I am a settler on this land. My journey with Truth and Reconciliation is a commitment to learning and to using my privilege to be an ally.
I first became aware of the residential school system in 2008 when the Prime Minister acknowledged Canada’s role in them. At the time, I combed the internet for information and became increasingly more heart broken at the accounts that I read. None of this felt “historical” to me because I was 16 years old when the last residential school in Canada closed its doors in 1996. I struggled then to reconcile the vision of Canada I had growing up as a free, inclusive society with the reality of colonial mentality and the abuse that many suffered within the confines of this system. I still do.
I am sharing a few resources that have been meaningful to me as I continue to seek understanding:
Richard Wagamese’s novel “Indian Horse” and the movie adaptation are both brilliant. Through a fictionalized account, Wagamese brings to life the reality of the residential school system and the impact it had on survivors.
The Podcast “Finding Cleo” on the CBC is focused on a family and how the Sixties Scoop displaced children across Canada and the US: https://www.cbc.ca/radio/findingcleo
The Woodland Culture Centre was a former residential school until the 1970’s in Brantford. It has been reborn as a site devoted to preserving evidence of the system and to honour the lives and stories of survivors. If you are interested in contributing to their work you can do so here: https://woodlandculturalcentre.ca/donate/
In May 2021 when the first mass grave was found at a residential school in Kamloops British Colombia, and it was clear there were going to be more, a conversation started about how to celebrate Canada Day. Chief Cadmus Delorme, Cowessess First Nation provided this insight, and I am so grateful for it:
“I would never tell somebody what and what not to celebrate. You know in 2021, we all inherited this. Nobody today created residential schools. Nobody today created the Indian Act. Nobody today created the Sixties Scoop. But we all inherited this. And if we want to say we’re proud Canadians, then we will accept the beautiful country we have today, and we will accept what we all inherited. And what I would challenge is: Everybody on Canada Day in this country if you say you’re a proud Canadian, read the Truth and Reconciliation ‘Calls to Action’. Bring that into your personal life, your social life, your business life. And read the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls ‘Call to Action’. There’s 231 Calls to Action. If we all own those a little bit in this country, in one generation we would overcome so many challenges today, that our next generation won’t inherit this. We will make them more as Dreamers.”
Book & Movie
Woodland Cultural Centre