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Survivors Remember Days in Residential Schools

By Bruce Campion-Smith
Toronto Star
June 2, 2015

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2015/06/02/survivors-remember-days-in-residential-schools.html

"The first part of my life I ended up covering all my pain and hurt with the consumption of alcohol," says Shishigo Gijig, who attended residential schools in Thunder Bay and Fort Albany, Ont.

The release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commissionís report brought hundreds of residential school survivors to Ottawa, each with their own emotional tale of how that time had affected their life. The Star spoke to a few of them about their time in the residential schools, what the work of commission has meant and how it felt to gather with fellow survivors.

Shishigo Gijig, 61, of Toronto

Attended residential schools in Thunder Bay and Fort Albany, Ont.

ďWe experienced real bad trauma up there . . . the first part of my life I ended up covering all my pain and hurt with the consumption of alcohol . . . . Then I started going to healing ceremonies, I started learning about myself being a native person and thatís when my life changed.Ē



Lawrence Houle, 76, of Winnipeg

Attended residential school in Manitoba

ďWhen I come to this place, it makes me feel energized. You can see the happiness here today. Itís so powerful. Itís overwhelming to some people because they didnít know what happiness is . . . most of the time they cried all their lives because of the psychological hurt, the emotional, physical hurt.Ē

Delores Charles: "These same things are passed down so I took my children out of my community to break that cycle . . ."

Delores Charles, 62, of Georgina Island

Attended Indian day school on Georgina Island

ďThe alcohol got a hold of a lot of our people. These same things are passed down so I took my children out of my community to break that cycle . . . . We have to make changes and we have to start with ourselves first and our families.Ē

Terry Aleck Coyote: "Iím okay talking about it. . . . Students are curious."

Terry Aleck Coyote, 58, of Sechelt, B.C.

Attended residential school in Lytton, B.C.

ďIf someone wants to learn about it, not all the gory details, just to learn about that residential school experience, itís right there. I can just grab it. Iím okay talking about it. . . . Students are curious. They want to know what happened inside. I am more than willing to share as much as I can because I know itís going to make a difference, help heal all of us.Ē

Rev. Mary Battaja: "They gave you a number. Mine was 50."

Rev. Mary Battaja, 72, of Whitehorse

Attended residential school in Carcross, Yukon

ďThey told our parents if you didnít send your kids to the school you would go to jail. . . . It was really shocking because they didnít call you by name. They gave you a number. Mine was 50. Number 50. All the children got numbers. Then they took away our personal stuff and gave us two uniforms, pyjamas.Ē

 

 

 

 

 




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