keep on getting better."

    In fact, she says, with eyes twinkling confirmation, that things are getting better all around.

    "I'm very optimistic because I believe that we are ripening. Every single one of us is ripening every minute. I know I am. I'm 74 and I know that every day has been better for me. I have ups and downs but in general I've enjoyed every year more. I've got enjoyed every decade more.

    "As I look around, we made a lot of progress since the '60s but at the time it didn't look like we were going fast enough. That's always the way it is. You're always on the cutting edge. The future isn't out there someplace, it's right now."

    see links, photos and videos at:


  98. Still Surviving Reconciliation Through Everyday Rebellion

    Residential school survivors rebuild through small acts of hope and resistance. First of two.

    By Meghan Mast, 2 June 2015, TheTyee.ca

    For years Gina Laing followed her grandmothers up the river behind the cannery to bathe. They'd walk along a little creek to a waterfall that poured into a clear green pond. A canopy of trees and ferns shaded the women as they slipped, fully clothed, into the water. How noble and then comical they looked when they emerged again -- arms in a V, hands turned upwards, clothes plastered to their skin, their long black braids dripping.

    Both grandmothers were gone now. And that memory seemed far away as Laing, at 17, pushed her way through the trees. She had returned from residential school a year earlier. Stepping over the stones, she walked closer to the rushing water. She sat down on a large rock and studied the gun in her lap. Her last living grandmother had just died. The only person who "loved her without conditions." Slowly she lifted the heavy, metal object to her mouth.

    Just then she heard a noise that made her look up. A blue heron hurtled through the sky, squawking wildly before belly flopping into the water, legs and wings splayed. Screeching and hollering, the bird climbed onto a rock and shook itself off. "I couldn't help it. I started laughing," she remembered. "I put the gun down. I started laughing. I started crying. I started laughing. I started crying. I figured, 'Well if you can be so ugly and awkward and fall all over the place and pick yourself up, I can do the same.'"

    Gina Laing is now 67. A gentle woman with a warm manner and a penchant for flower-print shirts, she's a mother, a grandmother and a great-grandmother. She watches Jim Carrey's Liar Liar when she's upset, or a Burt Lancaster movie where "the good guys always win." She also likes horror movies because she needs "to believe that there are things more terrible than what happened."

    Laing was one of an estimated 150,000 aboriginal children across Canada brought to residential schools between 1876 until the last federally run school closed in 1996. Children were taken from their parents, often forcibly, and banned from speaking their language. The schools were part of a federal assimilation policy to integrate aboriginal people into white society. The goal was to 'kill the Indian' in the child.

    In the 10 years she spent at Alberni Indian residential school, Laing, like many former students, suffered repeated sexual and physical abuse. She was seven when she arrived. "Residential school perverted everything that was beautiful," she said. Water had always been sacred to her family. But bath time at residential school remains a traumatic memory. Laing would sit in the recycled, cloudy bath water while staff scrubbed her until her skin was red and sore, calling her "a dirty little Indian."

    Over time, she has come to love the water again. She doesn't have the strength to walk to the spot where her grandmothers bathed, but she uses her time in the shower to pray "to God." Though, she stressed, "I don't have to call him God if I don't want to." She reads the bible every night before bed. Something she learned from her mother, she said, not from residential school.

    The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which gathered witness testimonies from 7,000 residential school survivors and their families beginning in 2009, wraps up this week, May 31 to June 3. The commission, funded by survivor's compensation money, aims to address the suffering of survivors but also educate the Canadian public about residential schools. The closing TRC events in Ottawa feature a walk for reconciliation, traditional ceremonies, cultural performances and survivor sharing circles.

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  99. As the commission traveled across Canada, stories of abuse and neglect in the schools leaked into the public consciousness. Participants have shared their experiences -- some privately, and others publicly and on the record at the new National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation in Winnipeg.

    But the commission does not necessarily represent the beginning of healing for those involved. It took the federal government over 100 years to close the schools, apologize and acknowledge the devastating effects on aboriginal communities. Meanwhile, many survivors began their own healing long ago -- slowly rebuilding their worlds, reclaiming their every day existence through small acts of hope and resistance.

    Cedar braids and skull tattoos

    When I first met Dennis Bob, at a white-walled Waves coffee shop in Burnaby a couple years ago, he was armed with a Ziploc bag full of photos from his past. Also in the bag was a newspaper cutout image of a rabbit with a cat's face drawn on it in pen. He laughed when he pulled it out to show me. He'd brought the image to look at when he got emotional. His girlfriend, Cynthia Keitlah, sat nearby in case he needed support.

    At over six-feet-tall, he's an imposing figure. The cross tattoo near his left eye, along with the rest of his tattoos -- most of which are skulls -- he said he got in prison. He thought looking tough would keep people at a distance. "But it brought in rotten people and made us all rotten," he said.

    Bob, who is 52, also attended Alberni Indian residential school. He arrived at the school just before his fifth birthday in the late 1960s -- four years after Gina Laing had finished -- and left three years later. Today he wears an artificial eardrum on his left ear where he was smacked repeatedly. The ringing in his ear has not stopped. His abuser, dorm supervisor Arthur Henry Plint, was sentenced to 11 years in prison, in 1997, after pleading guilty to charges of indecent assault. Plint's trial was the third residential school case to be filed by a group of Indigenous claimants and prompted an RCMP investigation of similar schools across British Columbia.

    Bob shared his story at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission national event in Vancouver, British Columbia in September 2013. He wore a cedar braid headband and carried a drum on stage with him into the large auditorium before sitting at a table facing commissioner Marie Wilson. He and his table of supporters filled two large screens on either side of the stage. As he spoke he looked down, heaving big laboured breaths that lifted his chest and shoulders. He fought through a cracking voice, clearing his throat several times between reading the words he'd scrawled on a piece of lined paper.

    In April, he relayed his testimony for the Independent Assessment Process, which provides compensation for survivors who suffered physical or sexual abuse at residential schools. He forgot his photo of the rabbit with the cat face, but he did bring a class photo, of when he was five or six, from his time at residential school. In the picture, the bottom of his pant leg is darker than the rest. He wanted the government officials to see how he'd wet himself. "I wanted them to understand why that little boy peed himself," he said. "Because he was abused." Bob said his hands trembled as he went in on his own. He wore a cedar bandana, made by Keitlah, with small feathers from the tips of an eagle wing for strength. Keitlah waited for him in the lobby along with his mom and his auntie.

    "After I spoke about it I cried so hard I almost got rid of [the pain]," he said. "I have a little more and then I'm done, I'm hoping."

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  100. Violence and the every day

    The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, now winding down, has held gatherings in small cities and several national events in major cities. Justice Murray Sinclair worked on a report, and he will present a summary at the final events this week. Three years ago Gina Laing shared her story, both publicly and privately, at a TRC event.

    She showed some of the artwork she created in an art therapy workshop. Many of those paintings were later featured at a gallery at the University of British Columbia. It was there I met Laing. She'd sat in front of her paintings -- brightly coloured representations of her residential school experience -- and shared the stories behind the angry black lines that streaked through the canvases and the omnipresent yellow eyes. "We were always being watched," she said. Some of these paintings, along with several others she made during her time at Alberni Indian residential school, will be considered for display at a new exhibition on reconciliation at the Canadian Museum of History.

    Laing said she chose to testify at the TRC because she wanted people to know what had happened to her. She wanted to share the pain she'd endured. She wanted to educate people, but sharing her story that day wasn't central to her own healing.

    As she spoke that day, and over the subsequent conversations we had, it became clear to me that Laing's personal reconciliation had begun a long time ago. Decades of counselling have helped her regain her life. But equally important is the small ways she re-experiences and rebels against what happened to her at residential school.

    Ethnographer Veena Das nicely articulates the importance of daily tasks. She spends long periods of time with people affected by traumatic events and lived for several years with urban Punjabi families who had lived through the violent riots of the Partition in 1947. Through intimate, in-depth research, she studies how traumatic events affect every day life for individual people. In her book, Life and Words: Violence and the Descent into the Ordinary, she writes that when a traumatic event occurs, that experience "attaches itself with its tentacles into every day life and folds itself into the recesses of the ordinary."

    She writes that daily tasks are crucial to combatting unspeakable horrors, because the answer to relieving social suffering lies not in transcendental experiences.

    Rather, the answer lies in the mundane rhythms of life.

    The 'wild west'

    Over a year ago, I visited Laing's family home in Hilthatis, a small Uchucklesaht tribe reserve village near Port Alberni -- home today to only one family and loggers passing through. We had kept in touch since meeting at the gallery and she invited me to join the family's regular weekend trip. Back then, the family was commuting between Port Alberni and their village every Friday. When the band cancelled funding for school transit, the family had to rent a home in the city during the week so Erika, Laing's granddaughter, could attend school.

    I climbed into the back of the family's black Ford pick-up; its cab was packed with red gasoline tanks, boxes of groceries and tuna sandwiches. The Laings tend to drive pothole-filled logging roads with no guardrails for a couple hours. They braved the narrow roads hoping they wouldn't meet a logging truck along the way.

    "That's where I used to go to school," Laing pointed to barely visible roof peaks at the top of a steep hill. "Do you want to see it?"

    "Sure," I replied, surprised at the casual nature of her suggestion.

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  101. Gravel crunched under the weight of the truck as we pulled up the hill towards the former site of Alberni Indian residential school. Expecting big, dark, decrepit structures, I was surprised to see several well-kept buildings, a pastel mural and an active parking lot. Laing told me most of the old school was torn down when the Nuu-Chah-Nulth tribe repossessed the land. Former students helped pull apart the old structures in 2009, smashing windows and wrenching wood from nails. We looped around, passing each building before heading back down the hill. It occurred to me Laing passes this site every time she travels to and from home.

    Back on the road, her granddaughter Erika tried to figure me out.

    "What's your favourite colour?"

    "What's your favourite food?"

    "What's your favourite band?"

    "What's your favourite food again? I forgot," she blushed.

    After a long drive, with several stops to admire the view and forage for mushrooms, we arrived at a small dock. A chainsaw screamed from the nearby logging camp, and pop music played from a neighbouring boom box. We moved the boxes down the ramp to the dock while Laing's husband called a friend, from a walkie-talkie, to pick us up.

    Laing referred to her childhood years on the reserve as the 'Wild West.' There was no accountability for the abuse that happened. Women did not leave the reserve unscathed by sexual assault. Families were deeply broken by cycles of abuse. Mostly everyone had attended residential school. Laing said the abuse didn't stop once she left school. Her father wasn't around during the summers, when she returned from school, but he was around during the year. He would often fly into unpredictable rages. She'd sleep under the bed behind boxes, when he was home, so he couldn't find her.

    Her father had attended the same residential school and Laing believes he was abused by the same man she was. "I remember [the supervisor] hauled a picture of a little boy and showed it to me. He said, 'This is your father. Look how blond he is. Just like you,'" she mimed the way he'd stroked her as he spoke.

    But her father was often away from home for work. And home brought some freedoms that residential school hadn't. She could stay up as late as she wanted to, watch as much television as she wanted to, and eat as much as she wanted to, whenever she wanted to. She did not have to eat pasta. The strange, slippery strands in the school cafeteria looked like larger versions of the worms that infected the salmon at the end of the fish season. "I always wondered how they managed to cut all the heads off," she said.

    As the boat neared the reserve, the clear ocean water lapped against the shore. The sun warmed the sand. "Coming home is like medicine," Laing said.

    A new home

    Since we last spoke, Laing lost her home. On New Year's Eve, while at her daughter's house in Nanaimo, her brother phoned and asked if she was sitting down. "I said, 'Yeah I'm sitting down.'" She was worried, thinking he was calling about one of her kids. He said her house in Hilthatis burned to the ground. The lawn mower was found flipped over, and the cap on the gas tank was missing. The cap to the gas tank on the ATV was also off, and lying on the ground next to it. She said the police are suspicious of the fire. It seems to have started from the outside.

    She has visited Hilthatis once since then. Everything is in ashes except what was metal. She walked through the rubble and found a few tools on the back porch. One of the RCMP officers salvaged a frying pan for her.

    Laing has made a home in Port Alberni now, but still hopes to rebuild in Hilthatis one day. "I thought I would be there until the day I died," she said. "Then they would pack me out. Because that's home."

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  102. She missed the parts of her house that held memories, particularly her porch with the big flowered Martha Stewart umbrella. But she does not want to be defined by the loss. She said living in Port Alberni has afforded her opportunities she may not have gotten if she was still living in Hilthatis. She has spoken to students at different schools on Vancouver Island about her experience at residential school. Her artwork was featured in an exhibit in Port Alberni, Northern Ontario and the University of Victoria.

    Gina Laing talks about home.
    She'd always thought of her home in Hilthatis as a healing place, but said she's forced to look after herself now. "It's a part of my life I have to tuck away. I can't stay stagnant and stale," she said.

    Survival mode

    With long black hair, a cautious smile, and soft arms, April Thompson looks just like Laing, her mom. We arranged to meet a couple years ago. She greeted me at the front door of her apartment in Nanaimo before leading me through the beige hallways, up the stairs into her suite. She sat at the table in front of a bowl of frozen peaches on a table cluttered with Halloween make-up, school notebooks and a roll of toilet paper she occasionally reached for to blow her nose. Her arm crossed her body, settling into the nook of her other elbow.

    She talked about what she and her siblings called survival mode. Even though her mother did not talk about residential school until much later, the experience was always present -- saturating Thompson's childhood memories. She remembered wearing clothes and shoes to bed. Her mother hung a bag of food and emergency supplies on both the front and back door. This was so that they'd be ready to go if Laing's partner at the time came home drunk. But it was also, Laing had said earlier, because she lived in fear that "they would take my children away like they took me from my mom."

    Even outside their home, the family was on alert. "When we'd go to a restaurant we'd plan a path of escape," Thompson said. She still plans an escape route when she's in a public place. And she'll often point out the exit to her daughters.

    These rituals echo the intergenerational "lived memories" of the past that anthropologist Carol Kidron's describes. Though Thompson's mother did not tell her about it until much later, the residential school experience was very present in Thompson's childhood. Kidron works with the children of Holocaust survivors. During one study, where she conducted in-depth interviews with children of survivors, she found that trauma became visible through the ways survivors conducted their daily tasks. "The nonverbal and partially verbal traces of the Holocaust [were] interwoven in everyday life. These traces form a vital experiential matrix of Holocaust presence in the private domain," she writes in her article, "Towards an ethnography of silence."

    Memories of trauma can attach themselves to ordinary objects. Kidron talks about how one woman's mother keeps the spoon she ate soup with in Auschwitz. She doesn't keep it memorialized in a separate case, but instead keeps it in the utensil drawer and uses it to feed her children oatmeal every morning. This might go unnoticed by most. But small acts of rebellion like this are crucial to reclaiming life after trauma. Every morning this mother uses the spoon she gives the Nazis her proverbial middle finger. Not only has she survived, now she uses the spoon to nourish her children -- furthering the bloodline the Nazis failed to eliminate. Kidron writes that "if the spoon from Auschwitz holds one's morning oatmeal, then one cannot disentangle the mundane life-world as one knows it from the interwoven co-presence of the Holocaust past."

    continued below

  103. Eating with the spoon confirms this mother's strength and ability to survive, embedding this belief about herself in her daily life.


    Still Surviving: 'It's Always on the Edge of Things' part 2

    For residential school survivors, quiet power in daily tasks. Last of two.

    By Meghan Mast, 3 June 2015, TheTyee.ca

    The day Dennis Bob shared his experience of residential school at the Truth and Reconciliation event in Vancouver remains a blur. He recounted the day to me when I visited his home in Burnaby a few years back.

    Miniature Chinese New Year floats hung from the ceiling in the corner of his living room. He sat in an office chair a good six feet away from the couch that his girlfriend, Cynthia Keitlah, and I sat on. A few times he would begin to answer a question, then turn to Keitlah to finish for him. "Over to you, Cyndie."

    He remembered crying a lot that day, and doesn't remember many other people's stories. Keitlah said that's because he left the room several times. But he is glad he shared his story. "I think the elders, the spirits were with me," he said. "Helping me, making me strong. It was excellent." Afterwards he met other people who attended Alberni Indian residential school, including the sister of his best friend at the time. At the end of it all, he took a bath and went to bed.

    I asked Bob what he does now when he has a particularly difficult day or night. He'll watch a movie. "A funny movie probably," he said. Keitlah challenged him, gently. "When you have a rough day, which movie would you put on when you come home?" He was quiet. And then she answered. "He watches Apocalypto. It's really gory. Or The Deer Hunter. Natural Born Killers. He just has to get in there and get it out." Bob nodded. "Lots of guns," he said. He likes gangster movies -- Scarface, American Me or Blood In Blood Out. He likes true stories and said he misses his guns sometimes. "Maybe that's why," he said.

    He excused himself and went to the bathroom -- something he explained earlier that he does when he's uncomfortable.

    "He becomes a part of the movie," Keitlah said. "I think he plays a hero villain guy. He watches it and becomes a part of the movie." She'll ask him questions throughout -- is prison really like that? Do the guards really treat the inmates that horribly? Is that what a drive-by shooting looks like? He answers her questions patiently, retelling his own experiences. He misses the excitement of those times, but chooses to instead live vicariously through the fictional characters.

    'Always there'

    "The building is huge with long, white empty hallways. A child walks softly, the echo runs ahead of her. The smell of Lysol and floor wax overwhelms the memory of wood smoke and dirt floors," read the lines from a poem called "Residential School Bus" from Louise Bernice Halfe's book, Bear Bones & Feathers. The poem describes a scene reminiscent of the time Gina Laing spent a few days alone in Alberni Indian residential school.

    She had been so afraid -- knowing her abuser would soon come for her because there was no one else to choose from. As we sat on the porch at her home in Hilthatis, she faced the ocean as she spoke. She feels safe now. Her husband prepared ham sandwiches inside for lunch. Erika, Laing's granddaughter, watched Into the Wild. Telling these stories is important to Laing. But the telling is painful. She closed her eyes, tilted her chin up towards the sun and began her story.

    All the other kids had left for the summer and her parents were late picking her up. Huddling near the railing, she would look through to the dorm supervisor's room. When the curtains moved she'd know he was on his way up and she'd softly pad across the floor, [continued below]

  104. ... down the back stairs to the linen closet at the end of a hallway that ran between the dormitories. Climbing into the back, over an edge where there was about a foot of space, she'd push past the cobwebs and squeeze into the small space. It was the best hiding spot. "Just me and the spiders," she laughed. "I'm scared to death of spiders. I used to feel like if they could tap their little feet and tell on me, they would."

    The memory of the residential school is "always there. It's always on the edge of things." Though she said the memory is fainter than it once was. That she can sit on the porch and face the ocean is significant. She used to sit facing the door because that was where the danger came from. Laing was quiet and then straightened in her chair. "This stuff gets to you after a while," she said, excusing herself to go inside to watch the movie.

    Practicing resurgence

    Bob said he doesn't know much about his culture. Moving in and out of prison since he was a teenager, coupled with disagreements over land settlements, estranged him from his community. I asked him to tell me more about the cedar braid he wore around his head when he testified at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He's not sure about the traditional significance of cedar, but said, "Cyndie made it for me. I wear it because it represented the Native people. It made me feel good. It made me feel proud."

    Jeff Corntassel, a Cherokee scholar and professor of indigenous governance, writes about the importance of "practicing every day acts of resurgence." In order to challenge systemic colonialism, he said, one must reclaim traditional practices. He maintains that "these daily acts of renewal, whether through prayer, speaking [traditional] language, honouring... ancestors, etc. are foundations of resurgence."

    Keitlah teaches Bob the ways of her people -- the Ahousaht First Nation. She bought him a traditional drum and shows him how to burn sage. She also attended residential school. The two met at a treatment centre on the Tsow-Tun Le Lum reserve outside Nanaimo five years ago. "My heart was breaking into so many pieces," she said. "Dennis has helped me find them to get them back together."

    Both were there for the eight-week trauma treatment program for survivors. The program required sobriety. It was the first time Bob had been sober in a long time. Keitlah remembers he'd walk up to tables snarling, causing people to move out of their seat for him. "People were scared of him." The turning moment arrived when he went on stage to participate in a psychodrama. The idea was to recreate an interaction between him and his abuser. But the drama only got as far as having an elderly man sit in a chair in front of him.

    "I said you'd better move him. He's way too close. I'm gonna punch him," Bob recalled. They tried to explain that this was part of the therapy. But he wasn't persuaded. "I don't care, I'm gonna punch him." So the facilitators had another staff stand in, pretending to be Bob, while they continued to act out the hypothetical scene. As the scene progressed, "I started to cry and cry and cry," he said. "I'd never cried before. I wasn't allowed to cry in residential school, in jail. You didn't let them see your tears." This was the first time he faced what had happened to him.

    continued below

  105. He left the centre smiling that night. "Now I cry. And I'm happy. They put a smile on my face when I left." Today, it's difficult to imagine him not smiling. He is quick to make jokes, calling Keitlah "the warden," and wearing a T-shirt that says "Sofa king cool." Keitlah said he is the one in his family to bring up residential school. "When Dennis is around, he is the light for them. He's the light for me too."

    His experience at residential school continues to affect his life. He doesn't like it when men get too close to him -- particularly elderly men. If he finds himself on a crowded bus and a man steps near him, he moves away and sometimes gets off to wait for the next bus.

    Bob was only five when he was sexually abused. "A baby," said Keitlah. He has difficulty recalling what happened to him because many of his memories are fuzzy. Bob has become more accustomed to speaking about his experiences, but certain memories are difficult -- painful and also tough to recall because he repressed them for so long. "Something about lemon jam... " Bob sucked in and held his breath, releasing again stiltedly. "I can't remember. Something disgusting." He recalled his stomach hurting. And he'd been given an apple afterwards. Another kid asked for the core when he was finished. "Everybody was hungry there." He remembers "something about the basement" and "something about the house behind the school."

    He left then and went to the bathroom again.

    Corntassel writes that daily acts of resurgence are not glamorous. Sometimes they are messy. Sometimes they are angry. Often they are simple. Simply remembering what happened, or in Dennis's case trying to, contributes to healing. Corntassel differentiates between reconciliation and resurgence, saying that "processes of reconciliation are merely re-inscribing the status quo" while resurgence "takes the emphasis away from state frameworks of 'forgive and forget' back to re-localized, community-centred actions." Truth telling is central to this.

    When Bob returned after several minutes, he was smiling. "The one thing I remember from [residential school] was my marbles. Because I lost them," he joked. He'd play marbles with the other kids in the courtyard. He'd draw a circle in the dirt, put a big marble in the middle and try to push it out of the circle by flicking the smaller marble towards it. Still today, whenever he sees marbles he has the urge to pocket them. Keitlah rolled her eyes and sighed. "You should have seen him when we first met. He'd bring home these pockets full of rocks and marbles. They'd be all piled up on the shelf." She thought for a moment. "What is with that? Why do you do that?"

    continued below

  106. He laughed and shrugged the question off, mumbling something about collecting them for her plants. Then he was quiet for a few seconds. "I guess it's because I never had nothing. So I want things." I thought back to the wall of hats near the entrance -- a cacophony of colourful, patterned fedoras hanging in neat lines.

    Small tasks toward healing

    Laing, who left residential school in 1964, hardly spoke until the late 1980s. Not only did she not talk about what happened to her at the Alberni Indian residential school, she could not even order a hamburger. The waitress would ask her what she wanted and she'd look down at her plate until her husband ordered for her. "I thought I would be ignored or laughed at," she said. When I asked Laing how the server responded the first time she ordered for herself, she laughed. "They got the burger and brought it to me."

    On our last day in Hilthatis, I followed Laing into her room as she cleaned. She tossed the blanket to the side and then lifted the top sheet in the air. It parachuted and settled. At residential school she was required every day to make the bed just so. "We had to pull the sheets so tight that they could bounce a coin off of them," she said. If the coin didn't bounce she wasn't allowed to watch television on Sunday nights -- the one privilege. Once she left the school she stopped making the bed. For 50 years.

    At that time, this silent rebellion had gone unnoticed even by her children. A few years ago, when her husband started complaining that the sheets were always getting twisted, she decided she was ready to revisit the old chore. Now Laing tucks the sheets in loosely and doesn't worry about smoothing out the wrinkles. She chuckles as she moves around the bed, recalling her long resistance. Mismatched pillows create a lopsided landscape. She makes the bed almost every day now, but she does so on her terms.


  107. Truth and Reconciliation Commission Reports 94 recommendations

    by APTN National News June 2, 2015



    Child Welfare

    1. We call upon the federal, provincial, territorial and Aboriginal governments to commit to reducing the number of Aboriginal children in care by:

    i. Monitoring and assessing neglect investigations.

    ii. Providing adequate resources to enable Aboriginal communities and child-welfare organizations to keep Aboriginal families together where it is safe to do so, and to keep children in culturally appropriate environments, regardless of where they reside.

    iii. Ensuring that social workers and others who conduct child-welfare investigations are properly educated and trained about the history and impacts of residential schools.

    iv. Ensuring that social workers and others who conduct child-welfare investigations are properly educated and trained about the potential for Aboriginal communities and families to provide for Aboriginal communities and families to provide more appropriate solutions to family healing.

    v. Requiring that all child-welfare decision makers consider the impact of the residential school experience on children and their caregivers.

    2. We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with the provinces and territories, to prepare and publish annual reports on the number of Aboriginal children (First Nations, Inuit and Metis) who are in care, compared with non-Aboriginal children, as well as the reasons for apprehension, the total spending on preventive and care services by child-welfare agencies and the effectiveness of various interventions.

    3. We call upon all levels of government to fully implement Jordan’s Principle.

    4. We call upon the federal government to enact Aboriginal child-welfare legislation that establishes national standards for Aboriginal child apprehension and custody cases and includes principles that:

    i. Affirm the right of Aboriginal governments to establish and maintain their own child-welfare agencies.

    ii. Require all child-welfare agencies and courts to take the residential school legacy into account in their decision making.

    iii. Establish, as an important priority, a requirement that placements of Aboriginal children into temporary and permanent care be culturally appropriate.

    5. We call upon the federal, provincial, territorial, and Aboriginal governments to develop culturally appropriate parenting programs for Aboriginal families.


    6. We call upon the Government of Canada to repeal Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada.

    7. We call upon the federal government to develop with Aboriginal groups a joint strategy to eliminate education and employment gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians.

    8. We call upon the federal government to eliminate the discrepancy in federal education funding for First nations children being educated on reserves and those First Nations children being educated off reserves.

    9. We call upon the federal government to prepare and publish annual reports comparing funding for the education of First Nations children on and off reserves, as well as educational and income attainments of Aboriginal peoples in Canada compared with non-Aboriginal people.

    10. We call upon the federal government to draft new Aboriginal education legislation with the full participation and informed consent of Aboriginal peoples. The new legislation would include a commitment to sufficient funding and would incorporate the following principles:

    i. Providing sufficient funding to close identified educational achievement gaps within on generation.

    ii. Improving education attainment levels and success rates.

    iii. Developing culturally appropriate curricula.

    continued below

  108. iv Protecting the rights to Aboriginal languages including the teaching of Aboriginal languages as credit courses.

    v. Enabling parental and community responsibility, control, and accountability, similar to what parents enjoy in public school systems.

    vi. Enabling parents to fully participate in the education of their children.

    vii. Respecting and honouring Treaty relationships.

    11. We call upon the federal government to provide adequate funding to end the backlog of First nations students seeking a post-secondary education.

    12. We call upon the federal, provincial, territorial, and Aboriginal governments to develop culturally appropriate early childhood education programs for Aboriginal families.

    Language and Culture

    13. We call upon the federal government to acknowledge that Aboriginal rights include Aboriginal language rights.

    14. We call upon the federal government to enact an Aboriginal Languages Act that incorporates the following principles:

    i. Aboriginal languages are fundamental and valued element of Canadian culture and society, and there is an urgency to preserve them.

    ii. Aboriginal language rights are reinforced by the Treaties.

    iii. The federal government has a responsibility to provide sufficient funds for Aboriginal language revitalization and preservation.

    iv. The preservation, revitalization, and strengthening of Aboriginal languages and cultures are best managed by Aboriginal people and communities.

    v. Funding for Aboriginal language initiatives must reflect the diversity of Aboriginal languages.

    15. We call upon the federal government to appoint, in consultation with Aboriginal groups, an Aboriginal Languages Commissioner. The Commissioner should help promote Aboriginal languages and report on the adequacy of federal funding of Aboriginal languages initiatives.

    16. We call upon post-secondary institutions to create university and college degree and diploma programs in Aboriginal Languages.

    17. We call upon all levels of governments to enable residential school survivors and their families to reclaim names changed by the residential school system by waiving administrative costs for a period of five years for the name change process and the revision of official identity documents, such as birth certificates, passports, driver’s licenses, health cards, status cards, and social insurance numbers.


    18. We call upon the federal, provincial, territorial and Aboriginal governments to acknowledge that the current state of Aboriginal health in Canada is a direct result of previous Canadian government policies, including residential schools, and to recognize and implement the heath care rights of Aboriginal people as identified in international law, constitutional law and under the Treaties.

    19. We call upon the federal government in consultation with Aboriginal peoples, to establish measurable goals to identify and close the gaps in health outcomes between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities, and to publish annual progress reports and assess long-term trends. Such efforts would focus on indicators such as: infant mortality, maternal health, suicide, mental health, addictions, life expectancy, birth rates, infant and child health issues, chronic diseases, illness and injury incidence, and the availability of appropriate health services.

    20. In order to address the jurisdictional disputes concerning Aboriginal people who do not reside on reserves, we call upon the federal government to recognize, respect, and address the distinct health needs of the Metis, Inuit and off reserve Aboriginal peoples.

    continued below

  109. 21 We call upon the federal government to provide sustainable funding for existing and new Aboriginal healing centres to address the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual harms caused by residential schools, and to ensure that the funding of healing centres in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories is a priority.

    22. We call upon those who can effect change within the Canadian health-care system to recognize the value of Aboriginal healing practices and use them in the treatment of Aboriginal patients in collaboration with Aboriginal healers and Elders where requested by Aboriginal patients.

    23. We call upon all levels of government to:

    i. Increase the number of Aboriginal professionals working in the health care field.

    ii. Ensure the retention of Aboriginal health care providers in Aboriginal communities.

    iii. Provide cultural competency training for all health care professionals.

    24. WE call upon medical and nursing schools in Canada to require all students to take a course dealing with Aboriginal health issues, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, and Indigenous teachings and practices. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights and anti-racism.


    25. We call upon the federal government to establish a written policy that reaffirms the independence of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to investigate crimes in which the government has its own interest as a potential or real party in civil litigation.

    26. We call upon the federal, provincial and territorial government to review and amend their respective statues of limitations to ensure that they conform to the principle that government and other entities cannot rely on limitation defences to defend legal actions of historical abuse brought by Aboriginal people.

    27. We call upon the Federation of Law Societies of Canada to ensure that lawyers receive appropriate cultural competency training, which includes the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal-Crown relations. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.

    28. We call upon law schools in Canada to require all law students to take a course in Aboriginal people and the law, which includes the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal-Crown relations. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.

    29. We call upon the parties and, in particular, the federal government to work collaboratively with plaintiffs not included in the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement to have disputed legal issues determined expeditiously on an agreed set of facts.

    30. We call upon federal, provincial, and territorial governments to commit to eliminating the overrepresentation of Aboriginal people in custody over the next decade and to issue detailed annual reports that monitor and evaluate progress in doing so.

    31. We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments to provide sufficient and stable funding to implement and evaluate community sanctions that will provide realistic alternatives to imprisonment for Aboriginal offenders and respond to the underlying causes of offending.

    continued below

  110. 32 We call upon the federal government to amend the Criminal Code to allow trial judges, upon giving reasons, to depart from mandatory minimum sentences and restrictions on the use of conditional sentences.

    33. We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments to recognize as a high priority the need to address and prevent Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), and to develop, in collaboration with Aboriginal people, FASD preventive programs that can be delivered in a culturally appropriate manner.

    34. We call upon the government of Canada, the provinces, and territories to undertake reforms to the criminal justice system to better address the needs of offenders with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) including:

    i. Providing increased community resources and powers for courts to ensure that FASD is properly diagnosed, and that appropriate community supports are in place for those FASD.

    ii. Enacting statutory exemptions from mandatory minimum sentences of imprisonment for offenders affected by FASD.

    iii. Providing community, correctional, and parole resources to maximize the ability of people with FASD to live in the community.

    iv. Adopting appropriate evaluation mechanisms to measure the effectiveness of such programs and ensure community safety.

    35. We call upon the federal government to eliminate barriers to the creation of additional Aboriginal healing lodges within the federal correctional system.

    36. We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments to work with Aboriginal communities to provide culturally relevant services to inmates on issues such as substance abuse, family and domestic violence, and overcoming the experience of having been sexually abused.

    37. We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments to provide more supports for Aboriginal programming in halfway houses and parole services.

    38. We call upon the federal, provincial, territorial and Aboriginal governments to commit to eliminating the overrepresentation of Aboriginal youth in custody over the next decade.

    39. We call upon the federal government to develop a national plan to collect and publish data on the criminal victimization of Aboriginal people, including data related to homicide and family violence victimization.

    40. We call on all levels of government, in collaboration with Aboriginal people, to create adequately funded and accessible Aboriginal-specific victim programs and services with appropriate evaluation mechanisms.

    41. We call upon the federal government, in consultation with Aboriginal organizations, to appoint a public inquiry into the causes of, and remedies for, the disproportionate victimization of Aboriginal women and girls. The inquiry’s mandate would include:

    i. Investigation into missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls.

    ii. Links to the intergenerational legacy of residential schools.

    42. We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments to commit to the recognition and implementation of Aboriginal justice systems in a manner consistent with the Treaty and Aboriginal rights of Aboriginal peoples, the Constitution Act, 1982, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, endorsed by Canada in November 2012.


    Canadian Governments and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People

    43. We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial and municipal governments to fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation.

    44. We call upon the Government of Canada to develop a national action plan, strategies, and other concrete measures to achieve the goals of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

    Royal Proclamation and Covenant of Reconciliation

    continued below

  111. Royal Proclamation and Covenant of Reconciliation

    45 WE call upon the Government of Canada, on behalf of all Canadians, to jointly develop with Aboriginal peoples a Royal Proclamation of Reconciliation to be issued by the Crown. The proclamation would build on the Royal Proclamation of 1763 and the Treaty of Niagara of 1764, and reaffirm the nation to nation relationship between Aboriginal peoples and the Crown. The proclamation would include, but not be limited to the following commitments:

    i. Repudiate concepts used to justify European sovereignty over Indigenous lands and peoples such as the Doctrine of Discovery and terra nullius.

    ii. Adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation.

    iii. Renew or establish Treaty relationships based on principles of mutual recognition, mutual respect, and shared responsibility for maintaining those relationships into the future.

    iv. Reconcile Aboriginal and Crown constitutional and legal orders to ensure that Aboriginal peoples are full partners in Confederation, including the recognition and integration of Indigenous laws and legal traditions in negotiations and implementation processes involving Treaties, land claims, and other constructive agreements.

    46. We call upon the parties to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement to develop and sign a Covenant of Reconciliation that would identify principles for working collaboratively to advance reconciliation in Canadian society, and that would include, but not be limited to:

    i. Reaffirmation of the parties’ commitment to reconciliation.

    ii. Repudiation of concepts used to justify European sovereignty over Indigenous lands and peoples, such as the Doctrine of Discover and terra nullius, and the reformation of laws, governance structures, and policies within their respective institutions that continue to rely on such concepts.

    iii. Full adoption and implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation.

    iv. Support for the renewal or establishment of Treaty relationships based on principles of mutual recognition, mutual respect, and shared responsibility for maintaining those relationships into the future.

    v. Enabling those excluded from the Settlement Agreement to sign onto the Covenant of Reconciliation.

    vi. Enabling additional parties to sign onto the Covenant of Reconciliation.

    47. We call upon the federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments to repudiate concepts used to justify European sovereignty over Indigenous peoples and lands, such as the Doctrine of Discovery and terra nullius, and to reform those laws, government policies, and litigation strategies that continue to rely on such concepts.

    Settlement Agreement Parties and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

    48. We call upon the church parties to the Settlement Agreement, and all other faith groups and interfaith social justice groups in Canada who have not already done so, to formally adopt and comply with the principles, norms and standards of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a framework for reconciliation. This would include, but not be limited to, the following commitments:

    i. Ensuring that their institutions, policies, programs, and practices comply with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

    ii. Respecting Indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination in spiritual matters, including the right to practice, develop, and teach their own spiritual and religious traditions, customs, and ceremonies, consistent with Article 12:1 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

    continued below

  112. iii Engaging in ongoing public dialogue and actions to support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

    iv. Issuing a statement no later than March 31, 2016, from all religious denominations and faith groups, as to how they will implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

    49. We call upon all religious denominations and faith groups who have not already done so to repudiate concepts used to justify European sovereignty over Indigenous lands and peoples, such as the Doctrine of Discovery and terra nullius.

    Equity for Aboriginal People in the Legal System

    50. In keeping with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, we call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal organizations, to fund the establishment of Indigenous law institutes for the development, use, and understanding of Indigenous law and access to justice in accordance with the unique cultures of Aboriginal peoples in Canada.

    51. We call upon the Government of Canada, as an obligation of its fiduciary responsibility, to develop a policy of transparency by publishing legal opinions it develops and upon which is acts or intends to act, in regard to the scope and extent of Aboriginal and Treaty rights.

    52. We call upon the Government of Canada, provincial and territorial governments, and the courts to adopt the following legal principles:

    i. Aboriginal title claims are accepted once the Aboriginal claimant has established occupation over a particular territory at a particular point in time.

    ii. Once Aboriginal title has been established, the burden of proving any limitation on any rights arising from the existence of that title shifts to the party asserting such a limitation.

    National Council for Reconciliation

    53. We call upon the Parliament of Canada, in consultation and collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to enact legislation to establish a National Council for Reconciliation. The legislation would establish the council as an independent, national, oversight body with membership jointly appointed by the Government of Canada and national Aboriginal organizations, and consisting of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal members. Its mandate would include, but not be limited to, the following:

    i. Monitor, evaluate, and report annually to Parliament and the people of Canada on the Government of Canada’s post-apology progress on reconciliation to ensure that government accountability for reconciling the relationship between Aboriginal peoples and the Crown is maintained in the coming years.

    ii. Monitor, evaluate, and report to Parliament and the people of Canada on reconciliation progress across all levels and sectors of Canadian society, including the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action.

    iii. Develop and implement a multi-year National Action Plan for Reconciliation, which includes research and policy development, public education programs, and resources.

    iv. Promote public dialogues, public/private partnerships, and public initiatives for reconciliation.

    54. We call upon the Government of Canada to provide multi-year funding for the National Council of Reconciliation to ensure that it has the financial, human, and technical resources required to conduct its work, including the endowment of a National Reconciliation Trust to advance the case of reconciliation.

    continued below

  113. 55 We call upon all levels of government to provide annual reports or any current data requested by the National Council for Reconciliation so that it can report on the progress towards reconciliation. The reports or data would include, but not be limited to:

    i. The number of Aboriginal children-including Metis and Inuit children – in car, compared with non-Aboriginal children, the reasons for apprehension, and the total spending on preventive and care services by child-welfare agencies.

    ii. Comparative funding for the education of First Nations students on and off reserves.

    iii. The educational and income of attainments of Aboriginal peoples in Canada compared with non-Aboriginal people.

    iv. Progress on closing the gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities in a number of health indicators such as: infant mortality, maternal health, suicide, mental health, addictions, life expectancy, birth rates, infant and child health issues, chronic diseases, illness and injury incidence, and the availability of appropriate health services.

    v. Progress on eliminating the overrepresentation of Aboriginal children in youth custody over the next decade.

    vi. Progress on reducing the rate of criminal victimization of Aboriginal people, including data related to homicide and family violence victimization and other crimes.

    vii. Progress on reducing the overrepresentation of Aboriginal people in the justice and correctional systems.

    56. We call upon the prime minister of Canada to formally respond to the report of the National Council for Reconciliation by issuing an annual “state of Aboriginal Peoples” report, which would outline the government’s plans for advancing the cause of reconciliation.

    Professional Development and Training for Public Servants

    57. We call upon federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments to provide education to public servants on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal -Crown relations. This will required skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights and anti-racism.

    Church Apologies and Reconciliation

    58. We call upon the Pope to issue an apology to Survivors, their families, and communities for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis children in Catholic-run residential schools. We call for that apology to be similar to the 2010 apology issued to Irish victims of abuse and to occur within one year of the issuing of this Report and to be delivered by the Pope in Canada.

    59. We call upon church parties to the Settlement Agreement to develop ongoing education strategies to ensure that their respective congregations learn about their church’s role in colonization, the history and legacy of residential schools, and why apologies to former residential school students, their families, and communities were necessary.

    60. We call upon leaders of the church parties to the Settlement Agreement and all other faiths, in collaboration with Indigenous spiritual leaders, Survivors, schools of theology, seminaries, and other religious training centres, to develop and teach curriculum for all student clergy, and clergy and staff who work in Aboriginal communities, on the need to respect Indigenous spirituality in its own rights, the history and legacy of residential schools and the role of the church parties in that system, the history and legacy of religious conflict in Aboriginal families and communities, and the responsibility that churches have to mitigate such conflicts and prevent spiritual violence.

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  114. 61 WE call upon church parties to the Settlement Agreement, in collaboration with Survivors and representatives of Aboriginal organizations, to establish permanent funding to Aboriginal people for:

    i. Community-controlled healing and reconciliation projects.

    ii. Community-controlled culture-and language revitalization projects.

    iii. Community -controlled education and relationship building projects.

    iv. Regional dialogues for Indigenous spiritual leaders and youth to discuss Indigenous spirituality, self-determination, and reconciliation.

    Education For Reconciliation

    62. We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments, in consultation and collaboration with Survivors, Aboriginal peoples and educators to:

    i. Make age-appropriate curriculum on residential schools, Treaties, and Aboriginal peoples’ historical and contemporary contributions to Canada a mandatory education requirement for Kindergarten to Grade Twelve students.

    ii. Provide the necessary funding to post-secondary institutions to educate teachers on how to integrate Indigenous knowledge and teaching methods into classrooms.

    iii. Provide the necessary funding to Aboriginal schools to utilize Indigenous knowledge and teaching methods in classrooms.

    iv. Establish senior-level positions in government at the assistant deputy minister level or higher dedicated to Aboriginal content in education.

    63. We call upon the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada to maintain an annual commitment to Aboriginal education issues including:

    i. Developing and implementing Kindergarten to Grade Twelve curriculum and learning resources on Aboriginal peoples in Canadian history, and the history and legacy of residential schools.

    ii. Sharing information and best practices on teaching curriculum related to residential schools and Aboriginal history.

    iii. Building student capacity for intercultural understanding, empathy, and mutual respect.

    iv. Identifying teacher-training needs relating to the above.

    64. We call upon all levels of government that provide public funds to denominational schools to required such schools to provide and education on comparative religious studies, which must include a segment on Aboriginal spiritual beliefs and practices developed in collaboration with Aboriginal Elders.

    65. We call upon the federal government, through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, post-secondary institutions and educators, and the National Centre of Truth and Reconciliation and its partner institutions, to establish a national research program with multi-year funding to advance understanding of reconciliation.

    Youth Programs

    66. We call upon the federal government to establish multi-year funding of community-based youth organizations to deliver programs on reconciliation, and establish a national network to share information and best practices.

    Museums and Archives

    67. We call upon the federal government to provide funding to the Canadian Museums Association to undertake, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, a national review of museum policies and best practices to determine the level of compliance with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and to make recommendations.

    68. We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, and the Canadian Museums Association to mark the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation in 2017 by establishing a dedicated national funding program for commemoration projects on the theme of reconciliation.

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  115. 69 We call upon Library and Archives Canada to:

    i. Fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the United Nations Joinet-Orentlicher Principles, as related to Aboriginal peoples’ inalienable right to know the truth about what happened and why, with regard to human rights violations committed against them in residential schools.

    ii. Ensure that its record holdings related to residential schools are accessible to the public.

    iii. Commit more resources to its public education materials and programming on residential schools.

    70. We call upon the federal government to provide funding to the Canadian Association of Archivists to undertake, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, a national review of archival policies and best practices to:

    i. Determine the level of compliance with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the United Nations Joinet-Orentlicher Principles, as related to Aboriginal peoples’ inalienable right to know the truth about what happened and why, with regard to human rights violations committed against them in residential schools.

    ii. Produce a report with recommendations for full implementation of these international mechanisms as a reconciliation framework for Canadian archives.

    Missing Children and Burial Information

    71. We call upon all chief coroners and provincial vital statistics agencies that have not provided to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada their records on the deaths of Aboriginal children in the care of residential school authorities to make these documents available to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.

    72. We call upon the federal government to allocate sufficient resources to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation to allow it to develop and maintain the National Residential School Student Death Registry established by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

    73. We call upon the federal government to work with churches, Aboriginal communities and former residential schools students to establish and maintain an online registry of residential school cemeteries, including where possible, plot maps showing the location of deceased residential school children.

    74. We call upon the federal government to work with the churches and Aboriginal community leaders to inform the families of children who died at residential schools of the child’s burial location, and to respond to families wishes for appropriate commemoration ceremonies and markers, and reburial in home communities where requested.

    75. We call upon the federal government to work with provincial, territorial, and municipal government, churches, Aboriginal communities, former residential school students, and current landowners to develop and implement strategies and procedures for the ongoing identification, documentation, maintenances, commemoration, and protection of residential school cemeteries or other sites at which residential school children were buried. This is to include the provision of appropriate memorial ceremonies and commemorative markers to honour the deceased children.

    76. We call upon the parties engaged in the work of documenting, maintaining, commemorating, and protecting residential school cemeteries to adopt strategies in accordance with the following principles:

    i. The Aboriginal community most affected shall lead he development of such strategies.

    ii. Information shall be sought from residential school Survivors and other Knowledge Keepers in the development of such strategies.

    iii. Aboriginal protocols shall be respected before any potentially invasive technical inspection and investigation of a cemetery site.

    continued below

  116. National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation

    77. We call upon provincial, territorial, municipal, and community archives to work collaboratively with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation to identify and collect copies of all records relevant to the history and legacy of the residential school system, and to provide these to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.

    78. We call upon the Government of Canada to commit to making a funding contribution of $10 million over seven years to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, plus an additional amount to assist communities to research and produce histories of their own residential school experience and their involvement in truth, healing, and reconciliation.


    79. We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Survivors, Aboriginal organizations, and the arts community, to develop a reconciliation framework for Canadian heritage and commemoration. This would include, but no be limited to:

    i. Amending the Historic Sites and Monuments Act to include First Nations, Inuit, and Metis representation on the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada and is Secretariat.

    ii. Revising the policies, criteria, and practices of the National Program of Historical Commemoration to integrate Indigenous history, heritage values, and memory practices into Canada’s national heritage and history.

    iii. Developing and implementing a national heritage plan and strategy for commemorating residential school sites, the history and legacy of residential schools, and the contributions of Aboriginal peoples to Canada’s history.

    80. We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component.

    81. We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Survivors and their organizations, and other parties to the Settlement Agreement, to commission and install a publicly accessible, highly visible, Residential Schools National Monument in the city of Ottawa to honour Survivors and all the children who were lost to their families and communities.

    82. We call upon provincial and territorial government, in collaboration with Survivors and their organizations, and other parties to the Settlement Agreement, to commission and install a publicly accessible, highly visible, Residential Schools Monument in each capital city to honour Survivors and all the children who were lost to their families and communities.

    83. We call upon the Canada Council for the Arts to establish, as a funding priority, a strategy for Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists to undertake collaborative projects and produce works that contribute to the reconciliation process.

    Media and Reconciliation

    84. We call upon the federal government to restore and increase funding to the CBC/Radio-Canada, to enable Canada’s national public broadcaster to support reconciliation, and be properly reflective of the diverse cultures, languages, and perspectives of Aboriginal peoples, including but not limited to:

    i. Increasing Aboriginal programming, including Aboriginal-language speakers.

    ii. Increasing equitable access for Aboriginal peoples to jobs, leadership positions, and professional development opportunities within the organization.

    iii. Continuing to provide dedicated news coverage and online public information resources on issues of concern to Aboriginal peoples and all Canadians, including the history and legacy of residential schools and the reconciliation process.

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  117. 85 We call upon the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, as an independent non-profit broadcaster with programming by, for, and about Aboriginal peoples, to support reconciliation, including but not limited to:

    i. Continuing to provide leadership in programming and organizational culture that reflects the diverse cultures, languages, and perspectives of Aboriginal peoples.

    ii. Continuing to develop media initiatives that inform and educate the Canadian public and connect Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians.

    86. We call upon Canadian journalism programs and media schools to require education for all students on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal-Crown relations.

    Sports Reconciliation

    87. We call upon all levels of government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, sports halls of fame, and other relevant organizations, to provide public education that tells the national story of Aboriginal athletes in history.

    88. We call upon all levels of government to take action to ensure long-term Aboriginal athlete development and growth, and continued support for the North American Indigenous Games, including funding to host the games and for provincial and territorial team preparation and travel.

    89. We call upon the federal government to amend the Physical Activity and Sport Act to support reconciliation by ensuring that policies to promote physical activity as a fundamental element of health and well-being, reduce barriers to sports participation, increase the pursuit of excellence in sport, and build capacity in the Canadian sport system, are inclusive of Aboriginal peoples.

    90. We call upon the federal government to ensure that national sports policies, programs, and initiatives are includes of Aboriginal peoples, including but not limited to establishing:

    i. In collaboration with provincial and territorial governments, stable funding for, and access to, community sports programs that reflect the diverse cultures and traditional sporting activities of Aboriginal peoples.

    ii. An elite athlete development program for Aboriginal athletes.

    iii. Programs for coaches, trainers, and sports officials that are culturally relevant for Aboriginal peoples.

    iv. Anti-racism awareness and training programs.

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  118. 91 We call upon the officials and host countries of international sporting events such as the Olympics, Pan Am, and Commonwealth games to ensure that Indigenous peoples’ territorial protocols are respected, and local indigenous communities are engaged in all aspects of planning and participating in such events.

    Business and Reconciliation

    92. We call upon the corporate sector in Canada to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a reconciliation framework and to apply its principles, norms, and standards to corporate policy and core operational activities involving Indigenous peoples and their lands and resources. This would include, but not be limited to the following:

    i. Commit to meaningful consultation, building respectful relationships, and obtaining the free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous peoples before proceeding with economic development projects.

    ii. Ensure that Aboriginal peoples have equitable access to jobs, training, and education opportunities in the corporate sector, and that Aboriginal communities gain long-term sustainable benefits from economic development projects.

    iii. Provide education for management and staff on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal-Crown relations. This will require skills based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.

    Newcomers to Canada

    93. We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with the national Aboriginal organizations, to revise the information kit for newcomers to Canada and its citizenship test to reflect a more inclusive history of the diverse Aboriginal peoples of Canada, including information about the Treaties and history of residential schools.

    94. We call upon the Government of Canada to replace the Oath of Citizenship with the following:

    I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada including Treaties with Indigenous Peoples, and fulfill my duties as a Canadian citizen.


  119. Residential school day scholars can launch class-action lawsuit

    Lawsuit launched by two B.C. First Nations could affect 100s across Canada

    By Tamsyn Burgmann, The Canadian Press June 04, 2015

    Hundreds of First Nations' people left out of residential-school compensation will be allowed to collectively sue the federal government for their mistreatment.

    The decision comes one day after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released a momentous report on the same school system.

    Federal Court in Vancouver certified a class-action lawsuit on Wednesday proposed by the former aboriginal students known as "day scholars," who attended the notorious schools but returned to their homes at night.

    "When we phoned home and told them the news, I mean, our plaintiffs were crying," said Jo-Anne Gottfriedson, with the
    Tk'emlups te Secwepemc Indian band in the British Columbia Interior.

    "Our journey is long, but we're prepared and I know that Canada, if they're really sincere about reconciliation, then they will meet us in a good way."

    The certification followed the work of the commission, which over six years of hearings documented the traumatizing misconduct inside Canada's residential schools. The report branded the survivors' collective ordeal "cultural genocide" and made 94 recommendations.

    Though the commission was a result of the largest class-action settlement in Canadian history, some aboriginals said they've still never received redress.

    "The day scholars have for too long been left out of the discussions," said Chief Calvin Craigan of the Sechelt Indian Band in a news release.

    "Through this decision we have a strong signal from the court that day scholars count."

    The new legal action was launched by two B.C. aboriginal bands, from which at least 300 survivors have so far been identified. More claimants are believed to reside across Canada.

    They're also seeking compensation for the children of survivors and their member bands.

    They want a declaration the government also failed to protect aboriginal language and culture for daytime-only students.

    The federal government can appeal.

    A spokeswoman for Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Minister Bernard Valcourt said in an email that officials will review the court's decision and determine next steps.

    'A point of closure'

    Chief Shane Gottfriedson, of the Tk'emlups te Secwepemc band, said many band members bravely volunteered as representatives in the suit.

    "While the decision ... is just one step towards finally receiving justice, it is a very important one," he said in the release.

    Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said testimony during the commission showed many abuses occurred during the day, and he's elated by the court's ruling.

    "I think it will be equally effective in assisting the day scholar survivors to reach a point of closure in their equally
    traumatic experiences," he said.

    Preparations are now underway for the two First Nations' bands to notify class members. They expect the outcome of any trial to be months or years away.


  120. Wake up. The threat to our Indigenous women is Canada’s problem

    What emerges from the stories of 13 Indigenous women who told Maclean’s about the violence they endured is a capacity for resilience and forgiveness

    Editorial, Maclean's June 2, 2015

    What happened in residential schools was nothing short of “cultural genocide,” said Justice Murray Sinclair, chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, as he released the commission’s 94 recommendations in Ottawa this week: “Survivors were stripped of the love of their families. They were stripped of their self-respect and they were stripped of their identity.” Generations on, this practice continues to directly affect Indigenous Canadians, Sinclair said.

    That much became clear to Maclean’s in the months that reporter Nancy Macdonald spent researching this week’s cover package: stories of 13 extraordinary Indigenous women. Each has survived horrific violence. Each came within a breath of joining the missing and murdered. Almost all can trace the abuse and sexual violence that have overwhelmed their families to those federally funded schools through whose doors 150,000 Indigenous children passed for more than a century.

    More than one of these women told of four generations of women in their families who were raped. Yet what emerges most clearly from their stories is a tremendous capacity for resilience and forgiveness. Make no mistake: While the subject matter may be dark, these remarkable stories are not. They are triumphant, without exception. They are profiles in courage.

    “In speaking out, I am saying: No more,” Kim Jonathan, interim chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, told Maclean’s. Jonathan is the country’s most senior female Indigenous leader, and the inspiration for this project. She is speaking publicly, for the first time, of her childhood sexual assault, the abuse she endured as a young girl, and the sexual harassment she continues to face as a national leader.

    “Having lived through all that I have, I am choosing to say: I am not going to be next,” Jonathan says. “And I am speaking up for our sisters, the missing and murdered, whose voices have been stolen.”

    Now is the time to listen to these voices. The full six-volume report from Sinclair’s commission won’t be released until later this year, but already the report contains a sweeping agenda for change, including: removal of the Criminal Code provision permitting corporal punishment; enhanced teaching of Aboriginal languages in colleges and universities; clear goals and strategies for reducing the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal health outcomes; and a public inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women. If the scars left behind by the residential school system are almost unimaginable, the agenda Sinclair sketched includes a series of concrete steps to achieve measurable outcomes. All that remains is for governments, beginning with the one in Ottawa, to respond.

    continued below

  121. Indigenous women make up just two per cent of the country’s population, but more than one in four female homicide victims in the last five years, a share that continues to rise. The United Nations and Amnesty International have called repeatedly on Ottawa to take real action. Instead, this spring, the federal government chose to release data on the perpetrators of these crimes, to point the finger back at the community. “Obviously, there’s a lack of respect for women and girls on reserves,” Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt told the Ottawa Citizen. The minister is looking in the wrong place. This is overwhelmingly an urban phenomenon: Just seven per cent of missing cases and 13 per cent of murder cases among Indigenous women occur on-reserve.

    Let us be clear: This is not an Indigenous problem. This is a Canadian problem. Canada did not suddenly wake up to 1,181 murdered and missing Indigenous women.

    But, robbed of context, we tend to blame the missing and murdered themselves. We see them as drug addicts, lost—party, even—to their own victimization. That is why it is so important to hear from survivors; they help us understand how we got here. They humanize the fallen. And they lend their formidable strength to the women who continue to suffer.

    “I have been there, too. I walk with you,” said Jonathan, addressing those women directly. Jonathan, who faces an election in four months, knows she could be harmed politically by doing so. She did it anyway.

    The courage these women have shown in speaking out, and their resilience, are extraordinary. From the ashes of those horrific schools, somehow, women like this have emerged. Their example should serve as a call for a national soul-searching. That Indigenous women in one of the world’s richest, most developed countries continue to be subjected to sexual violence to a degree not seen outside the most violent corners of the developing world cannot be allowed to endure.

    To read all thirteen stories and view photos and links go to:


  122. Child advocate wants action on TRC findings

    Turpel-Lafond urges province to take the lead on Truth and Reconciliation Commission's call for improved child welfare

    Elizabeth McSheffrey Vancouver Observer June 4th, 2015

    After a six-year investigation of Canada’s brutal residential schools, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) number-one demand of Canadian governments is improved child welfare.

    The summary report, released earlier this week, called on federal, provincial, territorial and Indigenous authorities to reduce the number of aboriginal children in care by allocating more resources investigating neglect, among other interventions.

    The recommendations are made to all levels of government, but according to the province’s representative for Children and Youth (BCRCY), this is B.C.’s time to shine. The province is notorious for leaving vulnerable children and families behind, particularly within the aboriginal community.

    “There are enough (Indigenous) individuals here that are strong, that if they were really supported and had that community dialogue and initiative, there could be literally world class response in this province,” said Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, the advocate for minors since 2006. “But that would require the government to take an active role.”

    Since 2003, at least 134 children have died in the care of the B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) according to statistics from the Ministry website, and a 2013 study by the BCRCY found that in March 2013, more than half of the province’s 8,106 children in care were from aboriginal families.

    One of the most notorious failures of B.C.’s social care system is the case of 19-year-old Paige, an Indigenous woman who died of a drug overdose in April 2013. Last month, the BCRCY released an investigative report detailing Paige’s downward spiral and how “professional indifference” to her life circumstances left her directly in harm’s way.

    “Paige’s story is important because this is a British Columbian child who suffered while we are supposed to have a social care system, meaning child welfare, education and healthcare system that is supposed to promote best outcomes,” said Turpel-Lafond. “Somehow (the system) just didn’t reach her, and didn’t see the magnitude of this child’s needs and find a way to really support her.” [read more about Paige in the article in the next comment]

    The young woman’s tragedy not only represents B.C.’s political inaction but the lasting legacy of residential schools. Paige’s family were survivors of the horrific system, which left them with physical and psychological scars that prevented them from providing her with a safe and nurturing environment.

    The TRC summary report, which calls for better aboriginal child welfare, health and education across the country, provides harrowing statistics on the Canada’s Indigenous youth in care. According to its findings, 78 per cent of children who died in Alberta foster care from 1999 to mid-2013 were aboriginal, and across Canada, First Nations children under 15 were 12 times more likedly to be in foster care in 2011.

    “British Columbia has a huge opportunity to take that report and show leadership,” said Turpel-Lafond. “The province needs to have a cross-government aboriginal children’s plan that’s really going to be about, ‘It ends with this generation, this marginalization.’”

    Premier Christy Clark has yet to issue a formal response to the TRC report, and the MCFD did not get back to The Vancouver Observerby press time.


  123. Paige's Story: Who Checks In When Students Check Out?

    Children's watchdog finds BC school attendance policies lack teeth.

    By Katie Hyslop, May 30, 2015, TheTyee.ca

    It's the law of the land in British Columbia that kids ages six to 16 must go to school. Public, private, home-schooled -- it doesn't matter, but an education is non-negotiable. So what happens when parents or kids won't -- or can't -- comply?

    That's what B.C.'s Representative for Children and Youth Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond wants to know after reporting on the death of a young indigenous woman she said was failed by the education system.

    Earlier this month, Turpel-Lafond released Paige's Story: Abuse, Indifference, and a Young Life Discarded, a report detailing the brief life of Paige, who spent her life in and out of foster care.

    The only child of an abusive single mother with addiction and mental health problems, Paige spent the last three years of her life in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside neighbourhood in shelters and Single Room Occupancy hotels with her mom. Eventually, Paige turned to drugs and alcohol, and died from an overdose two years ago. She was 19.

    In her short life, Paige moved at least 40 times and was enrolled in 16 different schools in Fort St. James, Kamloops, and Vancouver -- schools she stopped regularly attending by Grade 7.

    While most of the report's criticism is aimed at the Ministry of Children and Family Development, how schools deal with unexplained absences like Paige's is also a key problem identified by the watchdog. As Turpel-Lafond discovered, in B.C. responses vary from district to district; the only ministry-mandated response requires district superintendents, when informed a child isn't attending school, to follow-up with the parents or guardians.

    ''My concern is that these are largely voluntary and discretionary strategies that are used [by schools], and many of them are not effective,'' said Turpel-Lafond, adding the response from schools to Paige skipping class was ''passive.''

    She said the Ministry of Education, school districts and schools "need to have a much more active approach.''

    'Not impossible to find her'

    Turpel-Lafond's interviews with school staff members and Paige's family and foster families found no evidence that schools tried to contact Paige or her caregivers when she skipped school. Paige's school records also showed no evidence of this.

    The watchdog is concerned that Paige's absences were dismissed as part and parcel of her ''difficult family situation'' and indigenous background, a response that Turpel-Lafond described as ''institutional racism.''

    The Vancouver School District disputes this, saying the youth and family outreach worker at the alternative aboriginal program Paige attended made every effort to find Paige when she stopped going school.

    ''There certainly are places in Vancouver where it's easier to track where kids have gone than others,'' said associate superintendent Maureen Ciarniello, ''and I think the Downtown Eastside can be a challenge sometimes.''

    But Turpel-Lafond noted in her report that Paige spent much of her time walking around the Downtown Eastside or riding the SkyTrain all day.

    ''It was not impossible to find her,'' she said. ''Why isn't anyone connecting up with her?''

    Ministries, agencies must coordinate: watchdog

    continued below

  124. When students go AWOL in Vancouver parents are called by the school counsellor, or in the case of alternative schools, the youth and family worker, who might also visit the house if there's no phone. If a social worker is working with the child -- and the school knows this -- they're notified, too.

    Paige's Story recommends the Ministry of Education work with the Ministry of Children and Family Development and the First Nations Education Steering Committee to ensure indigenous children involved with the children's ministry are going to school, and devise adequate responses if they're not.

    The Vancouver School Board was already working on updating its attendance policy when Paige's report was released. Ciarniello said it's important that districts have their own strategies because every family has a different reason -- often unique to their culture, income, or home life -- for taking a child out of school.

    For example, Ciarniello cited some indigenous families who head back to their home community for weeks -- sometimes over a month -- of mourning when a family or band member dies. Other families might take a mid-school-year, multi-week vacation.

    The Tyee requested an interview with Education Minister Peter Fassbender, but he wasn't available. Instead, a ministry spokesperson's emailed statement said that Turpel-Lafond's recommendations are being reviewed, and the ministry ''will discuss their feasibility with school district staff and other ministries serving children and youth.''

    Turpel-Lafond said she has yet to receive the ministry's response to the recommendation.

    'She was really intelligent'

    Despite her traumatic upbringing, and a genetic disorder that left Paige legally blind and with heart problems, Paige's Story depicts a bright young woman eager to get an education.

    ''She was really intelligent and had really promising results,'' said Turpel-Lafond, adding that Paige ''only attended a quarter of Grade 7 and still managed to meet or exceed all expectations.''

    Paige never got beyond Grade 10, but according to Turpel-Lafond, she tried to further her education at two different Vancouver schools before she died.

    The Vancouver district has improving graduation rates for indigenous students like Paige -- 70 per cent who entered Grade 12 in 2013/14 finished school. Almost 50 per cent received a diploma versus a school leaving certificate, which post-secondary institutions don't accept.

    Because of the transient nature of urban indigenous students -- they often move in and out of the district -- Ciarniello said it's hard to track how many students graduate within six years of starting Grade 8, the provincial standard for measuring graduation rates.

    Last year in B.C., the six-year completion rate for indigenous students was 61.6 per cent, compared to 84.2 per cent for all students. Turpel-Lafond said that's not good enough. She would like to see a ''reset'' on improving indigenous education outcomes, with established, clear goals and strategies for getting there.

    She also wants government to establish independent oversight of the education ministry, much like she provides for the children's ministry.

    ''Everybody's definitely patting each other on the back, but I'm not seeing the outcomes for the kids improve. And someone like Paige, certainly her experience throws up a very different picture of what's happening on the ground for these kids,'' she said.


  125. Can trauma have genetic effects across generations?

    CBC Radio, Day 6, June 05, 2015

    The Truth and Reconciliation Commission's report on residential schools in Canada laid out the neglect and abuse aboriginal children and youth were put through. Studies have shown that trauma might have an affect not only the person experiencing the trauma, but also subsequent generations via their DNA. Brent speaks with Amy Bombay, assistant professor of psychiatry at Dalhousie University, on the possible implications of the field of epigenetics for First Nations people.

    This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

    How exactly could a traumatic experience change a person's DNA?

    Well this is something that we really only uncovered in the past ten to fifteen years through the study of epigenetics, which is basically the study of how environmental factors and experience can alter how genes are expressed without altering the underlying DNA sequence.

    So it's not the DNA code itself that's being affected, it's something else?

    That's right. We're all born with our with our DNA and we used to think that wasn't changeable and it's not. But what we know now is that experience can make certain kinds of these DNA "tags", which is the unscientific way to talk about it, that can tag onto our DNA. Those little tags can basically turn the gene on or off. And so while the same gene is still there, it could be not functioning or functioning differently and therefore the functional aspects and roles of that DNA are different.

    So why would your body do this? What's the evolutionary advantage?

    I think it really depends on the situation. Just to give you an example, the research on the long term effects of the Holocaust might help explain this. We know those who experienced chronic stress, they tend to show lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which helps our body return to normal after trauma. Those who have things like post-traumatic stress disorder, they have these low levels of cortisol and so it's not completely clear why this is the case in survivors. But Rachel Yehuda's team recently found that these survivors seem to be making lower levels of an enzyme that breaks down this cortisol. So this could be considered to be an adaptation to keep more free cortisol in the bodies of these people who are being starved, which would allow their livers and kidneys to maximize their stores of glucose and all of these other things that would actually help them in response to prolonged starvation and other types of stress. But that same response is not going to be adaptive for the next generation who are trying to recover in a normal environment.

    That seems to me to be the challenging part of this idea. If someone's body is responding to an environmental stress then how could that get passed along to the next generation when the DNA code itself is not altered?

    So it's not always the case that that's going to happen. But, if it so happens that whatever experience happened happened to influence DNA that is passed through the germ line in the egg and sperm, that's when it's possible that these epigenetic modifications can be transmitted transgenerationally.

    How settled do you think the science is on this, do you believe that the science is settled?

    Absolutely. We know this is a phenomenon. We know that epigenetics exist. We know that exists in a number of different species and there is now evidence that this also happens in humans. But what we don't know is the extent to which it is involved in specific diseases.

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  126. Is there any way to know though? Do researchers know that what they're observing is a result of a genetic component and not simply the legacy of profound psychological damage?

    It's really impossible to separate those two things. They all interact with each other and are intertwined: the psychological, physiological, and social factors, particularly when we're talking about this cycle over generations. So, absolutely there are other pathways by which trauma is transmitted and the physiological and epigenetic pathways are just one.

    Your grandparents and your uncle went through the residential school system. Is that what led you to this research?

    It is. My father grew up in the reserve, but he moved to Ottawa to work for the government and so I grew up in Ottawa. Although we didn't really talk about residential schools growing up, it was when I was in high school that my mom suggested that I should look into this issue and so I did my own kind of research and paper on it. That's when I was shocked to find that this is part of Canadian history and influenced my own family.

    Seven generations of First Nations people went through the residential schools. If the science is right, if trauma can be passed down, could there be a cumulative effect? Could it be even more severe because we're talking about seven generations not one?

    Absolutely. So we know that across the lifespan, these epigenetic modifications can accumulate. If it does pass through the germ line and into the next generation, absolutely that same marker can be passed on and those same implications of that marker can also be passed on. We compared those whose families had not been affected by residential schools to those who had only one generation who attended, so the parent or a grandparent. We compared those who had two previous generations who attended, a parent and a grandparent. And we could see the cumulative effects; the more generations in your family who attended, the greater at risk you were for psychological distress.

    Is there a dark side to this? Are you worried that this research could lead some to draw the conclusion that First Nations people are irreparably damaged?

    The good news is that these epigenetic markers can not only have negative effects, which is what we've kind of been focusing on, but they can also be protective. And not only do negative experiences result in negative outcomes, but positive experiences can also influence the expression of genes to express more protective genes.

    What are your hopes for this research? What is the best case about how this could help First Nations people?

    When I was doing my graduate studies, I had come across a lot of qualitative research, personal accounts, and books that talked about these transgenerational effects. What I found when it came to talking to regular people about this issue, their common response was, "Oh those Aboriginal people, they just need to get over their problems. Why can't they just assimilate? Why can't they just get their act together? We're giving them all of these special privileges," which is a whole other issue. So it's really to fight what's a misunderstanding and an unawareness of the long history of colonization in Canada. And to people who say, "Oh just get over it." This is showing empirically through research that that's not that simple. And that we need to invest in our Aboriginal population and invest in their healing because it took seven generations to get here it's going to take a number of generations to heal as well.


  127. Reconciliation: Your Move Governments

    TRC lays bare the dark legacy of residential schools. Will those in power be compelled to act?

    By Judith Sayers, 10 June 2015, TheTyee.ca

    The long awaited report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was released with much attention and flourish on June 2. "Honouring the Truth, Reconciling the Future" was based on seven years of documenting what happened to thousands of students in over 130 residential schools, across 125 years. The report contains 94 calls to action, and is being hailed as a historic moment that authenticates the dark, horrific history of the schools.

    Justice Murray Sinclair, the chief commissioner of the TRC, called his six years on the project "a difficult, inspiring and very painful journey." His report describes residential schools as "cultural genocide," and Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard have publicly agreed. The use of "cultural genocide" to describe what happened to First Nations children in residential schools is not surprising to the many generations who've lived with the devastating effects of the schools on our language, culture, families, governments and communities.

    One must remember the political atmosphere in which the TRC was forged. It was a negotiated agreement that arose through the Indian residential schools settlement. This settlement was toresolve several class action lawsuits brought by residential school survivors against churches and the federal government for abuse suffered in their student years. It set the terms of compensation for survivors, and meant that they didn't have to relive their trauma by testifying and undergoing cross-examination in court.

    Would the federal government have agreed to the commission without the pressure of these lawsuits? I find it unlikely. There are also no terms in the settlement for what happens after the commission. Legally, nothing compels the government to take action. Morally, it's a different story.

    Everyone has a role

    Currently, the political relationship between governments and First Nations in Canada is volatile. Various governments continue to push through natural resource projects in the face of aboriginal opposition. The federal government has imposed laws on First Nations without their consent, such as the First Nations Financial Transparency Act. Every year, First Nations fall further behind financially. The prime minister continues to refuse a national inquiry on missing and murdered indigenous women. There are many more such issues.

    Working at reconciliation may help alleviate this volatility. The federal, provincial and territorial governments need to accept the TRC report in their legislatures. All levels of government should then appoint a committee to determine which actions are with their jurisdiction and outline how the action items can be pursued. This should be done in collaboration with Indigenous people. There should be plans and timelines adopted by governments with progress reports annually in the legislatures on what has been done and what has yet to be done.

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  128. First Nations and their organizations have to study the report as well, determine what they can do, and do it. They need to consistently lobby and push the governments to implement those recommendations that apply to them. They need to continue to educate the public on residential schools and the many, many impacts that First Nations individuals and communities still cope with. They require public support in pushing the governments to accept and implement the calls to action.

    Universities, educational institutions, the justice system, churches, museums, business, sports -- anyone who is named in the report's calls to action needs to acknowledge the recommendations within their own frameworks and work on reconciliation in their own way.

    A serious first step

    One of the calls to action requires the establishment of the National Council for Reconciliation. This would be an independent, national oversight body with joint membership of aboriginal and non-aboriginal peoples. It would monitor, evaluate and report to Parliament on the progress of reconciliation. It would house all the information gathered during the TRC and make sure it is preserved. It would also put in place a multi-year National Action Plan for reconciliation, which would include research and policy development, public education programs and resources.

    Such a body would be the first step in the implementation of this report. I would also like to see the council have powers to compel governments and First Nations to act and participate in completing the actions. There should be a dispute resolution process for any issues where there is no progress. The establishment of such a council would be a very positive sign that this report is being taken seriously.

    Reconciliation will be a hard fought battle by all governments, First Nations governments, organizations and people. The impacts of the residential schools are deeply embedded, and it will take time and huge efforts to reconcile the past.

    If the people of Canada seriously want to change Canada to eradicate the laws, policies and colonialist attitudes that were responsible for residential schools, the TRC report must be taken seriously as a foundation for reconciliation. Reconciling, making amends, learning to work and live together to make positive changes that allow for the resurgence of Indigenous Nations in the absence of conflict is a world I aspire to. [Tyee]

    Judith Sayers (Kekinusuqs) is from the Hupacasath First Nation in Port Alberni, B.C. and is a lawyer. She also holds an honourary Doctor of Laws from Queen's University. She is currently serving her first term as an elected member of the First Nations Summit's political executive.


  129. No Justice for Canadas First Peoples


    Guelph, Ontario - I BELIEVE in justice. I can’t say I’ve seen that much of it in my lifetime, but I like the concept.

    On June 2, the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commissionreleased its executive summary on the ill-advised system of government-mandated, church-run residential schools that persisted until 1998. For over a century the program sanctioned the kidnapping of native children from their families and communities. All under the guise of education.

    The full report, a result of six years of research and public meetings across the country, along with the testimony of some 6,000 residential-school survivors, will be released later this year.

    Now that the commission has finished its work, now that politicians have had their time in front of the cameras, there is every indication that the governmental song and dance around the critical and longstanding matters of land and treaty rights will continue, and that native people will be left, once again, with vague and lumpy promises “to consider the issues at a later date.”

    The 130-plus residential schools that operated in Canada emerged from the mid-19th century’s love affair with Christianity and the ideology of assimilation. In 120 years, more than 150,000 Aboriginal children were dragged, literally, kicking and screaming into the waiting arms of Canadian paternalism.

    One hundred and twenty years of neglect and malnutrition. One hundred and twenty years of physical, mental and sexual abuse. One hundred and twenty years of cultural genocide.

    Mortality rates at some schools reached 50 percent.

    The Truth and Reconciliation Commission came into being as a requirement of the 2006 Indian Residential Schools Settlement agreement, itself a product of the largest successful class-action suit in Canadian history. It was not created out of any largess on the government’s part. Perhaps that’s why, when the commission’s 94 recommendations came to the floor of Parliament, the prime minister thanked the commission, noting simply that it “has spent a long time on this report” and that “it has issued a large number of recommendations.”

    Which is the political equivalent of “so long and thanks for all the fish.”

    Had this been a royal commission on tar sands development or a white paper on tax breaks for corporations, the recommendations would have been applauded, but as the report was on Canada’s native population, the folks in power were able to curb their enthusiasm, opting instead to wait to see the full report.

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  130. Just another day at the office.

    Here’s what’s most likely to happen. Those recommendations that are, in large part, cosmetic or symbolic may well be adopted. Any recommendations with price tags attached — funding for improved health care on reserves — or recommendations that might open the government to legal action will be ignored.

    Sure, that’s cynical, and I wish I were wrong. It’s just that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report is not the first narrative of its kind. In 1907, Dr. Peter Bryce, the chief medical officer for Indian affairs in Canada, submitted a report, the results of which were buried by Ottawa until 1922, when Dr. Bryce published his findings as a book in which he called the health conditions at residential schools “a national crime.”

    In 1928, Lewis Meriam released a report on similar residential schools in the United States. It concluded that they were crowded beyond their capacity, that disease was rampant, and that the rate of 11 cents a day for each native child was wholly inadequate. The report was so comprehensive and so damning that the United States never commissioned another such study.

    Why ask the question if you know you won’t like the answer?

    Only the Canadians persisted with such inquiries.

    In 1966-67, the Hawthorn Report was published, reiterating the basic conclusions of the reports that had come before, while in 1996, the five-volume report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples traced native and nonnative history.

    So what’s the benefit of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission? There are a number of answers, but the most important is that it gave the people most affected by the abuses of residential schools an occasion to have their voices heard, to have their stories recorded. It gave them the chance to speak the truth and to speak it loud.

    Will it help? Who knows. Maybe it will. Maybe it won’t. But for the commissioners and especially for those people who lived through the distress and fear and shock of residential school life and who were brave enough to tell their stories, those moments were powerful and possibly, just possibly, even healing.

    One can hope.

    Of course, the report is not to blame for government intransigence. It’s a fine document, painstakingly researched and well written. The commissioners are to be commended. I especially enjoyed those moments that paired a little humor with serious concerns. One of my favorites was the recommendation to amend the Oath of Citizenship every new Canadian has to take. If Justice Murray Sinclair and the commission have their way, the new version would include swearing to “observe the laws of Canada including treaties with indigenous peoples.”

    Imagine that. Made me smile. But then I happen to like irony almost as much as I like justice.

    Thomas King’s latest book is “The Back of the Turtle.”


  131. Cultural genocide label for residential schools has no legal implications, expert says

    Chilling and contentious term used by Truth and Reconciliation Commission has WW II origins

    By Daniel Schwartz, CBC News June 13, 2015

    The Truth and Reconciliation Commission says the residential school system amounted to cultural genocide, initiating a debate in Canada over whether that's the right label and what the implications may be if the federal government accepts it.

    In its report, the TRC defines cultural genocide as "the destruction of those structures and practices that allow the group to continue as a group." That includes disrupting families "to prevent the transmission of cultural values and identity from one generation to the next."

    Canada had previously voted to keep cultural genocide out of two major United Nations documents.

    The Harper government hasn't accepted the TRC's conclusion about the residential school record as cultural genocide. But William Schabas, a Canadian and probably the world's leading expert on genocide law, says if it did, there would be no legal implications, however, "It would be a recognition that those words describe what happened."

    Since the settlement of the class-action lawsuit that included the TRC also included payment for victims, there should be no direct financial impact, either.

    And under international law, Schabas says there would also be no consequences because "cultural genocide is not a term that we use in international law." He adds that the Genocide Convention is not retroactive, something that the International Court of Justice clearly stated in a judgment earlier this year.

    It was only in the aftermath of the Second World War that genocide became part of international law. The concept of cultural genocide dates back to when the word genocide was coined, by Raphael Lemkin in 1944.

    When he was a university student in Poland, Lemkin became interested in laws against mass slaughter after what happened to the Armenians in Turkey in 1915 — so interested that he changed his university studies to law and went on to devote his life to the issue and the cause.

    Lemkin wanted to know, "Why is the killing of a million a lesser crime than the killing of an individual?"

    By the 1930s, Lemkin was trying to warn the world, and his own Jewish family in Poland, about what Hitler had in store. His pleas ignored, Lemkin went into exile in the U.S. and kept doggedly campaigning for a new international law.

    After the war ended, he learned that 47 relatives had died in the Holocaust.

    Lemkin felt he needed a new word for the crime he was trying to prevent, and in 1944, he coined "genocide," which combined the Greek word for tribe or race and the Latin word for killing.

    In his book that introduced the word, Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, Lemkin explained that genocide was not limited to the physical destruction of a people, but could include cultural and other techniques as well.

    Although he does not use the phrase cultural genocide in his book, he does in his unpublished writings from the time, and in his memoirs.

    Shamiran Mako, a Canadian scholar at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University and at the University of Edinburgh, says that for Lemkin, "there's this understanding that there's other ways of killing a group without physically getting rid of them and that for him, was as important as the physical aspect of genocide."

    Lemkin wrote that those ways include forbidding a group from using their own language or other means of cultural expression.

    Cultural genocide voted out

    In the debates that led to the Genocide Convention in 1948 — Lemkin worked on the initial drafting — including cultural genocide was debated intensely but voted out of the final draft by a majority that included Canada.

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  132. Some countries were nervous about their own behaviour and therefore opted to define genocide narrowly, Schabas says. And some countries also thought the issue was better dealt with under minority rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was under debate at the same time.

    In the end, the concept of cultural genocide doesn't appear in either document, a great shortcoming in Schabas's view.

    With a narrower definition of genocide, Lemkin's initial idea "is not what ended up being the legal reality of genocide," Schabas says, although no individual probably deserves more credit than Lemkin that genocide became part of international law.

    Schabas teaches law at Middlesex University in London. His latest book is Unimaginable Atrocities: Justice, Politics, and Rights at the War Crimes Tribunals.

    Canada and cultural genocide

    Indigenous groups around the world took up Lemkin's campaign to include cultural genocide in that legal reality, lobbying both from within the UN system and from outside it. They campaigned unsuccessfully to include cultural genocide in the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People, adopted by the UN in 2007. Canada again opposed its inclusion.

    Mako sees a pattern of opposition from countries with a history of colonization, and especially from countries that "had some systematic laws that either resulted in genocide or cultural genocide of the indigenous population."

    In 1883, Canada's first prime minister, John A. Macdonald, explained his residential schools policy to the House of Commons, saying, "Indian children should be withdrawn as much as possible from the parental influence, and the only way to do that would be to put them in central training industrial schools where they will acquire the habits and modes of thought of white men."

    According to Lemkin's definition, Macdonald was advocating cultural genocide, Mako says.

    "There's a clear indication that there's an intention on the part of that government to strip away any sort of moral or cultural or spiritual attachment to that particular culture."

    She notes that Lemkin referred to Canada in his writing when discussing techniques of non-physical destruction of a group.

    First Nations have spoken of cultural genocide since at least 1969, when the National Indian Brotherhood characterized a federal Liberal government white paper on "Indian policy" as advocating cultural genocide.

    In 2013, former prime minister Paul Martin said, "What happened at the residential schools was the use of education for cultural genocide."

    Schabas says it's interesting that the TRC's recommendations include nothing about applying the cultural genocide label, and they steer clear of a legal analysis of cultural genocide.

    'An instant stigma'

    When Lemkin coined the word genocide, he wanted a term "that would cast an instant stigma on anyone committing this crime," says Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, in Watchers of the Sky, a documentary about Lemkin.

    And that may be part of the reason some Canadians are unwilling to accept the description of the residential school system as cultural genocide.

    Schabas compares the use of the term genocide to a very hot spice that "transforms something from being rather old news into something that gets the headlines."

    Sometimes, he says, it also makes it harder for victims to reconcile with the perpetrator groups.

    Cultural genocide ought to be covered by "crimes against humanity," Schabas says. That's one of the charges for which Nazis were sentenced to death at Nuremberg and he sees no reason to limit the charge to actions taken during wartime, which was the case at Nuremberg.


  133. Genocide is the truth

    by Neil Godbout / Editorial Prince George Citizen June 3, 2015

    If America's great shame is slavery, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's report painfully laid out Canada's great shame Tuesday.

    Canada and Canadians are guilty of genocide against its aboriginal population.

    Genocide is a harsh word, loaded with so much meaning and more commonly associated with the targeted slaughter of people in Nazi Germany, Cambodia and Rwanda.

    Yet genocide is about far more than that.

    "Generally speaking, genocide does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killings of all members of a nation," wrote Raphael Lemkin in 1944.

    "It is intended rather to signify a co-ordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves. The objectives of such a plan would be the disintegration of the political and social institutions, of culture, language, national feelings, religion, and the economic existence of national groups, and the destruction of the personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and even the lives of the individuals belonging to such groups."

    Lemkin gets to define genocide because the word didn't exist until he invented it, addressing what Winston Churchill had once called a crime with no name. Lemkin simply combined the Greek "genos," meaning people, and the Latin "cide," meaning to kill.

    Lemkin's definition prevails to this day in international law and with the United Nations. The breadth of genocide's full meaning show how Lemkin, a lawyer of Polish and Jewish descent, deeply understood that violence and murder are just two of the many ways to destroy a group of people.

    The Truth and Reconciliation Commission called what happened in residential schools in Canada for 120 years "cultural genocide" but that is too polite, too politically correct, too Canadian.

    There is no such thing as "cultural genocide," in Lemkin's view. The stories by residential school survivors told to the commission clearly meet "the disintegration of the political and social institutions, of culture, language... personal security, liberty, health, dignity" under Lemkin.

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  134. When defining genocide Lemkin stepped smartly around the numbers question.

    Genocide can't be explained as more than one million deaths or one thousand or even one. Genocide is not destruction but the planned destruction of an identifiable group.

    Even if multiple actors working independently of one another are involved, if there is a "co-ordinated plan" to steal a people's existence, including its self-identity, regardless of the plan's degree of success, that, too, is genocide.

    The Canadian government, working with the Roman Catholic Church, conspired to eradicate the history, culture, language and identity of Canada's aboriginal peoples for more than a century by shipping young people away from their families and communities to schools where the Indian could be unlearned and children could be taught to be proper "Canadians."

    The result was generations of misery from substance and sexual abuse, violence, poverty, victimization and powerlessness.

    Perhaps worst of all, it created multiple schisms in the aboriginal community and even within individual families, pitting those who excelled in broader Canadian society, those who refused to be considered victims and those who chose to not be identified by their skin colour, language or birth place against those who were discriminated against and shunned, those who found solace with others in their victimhood and those who refuse to accept the selfish and individualistic notions of identity so commonly held in the "white man's" world.

    The reconciliation between and within aboriginal communities is just as important as the reconciliation that needs to happen between Canada's First Nations and its governments and the Catholic Church.

    A papal visit to Canada and a sincere, heartfelt apology and acceptance of blame from Pope Francis would help, but the Vatican only aided and abetted a travesty that was born and bred in Canada.

    The shame must be owned and understood by all Canadians and the genocide perpetrated on this country's aboriginal populations under the guise of education must be accepted as truth. Without that, there can be no reconciliation.


  135. Genocide or Mass Murder - Canadian and Church Officials Must be Held to Account

    by Pam Palmater, Indigenous Nationhood June 13, 2015


    What happened in residential schools was not “cultural genocide”. It wasn’t “language genocide”. And it wasn’t “almost genocide”. What happened in residential schools was genocide. Canadian officials targeted Indians for assimilation and elimination purely for economic and political reasons. Scalping bounties on certain Indigenous Nations are indicative of such a lethal mentality.

    Canada wasn’t killing Indians because of our cultures; it was killing Indians to get rid of the “Indian problem” as Indian Affairs officials kept referring to it. Commentators often refer to Duncan Campbell Scott’s quote regarding Indian policy in Canada as proof that the intention was assimilation and not elimination.

    Scott was the deputy superintendent general for the Department of Indian Affairs from 1913 to 1932, who explained in 1920:

    “I want to get rid of the Indian problem. […] Our objective is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed into the body politic and there is no Indian question and no Indian Department”.

    However, there is more to the story than this. In 1907, Dr. Peter Bryce, the Chief Medical Officer for the federal government, wrote a report on the conditions in residential schools that detailed the astounding number of deaths of Indian children in those schools.(1)

    The government’s own lawyer also warned Canadian officials in 1907:

    “Doing nothing to obviate the preventable causes of death, brings the Department within unpleasant nearness to the charge of manslaughter.”(2)
    Yet, there was no shock and alarm at the time nor did anyone from Indian Affairs come up with an emergency action plan to protect Indigenous children whom Scott referred to as “inmates”.

    Surprisingly, the deaths of Indigenous children appeared to be in line with the objective of the policy.
    In 1910, Scott explained in a letter he wrote to one of his Indian Agents:

    “Indian children… die at a much higher rate [in residential schools] than in their villages. But this alone does not justify a change in the policy of this Department, which is geared towards a final solution of our Indian problem”.
    Residential schools were never a well-intended policy “gone wrong” as claimed by former Minister of Indian Affairs, John Duncan. They were death camps for nearly half of all the “inmates” who entered some of those schools. The tiny hand-cuffs and the electric chairs speak of horrors completely unrelated to “education”.

    These children didn’t die from smallpox or some other series of unfortunate and unpreventable events in those schools. Many of these children were starved, tortured, beaten, raped, and murdered. Nutritional tests and medical experimentations were done on these children only to be denied to benefit of the very medicines created at the expense of their suffering. This sounds eerily familiar to horrors inflicted on other populations around the world.

    Survivor stories of frequent rapes, forced abortions, and unmarked graves stand in stark contradiction to any notion of a benign education policy – especially once government, church and law enforcement officials became aware of what was happening. Why else did these schools have graveyards instead of playgrounds?

    It is too easy for politicians to claim “cultural genocide” now, when they are well aware that cultural genocide was specifically left out of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.(3)

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  136. Much of the debate has focused on whether or not Canada “intended” to kill Indians. According to international legal experts, leaders can be held accountable if they knew or should have known about the actions and failed to prevent them. Direct evidence of intent is not necessary but can be inferred from circumstantial evidence. The few excerpts above prove that Canadian officials knew not only of the poor conditions in residential schools, but the large number of deaths that were occurring, and that they could be held accountable for “manslaughter”.

    Genocide, by the UN definition, is said to include:

    - “Killing members of the group;

    - Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

    - Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

    - Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; and

    - Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”(4)

    Many have argued that the totality of Canada’s actions towards Indigenous peoples amounted to genocide. In other words, Canadian officials have been guilty of some or all of the above genocidal acts.

    What is particularly striking is the genocidal act of deliberately creating the conditions of life meant to bring about the destruction of the group in whole or in part. The following acts have been found to be genocidal:

    - “subjecting the group to a subsistence diet;

    - systematic expulsion from homes;

    - denial of right to medical services;

    - creation of circumstances that would lead to a slow death, such as lack of proper housing, clothing and hygiene or excessive work or physical exertion; and

    - rape.”(5)

    Think of the historic and ongoing conditions of many First Nations who were prohibited from leaving the reserve by law and given only minimal rations; or the Inuit and First Nations who were forcibly relocated from their homelands. There is also a direct link between Canada’s purposeful chronic underfunding of essential human services for First Nations (housing, water, sanitation) and their pre-mature deaths. In residential schools, children were starved, denied medical care, and many suffered slow deaths.(6)

    Genocide is the material destruction of a group – even if not all members of the group are destroyed. There is no set number of people that must be killed for the crime of genocide to occur. It does not need to mimic the worst holocaust to ne genocide. It must be a substantial part of the group. There is also no need for a government plan or policy to exist in order to find genocide. Even without a finding of genocide, the officials could still be charged with crimes against humanity or related crimes.(7)

    Given the significant death tolls, it does not matter whether the courts have accepted the claim of genocide, whether lawyers agree with the claim, or whether communications specialists think it might be too harsh a term to present to the Canadian public. What happened in residential schools were criminal acts back then, just as they are now. All of the people who had the power to stop these deaths (RCMP, Indian Affairs and the churches), not only knew about the deaths - but refused to act. At the very least, that is criminal negligence causing death.(8)

    We will never get to reconciliation unless we know the truth – all of it. So far, we have only scratched the surface.

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  137. Residential schools can’t be looked at in isolation. Indian policy included the forced sterilizations of Indigenous women and little girls. Forced sterilizations were never about our cultures – it was about eliminating our populations.(9)

    We are not over-represented in prisons, in child and family services and as murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls because of our cultures.

    We are targeted because we are Indians. Indigenous Nations stand in the way of unfettered land and water use, resource extraction and industrial development – i.e. complete environmental destruction in the name of corporate profit.

    Justice Murray Sinclair and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) team have done the impossible – they succeeded in ensuring the voices of survivors were heard, that the atrocities committed in residential schools were documented, and that the truth be told. So far we have only seen the Executive Summary – the final report, which will be many thousands of pages long, will no doubt shed light on even more disturbing details.(10)

    In addition to the incredible emotional and psychological toll this must have taken on Justice Sinclair and his team, they stood strong in the face of the most aggressive anti-First Nation government Canada has been in years. They, together with the survivors, are true heroes.

    But we can’t expect the TRC to carry this burden alone. Nor is this story complete.

    The TRC went as far as it could to address the issue of genocide in the face of various legal considerations and consistent political denial that these schools were anything other than well-intended educational institutes.

    It’s on the rest of us to stand up for the truth and ensure Canadians know everything that happened in the schools covered in this report and the ones not yet exposed.

    Canada tried in various ways to eliminate our cultures – through residential schools and outlawing our ceremonies and practices in the Indian Act. This is all true.

    But Canada also created the conditions which led to our deaths by the thousands inside and outside residential schools. This is also true and this is genocide.

    Once we can put the truth in the table, then we can talk about reconciliation. We need to act on the TRC recommendations related to truth-seeking: a national inquiry on murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls, an investigation into the over-representation of Indigenous peoples in prison, and immediate action and reporting on the over-representation of Indigenous children in foster care.

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  138. The Indian day school class action has just been accepted by the courts and that will likely also reveal similar abuses suffered by Indian children in even more schools.(11)

    We must focus on getting all the facts so we can finally see justice for Indigenous peoples and true reconciliation. A determination that Canada did not commit genocide does not put an end to the story. It’s only just the beginning and it’s not going to be as easy as saying sorry. Canadian and Church officials who committed such horrific crimes upon Indigenous peoples need to be brought to justice.

    The mass murder or manslaughter of our people requires criminal prosecution – just like it would anywhere else in the world. Canada doesn't receive a "Get out of Jail free" card simply because it hid its atrocities so well. Real reconciliation requires justice.

    Selected Sources:

    (1) Dr. Peter Bryce, "A Story of a National Crime: An Appeal for Justice to the Indians of Canada"

    (2) CBC News, "Truth and Reconciliation Commission: By the Numbers" http://www.cbc.ca/news/aboriginal/truth-and-reconciliation-commission-by-the-numbers-1.3096185

    (3) The National Post, "Canada was ready to abandon 1948 accord if UN didn't remove 'cultural genocide' ban, records reveal"

    (4) UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide

    (5) Module 6: Genocide (International Criminal Law Services, European Union) pg. 26 http://wcjp.unicri.it/deliverables/docs/Module_6_Genocide.pdf

    (6) P. Palmater, Stretched Beyond Human Limits: Death by Poverty in First Nations

    (7) Module 6: Genocide (see above)

    (8) P. Palmater, Genocide, Indian Policy and Legislated Elimination of Indians in Canada

    (9) Karen Stote, An Act of Genocide: Colonialism and the Sterilization of Aboriginal Women

    (10) Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future: Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

    (11) CTV News, Federal appeal court gives OK on hearing First Nations Day-School Suit

  139. First came truth Now comes the hard part

    Award-winning author Joseph Boyden writes about truth, reconciliation, and a callous, uncaring government response

    by Joseph Boyden, Maclean's June 25, 2015

    A few days after the Truth and Reconciliation closing ceremonies in Ottawa, I boarded the Little Bear, that iconic train running between Cochrane and Moosonee. The plan was to decompress with my friend, the Cree legend William Tozer, at his remote camp about 210 km north of Cochrane. I don’t use that word—decompress—lightly. I’d arrived in Ottawa the Sunday before to take part in the march (10,000 strong) that kicked off the highly anticipated final Truth and Reconciliation Commission gathering, the climax of which was to be the commission’s announcement of findings and especially its recommendations.

    That morning on the Little Bear I was still reeling from the psychological weight of being witness to the torrents of pain that a Truth and Reconciliation Commission gathering unleashes. But I was also stunned by the beauty of days of witnessing survivors surrounded by younger generations there to support them, with spontaneous drumming and singing of traditional songs in the original languages, as if to remind those survivors that the system that had brutalized them had ultimately failed in its original mandate to remove the Indian from the child in order to save the man. To experience something historical as it unfolds before your eyes turns out to be pretty exhausting emotionally, psychologically, and even physically.

    I ran into three women in the train’s dining car who were heading home to Moose Factory, part of a larger contingent of about 50 who’d made the long trip to our capital to witness what, for our country’s First Nations, was one of the most important contemporary events of our time. We sat together for a bit and chatted. I asked them a question I would never have even considered asking six years before, when the first TRC gathered at the Forks in Winnipeg, a simple question on the surface but one fraught with weight. Where’d you go to school? Asking any other Canadian this is the most casual and even entertaining way of entering a conversation. Ask a First Nations person my age or older and you’re opening up a Pandora’s box of pain. Think about that for a second.

    Is there any way of weighing or measuring positive change as the direct outcome of the TRC hearings? Maybe it’s not just being able to openly ask this question of virtual strangers but in their being able to answer it without glancing down at the table or not answering at all. These three women spoke without that hiccup of fear, and I was able to ask without feeling as if I were awkwardly investigating a family’s worst secret. Freida Sackaney shared that she’d spent three years at Bishop Horton on Moose Factory Island. Her friend Beatrice Rickard said she was taken from her family at six years old and spent the next 10 in residential schools, first at Bishop Horton and then, when she proved herself a promising student, a number more years far away from home at the notorious Shingwauk Hall in Sault Ste. Marie. Half-jokingly, I commented on the irony of having to suffer such horrible punishment as being stolen from your land, family, and friends and dropped in the likes of that hellhole for being smart.

    As the train slowed for me, I thanked the women and went to the baggage car for my fishing gear but not before bumping into my friend, Bob Sutherland, a traditional healer as well as residential school survivor. I jumped off the train, watching it shrink into the northern distance, and realized that in Indian country, you are never far from that dark history of the schools and their damage that continues to reverberate down the generations.

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  140. To be First Nations in this country is to know that the very history outsiders are telling you to get over—if they know the history at all—isn’t something of the past but what continues to rock communities every day. Many have come to label it intergenerational trauma. All I know is that it is a very real thing.

    I wrote about the first Truth and Reconciliation Commission gathering for this magazine back in this same Canada Day issue in 2010. It was called “The hurting.” In part, I made the connection between the damage residential schools inflicted on generations of First Nations to the insanely high suicide rates in northern reserves across our country. I didn’t think it was in any way a stretch; I’m pretty sure very few Indigenous people saw it as one, either. Yet I wasn’t surprised when the naysayers came out of the woodwork to call me a number of colourful names.

    The highest suicide rates in the world aren’t the only by-product of generations of trauma. I’m here five years later to draw another connection, this time to our country’s missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIW), and it’s certainly easy to point to the very top: Prime Minister Stephen Harper adamantly refuses to greenlight a national inquiry into MMIW, claiming it’s simply a criminal issue and not a sociological one. I know he’s smarter than to truly believe that, but in politics going to the lowest common denominator is more often than not the most efficient and safest course of travel.

    Still, there’s something much deeper going on in Harper’s almost childish refusal to create an inquiry into what is one of this country’s most horrific travesties. When he coldly stated in a TV interview last December that the MMIW and inquiry weren’t really high on his radar, he certainly understood that almost 1,300 Native women have been murdered or gone missing in this country since 1980 and that if you are a First Nations woman you are four times more likely to die violently than your non-Native peers. Please consider that: if you are a First Nations woman in this country you are four times more likely to meet a violent death than non-Native women. This statistic alone leads to the logic that something very wrong indeed is happening that is far more than a criminal issue. And yet he dismissed it, and continues to dismiss this travesty, despite other political parties and the majority of Canadians demanding an inquiry.

    The disdain that the current federal Conservative party shows toward our First Nations slipped out of Harper’s mouth last December when speaking to Peter Mansbridge. But rather than try to rectify it, Harper completely removed himself from the equation, stating that not he but his ministers would continue to dialogue with concerned parties.

    I sat beside former prime minister Joe Clark on the day that commissioners Justice Murray Sinclair, Chief Wilton Littlechild, and Dr. Marie Wilson made their long-anticipated recommendations. I also witnessed prime minister Clark in a rousing speech state, in clear reference to Harper’s calculated apology in 2008 that, “there is a difference between an apology and a priority.” The room erupted into cheers. Did we really just hear from not any white guy but a former Progressive Conservative prime minister what so many of us have been thinking for the last seven years? Harper’s apology must be more than simple words, and sadly, that apology has never felt like a priority for the current federal government. Clark’s words only helped to underline the disconnection that this current leadership has created between it and our original peoples.

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  141. At the TRC, I sat just down the aisle from and had a direct line of sight on Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs Bernard Valcourt, Harper’s representative at this historic gathering. As the commission made its recommendations, painful years in the making and the heart of what so many survivors had been waiting to hear, the whole room, including people like former prime minister Clark, rose over and over to give standing ovations. What struck me hard in the gut, though, was dour Minister Valcourt refusing to stand, refusing most often even to clap, hunched and either jotting notes as if he were making a grocery list or worse still, sitting and staring straight ahead, a scowl on his face like an angry child who thinks those around him cheer his bad fortune.

    This physical act of disapproval, this infantile display of a grown man being the only person in a packed room of hundreds and hundreds to remain seated during the announcement of what are clearly moderate and fair recommendations, spoke as loudly to me as anything else that day. Valcourt is Harper’s representative, after all. When the recommendation that a national inquiry into our missing and murdered Indigenous women was read, the room erupted in applause. But even as Thomas Mulcair, the official leader of the Opposition, stood right beside Valcourt along with everyone else in that room clapping wildly, Valcourt simply sat, his hands in his lap. There was no more potent a physical symbol of just how tone deaf the Harper government is when it comes to not just understanding but beginning reconciliation with our original peoples.

    Digging deeper, though, I realize this isn’t just a matter of being tone deaf. There’s a calculated movement afoot, and Valcourt himself helped put it into motion a few months back when he purposely let slip to a closed-door meeting of western chiefs that an as-yet-unreleased RCMP investigation reported to him that in the cases in their jurisdictions of MMIW that had been solved, 70 per cent of the murders were committed by people who were acquaintances of those women, supposedly Native men. According to witnesses in the meeting, Valcourt explained that he was able to share this information with the chiefs because “there is no media in the room,” a bizarre statement on the surface that smacks of veiled threat: this insider information is a secret for now but probably won’t be for long. And then what? The whole world is going to know that it is your people at the root of the problem.

    The chiefs present were understandably infuriated. One of them, Joe Laboucan, is the father of Bella Laboucan-McLean who fell from a 31-storey Toronto condo to her death in July 2013. Despite three male witnesses present at the condo, none First Nations, her death remains unsolved. Valcourt, however, seemingly believed he could magically shut down the need for a national inquiry by sharing with these people the “fact” that their own men were to blame.

    If anything, Valcourt’s backroom words, along with the RCMP’s official recent release of further findings that the majority of solved MMIW homicides in RCMP jurisdictions were perpetrated by “acquaintances,” make a national inquiry even more necessary.

    Apparently, the current federal government is trying to spin these recent statistics to convince Canadians that this isn’t a national issue but a First Nations one, one that First Nations alone must rectify. Valcourt isn’t the only federal Conservative minister to focus so obsessively on this one part of the RCMP’s findings in what is clearly an effort to undermine the call for an inquiry. Status of Women Minister Kellie Leitch (the irony of her title in this instance does not escape me) also toes Harper’s line when it comes to simplifying a deeply complex problem with her repetition of handpicked numbers.

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  142. It’s no secret that Harper keeps a tight leash on his ministers and that they must march in lockstep to his orders. To either subtly imply—or worse, directly point the finger at the victims and families of those victims—in order to avoid an inquiry is, at best, ignorance. At worst, it is one of the most callous, vile, and corrupt political attempts to not just dumb down reality but completely ignore it that this country has ever seen.

    These handpicked RCMP statistics are being used by Harper’s Conservatives in a deceitful way. The most recent RCMP report actually states that Aboriginal women are at greater risk of being killed by people who don’t know them than are non-aboriginal women. Further, these handpicked statistics don’t take into account the hundreds of still unsolved missing women cases, the hundreds of still unsolved MMIW homicides, or the fact that domestic violence in the vast majority of First Nations communities is a contemporary, not historical, phenomenon, one unquestionably linked to residential schools.

    For seven generations Canada attempted what a representative of the most powerful court in the land recently labelled cultural genocide, never a term to be thrown around lightly. Our nation attempted to completely destroy the very fabric of Indigenous life by literally tearing apart its most valuable and sacred cornerstone: the family. Untold scores of children were regularly physically and emotionally assaulted, so much so that this became the norm across the country, generation after generation. Most horrifically, a grotesquely high percentage of children, boys and girls alike, were repeatedly raped throughout their childhoods by those put in charge of their well-being. Have I even mentioned the most basic and public tenet of these schools was to exterminate the languages, traditions, and religions of these children? The last residential school in this country closed its doors in 1996.

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  143. Child abuse is certainly a criminal issue. Institutional child abuse of the most heinous kind, not just allowed but encouraged by the state for more than 120 years, is far more than that. It’s a festering sociological, psychological, and very human crisis residing in the heart of this nation. And the ramifications? Systemic abuse, even when it physically comes to an end, is going to reverberate into the future. Simply put, to be stripped from your parents and then in turn stripped of the tools to become a parent, the pattern repeating for generations, has a high toll attached. Throw into this caustic mix the theft of your language, your religion, even your dances and songs, and it becomes easier to begin to understand the lasting impacts.

    To truly try to understand the impact of this particular cultural genocide is to recognize that the fallout from that attempted destruction has real and lasting effects on the generations that follow. It is simple denial to disregard the concept of intergenerational trauma, especially as we watch it play out before our very eyes. I’ve witnessed it with many of my friends, metastasizing in all kinds of ugly ways that include suicide, domestic violence and yes, even murder.

    And one of the most hurtful impacts of attempted cultural genocide and the intergenerational trauma that we see unfolding is in the sheer number of Aboriginal women who find themselves in such vulnerable places, whether it’s in a home on the rez, in an alley in Winnipeg, or on a dark highway of tears in British Columbia.

    The hard work of the TRC uncovering this truth has come to an end. But the hardest work lies ahead. To be First Nations is to implicitly understand in your very body the travesties of our history. But there are many amazing examples of the next generations of First Nations who are picking up the torch, taking their place as true role models and helping to change the tide: Wab Kinew, Taiaiake Alfred, Pam Palmater. Tanya Tagaq and A Tribe Called Red, Waubgeshig Rice and Digging Roots, Drew Hayden Taylor and Lisa Charleyboy. The list goes on.

    We are at that crossroads in our country, the one where we face the decision of whether we strive for true reconciliation or whether we remain a country in denial. There is no more room for the politics of divisiveness. Now is the time where we must all come together as a nation not to just accept but begin to reconcile with what is our darkest stain. As Justice Sinclair so clearly pointed out in those days in Ottawa, this is not just a First Nations problem or issue. It is a Canadian one.

    see links and photos in this article at:


  144. The Gladys We Never Knew

    She is one, among thousands, who didn't survive residential school. But students can meet her today.

    By Nancy Knickerbocker, 4 July 2015, TheTyee.ca

    According to the Vital Statistics Act document entitled ''RETURN OF DEATH OF AN INDIAN,'' Gladys Chapman was 12 years, 10 months, and 12 days old on April 29, 1931, when she died in Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. Occupation of the deceased was listed as ''Schoolgirl.'' On her death certificate, Dr. M.G. Archibald reported ''acute dilation of heart'' as the cause of death, with tuberculosis as the secondary cause. The duration of death was “several days.”

    So, at the end, a little girl named Gladys endured days of fevered suffering -- coughing, bleeding, struggling for breath -- all alone, far from home, with no loved one to comfort her. She was one of the thousands of children whose deaths are acknowledged and lamented in the landmark report released last month by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, a report that describes our country's treatment of indigenous people as ''cultural genocide.''

    The TRC has established a National Residential School Student Death Register that contains the names of 3,200 children though the estimated number of deaths is believed to be more than 6,000. Speaking at the release of the TRC report, Commissioner Marie Wilson asked the audience to empathize with the anguish felt by thousands of parents whose loved ones never came home.

    "Parents had their children ripped out of their arms, taken to a distant and unknown place never to be seen again, buried in an unmarked grave, long ago forgotten and overgrown. Think of that. Bear that. Imagine that," she said.

    Gladys's family members believe she never would have died at such a tender age had she not been forced into the Indian residential school system. A member of the Nlaka'pamux Nation, she was part of a large extended family with deep roots in Spuzzum, a small community on the Fraser River north of Hope. Her relations have a deep awareness of the damage inflicted upon generations of children and families. Gladys's mother, Matilda, had also been taken to residential school as a girl and she knew all too well what took place there.

    ''Just imagine how horrible it would have been for parents and grandparents who themselves had lived through residential school abuse, watching their little ones being taken, knowing what they were going to go through,'' says Gail Stromquist, Gladys's niece.

    Project of Heart

    Gail and her sister Janet, like the vast majority of Canadians both aboriginal and non-aboriginal, grew up with no knowledge of the Indian residential school system. ''We played skip rope and sang the song about how in 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue,'' Gail said. ''The myth of Columbus's discovery of the Americas was all we learned in school, nothing about residential schools or the culture of aboriginal people before contact.''

    Even though many people in their family and community were living with the terrible legacy of residential schools, the history was so deeply hidden that the sisters only recently learned about the existence of the auntie they never knew. No photos remain of Gladys, and her name was never spoken by her surviving siblings, some of whom have struggled to deal with their own devastating experiences in residential school.

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  145. Today both Stromquist sisters are public school teachers, passionately involved in the kind of reconciliatory educational work that Justice Murray Sinclair called for among the 94 recommendations in the historic TRC report. Janet works as a district teacher for the aboriginal educational program in Langley, and Gail coordinates aboriginal education initiatives for the B.C. Teachers' Federation. That work includes the Project of Heart, which is ongoing in almost all school districts province-wide and involves teaching and learning about the legacy of residential schools. The most powerful learning takes place when residential school survivors come into classrooms to share their personal experiences with students, who then make works of art in honour of the children who survived and those who never returned home.

    The sisters' need to learn the truth of their own family experience -- and their desire to teach the truth about Canadians' shared history -- led them to do extensive research in local archives. It also led them to gently question their relatives about long-buried memories. Little by little, they pieced together Gladys's story.

    She was one of five siblings from the same family taken to residential schools. Even though parents risked prison sentences for resisting the mandatory laws that required children be enrolled in residential schools, Glady's mother Matilda did manage to hide one of her sons from the Indian agent. The boy was in frail health, and she feared he would not survive the deprivation and abuse at school. Despite her best efforts, she couldn't save all her children.

    Widowed at a young age, in 1929 Matilda married a Swedish immigrant named Charles Stromquist, with whom she had a long, happy marriage and 10 more children. ''We have often imagined what a comfort it must have been to Nanny after she married Grandpa Stromquist to know that no more of her children could be taken away from her to residential school,'' Gail said.

    Cradle of disease

    Gladys was taken to Kamloops Residential School, one of the largest in Canada. An imposing brick institution run by Roman Catholic priests and the Sisters of Saint Ann, it operated from 1890 to 1978 with as many as 440 children enrolled at its peak in the 1950s. For girls, mornings were spent in class, while afternoons were spent cleaning or working in the garden or kitchen. They did not get to eat the food they grew and prepared. The boys were taught some carpentry and other trades. All students had heavy religious instruction in English. The children were forbidden to speak their native languages or practise their own spirituality. Families were allowed to visit but they rarely did because of the long distances between school and home.

    Conditions in the Kamloops school were atrocious but typical of residential schools across Canada. Neglect and abuse -- sexual, physical, emotional and spiritual -- were rampant. Many children tried to run away, only to be caught and punished for trying to get home. Some children attempted or committed suicide. But communicable disease was the worst threat. Underfunding, overcrowding, poor sanitary and ventilation systems, inadequate clothing, malnourishment, and a lack of medical care all contributed to epidemic levels of tuberculosis and other illnesses.

    The federal government had known for decades that such conditions were killing children but failed to act. In 1907, Canada's first chief medical health officer, Dr. Peter Henderson Bryce, issued a report that exposed the appalling health standards in residential schools where, on average, TB killed 24 per cent of the children.

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  146. In one school in the Prairies, the death rate was a staggering 75 per cent. The government suppressed the work of Dr. Bryce, and it wasn't until 1922 when he retired and could publish his full report, The Story of a National Crime: An Appeal for Justice to the Indians of Canada.

    In 2014, the government of British Columbia released to the TRC more than 4,000 documents, including death records for aboriginal children aged four to 19. Many families were never informed of the deaths of their children, some of whom were buried in unmarked graves near the schools.

    No one knows how Matilda learned of the death of her daughter, but it is certain that the only reason she was able to bury Gladys in the community cemetery at Spuzzum was that her husband worked for the CPR and could therefore get her body transported home by rail for free. Gladys's gravestone in what the official records call the ''Spuzzum Indian Burying-ground'' reads:

    In loving memory of Gladys Chapman
    Born June 15, 1918
    Died April 29, 1931
    Safe in the arms of Jesus

    Neither Jesus nor her loving family could save Gladys from the racist and assimilationist policies that destroyed her young life.

    The Kamloops Residential School still stands to this day, a decaying reminder of the dark history we all must confront as Canadians. The last residential school in B.C. finally closed its doors in 1984, the last in Canada not until 1996. This is not ancient history. It lives on in memory of thousands of Canadians whose childhood was stolen and whose education was perverted by the government's determination to ''kill the Indian in the child.''

    Janet and Gail Stromquist share Justice Sinclair's conviction that because education was the primary tool of oppression of aboriginal people and the misleading of all Canadians, education holds the key to reconciliation. They say the most frequent response to their teaching is: ''I never knew about any of this.''

    ''People have told me that they lived right beside one or another of the schools and never knew what went on there. They went through their entire schooling and never learned anything about this,'' Gail says. ''Some of our secondary students get quite angry about it, feeling their education has been censored.''

    ''We are fortunate in Langley to have a residential school survivor, Josette Dandurand, who is willing to share her story with students,'' Janet says. ''Learning directly from a survivor is a powerful and unforgettable experience. We honour the strength and courage of Josette and the many residential school survivors who have come forward to share their stories.''

    For the Stromquist sisters, it's clear that their life's work will continue to be educating the next generation about the truths of the past, shining a light on the hidden history, giving voice to those who were silenced, and helping create the conditions where true reconciliation can take place.

    End note: Gladys's story and those of other residential school survivors will be published in an extensive learning resource currently being developed by the BCTF. Titled Project of Heart: Illuminating the once-hidden history of Indian residential schools in B.C., it will be available in print and online for use in B.C. schools this fall. [Tyee]

    Nancy Knickerbocker is a writer and union activist who has worked at the local and international levels on issues dealing with equal access to public education and the defence of children's and labour rights. She serves as the director of communications and campaigns for the B.C. Teachers' Federation.


  147. Pope Francis asks pardon for churchs crimes against indigenous peoples

    Francis acknowledged 'crimes committed against the native peoples during the so-called conquest of America'

    The Associated Press July 10, 2015

    Pope Francis apologized Thursday for the sins, offences and crimes committed by the Catholic Church against indigenous peoples during the colonial-era conquest of the Americas, delivering a powerful mea culpa on the part of the church in the climactic highlight of his South American pilgrimage.

    History's first Latin American pope "humbly" begged forgiveness during an encounter in Bolivia with indigenous groups and other activists and in the presence of Bolivia's first-ever indigenous president, Evo Morales.

    Francis noted that Latin American church leaders in the past had acknowledged that "grave sins were committed against the native peoples of America in the name of God." St. John Paul II, for his part, apologized to the continent's indigenous for the "pain and suffering" caused during the 500 years of the church's presence in the Americas during a 1992 visit to the Dominican Republic.

    But Francis went farther, and said he was doing so with "regret."

    "I would also say, and here I wish to be quite clear, as was St. John Paul II: I humbly ask forgiveness, not only for the offences of the church herself, but also for crimes committed against the native peoples during the so-called conquest of America," he said to applause from the crowd.

    'There was sin'

    Then deviating from his prepared script, he added: "I also want for us to remember the thousands and thousands of priests who strongly opposed the logic of the sword with the power of the cross. There was sin, and it was plentiful. But we never apologized, so I now ask for forgiveness. But where there was sin, and there was plenty of sin, there was also an abundant grace increased by the men who defended indigenous peoples."

    Francis' apology was met with wild applause from the indigenous and other grass-roots groups gathered for a world summit of popular movements whose fight against injustice and social inequality has been championed by the pope.

    "We accept the apologies. What more can we expect from a man like Pope Francis?" said Adolfo Chavez, a leader of a lowlands indigenous group. "It's time to turn the page and pitch in to start anew. We indigenous were never lesser beings."

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  148. The apology was significant given the controversy that has erupted in the United States over Francis' planned canonization of the 18th century Spanish priest Junipero Serra, who set up missions across California. Native Americans contend Serra brutally converted indigenous people to Christianity, wiping out villages in the process, and have opposed his canonization. The Vatican insists Serra defended natives from colonial abuses.

    Benedict's controversial statements

    Francis' apology was also significant given the controversy that blew up the last time a pope visited the continent. Benedict XVI drew heated criticism when, during a 2007 visit to Brazil, he defended the church's campaign to Christianize indigenous peoples. He said the Indians of Latin America had been "silently longing" to become Christians when Spanish and Portuguese conquerors violently took over their lands.

    "In effect, the proclamation of Jesus and of his Gospel did not at any point involve an alienation of the pre-Columbus cultures, nor was it the imposition of a foreign culture," Benedict told the continent's bishops.

    Amid an outcry from indigenous groups, Benedict subsequently acknowledged that "shadows accompanied the work of evangelizing" the continent and said European colonizers inflicted "sufferings and injustices" on indigenous populations. He didn't apologize, however.

    The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said that Francis wrote the speech on his own and that the apology for the sins, offenses and crimes of the church was a "particularly important declaration."

    Church officials have long insisted Catholic missionaries protected indigenous peoples from the abuses of military colonizers and were often punished by European colonial powers as a result. Francis' own Jesuit order developed missions across the continent, educating the indigenous and turning their communities into organized Christian-Indian societies. The Jesuits were expelled in the 17th century.

    'The church stole our land'

    Campesino leader Amandina Quispe, of Anta, Peru, who attended the grass-roots summit, said the church still holds lands it should give back to Andean natives. The former seat of the Inca empire, conquered by Spaniards in the 16th century, is an example.

    "The church stole our land and tore down our temples in Cuzco and then it built its own churches — and now it charges admission to visit them," she said.

    Francis' apology was not the first. After his 1992 apology, John Paul II issued a sweeping but vague apology for the Catholic Church's sins of the past during the church's 2000 Jubilee. A year later, he apologized specifically for missionary abuses against aborigines in Oceania. He did so in the first ever papal email.


  149. Former RCMP officer seeks healing from residential school guilt

    'I had to take one of the girls from her mother's arms,' says former N.W.T. Mountie Ron Shortt

    By Joanne Stassen, CBC News July 23, 2015

    Ron Shortt says it didn't feel right, taking two young girls away from their mother and putting them in an Indian Agent's car, in which they were whisked off to residential school.

    It was 1964 or 1965, he says. Shortt was an RCMP officer posted in Fort Smith, N.W.T., and following an order.

    "At the time I didn't like what I was doing," he said.

    "We got to the home and of course the mother was crying and the two girls were crying and I had to take one of the girls from her mother's arms."

    Had he refused the order, Shortt says he would have been charged under the Police Act and fired. At the time he didn't know about the abuses at many residential schools, but he says he felt it was wrong to take the children from their families.

    "'Course being an RCMP I had no emotions — I don't show any feelings — and there was no one I could turn to at the time. So I put it in a box, put in on a shelf and buried it."

    A flood of emotion, and a battle with depression

    But the box wasn't buried and 50 years later, it burst open.

    Shortt says he was left shaking and crying at the very mention of residential schools, during a United Church committee meeting in February 2014.

    Now 73, Shortt says he was diagnosed with depression and referred to a counsellor by his doctor.

    "It took her about 20 minutes to determine that this incident in Fort Smith was part of the cause of my problem."

    That counsellor referred him to a program at the Indian Friendship Centre in North Bay, Ont.

    Smudges, sharing circles, and acceptance

    Shortt joined a men's program there and says his healing started at his very first smudge, at a gathering where he was the only non-aboriginal person, and most or all of the other men were former students of residential schools.

    "I was nervous but there was no hesitation on their part," he said.

    "Here I felt these guys should be taking me out back and pounding the hell out of me and they were welcoming me with open arms.

    "The acceptance by them, of me who…" his voice trails off. "It was just unreal."

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  150. Rick Dokis works with the friendship centre, co-ordinating men's programs like the one Shortt joined.

    "I think people have welcomed him with open arms," Dokis said.

    "He knew what he was doing was wrong, and he was looking for healing in the aboriginal way.

    "I think it helped the people who were there. It helped the healing, to understand where he was coming from and that he was forced into doing this, it wasn't by choice."

    A treasured gift

    Shortt says one of the pivotal moments in his healing happened just before the final event for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Ottawa this spring.

    His church hosted elders and other leaders who were walking from Cochrane, Ont., to Ottawa for the event.

    "I was able to tell one of the elders my story," he said.

    "There was another elder who was part of it, who had to drop out because of his health. He left his eagle staff behind. And this elder said, 'Now I know why he left it behind. This is yours.'"

    Shortt carried the eagle staff to Ottawa and shared his story there. It's now one of his most prized possessions and hangs on a wall in his home. He continues to tell his story in schools and churches.

    'There's people like Ron out there'

    After his talks, Shortt says he's often approached by former students who share their residential school stories with him.

    He says he's also approached by a non-aboriginal people who thank him for sharing his story. He finds himself wondering if perhaps they have some connection to residential schools they are not quite ready to talk about.

    "Those people are out there someplace," says Shortt.

    He says he suspects many, like him, didn't know the extent of what was happening in the schools.

    "Until two years ago I didn't know what was going on," he said.

    "It bothered me, taking these children out of their family. But I didn't know what the residential schools were about, I had no knowledge of that."

    Rick Dokis says they've never had anyone else who worked in or for the residential school system come forward, which is why Shortt's story matters.

    "There's people like Ron out there, and maybe it will bring other people forward. Maybe that's the most important thing of what Ron's doing is encouraging those people to do the same thing."


  151. Adopted in Sixties Scoop, man comes to gathering hoping to meet long-lost sister

    Conrad Prince was reunited with his mother and brother in 2000 before his mother passed away

    By Sarah Lawrynuik, CBC News July 24, 2015

    Conrad Prince landed in Winnipeg Thursday evening after flying nearly 2,000 kilometres from Barrie, Ont. for the Connecting Our Spirits gathering at the University of Winnipeg.

    Connecting Our Spirits is aiming to bring together indigenous people that were adopted in what has become known as the Sixties Scoop. For Prince, he is hoping that he will have the chance to reunite with his sister that he has never met.

    A mother on the run

    Prince's mother had her two eldest children taken from her while she was living in Manitoba. When she became pregnant with Prince, she decided she needed to run, hoping that she would be able to keep her youngest son.

    But in Alberta, Prince too was taken from his mother.

    Prince and his siblings were among about 20,000 indigenous children that were taken from their families by child-welfare services in Canada between the 1960s and 80s, in what is now known as the Sixties Scoop. Those children were then placed with mostly white families and as a result, many lost touch with their culture and traditional language.

    Greg Selinger, Manitoba premier, apologizes for Sixties Scoop

    At the age of two, Prince was adopted by a white military family that moved to Germany months after he was put in their care. He grew up learning German as his first language. Later in life, his adopted family moved him around southern Ontario until he left home at 16.

    "It was very challenging. They did their very best at trying to raise me as their own but they did not have the cultural supports necessary to raise a minority child. There were instances where I would end up going to school and be subject to racism and it was more chalked up to behavioural issues on my end," Prince told CBC on Friday.

    continued below

  152. Partial reunification

    At 16, Prince walked into a Native Friendship Centre and found the help he needed to start the process of finding his biological family. He applied for his status card which gave him access to the open adoption records available in Alberta.

    "That was one of the scariest moments of my life because of the fact that I could have been rejected. But the drive was so powerful inside me just to want to find out where I was from, it overcame that fear," Prince said.

    In 2000, after seven long years of working with the Southern Manitoba First Nations Repatriation Program, he found his family. He met his brother, Michael Muller, and they flew to their mother's home in Vancouver.

    "[My mother] is the strongest woman I've ever met in my life. She had so much courage to try to keep us but it was devastating for her," he said, his mother has passed away in the years since.

    The reunification was missing one of the pieces of the puzzle since Prince's sister backed out of the process.

    "That's one of the reasons why I'm out here. I'm hoping to meet her one of these days," Prince told CBC.

    Prince has been told his sister's name is Nicole, and his mother had heard she was a part of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet at some point, but he doesn't have a lot to go on. He does know she was adopted in Winnipeg, so he's attending this conference with the hope that she too will be there.

    "If she's out there and she hears, please try and look me up. I would love to meet her," he said.

    This is not the first Sixties Scoop adoptees gathering Prince has been to. He has also attended events in Ottawa and Edmonton. It's important that they all be able to share their stories in a safe place, he said. And he added that he feels compelled to share his story of coming home, for those who weren't as fortunate as he was.

    "Despite being out there alone, we were really never alone. And now moving forward, we actually have each other to lean on and heal together and move forward in a good way," Prince said.

    "Take a lot of that anger and even that shame and to turn it around and see it to be our strength and our resiliency. So when we go back to our communities, when we go back to our families, we're stronger. So we can rebuild."


  153. Alberni Indian Residential School BEST FRIENDS REUNITED 60 YEARS LATER

    by Denise Titian, Ha-Shilth-Sa - Canada's Oldest First Nation's Newspaper July 24, 2015

    Port Alberni — A Huu-ay-aht grandmother missing her long lost classmate turned to social media in the hopes of finding her name and, hopefully, tracking her down.

    Marie Nookemus attended Alberni Indian Residential School in the 1950’s. Back then she was Marie McCarthy and she quickly formed a bond with a girl from Ahousaht, but couldn’t remember her name.

    So she turned Facebook and posted a photograph of her best friend asking if anybody recognized her. “I think she was a Campbell,” she wrote in her Facebook post.

    It wasn’t long before Ahousaht elder Julia Eaton said that it looked like her sister, Norah. The identification was later confirmed when Norah recognized herself in the photograph.

    Norah Campbell, now Norah Simpson, and Marie attended AIRS together from about 1952 – 1957.

    Marie was from Ucluelet First Nation and Norah, from Ahousaht.

    “We were best friends, we hung around together. It’s been so long and I can’t remember all the details but it seems like we protected each other from whatever,” said Marie, adding that it was such an awful place and they didn’t want to be alone.

    “We were kind of mischief together,” Marie giggled. She said she was glad that she used to take lots of pictures back then and was able to scan a few for sharing on the internet.

    Looking back on their time at AIRS, Marie said she simply lost touch with Norah. “One year I went back and she just wasn’t there anymore.”

    According to Marie, back then, sometimes girls disappeared from the school never to be seen again. “I don’t know what happened to them; there were stories but I don’t know if they were true or not,” she shared.

    Even with the photograph identified, Marie and Norah didn’t connect with each other. Marie lives in Anacla while Norah lives in Pacheedaht, only 80 coastal kilometers from one another.

    Then, on June 19, there was a celebration held in Port Alberni for the West Coast Trail Guardian Program which Norah attended. By chance, Marie happened to be in town that day and made a beeline for the celebration after a quick phone call from her daughter, telling her that Norah was there.

    “When I saw her, my heart was just pumping; I was so excited I thought I was going to have a heart attack,” Marie laughed. “And when I saw her I said to her, you still look mischief!”

    Marie and Norah had a big hug at the Alberni Athletic Hall on June 19. It was the first time the two best friends had seen each other in nearly 60 years. They sat together for the rest of the afternoon, laughing and reminiscing.

    “She still has that sparkle in her eye,” said Marie.


  154. Residential schools and reconciliation on curriculum for BC teachers

    New learning materials will be available to more grades throughout B.C. this fall

    CBC News August 19, 2015

    Teachers from around British Columbia are gathering in Vancouver to review new curriculum material about residential schools and reconciliation.

    Up until now B.C. students didn't typically learn about residential schools until Grade 11 social studies. But this fall, new curriculum material will be available for Grades 5, 10, 11 and 12.

    Ken Heales, a teacher in Hundred Mile House, is in Vancouver for the conference. He piloted some of the material last year.

    "It was quite surprising to me how many of my students really didn't know about it," he said.

    "They were shocked to find out this had happened — they wanted to learn more."

    Louise Lacerte, a residential school survivor who has worked in education for 30 years, is also attending the conference.

    She is glad to have educational material to help her speak about her experiences with her students and her grandchildren.

    "There was an era where we weren't allowed to … share the information or the experiences that we encountered within those schools," said Lecerte.

    "So now I think it's turned around where our children's children can start understanding why we are the way we are."

    The material for the conference was developed by the First Nations Education Steering Committee and the First Nations Schools Association.

    According to FNESC website, the materials are their "response to the call by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada for education bodies to develop age-appropriate educational materials about Indian Residential Schools."

    It's available online and free to download at http://www.fnesc.ca/learningfirstpeoples/

    Introducing the Indian Residential Schools and Reconciliation Teacher Resource Guides from FNESC and FNSA on Vimeo at https://vimeo.com/136350623


  155. The Legacy of Nutritional Experiments in Residential Schools

    University of British Columbia, Alumni Webcasts

    Shortly after WWII, when knowledge about nutrition was still sparse, scientists in Canada took advantage of already malnourished aboriginal communities by using them as research subjects to investigate the effects of different diets and dietary supplements. Evidence of these government-run experiments was brought to the forefront by food historian and UBC History alumnus Ian Mosby, and the research has gained widespread recognition. Sometimes the experiments involved decreasing food intake or withholding supplements. Hundreds of indigenous people across Canada were included in the experiments, of which they had no knowledge, and many of them were children in the Indian Residential School system.

    The fallout from this unethical treatment is still having an effect today. The panel discusses this distressing era in Canadian history as well as how UBC’s Faculty of Land and Food Systems is working to address issues such as access to healthy, traditional food; food security for all; and land stewardship.

    In partnership with the Faculty of Land and Food Systems, with support from the UBC First Nations House of Learning, the UBC Department of History and Kloshe Tillicum (Network Environments for Aboriginal Health Research).

    watch the panel discussion at:



    By Denise Titian, Ha-Shilth-Sa September 3, 2015

    Port Alberni — A lawsuit launched by Tk’emlups te Secwepemc and Sechelt First Nations against Canada seeking compensation on behalf of day scholars is looking for first nations participation. Efforts are being made to reach first nations bands across Canada to notify them of this lawsuit.

    The litigants are seeking out any aboriginal band in Canada who had band members attend an Indian residential school or has had an Indian residential school on or near their property or land.

    Bands are being asked to decide whether or not they wish to opt in to the suit, and have been given a deadline of Feb. 29, 2016.

    While the suit cites Kamloops and Sechelt Indian Residential Schools specifically, it is open to other Canadian First Nations that had Indian residential schools located at or near their communities, including those near Ahousaht Indian Residential School, Alberni Indian Residential School and Christie Indian Residential School, located in Nuu-chah-nulth territories.

    According to Taleetha Elliott, day scholar coordinator, Sechelt, the case has been certified for three classes. There is the Band Class which represents the communities as a whole.

    The Day Scholar Class represents former students who attended Indian residential school classes but didn’t spend nights at the institution.

    The third class is the Descendant Class, which represents children of the Indian residential school survivors. The Descendant of a Survivor Class consists of all persons who are the children of Survivor Class Members or were adopted either legally or traditionally by a Survivor and their spouse.

    “The lawsuit aims to close a gap in which thousands of daytime students at residential schools—which operated from roughly 1874 until 1996—were denied monetary compensation in the government’s 2006 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA) in the same manner as students residing in the schools. While the so-called "day scholars" could apply for individual assessment for abuses experienced in school, they were excluded from "common experience" compensation for having attended,” reads the Justice for Day Scholars website www.justicefordayscholars.com

    The suit also seeks declarations regarding Canada’s role in the failure to protect Aboriginal language and culture, and looks for compensation for the children of survivors, and the bands to which survivors belong.

    According to the website, the lawsuit moving forward represents every Aboriginal person, from coast to coast, who attended an Indian Residential School as a Day Scholar.

    The plaintiffs, represented by Peter Grant & Associates and Phillips Gill LLP, claim that Canada acted unlawfully and harmed those who attended at the residential schools, and their children and first nations communities. It is alleged that Canada did this by using the schools to attempt to eliminate aboriginal languages, cultures and traditions.

    continued below

  157. The lawsuit further claims that many who attended Indian residential schools suffered mental, emotional and spiritual abuse.

    Those bands that opt in will discuss financial contributions for court costs with the two representative plaintiffs. Bands that opt in will be responsible for costs of individual cases involving their band.

    Sechelt Hereditary Chief Garry Feschuk says his nation and Tk’emlups te Secwepemc have already committed $750,000 each toward the cost and are planning a major fundraiser in October.

    He said other first nations are opting in and some are showing their support in various ways like offering use of their meeting spaces for free.

    Feschuck said there were 140 residential schools across Canada that contributed to first nations’ loss of language and culture and were detrimental to community wellness.

    “Our nation is down to three fluent speakers,” said Feschuck, adding that if more first nations (bands) join the lawsuit it puts increased pressure on Canada to settle.

    While the two representative plaintiffs will be responsible for legal costs on all common issues, they would like to discuss with other nations their willingness to share in the legal costs.

    If a settlement is reached and financial awards are made, bands that opt in are entitled to a share.

    Bands that do not opt in will get no money or benefit from this lawsuit, but will retain their right to sue Canada or any religious organization on their own.

    Whether a band opts in or not does not affect the rights of individual band members to participate as Survivors or Descendants. Members of the Survivors and Descendant Class are automatically included in the lawsuit and will share in the benefits if there are any. However, some may wish to opt out of the lawsuit.

    Those that wish to opt out must download forms from the www.justicefordayscholars.com , fill them out and return them to the law offices of Peter Grant and Associates.

    Those that opt out will not be entitled to any benefits from this lawsuit; however, they will retain their right to sue the Government of Canada or religious organization on their own.

    The deadline for Survivors and Descendants to opt out is Nov. 30, 2015.

    The court has not decided whether Canada did anything unlawful, and the case is currently planned to go to trial, unless it is dismissed or settled. There is no guarantee that the plaintiffs will win any money or benefits and it is not known how long the negotiations or trial will last.

    This court case does not include Indian Day Schools and those that attended them.

    For more information go to www.justicefordayscholars.com or call toll-free 1-844-558-5538.


  158. Wab Kinew reveals joy and pain of reconciliation in The Reason You Walk

    CBC Radio September 27, 2015

    Wab Kinew is no stranger to CBC fans - as a journalist and broadcaster, he made a name for himself as the host of 8th Fire and Canada Reads. At just 33 years old, he's quickly become a strong Indigenous voice in Canada and on the world stage.

    But Kinew's latest project looks inward. His revealing new memoir, The Reason You Walk, explores two journeys of reconciliation: that of a father and a son; and that of a country searching for healing and a way forward.

    His book begins at home. Growing up, the relationship between Kinew and his father, Tobasonakwut Kinew, was difficult.

    "I used to alternate between hating him and being afraid of him when I was a little boy. [But] by the time he left, he was my best friend.
    - Wab Kinew

    Tobasonakwut Kinew was a residential school survivor. Later in life, he became a respected Anishinaabe leader and Indigenous advocate. But Wab Kinew said he was always aware of the effect intergenerational trauma had on his father.

    "I did grow up with the strength, wisdom and beauty of the Indigenous culture," said Kinew. "But I also grew up with some of the negativity of our community."

    Kinew's journey towards reconciliation came to a head when his father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. It's that story that is at the heart of The Reason You Walk.

    In 2012, the year of his father's illness, Kinew dropped everything. He took leave from the CBC, let go of his budding career as a musician and broadcaster, and dedicated himself entirely to his family.

    "We only live once. We're only going to get this one chance to make things right, so let's do it. On a personal level - put all the baggage out on display - but let's also do it for the culture and the language."
    - Wab Kinew

    Kinew says that his family's journey helped shape his views on Canada's Truth and Reconciliation process, something he writes passionately about in The Reason You Walk:

    "Reconciliation is not something realized on a grand level, something that happens when a prime minister and a national chief shake hands. It takes place at a much more individual level. Reconciliation is realized when two people come together and understand that what they share unites them and that what is different between them needs to be respected."

    - Wab Kinew, The Reason You Walk (Excerpt)


  159. Strapped bullied and sexually assaulted at residential school, ex-student testifies

    Toby Obed says former students in North West River were scared of staff

    CBC News October 05, 2015

    An Inuit man told a St. John's courtroom Monday that he never felt loved at the Labrador residential school he was forced to attend, and that punishment against Inuit students was very common.

    Toby Obed said students at the North West River school were also bullied and taunted but staff did nothing to protect them.

    "We were scared of staff. They could do or say anything at anytime," Obed sobbed as he testified during a class action lawsuit at Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador.

    Obed fought back tears as he told the court how staff would make students have sex on field trips and forced others to watch.

    Obed cried out that he was sexually assaulted at the age of seven by an older child who was at the junior dormitory in North West River.

    Obed is one of more than 1,000 former Newfoundland and Labrador residential school students seeking apology and compensation in a class action suit that started last week. He is the first of dozens of former students who are expected to testify.

    Lawyers for the students told the court that the former residents will be made to re-live all of the painful abuse they suffered.

    Not allowed to attend funerals

    Obed said he was taken from his family before he was four years old and sent to dormitory in North West River, in central Labrador.

    He told the court how he was kept from his parents, and that when he was told they had died in the 1980s, he was not allowed to attend the funerals.

    ​Obed said he remembers students being strapped for speaking Inuktitut. He was strapped many times on the back of his hands, and said if he cried or moved, he would be strapped again.

    His sister was once fluent in the Inuit language but Obed said she has lost it because she was forbidden to speak it.

    "She forgot, she forgot," said Obed."It's not right."

    At one point Monday, the court was forced to take a break when Obed was unable to contain his emotions.

    He said he didn't want to continue on the stand, but did, adding that he was speaking for all the people who can't.

    When testimony resumed, Obed said children who wet their beds were forced to stay there all day, and were not allowed to speak to anyone.

    Under cross-examination, Obed was questioned by lawyers for both the Government of Canada and the International Grenfell Association, who asked about the punishment that students received.

    Obed replied giving names of teachers and staff that he remembered were responsible.

    The International Grenfell Association lawyer tried to establish that its members were unaware of any abuse that Obed suffered.

    A lawyer for the federal government asked Obed if he thought the government knew what was happening to him.

    "No," Obed replied.

    Obed said testifying was very painful but he is relieved that it is over. Obed hopes this class-action suit will result in an apology for the Newfoundland and Labrador survivors, similar to apologies given to other former residential school students across Canada.


  160. Residential school documents to be publicly available for first time

    by GLORIA GALLOWAY, The Globe and Mail Nov. 03, 2015

    OTTAWA — Tens of thousands of records amassed during various stages of the settlement process with the survivors of Indian residential schools will be released to the public for the first time this week – shedding further light on a long and often brutal attempt by the government at forced assimilation.

    The documents will be available online Wednesday at the end of the two-day official opening of the National Research Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, which is located at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. They are just a small fraction of the millions of records the centre now possesses about the schools where physical, sexual and emotional abuse was rampant.

    The initial batch will be relatively benign, said Ry Moran, the centre’s director who has been involved in the task of processing the material for nearly six years. The documents are not among those that are expected to be the most emotionally challenging for an indigenous population that is still recovering from the harmful legacy of the institutions.

    But over the next few years, as the remaining documents are vetted and then released, they will undoubtedly become more jarring and more controversial, he said.

    It was not uncommon for Indian agents or school administrators to include racist comments about the students and their families in their writings. One document, for example, describes a mother as being a drunk and a wanderer. The centre asked members of the indigenous community what should be done with it.

    Their response, said Mr. Moran, was to ask about the mother’s own residential school experience and what effect it may have had on her substance abuse. And what did it mean that she was a wanderer, they asked. “Was that her going out on the trap lines for six months or going out to trap rabbits in the woods because they were so poor that they needed to get food, which was very common?”

    It will be the job of the centre to put that type of material into context and to ensure that it is presented in a respectful way with the support of the indigenous communities, Mr. Moran said.

    Marie Wilson, one of the three members of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission – which made 94 recommendations for resetting the relationship between Canada and its indigenous peoples following the period of the residential schools – said she hopes the centre will safeguard all that has been learned about a sad but important chapter of Canadian history.

    “We want everything that has come forward, which so many Canadians have told us they knew nothing about, to stay in a public and accessible way so that we don’t slide back into either ignorance or amnesia,” Dr. Wilson said.

    continued below

  161. Most of the former students who made statements before the commission gave their consent to have the material made public – even in cases where they had not shared the stories with members of their own families, she said. “Some survivors said directly to us, ‘I want the country and the whole world to know what happened to me,’” she said.

    The initial batch of records to be released by the centre has been culled from a massive database created by the federal government, retrieved from the storage rooms of Library and Archives Canada, or located in the possession of the churches that ran the institutions.

    It includes 18,000 photographs, 200 videos of hearings before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and at least some information about each of the 139 schools that operated across Canada, for various lengths of time, between 1883 and 1996.

    “This is, fundamentally, going to be about a conversation of hard truths,” Mr. Moran said.

    But it will also be about learning, he said. The hope is that the archive will be used by teachers to help their students understand what went on at the schools, and also to give Canadians at large a deeper appreciation for the multigenerational impact the abuse has had on the aboriginal population.

    “When we listen to survivors, and when the general public listens to survivors, they should feel a deep discomfort,” he said. “They should say, ‘This is really wrong,’ and they should feel emotional and they should feel kind of turned upside down and they should be asking all of those questions about ‘What the heck was going on?’ and ‘Why didn’t I know about this?’”


  162. Duncan Campbell Scott plaque now includes his past creating residential schools

    Plaque at Ottawa grave points out poet's 'notorious' 52-year career in Department of Indian Affairs

    CBC News November 02, 2015

    For many Canadians, Duncan Campbell Scott was a renowned poet and public servant — but a new plaque unveiled Sunday at his Ottawa grave site will also let visitors know about his role creating Canada's residential school system.

    The revised text on the plaque that now stands beside his Beechwood Cemetery grave points out Scott's "notorious" 52-year career in what was then known as the Department of Indian Affairs.

    "As Deputy Superintendent, Scott oversaw the assimilationist Indian Residential School system for Aboriginal children, stating his goal was 'to get rid of the Indian problem,'" the new plaque reads. "In its 2015 report, Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission said that the Indian Residential School system amounted to cultural genocide."

    The previous plaque, erected in 2011, was almost entirely devoted to lionizing Scott's career as a poet, calling him "one of the outstanding figures in Canadian poetry." The new plaque also mentions his recognition of one of Canada's so-called "Confederation poets."

    The new plaque was spearheaded by Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada. She said when she learned about Scott in high school, she was taught nothing about his residential schools legacy.

    "I think when we look at Duncan Campbell Scott, many more of us are impacted by ... his residential schools than by his literary contributions," Blackstock told Ottawa Morning host Robyn Bresnahan in an interview on Monday.

    "It was about setting the history right, and about giving all Canadians a better understanding of what we need to do in this country to restore justice. ... If we really want to be a country then we must learn from our past, both the celebratory times and the times of struggle, too."

    Born in Ottawa in 1862, Scott joined the Department of Indian Affairs as a 17-year-old.

    He became the department's deputy superintendent in 1913 and his travels with the department across Canada served as the inspiration for much of his poetry.

    Literary critics have pointed out the irony that, at the same time Scott's poetry lamented the decline of First Nations in Canada, his own department was actively working to eradicate those same cultures.

    Scott retired from his position as deputy superintendent in 1932 and died in Ottawa in 1947 at the age of 85.

    "We realize that his resting place here can serve as a teaching tool for the generations in our midst and the generations to come, that the plaque ... can serve to tell the more complete history that most of us grew up not knowing," said Marie Wilson, commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, at the plaque unveiling on Sunday.


  163. How Jean Marie River took a stand against residential schools in 1951

    Community built and staffed its own log schoolhouse; plans to turn building into a museum

    By Marc Winkler, CBC News October 30, 2015

    An abandoned log schoolhouse in Jean Marie River, N.W.T., built by the First Nation more than 60 years ago to avoid having to send their youngest children away to residential school, will soon become a museum — if people there have their way.

    Jean Marie River is located about 500 kilometres west of Yellowknife and has a population of about 60.

    The community built the school in 1951. Then-Chief Louie Norwegian came up with the idea after his young son, who later died by suicide, was taken away to residential school in Fort Providence.

    "My father cried and he heard the women in the community crying," said Chief Gladys Norwegian, daughter of the former chief.

    "He knew they had to do something to keep the kids in the community."

    Norwegian says her father and other leaders in the community talked to their Member of Parliament and persuaded him that the community should be allowed to build its own school.

    Local people sold lumber and fish to raise money to purchase the logs for the school. Teachers, on the other hand, were harder to come by.

    An anthropologist who was studying the way of life in the community — Teresa Carterette — volunteered to teach the school's first year. After that, Norwegian says community members with some western education — including her own mother with a Grade 2 education — taught the children using textbooks mailed from southern Canada. Eventually, the government started providing staff.

    Norwegian attended the school until Grade 6, after which, like all students, she had to go to residential school outside the community.

    Marilyn Hardisty was also a student at the log schoolhouse. She now works for the band and is trying to raise funds to convert the old school into a museum.

    "My father is one of the men who helped raise money to build this school and I"m proud they were able to make it a reality," she said.

    "We probably would have been at LaPointe Hall [the residential school hostel in Fort Simpson] when we were five if it weren't for them. I'm really glad I spent my childhood here."

    More than 100 children were educated there until a new school was constructed in the 1980s.

    Hardisty says the museum will show what can be accomplished if everyone works together for the good of the community.

    "I don't want to see it torn down, it's a visual reminder of what our elders did."

    This summer, a contractor came to town to restore some of the rotten logs, but there's still more work to do. Norwegian says there's asbestos inside that needs to be dealt with, then all the old report cards, desks, and other school supplies need to be sorted out and displayed.

    In addition to telling the story of the school, they plan to have the museum display old hunting and trapping tools and also house a cafe and craft shop.


  164. Ottawa dragging out lawsuit from residential school survivors in Newfoundland

    SEAN FINE - JUSTICE WRITER, The Globe and Mail November 12, 2015

    The federal government’s foot-dragging tactics in court cases involving aboriginal peoples are coming under the microscope in a class-action lawsuit brought by indigenous former students of residential schools in Newfoundland and Labrador.

    Lawyer Kirk Baert of Toronto, part of a team that launched the lawsuit in 2007, accuses Ottawa of trying to “outlast” elderly former students and says he has hundreds of examples of its “complete lack of co-operation,” in ways big and small, that have doubled the length of proceedings, now at eight years.

    Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould promised in her election campaign to work toward reconciliation between the Canadian government and aboriginal peoples. Federal delaying tactics in land claims cases have been a major complaint of aboriginal groups for decades. One of the first questions before the new Justice Minister is whether to continue contesting the claims by 1,000 to 2,000 former students that the federal government had a duty to protect them from abuse at orphanages and schools between 1949 and the 1970s. Ms. Wilson-Raybould is the country’s first aboriginal federal justice minister.

    In a document tracking delays, shared with The Globe, Mr. Baert alleges:

    --The government refused to permit documents to be used as evidence unless a witness could testify to explain them. The documents include federal orders-in-council, letters from prime ministers and internal memos. A long court battle over the issue wasted hundreds of hours of lawyers’ time, Mr. Baert says, before his side won the point. “Most of the authors are dead and, if still alive, are old and likely would not recall more than what is stated in the documents.”

    --The government has tried from the beginning, over the objections of the former students, to involve the province as a target of the lawsuit. A judge said as far back as 2008, when the lawsuit had not yet been certified, that attempting to bring in the province at that stage would cause the case to “spiral down a timeless rabbit hole wherein one particular application begets another.”

    continued below

  165. “There just hasn’t been a single concession whatsoever about any aspect: that they owe a duty, that they breached it, that any of the abuse occurred, that people were harmed,” Mr. Baert said in an interview. “This case is being litigated like a lawsuit between Canada and a bank, which means no-holds-barred, whoever’s got the most resources, just drag it out.” He added that, as far as he knows, no province has ever paid compensation over the residential schools.

    The Justice Department passed The Globe’s request for comment on to the newly named Indigenous and Northern Affairs department, saying that it oversees all cases related to the residential schools. Even so, the question of what to do about the lawsuit still falls to Ms. Wilson-Raybould, who has promised to spearhead reconciliation efforts and who advises all departments on legal matters, and whose departmental lawyers based in Halifax handle the case day-to-day.

    Former students from Newfoundland and Labrador were excluded from the 2007 residential schools settlement with the federal government that led to an apology from prime minister Stephen Harper, the payment of billions of dollars in compensation and the creation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. A previous Liberal government led by Paul Martin also excluded Newfoundland and Labrador from settlement negotiations. Ottawa argues that it had no direct role in operating or overseeing the schools. Mr. Baert says the federal government had a duty to protect indigenous students, whether it had a direct role in the abuse or not. He estimates the cost of a settlement at $100-million.

    At The Globe’s request, Trevor Farrow, an associate dean at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, reviewed Mr. Baert’s document that alleges undue and willful delay by the government. “The real issue is trying not to win the battle while losing the war,” he said. Even if the government wins the case, “at the end of the day, is that a loss for Canadians generally if our real goal is to restore some sense of justice in a bigger picture?”


  166. Joseph Boyden travels with residential school film Project Charlie, new novel Seven Matches

    Project Charlie among 6 new cultural works promoting theme of reconciliation

    By Laura Beeston, The Canadian Press November 03, 2015

    When the frozen body of 12-year-old Charlie Wenjack was found on a lonely stretch of railway tracks in northern Ontario nearly 50 years ago, it sparked the first inquest into the treatment of aboriginal children in Canadian residential schools.

    Before the boy's death, many Canadians weren't aware of the country's residential school system, acclaimed novelist Joseph Boyden explains. It would be some 30 years before the last one closed its doors.

    "Charlie put that into motion," said the Scotiabank Giller Prize winner.

    "He's a living and breathing symbol."

    Boyden is collaborating with filmmaker Terril Calder on Project Charlie. The animated film will tour across the country next year in conjunction with Boyden's forthcoming novel Seven Matches, and will mark the 50th anniversary of Wenjack's death.

    'A call to action'

    "We are using his story as a call to action," said Calder.

    "Considering all that has come to light and the [Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada] report, it is timely to come at this story with a contemporary perspective that pulls no punches. It examines not only Charlie's [life], but speaks to our nation's role in evoking change. Not acting is an action against reconciliation."

    Justice Murray Sinclair led the commission on the Indian Residential School system in Canada, and his report — released in the spring — resulted in 94 recommendations aimed at bridging the experiences of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians.

    Project Charlie secured its funding through the inaugural (Re)conciliation initiative, and is one of six cultural works by aboriginal artists that will begin to roll out across the country in the fall of 2016.

    Selected from 190 submissions by a panel of indigenous arts professionals, the six pilot projects are receiving up to $75,000 of federal funding through the Canada Council for the Arts and its partners — J.W. McConnell Family Foundation and The Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples in Canada. The initiative aims to promote themes of conciliation and reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples.

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  167. Art and reconciliation are not new concepts, says Elder Samuel Thomas, a grant recipient based in Niagara Falls, Ont.

    "This is something that's been on our minds as aboriginal people for a long time," he said.

    Using art to open dialogue

    In 1979, Thomas began to resurrect 18th and 19th century Iroquois beading styles, collaborating with his mother for 37 years before her recent death, and facilitating beading workshops between aboriginals and non-aboriginals.

    Over the past 12 years, he has also worked internationally with Kenyan communities, using art and beading as a means for reconciliation between both tribal and religious clashes.

    The long-standing tradition of using beads in a way that "helps put your mind in proper perspective in order to heal and move forward" is something that Thomas is now expanding to the broader community through his (Re)conciliation initiative.

    With Opening the Doors to Dialogue, he will host beading sessions across the country, creating panels for doors salvaged from Canada's surviving residential school buildings.

    "The beads are used to take the lump out of your throat to speak again, unplug your ears to hear again, to wipe your tears to see again," said Thomas.

    Calling residential school survivors, their descendants, the United Church of Canada and Anglican Church to participate in public beading sessions, Thomas hopes the workshops create an opportunity "to really open the dialogue up."

    He predicts each door to take 48 beading sessions for each community to complete.

    "The idea is to create something beautiful and powerful out of something with a very dark and closed past," he said. "Opening those doors and naming what went on behind them and moving through them together and closing the door behind us . . . This is the process."

    The (Re)conciliation initiative also aims to keeps the momentum going: the CCA, J.W. McConnell Family Foundation and The Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples in Canada also announced they will commit to funding the (Re)conciliation grants for 2016-17.

    see the many links embedded in this article at:


  168. Records show 341 student deaths at residential schools in the North

    Actual number of deaths could be much higher, says TRC chair Murray Sinclair

    By Mitchel Wiles, CBC News December 15, 2015

    The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which spent six years documenting the history of Canada's residential schools, has found that at least 341 students died at residential schools in the North — and 110 remain unnamed.

    In its final report, the commission says that between 1867 and 2000, 252 documented residential school students died at schools in the Northwest Territories, 74 died at schools in Yukon, and 15 died at schools in Nunavut. The report classified the schools' locations by today's political boundaries.

    In an interview with CBC's Rosemary Barton, TRC chair Justice Murray Sinclair said the total number of recorded residential school deaths in Canada — 3,201 — could be an underestimate given poor record keeping, and the real number of deaths could have been five to 10 times higher.

    According to the final report, between 1936 and 1944, 200,000 Indian Affairs files were destroyed.

    The commission says government and school records failed to report the cause of death in about 43 per cent of cases.

    Among cases with a reported cause of death, about half died from tuberculosis. Pneumonia and influenza combined accounted for another 10 per cent of deaths.

    'I was one of them that almost died'

    "I was one of them that almost died," said Violet Beaulieu, 83, a former residential school student who lives in Fort Resolution, N.W.T.

    Beaulieu spent 17 years — from age four to 21 — in the residence at St. Joseph School in Fort Resolution.

    During that time, she spent six months in hospital for what she believes was influenza.

    "There were five of us in the hospital," she said. "Three of them passed. I pulled through. There were a lot of others that we didn't know."

    According to the TRC final report, in 1944, Dr. George Wherrett, a leading public health physician at the time, toured residential schools in the western Arctic. He concluded there was a lack of regular medical examinations of students at the schools.

    Beaulieu agrees, saying it took an emergency for students at St. Joseph School to receive medical care.

    "I never had any examinations," she said. "I never got any medication, just bed rest."

    Beaulieu says she often fainted, and after leaving residential school was diagnosed with anemia.

    Adding missing names

    One of the TRC's 94 "Calls to Action" asks the federal government to provide funds for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation to develop and maintain the National Residential School Student Death Register. The money would allow the centre to add missing names and information to the register as documentation is found.

    Beaulieu says she thinks this type of effort would be a waste of time.

    "Those parents have passed on years ago," she says. "I think you just let it go."

    But more than 60 years later, her time at residential school still haunts her.

    "When my mom died, they took us away from our dad, who was a Hudson's Bay manager. He was from Scotland," says Beaulieu.

    "My mother wasn't married to my father. What I might have been if I stayed with my dad, you know? That was all taken away from me."

    According to the final report, for reconciliation to happen, "There has to be awareness of the past, acknowledgement of the harm that has been inflicted, atonement for the causes, and action to change."

    The prime minister vowed to accept all of the TRC report's recommendations last week, when speaking at the Assembly of First Nations' Special Chiefs Assembly in Gatineau, Que.


  169. TRC report: 5 stories of residential school escapees who died

    Accounts of ill-fated escapes contained in final report of TRC

    By Tim Fontaine, CBC News December 14, 2015

    The final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada was released Monday and reveals in chilling detail the horrors of the residential school system.

    Within its over 3,700 pages are stories of children forcibly separated from their families, communities, language and culture who ended up suffering shocking rates of mental, physical and sexual abuse.

    Over 3,200 of those children never returned home, with many of their bodies buried in unmarked cemeteries across the country. The majority were taken by disease — tuberculosis, influenza, typhoid and other maladies.

    Nearly a dozen, however, died while trying to escape the schools. These accounts are contained in a couple of parts of the TRC's final report, including one called "Missing Children and Unmarked Burials."

    Here are some of their stories.

    Round Lake, Sask., 1935

    "Percy Ochapowace's frozen body was discovered at 6:30 p.m…"

    Between 1:30 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. on Jan. 13, 1935, three boys — Percy Ochapowace, Glen Gaddie and Alec Wasacase — ran away from the Round Lake school in Saskatchewan.

    According to the report, "It was -32 degrees Celsius and, shortly after the boys left the school, a blizzard blew up. After walking a distance, they made a fire to warm themselves. They then separated, with Wasacase and Gaddie heading west, while fifteen-year-old Ochapowace went south, towards his home" on the Ochapowace reserve.

    Wasacase and Gaddie made it home safely, but it was three days before Ochapowace's family learned he was missing. On Jan. 17, Walter Ochapowace was part of a search party that discovered his son's body.

    "Percy Ochapowace's frozen body was discovered at 6:30 p.m., about two and a half kilometres from where he had parted company with Gaddie and Wasacase. Wearing only a sweater, overalls, socks, and rubber boots, he had crawled into a willow stand in search of shelter. The following day, Dr. Allingham examined Percy's body at the Ochapowace Reserve, and interviewed the principal and Percy's father, Walter Ochapowace. He concluded that death was due to exposure and stated 'no inquest was necessary.'"

    Fraser Lake, B.C., 1937

    "The boys' bodies were found at 5 p.m..."

    On Jan. 2, 1937, four boys — Allen Patrick, nine; Andrew Paul and Justa Maurice, both eight; and John Jack, seven — went missing from a school in Fraser Lake, B.C.

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  170. The youngsters who had been denied permission to visit their parents, were present for a meal at 4:00 p.m., but two hours later, it was noted that they had disappeared.

    The school's principal, Father McGrath, was not informed that they had run away until after 9 p.m. He concluded that they had gone to the families of friends and decided he would leave them there overnight. It was not until the early afternoon of the following day that he visited their families and discovered that the boys were not there.

    A search party was organized and the boys' bodies were found at 5 p.m. the next day. According to the report, "They had tried to cross the lake on an evening when the temperature had fallen to -29 degrees Celsius."

    Gordon's Reserve, Sask., 1939

    "He found his son, frozen to death."

    On March 11, 1939, 11-year-old Andrew Gordon ran away from the Gordon's reserve residential school in Saskatchewan. He did so while the students were on a skating expedition.

    In the words of the report: "Andrew had never reached home. On Monday evening, a visitor told his father, David Gordon, 'I believe your boy ran away from school.' On Tuesday morning, the father set out for the school. On his way, he came across tracks that he believed belonged to his son. He followed them, encountering five spots where the boy had stopped to rest. At the sixth, he found his son, frozen to death."

    When Gordon contacted the RCMP and Indian Affairs to apprise them of the tragic news, "It was the first time either agency had been informed of the boy's disappearance of three days earlier."

    Kuper Island, B.C., 1959

    "Patricia Marilyn's body was found washed ashore…"

    A section of the TRC report called "The History, Part 2, 1939 to 2000" also cites a number of ill-fated escapes.

    On Jan. 16, 1959, sisters Beverly and Patricia Marilyn Joseph — 12 and 14, respectively — left a residential school on Kuper Island, B.C. in a small boat. Their disappearance wasn't discovered until the next morning and wasn't reported to police until that afternoon, after school officials had searched the island.

    According to the report, "Patricia Marilyn's body was found washed ashore ten kilometres from Kuper Island. By the fall of that year, her sister had not been found and she was presumed dead."

    Gleichen, Alta., 1962

    "The two other girls froze to death."

    On the afternoon of March 8, 1962, three girls — 13-year-old Mabel Crane Bear, 11-year-old Geraldine Black Rider and 10-year-old Belinda Raw Eater — ran away from the Anglican school in Gleichen, Alta.

    One of the girls' sisters told school staff they had intended to go to Mabel Crane Bear's home, which was apparently the house of a "Mr. and Mrs. Mayeld."

    "However, the girls quarrelled with the Mayelds and left the home in the evening. Shortly after they left, the region was hit by a blizzard. Geraldine survived the blizzard, but the two other girls froze to death."


  171. Truth and Reconciliation Commission final report points to 'growing crisis' for indigenous youth

    Indigenous youth are overrepresented in Canada's prisons and child-welfare system

    By Susana Mas, CBC News December 14, 2015

    ​The Truth and Reconciliation Commission will make public on Tuesday its final report documenting the history and legacy of Canada's residential school system, raising serious concerns for current and future generations of First Nations, Inuit and Métis children.

    The final report, titled Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future, is the culmination of thousands of hours of heart-wrenching testimony heard in more than 300 communities over a span of six years, from more than 6,000 indigenous women and men who were abused and lived to tell their stories.

    "Th e survivors showed great courage, conviction, and trust in sharing their stories, which, collected here, are now a part of a permanent historical record, never to be forgotten or ignored," writes Justice Murray Sinclair, the chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, in the final report obtained by CBC News.

    A summary report released by the commission in June made 94 recommendations, including changes to policies and programs.

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who will be present when Sinclair unveils the final report in Ottawa on Tuesday, has committed to implementing all the recommendations, including the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.

    The government announced last week the first phase in a process that would lead to a much-awaited inquiry.

    3,200 recorded deaths

    The commission heard testimony of the effects that over 100 years of mistreatment had on 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Métis children. It is a moving and tragic historical account of what happened to indigenous children, many of whom were physically and sexually abused in residential schools.

    What's more, the commission found records showing that 3,200 indigenous children died from tuberculosis, malnutrition and other diseases resulting from poor living conditions.

    In an exclusive interview with CBC News Network's Power & Politics, Sinclair said he estimates the number of children who died to be much higher because burial records are "so poor."

    "I'm absolutely convinced the number is much higher, perhaps as much as five to 10 times as high as that," Sinclair told host Rosemary Barton.

    'Staggering' legacy

    The final report also paints a grim picture of "the growing crisis" of indigenous youth over-represented in Canada's prisons and child welfare system.

    "The legacy of residential schools and government actions towards indigenous people over the years since Confederation is staggering. Every social condition measurable in Canadian society places aboriginal people at the most disadvantaged position of all people in the country," Sinclair told CBC News.

    "They have the highest unemployment rate, the biggest gap in income earnings, the number of aboriginal children in care, the number of aboriginal people who are incarcerated, the health problems and the health illnesses, the life expectancy rates are the lowest in the country, housing is poor, water supplies are poor — just the social living conditions that aboriginal people face are attributable to the way that they've been treated and mistreated by governments over the years and by society."

    Sinclair said much of it is directly traced back to the experience of indigenous children in residential schools.

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  172. The commission also found:

    --Fewer than 50 former residential school staff members were convicted for sexually or physically abusing indigenous students — an "insignificant" number, according to the report, given the 37,951 claims filed for compensation from survivors as of Jan. 31, 2015.

    --The harm done to Métis children who attended residential schools "was substantial," but Métis as a people were excluded from the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. Part of the reconciliation process will have to address and rectify "this damage."

    "Removed from their families and home communities," Sinclair said in the final report, "seven generations of aboriginal children were denied their identity through a systematic and concerted effort to extinguish their culture, language and spirit."

    "It is clear that residential schools were a key component of a Canadian government policy of cultural genocide."

    "The legacy can be seen in the myths, misunderstandings, and lack of empathy many Canadians openly display about indigenous people, their history, and their place in society," said Sinclair.

    While the final report marks "one of the darkest, most troubling chapters in our nation's history," it also turns the page on a new chapter in the relationship between indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians.

    "Reconciliation will not be easy and it will take time, but to make it happen, we must believe it should happen," said Sinclair.

    Reforming child welfare system

    The high number of incarcerated indigenous youth and "the even more dramatic overrepresentation" of indigenous children in the care of child-welfare agencies are connected, the report found, and are in part explained by the way indigenous people were treated in residential schools.

    There are more than 300 child-welfare agencies in Canada operating under provincial and territorial jurisdiction.

    "Proof of the effectiveness of First Nations child and family service agencies is still preliminary," said the commission, "but anecdotal evidence and case studies suggest that First Nation agencies are more effective than non-aboriginal agencies in providing service to First Nation clients."

    While indigenous people now have "considerable" control of child-welfare services, according to the commission, funding is still lacking for many aboriginal agencies.

    The final report notes that Canada's "child-welfare crisis" has not gone unnoticed by the international community.

    In 2012, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed to Canada its concern about the frequent removal of children in Canada from families as a "first resort" in cases of neglect, financial hardship, or disability, the report said.

    The commission urged on all levels of government — federal, provincial, territorial, and aboriginal — to work together to reform Canada's justice and child welfare systems.

    Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett said in a speech to First Nations gathered in Gatineau., Que., last week that the government has begun working on and seeking support for an "overhaul" of the country's child welfare system.

    Bennett reiterated her government's commitment after her first formal meeting with the families of missing and murdered indigenous women in Ottawa on Friday.

    "There is a real problem of ripping children from their families, from their communities, and that we need to look at this system very seriously," she said.

    "We have to start with the children — protect the children — that's what child welfare is supposed to be."

    "These children need protection ... and we will try to get this system fixed."

    "We hope to get to work on that early in the new year," Bennett said.


  173. Ottawa still fighting lawsuit from Newfoundland residential-school survivors

    by SEAN FINE - JUSTICE WRITER, The Globe and Mail January 12, 2016

    The federal Justice Department has sent a clear signal that Ottawa intends to fight a lawsuit brought by former residential school students in Newfoundland and Labrador to the end.

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould have said the government would carefully review the case – which has become an example of the fraught relationship between indigenous peoples and the Canadian government, and of drawn-out court battles.

    In a letter on Monday to an assistant to Justice Robert Stack of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Justice Department says it wishes to give its opening statement of defence on Feb. 1, and will probably need 17 additional days, spread over several weeks, to present its two expert witnesses on the history and on government documents covering the period in question, before concluding on March 4 – bringing to a close the trial portion of a lawsuit that began in 2007.

    Mr. Trudeau promised to accept all 94 recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, created as part of Canada’s multibillion-dollar settlement with former students of the aboriginal schools, which does not include the students Newfoundland and Labrador. One of those recommendations called on all parties, but especially the federal government, to work toward resolving all remaining legal claims expeditiously based on agreed facts.

    “When you go and make big speeches about how you’re going to be different, then you’ve got to do something,” lawyer Kirk Baert, who represents an estimated 1,000 to 2,000 former residential-schools students in the province, said in an interview. “Otherwise don’t make the speeches.”

    He said the case could have been fought quickly and simply in 2007 over the legal issue of whether Ottawa had a duty to protect aboriginal children in the province from abuse, but Ottawa insisted that could not be resolved without exploring the factual history. “It’s another example of delay for delay’s sake.”

    The Globe and Mail contacted the Prime Minister’s Office, and the offices of the Justice Minister and the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister, Carolyn Bennett. The Justice Minister’s office said the Indigenous Affairs Minister is leading on the file.

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  174. The government has said in court filings that it did not operate or oversee the schools, and that children were not forced to attend, as they were elsewhere in Canada. It has taken that position since 2005, when then-Liberal prime minister Paul Martin began negotiations with indigenous Canadians who were taking the government to court around the country.

    The lawsuit covers children at five orphanages and schools between 1949 and the 1970s. The residential schools were a program of forced assimilation run as a partnership between Ottawa and churches beginning in the 1880s. Children were barred from speaking aboriginal languages and subject to physical and sexual abuse and neglect. The last school closed in 1996.

    Mr. Baert said he expects the judge to need six months to a year to write a ruling, and then an inevitable appeal by the losing side will add several months more – meaning the case will not finish until mid-2018, adding to the legal costs that will have to be paid out of any settlement. (Mr. Baert is seeking about $100-million for the former students.) More than a dozen of the former students have died during the lawsuit, he said.

    Josie Penny, a former student who testified in the lawsuit, said in an interview that she would like to see the case settled soon. “They’re going to their graves anyway with what they suffered all their lives, including myself,” the resident of Dunnville, Ont., who is in her 70s, said of the survivors.

    John Borrows, the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law at the University of Victoria, said the government’s approach seems contrary to the spirit of the TRC recommendations. “During government transitions it takes time for new Ministerial mandates to translate into new litigation approaches. Front line Justice lawyers may not feel empowered to change their defence without particular instructions from elected officials. One can only hope that such instructions arrive soon, to place this case in line with the government’s promises regarding TRC’s Calls to Action,” he said in an e-mail.


  175. Residential school survivor elated by settlement talks

    After 8 years of waiting, N.L. plaintiffs hope for apology, compensation

    CBC News February 02, 2016

    A woman from Nain—one of 1,200 former residential school students from this province suing for damages—says she's elated by a decision to halt the trial in a class action lawsuit so settlement talks can be held.

    "I wasn't expecting it, but I'm very happy," said Cindy Dwyer. "After eight years of all this waiting, I'm actually elated."

    Court proceedings were adjourned Monday after lawyers told the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador that they wanted time to try to reach a negotiated settlement.

    "I have total faith in this government right now," said Dwyer, referring to the governing Liberals in Ottawa.

    "I'm just so happy that finally this may be going somewhere and we may get a settlement within 29 days. It's surreal."

    Residential school students from this province were excluded when a settlement and apology were offered by the Stephen Harper government to victims in the rest of Canada in 2008.

    Ottawa said it was not responsible for schools run by the International Grenfell Association and Moravian missionaries before Newfoundland joined Confederation.

    Change of tone

    "What's changed? I guess the government is the easy answer," said Steve Cooper, one of the lawyers arguing for plaintiffs here.

    "This is a government that has shown considerable sensitivity to First Nations, Inuit and Metis issues. We've seen that already."

    "We hope this is just another in an increasingly long line of honourable resolutions to historical injustices."

    Dwyer said she has paid dearly for her time in residential school in North West River.

    A student there from age five to 15, she said she was physically, psychologically and sexually abused.

    Dwyer says testifying at trial also took a toll on her health.

    "I lost my job. I lost my home. I became severely depressed," she said.

    "My PTSD [Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder] came back. I'm still trying to get past it. It really set me back quite a bit."

    Now 52-years-old, Dwyer said she is looking for an apology and compensation.

    "What happened to me in that place put me in the predicament I'm in now," she said, adding that she has gone back to school, not because she wants to but feels it's something she has to do "to move on."

    Cooper says it's important to settle quickly because former students are aging and more than 100 of them have died since the case began.

    Negotiations were scheduled to begin Tuesday with the help of retired judge Robert Wells.

    If a settlement is not reached by Feb. 29, the trial will resume.


  176. Ottawa used technicality to disqualify 1000 residential school claims

    by GLORIA GALLOWAY, The Globe and Mail February 02, 2016

    The federal government used a technical argument to disqualify an estimated 1,000 claims for compensation made by indigenous Canadians who were abused at Indian residential schools listed in the agreement negotiated to award them for their suffering.

    It is a move that the people who signed the deal on behalf of former students denounce as a cash-saving measure by Ottawa – one that has created unequal restitution for survivors, depending upon the date they filed their claims and the location on the school grounds where the assaults occurred.

    “The government should reverse this unfair decision and agree to pay compensation to these people,” said Phil Fontaine, the former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, who is himself a residential-school survivor and who launched the efforts to obtain redress.

    Residential schools, which were varying combinations of boarding facilities and educational institutions, were established in the 1800s and run by churches. Ottawa made attendance compulsory for indigenous children in a massive program aimed at assimilation.

    Faced with complaints during the 1950s and 60s about the quality of education being delivered, the federal government took over the operation of about 58 of the actual schools, leaving only the residences under the control of the religious orders. This is known as the “administrative split.”

    The Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement between the government, the churches and the school survivors was implemented in 2007. Many of those who were abused gave up their right to sue the government in return for being able to participate in the Independent Assessment Process (IAP), which was created, as part of that agreement, to determine how much compensation they deserved. For three years, the issue of the administrative split was not raised at IAP hearings.

    Then, in late 2010, Justice Department lawyers began arguing that schools listed in the settlement agreement ceased to be residential schools at the time the administrative split took place – and that any student who was abused after that point should be disqualified from receiving compensation unless the abuse occurred within the church-run residences. If a child was sexually or physically abused in a classroom, in a gym, or on a playground, the government lawyers argued, he or she should not receive payment for his or her suffering.

    While some IAP adjudicators vehemently disagreed with the government’s position, others started dismissing claims based on the administrative split. Those that were denied were returned to Daniel Shapiro, the chief adjudicator of the IAP, for review, and they sat there, some for several years, without resolution.

    In April of last year, Rosemary Nation, a judge of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, tossed out the appeal of a woman whose case had been rejected by the IAP on the basis of the administrative split. The unidentified claimant had attended the Grouard school, on the north shore of Lesser Slave Lake, and her arm had been broken by a nun some time after 1957 when responsibility for the school was handed from the federal government to the province, which occurred in a handful of the roughly 58 cases.

    Justice Nation determined that Grouard was not a residential school when the abuse took place. And she agreed with the government – over the objections of the claimant and her lawyers – that adjudicators had the right to determine what was, and what was not, a residential school.

    Once that decision was rendered, Mr. Shapiro dismissed the other claims affected by the administrative split – a number he estimated in 2014 would exceed 1,000.

    That means the end of a compensation claim for people such as Murphy Powderface, who was molested by a teacher at the Morley school in Alberta in the 1960s. “After I got denied again, I got more depressed,” said Mr. Powderface...

  177. ... who said he has made several suicide attempts as a result of the abuse. “It still affects me.”

    Mr. Shapiro said in an e-mail to The Globe and Mail that his adjudicators are bound by the Alberta decision.

    “Our adjudicators are independent from Canada and other parties in the [agreement], and are very diligent in assessing all of the submissions and evidence brought before them in hearings under the IAP,” wrote Mr. Shapiro. “I believe that all claims are dealt with in a fair and impartial manner.”

    Still, chiefs who attended a special assembly in Gatineau, Que., in December asked Perry Bellegarde, the National Chief of the AFN, to call a meeting of the parties to the settlement agreement to “deal with the injustice being perpetrated against survivors affected by the illegitimate actions of the office of the chief adjudicator.”

    Charlie Angus, the NDP critic for indigenous affairs, said the Independent Assessment Process is the only legal process he has heard of that was set up and administered by the defendant. “The IAP has opted to side with weasel words from government lawyers over abiding by the spirit and promise of the residential-school apology,” said Mr. Angus. “This is a travesty.”

    Kathleen Mahoney, who represented the AFN during the settlement talks, said she and her fellow negotiators never intended to give IAP adjudicators the power to decide what constitutes a residential school. The eligible institutions are all spelled out in the settlement agreement, she said, and although there is a provision that allows schools to be added to the list, there is none that allows them to be taken away.

    Nor did the government negotiators raise the issue of the administrative split at the time the agreement was being written, said Ms. Mahoney. “Arguably, they had that opportunity, but they would have been laughed out of the room.”

    Ms. Mahoney says the unfairness of the administrative-split decision is evident on many levels.

    In families where two members were abused by the same person in the same way, one has been compensated because he or she filed his or her claim before 2010, while the other, who filed his or her claim later, has received nothing, she said. And “if one was assaulted in the residence, they would get compensated. But if the other was assaulted in the classroom – same abuser, same type of abuse, same time period – they are out of luck.”

    Common-experience payments, which are awarded to any former student of a residential school, regardless of whether abuse occurred, are still being paid to people whose claims under the IAP have been denied because of the administrative split – so the institutions are considered residential schools for one purpose but not the other, said Ms. Mahoney.

    In addition, she said, even though Mr. Shapiro used the Grouard decision to justify throwing out all of the other claims affected by the administrative split, “Grouard is quite different on its facts” from the other cases. While Grouard was handed over to the province, most of the other schools that were split from the church-run residences continued to be run by the federal government.

    Throwing out all of the administrative-split cases, said Ms. Mahoney, “does undermine and contradict the agreement, which is a massive investment in reconciliation.”

    Rod Soosay, a social worker at the Samson Cree First Nation who helps abuse claimants with their applications, said he has worked with many people who have had their IAP claims denied because of the administrative split.

    “One lady I am dealing with right now had her IAP hearing and totally believed she would get something. She was devastated,” said Mr. Soosay. The government, he said, “are a bunch of hypocrites. It’s like apologizing in advance for slapping you in the face.”


  178. Indian residential schools 5300 alleged abusers located by Ottawa

    17 private investigation firms contracted by government, at a cost of over $1.5M, to help settle abuse claims

    By Martha Troian, for CBC News February 02, 2016

    Investigators hired by the federal government have located thousands of people accused of physically and sexually abusing students at Canada's Indian residential schools — though they may never face criminal charges.

    As part of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement agreement, the government located 5,315 alleged abusers, both former employees and students.

    Seventeen private investigation firms were contracted, at a cost of $1,576,380, beginning in 2005, according to information provided by Indigenous and North Affairs Canada (INAC).

    The alleged perpetrators, however, weren't tracked down to face criminal charges — it was to see if they would be willing to participate in hearings to determine compensation for residential school survivors. The Independent Assessment Process (IAP), not involving the courts, was set up to resolve the most severe abuse claims.

    "There's not a lot in it for them to come forward," says Bill Percy, a Manitoba-based lawyer who has represented numerous residential school survivors.

    That's because participation in the IAP hearings is optional.

    Based on the total number of people found, so far, 4,450 have declined to participate in the IAP, with only 840 persons of interest indicating a willingness to participate.

    'There was 1 that groomed me'

    One of the people who went through the IAP process is Janet Longclaws, who attended the Brandon Indian Residential School in Brandon, Man., from age seven until she was 12 years old.

    "There was a group of four girls that were bullies, and there was one that groomed me," said Longclaws.

    "She became my protector, but at the same time it turned into her being the abuser next."

    Now age 60, Longclaws suffers from nightmares and anxiety, especially in late August — a time that would have marked the beginning of a new school year.

    Still, despite the nightmares and flashbacks of the physical and sexual abuse she endured, Longclaws cannot remember the names of her tormentors.

    "I just see silhouettes of girls," she said. "I've tried many times, many ways, to recall their names."

    Even though she can't remember names, Longclaws eventually received a settlement for the abuse she suffered — though she waited 15 months for a decision.

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  179. Working as a health support worker for other residential school survivors, Longclaws said she has heard of others who have waited more than two years to hear whether they'll be compensated.

    She said she wishes she had the opportunity to face her alleged abusers in a hearing.

    According to the Indian Residential School Secretariat, 33,712 residential school survivors so far have been compensated for sexual and physical abuse, with 4,278 applications in progress.

    No information released to law enforcement

    Only 708 alleged abusers — who are among the more than 5,300 located by investigators — have taken part in hearings since last November, with another 22 hearings scheduled.

    "I think some of them … could be fearful there might be further repercussions, even criminal charges," said Percy.

    Percy also said many of these alleged perpetrators may have died, aged, or are living with some kind of medical condition, making it difficult for them to participate in an IAP hearing.

    The identity and names of alleged perpetrators who want to participate in the IAP are kept on a secure server with other data related to IAP claims. They are not disclosed to anyone, other than the adjudicator in each specific claim, and to the Department of Indigenous Affairs.

    Information would only be released if the adjudication secretariat is served with a search warrant, or if it's believed a child could be at risk.

    An alleged abuser is entitled to be notified of the claimant's name and the allegations made by the claimant in the IAP application, but that person will not be given the claimant's location, contact information, or any of the claimant's personal information or records.

    Few criminal charges

    Percy says there is more former students can do, if they choose.

    "There's nothing to stop the individual survivor to go to the police, even though they told their story through this process," he said.

    Few, it seems, ever have.

    Through the history of residential schools — which lasted over a century, with tens of thousands having suffered abuse — fewer than 50 people have been convicted for crimes related to the schools.

    In the case of St. Anne's Residential School, once located in Fort Albany, Ont., six school officials were criminally convicted following a five-year OPP investigation into the school during the 1990s.


  180. St Anne's residential school survivor seeks reopening of claims case

    Former student first to come forward alleging justice denied due to government withholding key documents

    By Karina Roman, CBC News March 02, 2016

    An Indian residential school survivor is asking a judge to order the reopening of his compensation claims case under the residential school settlement agreement.

    It is the first case to be launched in response to the revelation that the federal government withheld thousands of documents that could have corroborated survivors' stories of physical and sexual abuse at St. Anne's residential school in northern Ontario.

    The former student, known as H-15019 in the court documents, alleges sexual abuse over many years by a particular priest at the school, where he was forced to attend. In the applicant's original claims hearing, government lawyers insisted that the priest's time at the school overlapped with the student's attendance for only two years.

    They argued his story lacked credibility, the adjudicator agreed and his claim was denied. A second review hearing had the same result.

    But documents recently released by the government in response to a court order show the priest had access to the children at St. Anne's for nearly 40 years.

    "It's been very, very difficult on this gentleman to not be believed about this abuse, but also him not knowing that there was significant documentation that was in the hands of Canada that actually supports and corroborates his story," said his lawyer Fay Brunning in an interview with CBC News.

    Many former students of St. Anne's have long said the hearings held to settle their claims of physical and sexual abuse have been unfair.

    "These survivors were told they didn't need to bring lawyers. All they had to do was show up and tell their story. Well that's not how it worked out. The government came and was very aggressive in challenging their stories," said the New Democrat MP for the region, Charlie Angus.

    But the government lawyers went further than that, withholding thousands of key documents that could back up survivors' claims. Once that was discovered, Brunning went to court and in 2014 an Ontario Superior Court judge ordered the government to release the documents to be used in the hearings of St. Anne's former students.

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  181. Brunning went back to court in 2015 to force the government to organize the more than 12,000 pages it had dumped on her and to reveal the redacted names of known abusers.

    It was too late for some whose claims had already been denied.

    "For every individual whose claim was prejudiced as a result of this documentation about abuse and the true story about this school having been withheld, their case should be reviewed to make sure justice is done," said Brunning.

    In her latest application to the Ontario Superior Court, Brunning asks for a review of her client's case and that other potential cases of wrongful compensation denials be identified.

    She also asks the judge to prevent department of justice lawyers from attending any further hearings for St. Anne's survivors. As well, she wants the judge to direct the government to get to the bottom of who was behind the decision to withhold the evidence for her client's hearing and the other St. Anne's hearings.

    Homemade electric chair

    St. Anne's operated in Fort Albany, Ont., near James Bay, and was the site of some of the worst cases of abuse in the country, including physical and sexual abuse. Survivors tell stories of children being forced to eat their own vomit and of the nuns and brothers shocking children as young as six in a homemade electric chair.

    Edmund Metatawabin heads up the St. Anne's survivor association, Peetabeck Keway Kewkaywin. He has sat in on hearings both as a translator for survivors and as a support person. He says he often felt helpless watching the hearings become so adversarial.

    "The lawyers were not listening. The lawyers were telling them they were making everything up. It was hard to hear what was going on."

    The Liberal government has promised a new relationship of reconciliation with Indigenous people, but Angus says he's looking for action, not words. He has written two letters to Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to ask her to intervene and fix the process. He says she has yet to respond.

    In an email to CBC, Wilson-Raybould's office says it is working to ensure the fair and timely implementation of the settlement agreement.

    "No relationship is more important to Canada than the one with Indigenous Peoples," the email said. "The Department of Justice strives to uphold the highest standards of the legal profession, in both the advice it provides and the legal representation of its clients."


  182. Legal misstep lets Catholic Church off hook for residential schools compensation

    by GLORIA GALLOWAY — The Globe and Mail April 17, 2016

    A miscommunication by a federal lawyer allowed the Catholic Church to renege on its obligation to try to raise $25-million to pay for healing programs for the survivors of Indian residential schools.

    Of that amount, the Church raised only $3.7-million, and a financial statement suggests less than $2.2-million of that was actually donated to help former students cope with the trauma inflicted by the residential schools.

    The legal misstep occurred when Ottawa was pressing the Church to pay the entirety of a related cash settlement stemming from the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, the largest class-action deal in Canadian history.

    The failing fundraising effort by the Church, which represented almost a third of its obligation under the settlement, was playing out as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was travelling the country hearing gut-wrenching stories about what occurred behind the walls of the institutions that operated in Canada for more than 100 years.

    The landmark settlement agreement required 50 Catholic groups that ran the schools, known in court documents as the Catholic entities, to pay a combined $79-million for their role in the abuse.

    Of that, $29-million was to be paid in cash, most of which was to flow to a now-closed Aboriginal Healing Foundation. Another $25-million was to be donated in unspecified “in kind” services. And an additional $25-million was to be raised for healing programs through the “best efforts” that the entities could make at fundraising.

    In an attempt to make the Catholic Church pay the full amount of the $29-million cash settlement, the government inadvertently released it from any obligation it might have had to continue with a dismal fundraising campaign.

    “When you have a deal, it needs to be implemented,” said Bill Erasmus, the National Chief of the Dene Nation who handles the residential schools file for the Assembly of First Nations. “So the Church should be paying up. The church agreed there were harms. That’s why people were to be compensated.”

    But, as of last summer, the Catholic entities were legally off the hook.

    In a March 19 letter to Ron Kidd, a concerned citizen from British Columbia who has been following this case, Andrew Saranchuk, an assistant deputy minister within the Indigenous Affairs department, explained that a court settlement reached on July 16, 2015 “released the Catholic entities from all three of their financial obligations under the settlement agreement, including the ‘best efforts’ fundraising campaign, in exchange for a repayment of $1.2-million in administrative fees.”

    This result, Mr. Saranchuk went on to explain, “was due to miscommunications between counsel regarding the nature and extent of the settlement being discussed.”

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  183. The problem arose when the government took the Catholic entities to court in late 2013 for coming up $1.6-million short on the millions they were required to pay to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation. Negotiations ensued between Gordon Kuski, the lawyer for the Catholic entities, and Alexander Gay, the lawyer for the government.

    According to court documents, Mr. Kuski wrote to Mr. Gay in June, 2014 and proposed that the Catholic entities pay $1.2-million in return for being released from “all matters between the parties” – meaning all of the financial obligations in the residential schools settlement agreement that had yet to be met, including fundraising. The groups realized their fundraising was falling far short of the $25-million goal and they wanted to be freed from that responsibility.

    The court documents suggest there was some dispute over how that offer was received, but it appears that Mr. Gay’s responses led Mr. Kuski to believe they had a deal, even though the government had no intention of allowing the Church to walk away from the fundraising obligations.

    In reviewing the matter, Neil Gabrielson, a judge with the Court of Queen’s Bench for Saskatchewan, determined that Mr. Kuski had reason to believe that the proposal had been accepted and that it therefore was binding.

    A spokesman for the Indigenous Affairs department said in an e-mail that the government pressed the matter when it was clear that a mistake had occurred but ultimately it respects the court’s decision.

    Pierre Baribeau, a lawyer for the Catholic entities, says his clients did all they could to meet their fundraising commitments under the residential schools settlement agreement.

    But, in the end, said Mr. Baribeau, it was “a fiasco.” Although much money was spent on the campaign, he said, corporations could not be persuaded to donate because it was a religious matter and many parishes were not in a financial position to hand over large sums.

    “So we were not successful,” said Mr. Baribeau. “We did our best efforts, that’s for sure.”

    But Charlie Angus, the indigenous affairs critic for the New Democrats, said the residential schools settlement agreement was supposed to provide justice for the survivors.

    “Instead, we see time and time again that it has been a travesty of injustice by the defendants for the benefit of the defendants,” said Mr. Angus. “I am looking at communities where we have people dying because of a lack of mental-health services and we have the Catholic Church trying to sneak out of its obligations.”


  184. Ottawa called out on residential school settlement shortfall

    by GLORIA GALLOWAY — The Globe and Mail April 18, 2016

    The federal government must pick up the tab for more than $20-million in compensation to survivors of Indian residential schools after its lawyer allowed the Catholic Church to renege on its obligations, according to the former national chief whose advocacy resulted in the largest class-action settlement in Canadian history.

    Phil Fontaine, who has spoken publicly about the abuses he suffered as a child at one of the schools, helped to negotiate the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement and says the government must ensure that its terms are met.

    “The government is ultimately responsible for meeting all of the financial obligations,” Mr. Fontaine told The Globe and Mail on Monday in response to the news that miscommunication by a federal lawyer allowed the Catholic Church to walk away from its promise to try to raise $25-million to pay for healing and reconciliation programs for the survivors.

    “I don’t know about legally, but there’s a moral obligation here,” Mr. Fontaine said. “We’re dealing with close to 80,000 survivors and it’s important for them that they be treated fairly and justly.”

    The 50 Catholic organizations – known legally as the Catholic entities – that ran many of the schools collected a combined $3.7-million as part of a seven-year campaign in which their lawyer says they made their “best efforts” to raise $25-million as spelled out in the settlement agreement. The entities also had to pay an additional $29-million in cash and to provide $25-million in “in-kind” services – obligations that have been met.

    But, as a result of what the federal government describes as a “miscommunication” by one of its lawyers during a court case in which it was trying to get the Catholic entities to live up to the cash portion of their responsibilities, the entities were released last July from any obligation to attempt to raise more funds for the residential school survivors.

    Mr. Fontaine said he assisted the Catholics with their dismal efforts at fundraising. “We tried very hard to meet the commitment that the Catholic church entities faced. We were unsuccessful,” he said. So Ottawa should “certainly” step in, Mr. Fontaine said.

    But the Liberal government does not appear ready to do that.

    Carolyn Bennett, the Indigenous Affairs Minister, was in the remote First Nations community of Attawapiskat on Monday and was unavailable for comment. Officials in her office said the government would instead focus its efforts on trying to persuade the Catholic entities that there is a moral imperative to do more.

    Yvonne Jones, Ms. Bennett’s parliamentary secretary who was asked by the New Democrats about the costly error during Question Period, said the Catholics would be encouraged to do the right thing and to ensure that the terms of the settlement agreement are met.

    When asked whether the government should appeal to the Pope, Ms. Jones said: “Whether there is going to be action with regard addressing the Pope or anyone else at this stage, those are decisions that the Minister and the government will take as we move along in the process.”

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  185. A spokeswoman for the Indigenous Affairs department said in an e-mail that Canada will continue to work with the Catholic Church’s representatives to ensure that their remaining obligations under the settlement agreement are fully implemented.

    But since a court case last July, the Catholic Church no longer has any remaining obligations.

    A judge of the Queen’s Bench for Saskatchewan ruled that Alexander Gay, a federal lawyer, led the Catholic entities to believe they could walk away from their fundraising responsibilities if they paid $1.2-million in cash to resolve a case brought by the government to make them pay the full amount of the $29-million in cash that was also part of the settlement agreement.

    Ottawa had no intention of releasing the Catholics from their fundraising obligations. But Justice Neil Gabrielson ruled that, because any reasonable bystander to the negotiations between the church entities and the government would have understood that an agreement had been struck, the deal was binding and the Catholics were off the hook.

    The officials in Ms. Bennett’s office, who pointed out that the error was committed under the previous Conservative government, said the period during which the government could have appealed the decision has expired and there are no other legal remedies.

    Senator Murray Sinclair, who chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) that spent years hearing stories from survivors about abuses they suffered at the institutions, pointed out that one of the commission’s calls to action was for the parties to the settlement agreement – the churches and the government – to establish permanent funding for healing and reconciliation. That was to be done once the terms of the settlement agreement had been met, he said.

    Mr. Sinclair said it is imperative that government and the churches live up to their commitments under the deal because the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which has been endorsed by Canada, says that those who were responsible for the oppression of indigenous culture and language have an obligation to assist the communities and individuals who are negatively affected by those actions.

    Regardless of whether the government has released the church from its responsibilities, the need for healing still exists, Mr. Sinclair said. “When two of the defendants make a deal between themselves that ends up in a loss of funding to the survivors, then who really suffers?” he asked.

    Edmund Metatawabin, a survivor of the notorious Catholic-run St. Anne’s Indian Residential School in Fort Albany, Ont., where children were not only subjected to sexual and physical abuse but were tortured in a makeshift electric chair, said the parties to the settlement agreement must meet their obligations.

    “We have many survivors here in Fort Albany that are trying their best, as grandmothers and grandparents, to instill a sense of happiness and pride in their grandchildren and great grandchildren knowing that the perpetrators got away for free,” said Mr. Metatawabin, “and that’s not very healthy. That’s not the law. That’s not justice.”

    With a report from Robert Fife in Ottawa


  186. Federal government killed appeal of residentialschool settlement ruling

    by SEAN FINE AND GLORIA GALLOWAY — The Globe and Mail April 20, 2016

    The Canadian government abandoned an appeal of a controversial court ruling that let the Catholic Church out of its responsibility to raise millions of dollars for aboriginal healing programs, court documents show.
    The appeal was dropped just six days after the Trudeau government took office.

    The revelation comes in a week when the Liberal government has repeatedly said that it had no options for appeal. It did not mention, however, that an appeal had been commenced and then withdrawn.

    The abandonment of the appeal means that a major element of Canada’s historic 2007 settlement – the contribution of the Catholic churches, which ran most of the residential schools, to the aboriginal community – was brought to an end by a lone Saskatchewan judge, in an informal hearing called a Request for Directions.

    The ruling by Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Neil Gabrielson on July 16 found that the former federal Conservative government had inadvertently released 50 Catholic entities from their contractual responsibility to try to raise up to $25-million for aboriginal healing pro- grams. He ruled that there was a “meeting of the minds” between a federal lawyer, Alexander Gay, and a lawyer for the Catholic entities, Gordon Kuski, on a re-lease from all obligations. He also found that Mr. Gay should be presumed in this dispute to have had the authority to negotiate on be-half of the Canadian government.

    Under the former Conservative government, the Justice Department served notice in August that it intended to appeal the ruling. A Liberal government was elected on Oct. 19 and took office on Nov. 4, as the cabinet – including Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould – was sworn in. On Nov. 10, the federal Justice Department formally abandoned the appeal, without giving reasons, in a letter signed by Wayne Schafer, senior counsel for the Attorney-General.

    The Liberal government says its Conservative predecessors were the ones who released the church from its obligations under the settlement agreement to try to raise $25-million for healing and reconciliation.

    After Justice Gabrielson’s decision in July, “officials from the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development received a mandate from the former Conservative government to negotiate a settlement with the Catholic entities,” a government spokeswoman said in an e-mail on Wednesday evening. “Negotiations began in August 2015 and an agreement of release was signed October 30, 2015. As a result of these negotiations, it was agreed the Protective Notice of Appeal would be withdrawn.” In other words, abandoning the appeal was a mere formality.

    The Liberal government did not provide The Globe and Mail with a copy of that negotiated agreement of release. Without a copy of that settlement, it is impossible to know if the Liberals were legally able to continue with the appeal, according to Toronto lawyer Kirk Baert, who represented residential school survivors at settlement talks.

    “This is an important aspect of the original settlement,” he said. “I don’t get the logic of withdrawing [the appeal]. They’re already at zero in terms of what the Catholics have to do. If you win, you may restore these benefits.”

    The Conservatives’ justice critic, Rob Nicholson, could not be reached for comment.

    The Liberals have made a rapprochement with indigenous peoples a centrepiece of their government. “No relationship is more important to me and to Canada than the one with Indigenous Peoples,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says in the mandate letters given to each of his cabinet ministers.

    continued below

  187. The 2007 settlement created three obligations for the 50 Catholic entities: pay $29-million in cash to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation; give $25-million in services to aboriginal communities; and use “best efforts” to raise $25-million for additional healing programs. The fundraising fell well short – bringing in just $3.7-million. Justice Gabrielson ruled that, for a payment of $1.2-million, the Catholic entities were to be released from their responsibilities to raise the remainder of the $25-million, and be seen to have completed the other two categories of contributions. (There had been a dispute over deductions from the $29-million that the Catholic entities had been claiming for administrative costs.)

    In such a hearing, the judge makes no credibility assessments of witnesses for either side, unlike in a full-blown trial. Appeal courts therefore may find it easier than a trial ruling to overturn. (Appeal courts usually defer to trial judges’ credibility assessments.)

    Among its grounds for appealing the decision, the federal government said the judge had made an error in law by saying that Mr. Gay had the authority to bind the government to a settlement, and had made “palpable and overriding errors” in assessing the facts relating to the negotiations, public documents on file at the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal show.

    Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett said this week that the government would pressure the church into resuming its fundraising efforts and rejected suggestions that the government should make up the shortfall.

    University of Alberta law professor Eric Adams, who had no involvement in the case, read the ruling at The Globe’s request. He said he was surprised Canada didn’t appeal it, because Mr. Gay had indicated throughout his discussions with Mr. Kuski that there were details to be worked out and approvals to be sought before the deal was finalized.

    “Part of the calculus in deciding whether to appeal something is the stakes – and the stakes were huge,” Prof. Adams added.

    Ken Young, a Winnipeg lawyer who spent 10 years in a residential school, has read the ruling of Judge Gabrielson and said he believes the government should have appealed.

    Mr. Young said, from his reading of what happened, it does not appear that there was any agreement made by Mr. Gay, on behalf of the government, to allow the Catholic entities to walk away from their fundraising obligations, as found by Judge Gabrielson. “They hung the government lawyer out to dry. I don’t know how he is feeling about that.”

    As for the Catholics making their “best efforts” to raise $25-million for healing and reconciliation, said Mr. Young, the “best efforts” would have meant the Catholic church stepping in and contributing the difference between the $25-million goal and the $3.7-million. “The Catholic Church is a big enough institution to cover what their people and their parishioners couldn’t cover.”

    Grouard-McLennan Archbishop Gérard Pettipas, who chairs the board of the Corporation of Catholic Entities, referred questions Wednesday about whether the church would be willing to do that to Pierre Baribeau, the entities’ lawyer.

    When asked Tuesday if the fundraising might resume, Mr. Baribeau suggested it would not happen because the various organizations of the church had already been solicited for funds and many were already near bankruptcy.


  188. Other churches escape residential-school settlement obligations in wake of Catholic deal

    by GLORIA GALLOWAY AND SEAN FINE — The Globe and Mail April 26, 2016

    The failure of the Catholic Church’s fundraising efforts for aboriginal healing and reconciliation means that other churches involved in the notorious residential schools have been let off the hook for more than $3-million in contributions.

    The Catholic fundraising program collected just $3.7-million toward its $25-million goal. This reduced the totals required from the Anglican, United and Presbyterian churches, because each had signed a deal with the federal government that linked their contributions to aboriginal healing to those of the Catholics.

    Catholic organizations ran most of the residential schools, and had the largest financial obligations of any church under Canada’s 2007 settlement that ended thousands of individual and class-action lawsuits. The federal government spent an estimated $5-billion directly compensating 79,000 survivors.

    The Anglican Church was allowed to keep $2.7-million it had raised for healing, and return it to local church communities. A church spokesman said many of those communities set up healing programs with their share of the money. The United Church was allowed to reduce its maximum obligation by $450,000, a church spokesman said. The Presbyterian Church had already put its maximum obligation of $1.3-million toward healing programs and therefore was contractually not in a position to receive anything back. The church says it effectively waived its right to get money back by spending it up front.

    About 50 Catholic entities were obliged to use their “best efforts” to raise $25-million for healing and reconciliation. The $25-million was in addition to $29-million in cash for the Aboriginal Healing Foundation and $25-million in services to aboriginal communities.

    In an e-mail exchange with The Globe, the government declined to provide a direct answer on what it did to ensure the Catholic groups lived up to their best-efforts promise. “The supervising Courts remain the authority for determining whether the terms of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement have been met,” said spokeswoman Valérie Haché of the Indigenous and Northern Affairs department.

    The government says its agreement releasing the Catholics from their financial contributions is confidential, even though a researcher for The Globe and Mail found a draft of it in a public court file at the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench in Regina.

    Jonathan Rudin, program director of Aboriginal Legal Services, an Ontario-wide program based in Toronto, said the reduced obligations for the other churches make the government’s failure to hold the Catholics to their fundraising obligations “even more egregious. The government should have known this because they negotiated this deal.”

    Mr. Rudin, who was not involved in the 2007 settlement, was critical of the Catholic Church, and the churches whose obligations were reduced. “If someone says, ‘Oh, it’s too hard, no one wants to give us money for this,’ and that ends it, that doesn’t speak much to people’s commitment to reconciliation,” he said of the Catholic groups. “The same thing goes for the other churches. To rely on what is essentially a loophole and say, ‘We’re now free from obligations,’ again doesn’t speak to their real commitment to reconciliation. It’s very sad to see this from the churches – particularly the Catholic Church, but the other churches as well.”

    He added that the Presbyterians deserve credit for saying: “‘It doesn’t matter that we can legally avoid this responsibility. We know morally we shouldn’t.’”

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  189. The deal signed by the Anglican Church with the federal government set out that the Anglicans would contribute 19.8572 per cent of the Catholic amount, divided among cash, in-kind services and fundraising. The portion contingent on Catholic fundraising was set at a maximum of $4.964-million, and placed in a holding fund until the Catholic fundraising effort had determined the final amount owed by the Anglican Church. The Catholic shortfall meant the Anglicans were permitted to keep $2.7-million of the $4.964-million.

    “They didn’t perform above that threshold, so we received permission from the government of Canada to return that money to our entities,” Ven. Michael Thompson, the general secretary of the Anglican Church, told The Globe. “And we did that late in 2015.”

    Many of the dioceses are applying the money that has been returned to their own indigenous projects, Archdeacon Thompson said. The Diocese of Toronto, for instance, received that largest amount from the returned funds, and it is using the money to start an endowment for indigenous ministry. And the Diocese of Central Newfoundland is conducting research on the early relationship between the church and the Beothuk, indigenous people who died out after the arrival of European settlers.

    He said the Anglicans began their fundraising efforts immediately after a proposed agreement was reached and, within 90 days, raised far more money than the deal stipulated. Some of the excess was returned to the dioceses. Much of the money raised was from parishioners, but some came from dioceses that liquidated reserves to meet their commitments.

    When the Anglican fundraising drive began, Jim Boyles, a former general secretary of the church, “just kept reminding the church that we were talking about the lives of children,” Archdeacon Thompson said. “And when you talk to human beings about the lives of children, something really powerful happens.”

    Stephen Kendall, the principal clerk of General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, which ran two of the schools, said his church quickly met its fundraising obligation of $1.3-million under the settlement agreement.

    “When we provided our contribution to the agreement, we made that contribution as if the full [Catholic] amount were raised,” Mr. Kendall said, “and, at the time, we said that we consider this our contribution to the agreement and we didn’t expect any refund. So we waived any possible right of refund early on.”

    The United Church was required to pay a total of $6.9-million, which included $2.2-million that was contingent upon the Catholics reaching their goal of $25-million in fundraising. Of that $2.2-million, they were entitled to keep $450,000 if the Catholics raised less than $20-million.

    Phil Fontaine represented the Assembly of First Nations, a national umbrella group of band chiefs, in the negotiation of the settlement, and then took part in the Catholic fundraising campaign. He said that reconciliation is not at risk because of the funding issue.

    “The fact that there is this misunderstanding or unresolved issue doesn’t compromise in any way the efforts to bring about reconciliation,” he said. “Because reconciliation is not simply a matter of money, though it’s an important consideration.” The survivors’ interests were met through financial compensation for abuse, an apology from former prime minister Stephen Harper, the funding of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation and the creation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, he said.

    “So anyone who suggests that somehow someone is being shortchanged, there’s a real misunderstanding here. Not that I would ever suggest to anyone that the money wouldn’t be welcome.”


  190. Residential school survivor turned NDP MP tables bill on Indigenous rights

    Romeo Saganash says his bill will ensure progress is made by the federal government

    By Kristy Kirkup, The Canadian Press April 21, 2016

    A residential school survivor turned New Democrat MP tabled a bill Thursday calling on Canada to respect the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

    Romeo Saganash, now the NDP's critic for intergovernmental Indigenous affairs, contributed two decades of work to an international effort to craft the declaration. He has now brought forward legislation similar to a proposal he made in the previous Parliament.

    After discussions with the government, ministers and MPs from other parties, Saganash is optimistic the bill will pass, something he said would amount to a personal triumph.

    "After 23 years of work, we got the UN declaration adopted by the General Assembly in September 2007 and what I did this morning is bringing that declaration into domestic law," he said. "That allows me to complete that circle."

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has indicated he will move forward on all recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, including a promise to fully adopt and implement the UN declaration as a framework for reconciliation so that must now be tested, Saganash said.

    Saganash said he was disappointed that the recent federal budget fell short on addressing the needs of Indigenous people.

    "I've said all along since this new government was elected that I won't doubt their sincerity about achieving a new relationship with Indigenous peoples but as a member of the opposition, I have a duty to test that sincerity."

    Saganash's colleague, NDP Indigenous affairs critic Charlie Angus, has been hammering the government on the lack of mental health funding in its budget as communities, including Attawapiskat First Nation, grapple with a suicide crisis.

    "While these communities require long-term solutions, they also require the immediate supports to address the health and mental health crisis that were entirely missing from the Liberal budget," Angus said.

    In New York on Thursday, Trudeau acknowledged Canada has previously failed to honour the spirit and the intent of its original relationships with Indigenous peoples, but he stressed the problem cannot be solved overnight.

    "There is an awful lot of work to do," Trudeau said, noting that First Nations have been marginalized by "colonial behaviours, destructive behaviours, assimilationist behaviours, that have left a legacy of challenges."

    Sen. Murray Sinclair, the former TRC chairman, said Thursday he supports Saganash "wholeheartedly in this endeavour" and plans to do what is necessary to ensure the bill passes if it makes it to the upper chamber.

    Reconciliation between Canada's Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples will require sweeping institutional change, Sinclair said.

    Many of the laws enacted since Confederation "have been fundamentally racist," he said in a statement. "In many ways, Canada waged war against Indigenous peoples through law, and many of today's laws reflect that intent."


  191. NL residential school survivors lawyers reach $50M settlement with Ottawa

    Woman who testified she was sexually abused as a child says class action case has dragged on too long

    By Ariana Kelland and Mark Quinn, CBC News May 10, 2016

    A $50-million settlement has been reached for hundreds of residential school survivors in Newfoundland and Labrador who have been involved in a lengthy class action with the federal government.

    Former students also will receive an undetermined amount of money for reconciliation and healing.

    They learned of the settlement in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court on Tuesday morning.

    Lawyers expect 750 to 900 people will be compensated.

    Plantiff Toby Obed, who went to school in North West River, kept repeating the words "this is over" outside the courthouse Tuesday.

    "This is real. This is really happening. It's over. I don't have to go to court no more. I don't have to testify no more," Obed said, choking back tears.

    Obed said it's now time to "let this rest."

    "I can let my inner child go. I can let my inner child rest."

    Although lawyers can't bind Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to apologize for the abuses students endured while in the schools, many expect he will.

    About a third of the settlement amount is expected to be paid to lawyers for the plaintiffs from three law firms.

    "Over the next few months, class counsel will be visiting Labrador communities to provide information about the compensation distribution plan and answer questions," said lawyer Ches Crosbie, in a news release Tuesday.

    The case that was launched almost a decade ago went to trial last fall. Twenty-nine survivors testified.

    The settlement is for students who were residents at the schools between 1949 and 1979.

    Four of the schools were located in Labrador and St. Anthony.

    Class-action lawyers say federal lawyers fought every step of the way until the Liberals were elected last fall.

    Lawyers for the plaintiffs had argued the federal government failed to live up to its responsibilities to Indigenous people in the province after Newfoundland and Labrador joined Canada in 1949.

    The federal government argued that Canada did not set up or operate the schools, so couldn't be held responsible for what happened to students.

    Former students passed away

    Cindy Dwyer testified she was physically and sexually abused as a student in Labrador.

    Dwyer, an Inuk from Nain who went to a school in North West River, said appearing in court triggered her post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

    "I want to recover from all of this. I want to start my life all over and I hope and pray that everyone in this class action group can do the same," Dwyer said Monday, prior to news a settlement had been reached.

    Dwyer also wants an apology from Trudeau.

    Lawyers for the plaintiffs say dozens of former students have died since 2007.

    "I keep thinking of all the people that can't be here, all the ones that passed away ... to hear this news," Obed said.

    Justice Robert Stack will rule in late September if the court accepts the out-of-court settlement.


  192. Senator worried about destruction of residential school abuse evidence

    By Mike De Souza, National Observer May 25th 2016

    Victims of Canada’s infamous residential schools program are still missing many documents that may be in “churches across the ocean” while other evidence is at risk of being destroyed, Sen. Murray Sinclair said on Wednesday.

    Sinclair, Manitoba’s first Indigenous judge and one of three people who presided over Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission that concluded a six-year investigation into the school system in 2015, said there was still a lot of work to do for the victims of abuse in the schools.

    “More and more of the documents that were created around the residential school settlement agreement and around residential schools, continue to be in the possession of churches across the ocean and archives that are not available to Canadian law,” Sinclair said at a ceremony hosted in Gatineau, Quebec, by Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault to honour champions of the right to access information. “They’re not accessible, therefore, to survivors.”

    Could it be in Kingdom of Denmark?

    A Canadian Catholic archbishop dismissed Sinclair’s comments, ridiculing the notion that some records might be overseas.

    In a phone interview with National Observer, Archbishop Gérard Pettipas, from the Catholic archdiocese of Grouard-McLennan in Alberta said that all of the incidents involving residential schools happened on Canadian soil, but he doubted that the Vatican or any churches overseas had any records that the Canadian Catholic churches didn't have.

    “I don’t know where these (documents) would be,” said the archbishop, who was chairing a group of Catholic entities that reached a multi-million dollar settlement with victims of residential schools in 2006. “In the archives of the Kingdom of Denmark?”

    The Truth and Reconciliation Commission shared this year’s Grace-Pépin award, given annually to advocates of freedom of information, with Ottawa researcher Ken Rubin. For his part, Rubin has uncovered hundreds of secret government documents, sharing them with countless journalists to report information on a wide range of issues including Canada's record on asbestos, environmental protection, and the conditions in Indigenous communities.

    Sinclair, and the other commissioners investigating the residential schools - Dr. Marie Wilson, and Chief Wilton Littlechild - documented horrific cases of abuse suffered by tens of thousands of children in the schools. The institutions were normally run by Christian churches from the 1940s until the 1990s. The system was designed to remove Indigenous children from their homes and strip them of their culture and traditions.

    Sinclair, who was recently appointed to the Canadian Senate, said that the right of people to view government records is important since the truth depends on having access to information.

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  193. He said the commission was able to get millions of documents out of the archives of churches with their cooperation, but was still missing some documents.

    “When they didn't want to cooperate, we had to go to court a few times,” Sinclair said. “The fact that you have to take people to court to make them do what they should be doing voluntarily is a sad comment.”

    The award ceremony, also coinciding with Indigenous Awareness week in Canada, came a month after the Ontario Court of Appeal decided that victims of the residential schools had the right to decide whether their testimony about their experiences can be destroyed.

    That testimony was gathered separately in private hearings as part of a government adjudication process to settle lawsuits. It gave victims a guarantee that their testimony was confidential.

    Catholic entities were siding with former students, Archbishop Pettipas said

    Sinclair said that some of the victims are being encouraged to push for destruction of the records - an action that he said was supported by church officials.

    “Those thousands and thousands of records - over 30,000 individual records and transcripts and testimony are not in our (Truth and Reconciliation Commission) archives. They’re not available to us and the government of Canada is in support of our position that they should be,” Sinclair said.

    “But those at the independent adjudication process, and those advising them, particularly the church officials who are supervising their work have long advocated for the destruction of those records. And if those testimonies are destroyed, then the greatest trove of information about what went on in the schools, will be denied to Canadians and to children and grandchildren - the survivors of residential schools. We have a lot of work left, yet to do.”

    Archbishop Pettipas said the churches advocated for destruction of records since it was siding with the position of former students who didn't want their names revealed. He said these former students had agreed to testify under these circumstances.

    He said he hadn't tried to convince any of the victims to request that these records be destroyed.

    “I’ve never talked to any of our former students and tried to coerce them to do that,” he said. “Maybe somebody did but I didn’t.”

    Some Catholic entities and officials have apologized for abuse in the residential schools, but the entire church has never collectively apologized over what happened.


  194. 73 percent of non-Aboriginal Canadians who have heard of residential schools blame them for current problems

    But 63% believe Indigenous people have a sense of entitlement to support and services not available to others

    By Tim Fontaine, CBC News June 08, 2016

    A new national survey found almost three-quarters of non-Aboriginal Canadians (73 per cent) who've heard or read about residential schools believe they are at least partly responsible for the current challenges Aboriginal people face.

    But the same survey found 63 per cent believe Indigenous people have a sense of entitlement to support and services not available to other Canadians.

    National Chief Perry Bellegarde said the survey results show the views of non-Aboriginal Canadians are still tainted by negative stereotypes.

    "If you want reconciliation, you need to make space in your mind, your heart and spirit to get rid of the misconceptions you have about Indigenous Peoples," he said. "The stereotype that Indigenous Peoples are dumb, stupid, lazy, drunk and on welfare — put that aside."

    Read the survey https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2854747-Survey.html

    The Environics Institute telephone survey of 2,001 non-Aboriginal adults from across the country conducted in January and February found 66 per cent are learning about Indigenous Peoples and their issues.

    But 10 per cent of those who answered the survey said their impressions of Indigenous people had worsened in the past few years, and of those, 53 per cent said the reason for that was that Aboriginal people receive "special treatment" from government and receive services and benefits not available to other citizens.

    And while a growing percentage of non-Aboriginal Canadians have heard about residential schools and the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, less than five per cent could recall anything specific about its calls to action issued last year.

    Bellegarde says the results highlight the need for non-Aboriginal Canadians to be educated about Indigenous people.

    Attitudes improve in the East

    According to the survey, 34 per cent of Atlantic Canadianssaid their impression of Indigenous people has improved in the past decade. Increased media coverage of Indigenous stories, living near First Nation communities, and building personal and business relationships with Indigenous people have given Atlantic Canadians more positive views of their Indigenous neighbours.

    Atlantic Canada Indigenous bands have $1.14B impact on national economy

    But 35 per cent of non-Aboriginal Manitobans, 41 per cent of non-Aboriginal people in Saskatchewan and 32 per cent of non-Aboriginal Albertans said the biggest obstacle to economic and social equality is Indigenous people themselves.

    While in the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut, non-Aboriginal people were three times more likely than people in other provinces to say their impression of Indigenous people has worsened in recent years. More than half those people with negative views said First Nations, Inuit and ​Métis people "get special treatment from government, profiting from services and benefits that are not available to other citizens."

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  195. Canadas Confederate flag

    It's that belief that has allowed the federal government to continue to discriminate against First Nations children on reserves, said Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations and Family Caring Society.

    Earlier this year, because of a complaint her organization first launched in 2007, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ordered the federal government to provide on-reserve children with the same level of child welfare services that exist elsewhere.

    Despite that order, Blackstock is still fighting with the government to make it happen.

    "We have a group of children who the government of Canada says, 'No, you're worth less than every other child in the country.' There's no excuse for that and the only reason it's been allowed to continue is because most Canadians are fed this line that First Nations get more," she said.

    "This is our Confederate flag."

    Residential schools, reconciliation

    According to the survey, two-thirds of non-Aboriginal Canadians surveyed said they had heard or read something about the history of residential schools, a significant increase from a decade ago.

    The awareness was highest in the Northwest Territories, where 97 per cent said they had heard about residential schools, and lowest in Quebec, at 49 per cent.

    It was 84 per cent in Manitoba, and Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman said the city, once dubbed 'Canada's most racist,' is working hard to increase it.

    "This is really going to be … the ongoing task of our generation," he said. "There's a lot of work that we've done as a community and it's increasingly being recognized on the national scale that we are doing our best to build bridges within our community."

    Ry Moran, director of the Winnipeg's National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, said we have to get to the point where "100 per cent of Canadians understand the history, impact and legacy of residential schools."

    You cannot understand any element of the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples without understanding that history," Moran said.

    Glimmer of hope

    Still, 79 per cent of people between the ages of 18-29 who were surveyed said that despite not knowing the full history of Indigenous people, they believe "meaningful reconciliation" is possible in their lifetime.

    That's a glimmer of hope for Cindy Blackstock.

    "If we can raise a generation of non-Aboriginal children who are really aware of this from the day that they get into daycare, then they'll be much better positioned to make informed relationships and respectful relationships with Indigenous Peoples later on," she said.


  196. New Heritage Minute explores dark history of Indian residential schools

    'This is something we need to talk about,' says author Joseph Boyden. 'Our history is not always good'

    CBC News June 21, 2016

    Making its premiere on National Aboriginal Day, Historica Canada's newest Heritage Minute explores the dark history of Indian residential schools and their lasting effects on Indigenous people.

    Novelist Joseph Boyden says he welcomed the opportunity to write the script for the video.

    "This is something we need to talk about, and we need to recognize as Canadians, that our history is not always good," he said.

    The Heritage Minute follows the story of Chanie (Charlie) Wenjack, who attended Cecilia Jeffrey Residential School in Kenora, Ont., in the 1960s. At age 12, he ran away. He had been gone a week when his frozen body was discovered beside the railroad tracks near Redditt, on Oct. 23, 1966.

    Wenjack's death prompted the first inquest into the treatment of children at the schools.

    "He's a powerful symbol of those innocents who ran, just trying to be home, and didn't make it, who didn't survive residential school," said Boyden.

    Still a current issue

    The newest Heritage Minute breaks convention by having a family member narrate, rather than an actor.

    "We've included a real life person … to make clear how current this is," said Historica CEO Anthony Wilson-Smith.

    Chanie Wenjack's sister Pearl Achneepineskum, herself a residential school survivor, provides the narration.

    "My brother, when he died — he didn't take life for granted. He knew where he was wanting to be. His whole happiness was home," said Achneepineskum, in a video interview provided by Historica.

    "When other people see this film, I hope they take away that they're very fortunate that they can do whatever they like and not being stopped of being who they are; that they're proud of who they are."

    Not easy to watch

    Doris Young, a Cree educator and residential school survivor, said this is not an easy Heritage Minute to watch.

    "It brings back my own memories of experiencing, of having to watch a child being beaten to death. So when I see that, it brings back those horrors. I hope I don't have a nightmare tonight," she said.

    While Young says the Heritage Minute might help Canadians understand what residential school survivors went through, she doesn't think National Aboriginal Day — a day of celebration of identity and culture — is the day to focus on it.

    "This little child on this railway track is not our culture. This is about what happened to him because of a political and legal decision that was made for him, for his family, for his community."

    Inspire people to learn more

    The non-profit organization Historica Canada is devoted to enhancing awareness of Canadian history and the values of Canadian citizenship.

    "I always say that if all people know of Canadian history or a particular issue is what they've learned from one of our minutes, that's not nearly enough," said Wilson-Smith.

    "What we hope to do is get people to watch a minute and say, 'I never knew that … and I really want to know more about that.'"

    Boyden said it's important that these new Heritage Minutes are told from the perspective of Indigenous people.

    "We've all seen the Heritage Minutes, and they're great, but it's always from the side of the settler," said Boyden, who also wrote a Heritage Minute episode about treaties.

    "But talk about trying to squeeze a lot into one minute. It was not an easy process."


  197. Bishops push back on planned House of Commons motion seeking Papal apology for residential schools

    Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops sent letter to parliamentarians to clarify 'errors'

    by Jorge Barrera · CBC News · April 17, 2018

    The organization representing Catholic bishops in Canada is pushing back against a motion expected to be debated in the House of Commons this week calling on Pope Francis to apologize for residential schools.

    The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) sent a mass email to parliamentarians on Monday afternoon outlining what it believes to be "misunderstandings and errors" behind the move to introduce the motion.

    The motion, which could be debated as early as Wednesday, calls on the CCCB to invite the Pope to Canada to apologize to residential school survivors.

    Pope Francis has said through the CCCB that he does not plan to apologize.

    A CCCB spokesperson said the letter was meant to simply inform federal politicians.

    "It was not meant to stop the motion, it was meant to inform the parliament members about the issue and the perspective of the Catholic Church," said René Laprise.

    'Really disturbing'
    Laprise said the CCCB plans to hold a news conference Wednesday on the issue in Ottawa.

    NDP MP Charlie Angus, who co-wrote the motion with NDP MP Romeo Saganash, said it's clear the bishops are trying to derail the motion.

    "It is really disturbing that, rather than address the issue of reconciliation, we have the Canadian Catholic Bishops Conference claiming that as bishops they had no role in the residential school system," he said.

    "The bishops played key roles in pushing for the system .… This is not a road the bishops want to walk down."

    The NDP motion is supported by the Liberals, and the efforts from the CCCB will not change that position, according to the office of Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett.

    Bennett's office said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau requested an apology when he met with Pope Francis in the Vatican last year and the request still stands.

    "We continue to believe an apology from the Pope, on behalf of the Catholic Church, is an important step in acknowledging the past and moving toward reconciliation," said an emailed statement from Bennett's office.

    The Conservatives will decide whether to support the motion at Wednesday's scheduled caucus meeting on Parliament Hill, said spokesperson Jake Enwright.

    "[Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer] has previously said any organization or institution or individual who was responsible for this very dark chapter in Canadian history should apologize," said Enwright.

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  198. The wording of the motion calls on the House of Commons to ask the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops "to invite Pope Francis to Canada to apologize on behalf of the Catholic Church to Indigenous people for the Church's role in the residential school system ... to respect their moral obligation and the spirit of the 2006 Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement and resume best efforts to raise the full amount of the agreed-upon funds ... to make a consistent and sustained effort to turn over relevant documents when called upon by survivors of residential schools, their families and scholars working to understand the full scope of the horrors of the residential school system in the interest of truth and reconciliation."

    Not associated
    An apology from the Pope is one of the 94 calls to action issued by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which was created by the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement to delve into the history of the institutions which sought to assimilate Indigenous children.

    The conference said in its letter to parliamentarians, which was also posted on its website, that the "Catholic Church as whole in Canada was not associated with the residential schools." The conference said only 16 out of 61 Roman Catholic dioceses were involved with residential schools along with about 36 Catholic orders "out of over one hundred."

    The conference said Canadian bishops already apologized for residential schools in 1991 and that First Nations leaders have stated that the previous Pope's expression of sorrow over residential schools put the matter to rest.

    In its letter, the conference recollected that former Assembly of First Nations national chief Phil Fontaine had said after a Vatican meeting in 2009 that Pope Benedict's expression of regret would "close the book" on the need for an apology.

    A CBC News story about the encounter includes that quote. It said Fontaine did not believe Pope Benedict's words amounted to an apology, but "the fact that the word 'apology' was not used does not diminish this moment in any way," Fontaine said, according to the article. "This experience gives me great comfort."

    The conference letter also quoted B.C. First Nations Summit Grand Chief Ed John, who also attended the meeting, from the same CBC News story saying "I think in that sense, there was that apology that we were certainly looking for."

    Fontaine told CBC News the conference had taken his words out of context.

    CBC News reached out to John, but he was not immediately available for comment.



    Canadian Indian residential schools designed to assimilate natives traumatized individuals and generations


    Canadian Indian residential school hearings identify thousands of abusers including some students who were also abused