Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Hidden Legacy of Residential School

This week a conference/gathering was held in Winnipeg, Manitoba for Survivors of the Residential School system. If one thing came out of this well organized gathering is that the effects are multi-generational.  The conference was initiated by The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.  They did a masterful job in getting people involved and having people take part. This is how a Gathering is done right. There were so many  speakers and topics that anyone could have benefited in the Gathering.
I was but an eavesdropper in the seminars going on. It was a chance to see old friends, tease other Neechies and shop or wish at the crafts booths.  It was also a reflective time. Many people are re-living the horror of abuse and want to try shed themselves of that hurt. I do not know how that can be done. The hurt carries on in their children.
Stories from the old people and from the not so long ago about how hard it was to live with the effects of ridicule, abuse, hurt, shame, and constant negative self-imagery can not be erased like a chalk board. It will take effort to fill the void that the Residential school system has caused in the social, cultural, spiritual psyche of the Indian.

This young man Wab Kinew was on hand to show case his family documentary. A very powerful portrait of the effects of abuse in the Residential School system. Take a look for yourself. I admire the courage of Elder Tabosonakwut and his family  for their honesty.


  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about this conference. i've been watching the news and write ups about this. Wab's video really hits it bang on and totally dramatizes why its so important to heal these hurts - the children.

  2. Yes I did think that Wab's video was well done and gutsy for his family.
    We all have our own stories but yet we keep them buried. Sometimes it is good to let things be but if you can teach with your stories, that is really good.

  3. Worked with a fellow, a Nez Perce, who
    had gone to Chemawa School in Oregon in the fifties. From his description, it sounded like
    a reform school, harsh with teachers
    with no cultural understanding. To add to the atmosphere, kids from disparate tribes were thrown into a
    system to create graduates who would
    somehow fit into the 'white system'.
    He did: a credit to himself mostly, a person who managed the duel culture
    paradigm. Gradually, in my opinion,
    education is coming to grips with the
    importance of tribal culture and hopefully the learning takes place in both directions.

  4. Some people have managed to work past the abuse, but unfortunately the Residential school system has left a lot of despair as well.