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Truth and Reconciliation Week: Residential Schools

Truth and Reconciliation Week

You cannot unknow the truth.

Over 117 years, from 1880 until 1997, more than 150,000 First Nation, Metis and Inuit children were forced into “schools.” The Church played a large role in running these residential facilities. The aim of these institutions was not education, but an attempt to destroy the culture and even family bonds. Life at these schools was lonely, abusive and demoralizing. The children were taught that their Indigenous culture was shameful. Thousands of children died at these schools due to neglect and abuse.

Canada has pledged tens of millions of dollars to help Indigenous communities to search for unmarked graves at the sites of former Residential Schools. Carolyn Bennett, Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister states, “As a country we know the truth. Once you know the truth, you cannot unknow it.”

“Imagine way back when residential schools were started, and your child was ripped out of your home and taken from you. It’s hard to imagine because it only happened to Natives because the goal of residential schools was to assimilate Indians, to civilize Indians. A (former) Deputy Minister of Indian affairs is on the record years ago as stating ‘I want to get rid of Indian problems. Our objective is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed into the body politic.’ Well, we will this has made us stronger than you can imagine. We will start by honouring the lost children and survivors of residential schools. This is a vital part of the reconciliation process. On September 30, Orange Shirt Day is an Indigenous led grassroots commemorative day that honours the children who survived residential schools and those who did not. These schools symbolize the stripping away of cultural freedom and self-esteem experienced by Indigenous children over generations. I stand on this day as I am a proud Micmac woman who lives in a community who will fight for everything we believe that is right and wrong. We encourage all Canadians to wear orange to raise awareness of the very tragic legacy of residential schools and to honour the thousands of survivors. Welalin, thank you, merci!” – Melissa Condo – Gesgapegiag

Note: The above mentioned quote was by former Deputy Minister of Indian affairs Duncan Campell Scott in

“When I performed in Conques France. I wore my Grandmother Meggie’s Moccasins who crossed over into the Spirit World over 20 years ago, and I had my Granddaughter’s Moccasins from when she was 2 years old. She is eight now. I set my Granddaughter’s Moccasins on the floor in front of me to represent to what’s going on today from the findings of the children from the residential schools in Canada. My Hand Drum has a red handprint to represent the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Canada.”
Darlene Jerome Gijuminag –Gesgapegiag