contents - Metis National Council

Nobody’s Children
Hilton Garden Inn
90 – 22
Street East, Saskatoon, SK
MARCH 28-29, 2012
Proceedings Prepared By:
8495 143rd Street, Surrey, BC V3W 0Z9
Tel: (604) 507-0470
Day 1 – Wednesday, March 28, 2012 ............................................................................................................ 1
CALL TO ORDER ........................................................................................................................................ 1
OPENING PRAYER ...................................................................................................................................... 2
WELCOME .................................................................................................................................................. 2
Robert Doucette, Métis Nation – Saskatchewan President ................................................................... 2
CONFERENCE OVERVIEW .......................................................................................................................... 3
Clément Chartier, QC, Métis Nation Council President ......................................................................... 3
KEYNOTE ADDRESS: Keewatin Yatthé Regional Health Authority, Northwest Saskatchewan ................. 4
Richard Petit, Chief Executive Officer, Keewatin Yatthé Regional Health Authority, Northwest
Saskatchewan ....................................................................................................................................... 4
Linda Pedersen and Marlene Hansen, Keewatin Yatthé Regional Health Authority, Northwest
Saskatchewan ....................................................................................................................................... 5
PANEL ONE: “The Legacy of Exclusion”: The Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement ............ 8
Clément Chartier, QC, Métis National Council President ...................................................................... 8
Kathy Hodgson-Smith, Hodgson-Smith Law ........................................................................................10
Celeste McKay, Celeste McKay Consulting .........................................................................................12
Panel One: Questions and Answers .....................................................................................................13
PANEL TWO: Experience of Métis Residential School Attendees ............................................................17
Helene Johnson, Métis Nation – Saskatchewan Region 2 Director ......................................................18
Max Morin, Métis Nation – Saskatchewan Secretary ...........................................................................19
David Cardinal, Peace River, AB ..........................................................................................................20
Panel Two: Questions and Answers .....................................................................................................21
OPEN FORUM: Expressions ......................................................................................................................27
WRAP UP: Conference Rapporteur ..........................................................................................................29
Jaime Koebel, Métis National Council Policy Analyst ...........................................................................29
Day 2 – Thursday, March 29, 2012 ...............................................................................................................30
DIALOGUE RECONVENED.........................................................................................................................30
OPENING PRAYER .....................................................................................................................................30
PANEL THREE: Experiences of Day School Attendees .............................................................................30
Nora Cummings, Aboriginal Healing Foundation Elder ........................................................................30
John Morrisseau, Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada ....................................................33
Panel Three: Questions and Answers ..................................................................................................36
PANEL FOUR: Experiences of Métis covered by the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement
(IRSSA) ......................................................................................................................................................41
Jude Daniels, AB ..................................................................................................................................42
Louis Bellrose, Former Métis Nation of Alberta Vice-President ............................................................43
Angie Crerar, Caring Canadian Award Recipient .................................................................................45
Stirling Ranville, Winnipeg, MB ............................................................................................................47
PANEL FIVE: Residential School Impacts on Family, Culture and Language ...........................................52
Norman Fleury, Michif Educator ...........................................................................................................52
Ashley Norton, Activist..........................................................................................................................53
Sky Blue Morin, AB...............................................................................................................................55
EXPRESSIONS – OPEN FORUM ................................................................................................................58
WRAP UP: CONFERENCE RAPPORTEUR ...................................................................................................64
Jaime Koebel, Métis National Council ..................................................................................................64
CLOSING REMARKS ..................................................................................................................................65
Clément Charier, QC, Métis National Council President ......................................................................65
CLOSING PRAYER .....................................................................................................................................66
ACRONYM LIST .........................................................................................................................................67
(Disclaimer: The information in this unofficial report reflects the recorder's best effort to express the full meaning
intended by the speakers. This report is not a word-for-word representation and nor has it been fact-checked.
Therefore, it is subject to clarification and correction. As a courtesy, readers are encouraged to check with the
speaker before publicly citing information attributed to them in this report.)
Day 1 – Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Jimmy Durocher, SK
Victoria Pruden, BC
Co-Chair Durocher called to order the Dialogue at 9:05 a.m., and thanked the Métis NationSaskatchewan (MN-S), Métis National Council (MNC), and Survivors present for allowing him
the opportunity to participate in the Dialogue. The Co-Chair spoke of the inequity of the
Métis in residential schools issues, and the need for parity with the First Nations and Inuit
people under Section 35 of the Constitution. There was need to convey this message to the
politicians so that they could “hammer away at the doors” of the federal and provincial
Co-Chair Pruden extended a further welcome to delegates. She recognized the sensitivity of
the topics to be discussed at the Dialogue, and introduced support workers present to offer
assistance to the delegates as needed. She indicated that CBC Radio and Television would be
present for the morning on Day 1 of the Dialogue, and informed that there were
opportunities for delegates to be interviewed on video to have their story archived and
retained by the MNC. Delegates could also request to have filming/recording stopped while
sharing their story during the Dialogue itself.
The following reference/resource materials were provided in the distributed Dialogue binder:
Tab 1: Nobody’s Children – A Métis Nation Residential School Dialogue – Agenda
Tab 2: Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement Criteria – Excerpt – Article 12
Tab 3: Statement of Apology – to former students of Indian Residential School signed
on behalf of the Government of Canada by the Right Honourable Stephen Harper,
Prime Minister of Canada, dated June 11, 2008
Tab 4: President Chartier’s response to the Indian Residential Schools Statement of
Apology (Transcript) dated June 11, 2008
Tab 5: President Chartier, Speech to the Senate, dated June 12, 2008
Tab 6: President’s Newsletter February 2012, Métis Nation flies intervention to the
United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
Métis Nation Residential School Dialogue Proeecedings
held in Saskatoon, SK March 28-29, 2012
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Tab 7: Elders Without Borders – Application to add Timber Bay Children’s Home to
the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (“IRSS Agreement”).
Norman Fleury, alternating between Michif and English, provided an Opening Prayer.
IT WAS MOVED (Andrew Carrier) AND SECONDED (Margaret Samuelson)
That the Agenda for the Métis Nation Residential School Dialogue scheduled March 28 and
29, 2012 be accepted as presented.
Robert Doucette, Métis Nation – Saskatchewan President
MN-S President Doucette thanked the Elder for his Opening Prayer, and acknowledged the
Creator for giving him the opportunity to do the good work that needs to be done. He
shared that his daughter was due to deliver his second grandchild on April 1, 2012;
acknowledged his wife Betty Garr and his family for standing beside him through the years;
and further acknowledged MN-S Senators, Area Directors, Residential School Minister, and
the Secretary in attendance.
MN-S President Doucette indicated the honour of the MN-S to host this Dialogue, and
thanked the MNC President and staff for organizing this event to provide an opportunity for
Métis across Canada to have a voice on this important issue. The Dialogue was an
opportunity to share a dark part of history that had impacted many generations of Métis.
MN-S President Doucette shared that he was a child of the 60’s during a time when the
provincial government scooped Métis children from their communities at random. The Priest
told his mother and grandparents that they did not have the ability to raise him, and so they
took him away. He never had access to the wisdom of his grandparents. To those who knew
their grandparents and grew up with their parents, he envied them for their knowledge, and
encouraged thanking the Creator for that.
It was MN-S President Doucette’s hope that over the next two days the delegates would
share in a good and peaceful way their experiences with Indian Residential Schools, and that
this Dialogue would become a launching pad to make sure the provincial and federal
governments knew there is an outstanding apology and a debt owed to the Métis in Canada.
Métis Nation Residential School Dialogue Proeecedings
held in Saskatoon, SK March 28-29, 2012
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MN-S President Doucette formally presented to Jaime Koebel, for retention by the MNC, a
1965 document on signing authorities for cheques for family allowances given to Father
Poirier, and a 1964-65 document providing information on federally funded Residential
Schools in Saskatchewan. He also referenced an agreement between the provincial
government and the Roman Catholic Church to run the school at Île à la Crosse, noting that
these were examples of some of the information collected to help Métis Survivors in
Saskatchewan to create understanding, and to support the need for an apology and
compensation for their experiences.
Clément Chartier, QC, Métis National Council President
MNC President Chartier extended greetings to delegates, and thanked the MN-S President for
his kind welcome. He acknowledged that it was a difficult topic that would be discussed at
the Dialogue, and that many of those like him who attended Île à la Crosse, would share their
personal stories.
The MNC President shared that he had attended the second national Truth and Reconciliation
Commission (TRC) event in Inuvik the prior year. He did not participate in the roundtable for
expressions, and he became very emotional at the back of the room on the second day. An
Inuit woman saw him and spoke to him, and it really helped him to return to listening and
getting involved. He encouraged delegates to be as human as possible at this Dialogue, and
to know that there were people present to provide support.
The MNC had finally secured funding to hold this Dialogue, which it had been attempting to
do for many years as the Métis continued to ask why they were being excluded while First
Nations and Inuit were not. The intent of the Dialogue was to discuss Métis experiences, and
to consider the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA) and why the Métis
were not included. There was need to have the federal and provincial governments move
forward to deal with the policy of assimilation, which covered all Aboriginal peoples including
the Métis.
It was noted that the TRC just provided an Interim Report which throughout referenced
“Aboriginal Peoples”, and which spoke of a meeting with the MNC. At that referred to
meeting, the MNC Board of Governors conveyed the issues and the exclusion of the Métis,
and indicated that until someone took responsibility for what happened to the Métis, there
was no ability to have reconciliation.
Métis Nation Residential School Dialogue Proeecedings
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MNC President Chartier shared that several hundred Métis had accessed the Common
Experience Payment (CEP) under the IRSSA, however the vast majority of the Métis had been
excluded, which was what would be discussed at this Dialogue. As well, delegates would be
invited to participate in identifying institutions and boarding schools that Métis went to which
were not included on the IRSSA list.
Throughout the Dialogue there would be a number of Panels addressing legal aspects of the
IRSSA, including types of schools and institutions attended, exclusion of the Métis, and
intergenerational impacts. There is need to put our minds together to identify next steps and
potential strategies to provide direction to the politicians on what to advocate, and who to
advocate to – whether through the courts or otherwise. There is need to consolidate a
planning committee of Governing Members’ portfolio holders, and to formalize a process to
continue the Dialogue and work towards resolution of this issue.
KEYNOTE ADDRESS: Keewatin Yatthé Regional Health Authority, Northwest
Richard Petit, Chief Executive Officer, Keewatin Yatthé Regional Health Authority, Northwest
Mr. Petit introduced his co-workers in attendance, and shared that he was born in Buffalo
Narrows, SK. His father operated a mink ranch 10 miles outside of town, and he attended Île
à la Crosse for eight years. Mr. Petit recalled the very first day at school, which was when you
received a haircut, and he recalled repeating Grade 1 twice. There were negative things, but
also positive things he could remember about his experience.
Some of the negative things that Mr. Petit remembered from school included that the
students were locked up in a fenced area every day and were only released to attend school
or to go to chapel. He remembered fainting in the chapel because it was so hot. The bunk
beds were all in a row like the army, and the students felt like they were in the army. Younger
boys slept on the top bunk and older boys slept on the bottom. The beds had to be made so
that a quarter would bounce off of them. Students washed with cold water, and the shower
area was open for all to see. Mr. Petit remembered kneeling down with his nose against the
wall for an hour for doing something wrong, and recalled having his hand strapped by the
principal for laughing. While the food was not that bad, sometimes the thick porridge was
served with sour milk, and there seemed to be a lot of stews that were leftovers. He
remembered staying with the boarders when sick, and remembered seeing things that he did
not want to talk about.
Métis Nation Residential School Dialogue Proeecedings
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Some very positive things about his school experience included that he had made some
friends who were still his friends to this day. As well, while in school he had family nearby in
Île à la Crosse – aunts and uncles – who rescued him every weekend, and took him home. He
learned two things well at school: playing hockey and music. He had later in life started a
band and played at dances and weddings, and music was still very important to him.
Mr. Petit went to Grade 8 and 9 in Buffalo Narrows and also repeated Grade 9 twice. He then
went to Prince Albert for Grades 10-12, and continued his schooling to obtain a degree in
education. Mr. Petit worked at Twin Lakes School from 1973-1999. In, 1998 he was the
principal in Buffalo Narrows and applied with KYRHA, and had been CEO there for four years.
His motivation was to try to help people understand that it is the community that makes the
difference in helping people, and to encourage people to make good choices to live a
healthy lifestyle. His biggest inspiration was his two grandchildren.
Mr. Petit indicated that KYRHA staff would present findings on indicators of health for Métis
in northern Saskatchewan, and that additional information was available at
Linda Pedersen and Marlene Hansen, Keewatin Yatthé Regional Health Authority, Northwest
Ms. Pedersen shared that she was Métis from Buffalo Narrows and had worked in the
addictions field for 25 years. She had worked in Saskatoon for some time, and had found a
lot of information on residential schools for First Nations. Ms. Pedersen had not realized the
extent of the impact of residential schools on the Métis until she started her research on the
Métis of the northwest. Some days she was very angry, frustrated and sad at the findings in
the research and at the impact on the Métis communities in her area.
Ms. Hansen shared that she was a strong Métis woman, and while she did not have a degree,
she had been trained by some of the most powerful Métis in the northwest. Not only did she
work in the area of addictions for KYRHA, she was also the regional representative in her area
for the Métis.
Ms. Hansen shared that when she first began working on the presentation with Ms. Pedersen
they were in a workshop, and had become aware that First Nations were going to be
receiving the CEP. In addition to Île à la Crosse, they were also aware of Beauval school,
which was attended by many Métis, and saw the need for Métis to begin to talk about their
experiences in residential and boarding schools.
Métis Nation Residential School Dialogue Proeecedings
held in Saskatoon, SK March 28-29, 2012
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With reference to an overhead presentation “Acknowledging the Impacts of Residential
Boarding Schools”, Ms. Pedersen and Ms. Hansen jointly discussed:
Purpose of the presentation to: create awareness; acknowledge residential boarding
school impact in northwest Saskatchewan; provide an understanding of the
multigenerational impact of these schools (referred to as post traumatic stress
disorder called the “residential school syndrome”); and prepare people for the positive
and/or negative reactions to the CEP and the Independent Assessment Process (IAP).
Métis people originated primarily from unions of First Nations women and European
fur traders; gradually communities with distinct Métis culture emerged, combining the
dual streams of their heritage in unique ways and engaging in economic partnerships
with Europeans.
The Cree called the free spirited Métis the “Otipeisiwak” meaning “people in charge of
themselves” or “people who own themselves”; knowing this, Métis had pride as a
people before they moved into the impact of the boarding schools.
1911 Government/Churches letter to Indian Affairs discussing the duty of the
provincial governments to provide education for “half-breeds” (Métis); and 1876
Bishop Vital Grandin’s request for more Indian Schools which referenced the
instillation in Métis of “pronounced distastes for native life so that they will be
humiliated when reminded of their origin”.
KYHRA goal of holistic health for all residents of the region, and the Medicine Wheel
illustrating the relationships established between Métis, Inuit, First Nations and
Europeans addressing areas labeled: economic and ecological, social environment,
cultural and environment, and political and ideological environment.
Illustration of Indigenous Community Determinants (Root) of Health with strong
families and healthy child development at the centre surrounded by elements
required in a person’s life to create success and build community; this was the
framework used in the Métis communities, stemming from the residential school
Métis Nation Residential School Dialogue Proeecedings
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Snapshot of Métis history including: 1878 Sakitawak Mission/Church (Île à la Crosse),
depicting photos of the school, sleeping quarters, and students – where the students
learned not to talk, not to trust, and not to feel.
Impacts on:
parenting skills of the students who attended years of school where they were
not feeling love, and instead felt abandoned and confused, and carried those
feelings with them into their families
passing down of Métis music, dance, dress and stories
traditional resources and values that were not learned, and not lived
relationship with community and the importance of gatherings
food preparation and utilization
connection with extended family and the role of Elders in the family
loss of Métis language and spirituality
identity as Métis people
control by the church and government.
Illustration of the Grief Cycle showing what happens to a community that faces loss
after loss after loss of culture, family, children...
Today’s celebration of Métis Leaders, Elders, Teachers, Story Tellers, Youth, and Métis
culture, uniqueness, love of the land, gatherings, and spirituality.
June 11, 2008 Statement of Apology from Prime Minister Harper, which referenced
the shadow cast by residential schools across the country, and which acknowledged
the pain of the children and parents affected in First Nations, Métis and Inuit
40 Developmental Assets strength based program for Youth, which looks at the
strengths of youth rather than the defects; conveys that parenting is key.
Alaskan Elder’s quote that “For years, we have been trying to tell people that we need
to focus on the strengths of our communities, our traditions, and ourselves. These are
the things we focused on a long time ago, and we have waited 75 years for these
things to be focused on again”.
Métis Nation Residential School Dialogue Proeecedings
held in Saskatoon, SK March 28-29, 2012
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PANEL ONE: “The Legacy of Exclusion”: The Indian Residential School
Settlement Agreement
Georgina Liberty, Manitoba Metis Federation
Clément Chartier, QC
Kathy Hodgson-Smith, JD
Celeste McKay, LLM
Clément Chartier, QC, Métis National Council President
MNC President Chartier discussed jurisdiction issues pertaining to the federal and provincial
governments, noting that the issue of jurisdiction is one of the biggest challenges for the
Métis in all aspects of life.
In 1867, the Confederation of Canada was formed and the British Parliament passed the
British North America Act, with the vast majority of the Métis Nation homeland being outside
of that particular area. The federal government has powers under Section 91 with respect to
banking, marriage and divorce, and Section 91(24), which relates to Indians and lands
reserved for the Indians. Provincial powers in general pertain to establishing municipalities,
incorporation of companies, property and civil rights, and administration of rights.
In the 1930s, the Province of Quebec asked for services for the Inuit, and the federal
government responded that it did not have responsibility, and that the province had that
responsibility in northern Quebec. As a result, the following question was referred to the
Supreme Court of Canada: “Are Eskimos, Indians for the purposes of 91(24)?” The Supreme
Court heard evidence on both sides from the provinces and Canada, however, the Inuit had
no say. In 1939, the Supreme Court responded that “Yes, the term Indians was meant to
include all ‘Aboriginees’ in Confederation and those that would enter into Confederation
afterwards”. The federal government has since then accepted jurisdiction and responsibility
for the Inuit.
Métis say that the term “Indian” used in 91(24) has a generic meaning of “Aboriginal Peoples”
and that the two are synonymous; while Métis and Inuit are not culturally Indians, and are
distinct, all Aboriginal Peoples fall within 91(24); and therefore, the federal government has
jurisdiction to deal with all Aboriginal Peoples. In 1876, the federal government passed the
Indian Act, which defines who is Indian for the purpose of that Act. As such, a provincial
government cannot pass legislation directed at Indian people as it is outside of their power.
Métis Nation Residential School Dialogue Proeecedings
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Currently, status Indians and Inuit are under 91(24), and the federal government says that
Métis are a provincial responsibility. Since 1973, the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP),
then known as the Native Council of Canada, has pursued this. In 1981, the late Harry Daniels
was instrumental as the leading force to get Métis into the Constitution. In the late 1990’s,
Mr. Daniels became President of CAP and sought a declaration that Métis and non-Status
Indians are Indians for the purpose of 91(24). The case finally made it to the court and was
argued in 2011, a decision in the case would soon be rendered and would answer whether
the Métis are included in 91(24).
The Constitution Act of 1982 Section 35 indicates: “Aboriginal Peoples of Canada includes the
Indian, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada”. As a consequence, the federal government has
jurisdiction and responsibility to deal with First Nations under the Indian Act, and Inuit
through policies. Métis meanwhile are caught in a jurisdictional limbo.
The federal government funded church organizations to run residential schools for children
covered by the Indian Act. In northwest Saskatchewan there was a boarding school at Île à la
Crosse, with separate schools for treaty children, and for the Métis. The federal government is
saying that it did not provide funding for the school and so it was the responsibility of the
religious organizations to address the Métis concerns.
There are many instances of Métis exclusion. Currently, the federal government pays
university educational assistance for First Nations, whereas Métis are not similarly treated. As
well, the federal government’s First Nations and Inuit Health Branch provides Non-Insured
Health Benefits (NIHB) to First Nations and Inuit for eyeglasses, medications, and so forth,
whereas the Métis are excluded.
The Métis have been doubly assaulted. The federal government did not provide any funding
to the religious organizations for the proper care, nutrition and well-being of Métis children,
and on top of that, the Métis children suffered the same types of physical, sexual and
psychological abuse suffered by other children attending Indian residential schools. For
example, the MNC President shared that when he was in attendance at Île à la Crosse, 30
children had come forward and reported the Priest, but nothing happened as a result.
As well, the federal government has taken the position that because it did not provide
funding for the schools, it is not responsible. The Métis continue to be excluded from federal
government initiatives, including the IRSSA, and others such as the federal land claim
processes, and the settlement for Veterans.
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There have been exceptions for some Métis who attended an Indian residential school, and
were therefore eligible under the IRSSA for the CEP. The federal government did not provide
funding for those children, nevertheless they were covered and are eligible for compensation.
The President concluded with note that it is only the citizens of the Métis Nation that can
defend Métis rights. There is need to come out strong from this Dialogue and do something
to rectify this wrong that is affecting so many Métis.
Kathy Hodgson-Smith, Hodgson-Smith Law
Ms. Hodgson-Smith referred to an overhead presentation titled “The Indian Residential School
Process: Exclusion of the Métis”, and discussed Legal Actions leading to the IRSSA. She
discussed in detail a number of residential schools actions launched across the country,
including Blackwater, Cloud, and Baxter.
The Cloud Case (Ontario Court of Appeal, 2005), was brought by the students who attended
the Mohawk Institute Residential School, and their families who felt that Canada, the Diocese
of Huron, and the New England Company were responsible. They brought forward a class
action, which is when the court says that the majority of the issues are common enough that
it is effective to go forward in one party. A multijurisdictional class action allows an action to
go forward with students automatically in unless they opt out, or automatically out unless
they opt in. The Mohawk claimed vicarious liability during the time that the school ran, and
claimed a breach of the fiduciary duty to the students, the families and the students;
negligence between 1953 to 1969 (which point was lost in the case); and that there was a
breach of the Aboriginal rights of the students.
The proof required in the Cloud case came from affidavits, which is a statement to the best of
a person’s knowledge of what they saw and what they heard. 10 affidavits were the core
evidence in Cloud, to show that a group of people fit into the action. They also claimed
damages for the actual harm suffered, and for punitive damages. The affidavits evidence
focused on: the way the school was run; the fact that their management of the school created
an atmosphere of fear, intimidation and brutality; that this was accomplished through polices
and practices; and that the very purpose of the school was to eradicate Indigenous culture.
The next part of the class action process was in deciding whether the individual claims were
more different than the common issues were common. Respondents (the Crown and the
Church) argued that the Cloud claim was too individualized, which the Court of Appeal
disagreed with, and which the Supreme Court of Canada upheld.
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The Blackwater case was an action against the United Church and was a coming together of
different schools in British Columbia against all the schools run by the United Church. The
Supreme Court found that the United Church and State (Canada) were jointly and severely
liable. The action considered the issue of what the damages should look like, and specifically
awarded that Canada was 75% responsible and the Church 25% responsible and awarded
general, aggravated, punitive damages and future money.
In the case of Baxter, there was a shortage of money for First Nations to move actions
forward, so they developed one national litigation strategy involving both the Cloud and
Blackwater parties. The settlement plan proposed laid the framework for the IRSSA. The
parties to the IRSSA were Canada, Plaintiffs, Independent Counsel, Anglican Church,
Presbyterian Church, United Church, Roman Catholic Entities, Assembly of First Nations (AFN),
and the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK). In order to take the actions forward they were entirely
paid by lawyers in disbursements to address their investment of close to $20 million in the
outcome. The IRSSA dealt with the CEP, healing funding, TRC funding, commemoration
funding, IAP funding, social benefits, and family class claims.
Article 12 of the IRSSA deals with the fact that it is possible to request that the schools listed
in schedules (e) and (f) do not cover every school, and to bring forward evidence to add a
school to the list. One of the schools brought forward was Île à la Crosse, which was denied
inclusion which has not been appealed due to lack of financial resources. The Timber Bay
application to be listed was also rejected, which is being appealed by the Lac La Ronge Indian
The IRSSA deals with residential schools, not day schools, which is reason why so many
schools were rejected from that list. There is need to look carefully at the criteria that defines
a residential school in the IRSSA before determining whether to apply to add a school to the
list. There has been recent related litigation in Canada v. Anderson, 2011 NLCA 82, involving
Inuit and settlers as a mix of Inuit and European settlers who identified themselves as Métis.
Ms. Hodgson-Smith concluded her presentation with reference to a sound byte featuring the
promise by Prime Minister Harper leading up to the elections, in which he acknowledged the
need to ensure that the Métis who attended Île à la Crosse were addressed.
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Celeste McKay, Celeste McKay Consulting
Ms. McKay referenced an overhead presentation on the International Human Rights System,
noting that there were two key sources for standards: conventions or treaties that States (of
which Canada is one) have signed on to and are legally required to uphold, i.e. Committee on
the Rights of the Child; and declarations which reflect established international law, i.e. the
United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. International law is
constantly evolving as these conventions and declarations are applied.
Enforcement mechanisms, and special mechanisms, such as the United Nations Special
Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and on Truth Justice and Reconciliation,
were referenced. Every time Canada signs onto a convention they have to agree to a five-year
review and report on what they have done to live up to their obligations under the treaty.
Indigenous peoples and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) submit related shadow
reports, through which they have an opportunity to express how Canada is violating its
obligations under the treaties. In addition, the United Nations Human Rights Council conducts
peer reviews via a new process started five years ago: The Universal Periodic Review, which
looks at the general human rights record of States. This was another avenue that could be
used to address the human rights issues of the Métis. The next review of Canada under that
process would occur in 2013.
The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples (UNPFII) and the United
Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) were mentioned. The
International Human Rights System can call on governments to answer questions, create
political pressure, generate media attention, and can be used in tandem with legal strategies
to bolster whatever is being done nationally or provincially.
The MNC’s recent submission to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination (CERD) highlighted the continued discriminatory affect on Métis citizens of the
residential school system, unilaterally imposed by the federal crown. Recommendations
included to: urge Canada to accept its jurisdictional responsibility to the Métis and to address
the discriminatory impacts of the residential school system on Métis survivors and their
descendants. This must lead to fair compensation at least equal to compensation to other
Aboriginal Peoples in Canada, with amendments to the IRSSA, and to the mandate of the TRC
to specifically include the Métis on an
equal basis to First Nations and Inuit. However, the resulting recommendation from CERD was
not specific to Métis, and recommended that the state in consultation with Aboriginal Peoples
implement and reinforce its existing programs and policies.
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Some of the least intensive ways of the Métis pursuing the International Human Rights
System included launching a letter of complaint to the Special Rapporteur of CERD or the
CERD Early Warning and Urgent Action Procedure. More intensive would be a shadow report
to a different treaty body, i.e. the Rights of the Child, or via the Universal Periodic Review.
However it is important to raise the funds required to have a representative present to
address the submission in person. A formal complaint could also be made to an investigative
body such as the Human Rights Committee or the Inter-America Commission on Human
Rights, which would require showing that all the avenues of redress in Canada have been
exhausted, and would take approximately four years to pursue. As well, there was opportunity
to profile issues at the 2013 United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous
Panel One: Questions and Answers
In ensuing discussion, delegates’ questions/comments pertained to:
the need for the TRC work to continue in order to equitably address the Métis who
suffered similar to the First Nations in schools such as Île à la Crosse and Timber Bay
support for international efforts for the Métis
the need for direction as to how Métis survivors can move forward with legal action
concerns regarding the trustworthiness of legal counsel involved in the Métis court
concerns that people who attended schools on the same property were not both
whether delegates would be invited to join a class action lawsuit
concern regarding the backlog in the IAP process and the need for more adjudicators
family allowance was paid to the schools for Métis in attendance, which demonstrates
the responsibility
in some cases the staff were the same between schools that made it on the IRSSA
and those that did not
some people who attended residential school for only one day and even some nonAboriginal people who attended residential schools have been compensated
damages of $11 million were awarded to one Iranian against Canada for
there is need to bring out and discuss the intergenerational impacts.
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A detailed account of delegates’ questions/comments (Q/C) and Panelist responses (R) on
which the foregoing is based, follows:
The TRC was asked not to wrap up. The Métis suffered similar to the First Nations –
Île à la Crosse was no different than other residential schools. I attended both Île à la
Crosse and Timber Bay. I signed a piece of paper at the TRC gathering, which I hope
did not jeopardize what the Métis are doing. I am in support of international efforts.
(Morley Norton)
I feel that we are held back because of the Tony Merchant lawsuit. A lot of survivors
who are not a part of that do not know what to do. What can we do to move it
forward? (Max Morin)
Tony Merchant represented quite a number of treaty Indian plaintiffs and was
part of the IRSSA. In 2006, shortly after agreeing to the IRSSA in principle, he
filed a lawsuit for the students of Île à la Crosse against Canada and later
added the provincial government. That case has not been certified as a class
action. Several individuals stepped forward to take actions, however, two have
since passed away, and legal counsel for another is unresponsive to phone
calls and emails. (Clément Chartier)
It is not necessary to sign onto an existing class action; two or more persons
can start their own class action; and at some point the courts may determine
to move them forward. (Kathy Hodgson-Smith)
The opinion provided by one lawyer was that he could not start a class action,
but could take individual cases. The Métis Legal Research and Education
Foundation provided $2,000 for 10 students to file at a cost of $200 each. A
related report would be provided to the Île à la Crosse Survivors Committee.
(Clément Chartier)
Why are the lawyers so crooked? They stole all the money from First Nations and
now they are going to steal all of ours. (Lawrence Morin)
There is a lot of frustration in the communities, which is reason why in
Saskatchewan they brought in another law firm to bring forward the lawsuit.
The lawsuit is not necessarily a lawsuit to fit the Métis into the IRSSA because
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the IRSSA criterion is near impossible for Métis to meet. Île à la Crosse, when
it was refused, did not appeal because of lack of fiscal resources, and because
it did not fit into the criteria of the existing IRSSA. The Survivors Committee
was now seeking a Métis specific agreement that takes into account the Métis
fact situation. While the federal government could change the IRSSA criterion,
the agreement of all the parties would be required, and it would have to go
through nine provincial courts of appeal for ratification. (Clément Chartier)
When an action is done, there is need for someone to pay the costs up front,
and the costs are in the millions. It is a matter of pulling lawyers together to
address that cost. Survivors could talk to law firms that might be willing to be
involved, recognizing that those firms would have to take the risk on the case,
and so would seek a contingency arrangement for a bigger payout. (Kathy
I attended St. Patrick’s Orphanage in Prince Albert, SK. There were a lot of Métis
there. I applied for the IRSSA and they said that the school was not listed. My brother
applied for the CEP and received it because he attended St. Michael’s School. We
lived in the same residence and suffered the same atrocities. Is the Catholic Church
being looked at for this? I ended up in an orphanage at 14 years old when I was not
even an orphan. (Linda Johnson)
There are a number of Métis who attended St. Patrick’s; however, we are
unaware of any action currently involving that school. (Clément Chartier)
The Andersons applied for the CEP and went to the same school – St. Michael’s – but
they were refused. (Percy Debauge)
Even people who did not live at the Indian residential school, and people who
were not Aboriginal were in some cases compensated. (Clément Chartier)
I spent many years in the Île à la Crosse Residential School and left in 1967. Are you
asking us for permission to take a class action lawsuit? If you are, do you have a list
of names of people who attended? As well there is the issue of obtaining a lawyer.
Who would that be? (Robert Merasity)
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The purpose of this Dialogue is to provide background to inform your
discussions and deliberations. The Île à la Crosse Survivors Committee has
been meeting over the years and it will be their decision if they want to take
a test case forward on whether the federal government is responsible for
what happened to the Métis in residential schools. (Clément Chartier)
You cannot draw generic legal advice from the presentations provided at this
Dialogue. Legal advice would be based on who, what, where, how, what
policies applied, flow of funding, etc. and would be very specific.
Dialogue is a first step. (Kathy Hodgson-Smith)
I attended St. Bernard Mission. My wife worked with me for 1½ years on my
application for the IAP. She had to quit working with me on it because it was too
hard for her to hear the worst of the worst. The IAP is not working well in the north.
People are dying off, and if they die and do not go to the hearing, the family does
not receive anything. Why do they not appoint more interveners and adjudicators?
(Louis Bellrose)
There is an expedited process for the sick, but the system is very backlogged.
(Kathy Hodgson-Smith)
I am a victim, and a survivor, and I am glad and honoured to be at this Dialogue. My
mother is dying back home and I had to leave her to come to this Dialogue where I
thought there would be some answers. If we were not considered a federal
responsibility at Île à la Crosse where did our family allowance go? Which government
pocketed that money while our families were scrounging back home?
It is the government that is discriminatory, that are dividing us and saying: “you can
have it, and I cannot have it”. The Métis who attended residential school had to use a
different last name to get their CEP – not their born names. Back home there are 4-5
people who are Métis who went to Indian Residential School and received their CEP.
If Île à la Crosse was a day school, why were we traumatized and abused? Why did
the government say we had to go there? Why were they in power to run our lives
then, and now today why can we run our lives and defeat the government? Why did
Stephen Harper make those promises in his election campaign? The only true and
honest candidate was the late Jack Layton.
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The same Priest and Nuns who ran Beauval Indian Residential School ran Île à la
Crosse – they worked on shifts at different schools. They were supervisors at two
schools – the same supervisors – how could the schools be treated differently?
(Margaret Aubichon)
We are looking at the issue of family allowance and that the postmaster
turned the money over to the Church to run the boarding school. In terms of
Île à la Crosse, everyone went to the same school – the village children and
the mission students – there was only one school. We are talking about the
actual residence where we stayed except for during school hours and meals.
The federal government is saying that they did not provide funding for that
residence. We are trying to address that. The province has said that they
provided 60 cents/day as a subsidy to the parents, not to the Church. Cabinet
met on it and wrote that they would not settle unless the courts told them to.
(Clément Chartier)
Anderson schools were set up by the Province of Newfoundland, the people
who funded the residential schools at some point made application to Canada
for reimbursement of those schools under 91(24). There are little actions
across the country that we can borrow from in terms of framing arguments,
evidence, etc. (Kathy Hodgson-Smith)
An Iranian was not treated well in prison and sued the Canadian government for $11
million – that was one person. There are people in BC who attended one day of
residential school and who received many dollars. We talk about intergenerational
affects on people – why is that not brought forward? Métis are sometimes so easy
going. It takes money and resources to go forward, but these issues should be taken
forward to the government. Non-Aboriginal people are even getting money, what
about me? Religious leaders at school told me over and over that I was dumb and
ugly… our prisons are full because of the intergenerational impacts, which is why the
government is looking to build more prisons – to house us. (Annette Maurice)
PANEL TWO: Experience of Métis Residential School Attendees
Mayor Duane Favel, Île à la Crosse, SK
Helen Johnson, SK
Max Morin, SK
David Cardinal, AB
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Helene Johnson, Métis Nation – Saskatchewan Region 2 Director
Ms. Johnson shared that she had been MN-S Region 2 Director since 1997, and had attended
the boarding school in Île à la Crosse, and also Timber Bay at Montreal Lake, for a combined
total of 10 years. She holds a degree in education, and her office held the contract to deal
with the IRSSA for the Province of Saskatchewan. In the IRSSA process, Ms. Johnson had
served as a form-filler and had visited the communities to hear and record the stories.
Ms. Johnson continued with note that it was a heartbreaking process to talk to the Survivors
because there were very few resources for after care. When you talk about the boarding
school system and the Métis, the biggest fear is that there will be no resources for after care.
First Nations are losing whole families because there are so few resources to help people
when they receive the CEP – that is when everything starts going down for them. There are
very few success stories. The vast majority of the people receiving the CEP for the abuses see
it as a payoff – dirty money – and do not give a damn what they do with it.
Ms. Johnson shared that she had been unable to sleep the night before knowing that she
would be on this Panel. It is very easy to stand up and talk as long as it is in the third person
as an adult. When you begin to talk about your experiences as a child then emotions come
out. She had taken a lot of training in counseling, not because she wanted to counsel people,
but to understand her own behavior and why “I am who I am”. Intellectually she had done a
lot of healing and self-understanding, but then something would happen, sometimes minor
and sometimes major, and all the understanding in her mind would start to conflict with her
understanding in her heart and she would react.
Ms. Johnson thanked Richard Petit for his presentation in the morning. The presentation had
reconfirmed her memories, and also told her that she did not have a pile of false memories.
She left the north 40 years prior and in the south there was no one else around who went to
the boarding schools. As a result, she had started to question whether she had false
memories, and was “making it all up”. “Nose to the wall” was something she had also done a
lot because she never had taken orders well.
Ms. Johnson advised that in the form filling, there was an Alternative Dispute Resolution
Process that asked how the dorms and beds were set up. The beds were set up the same way
across the country. People who do not understand, question: “why would they do that?”. But
she did not know the answer. She remembered that the Nuns would put on a white glove to
see if there was any dust.
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Ms. Johnson shared that she had refused to be victimized, and recalls saying: “they will not
break me, I will not let them”, but she paid for it. Her mother died when she was at Montreal
Lake, but she had been home for Easter that year, for the first time ever. They went up north.
Her parents were sick and by the time the plane came to take her mother to the hospital her
mother had died in her arms. She missed her mother, and had never blamed her parents for
putting the children in the boarding schools. She always understood, which is why she
outright refused to be a victim, and had a challenge with authority figures.
In conclusion, Ms. Johnson shared that we are the sum of our experiences. As a survivor of
the residential boarding school system, “I do, I am, I say”. No excuses, just that. Every one of
us has been affected directly by survivors or indirectly by having come into contact with
Max Morin, Métis Nation – Saskatchewan Secretary
MN-S Secretary Morin shared that he was from a family of 11 children. His father was a Métis
Veteran of WWII who had never been compensated, and who passed away in the year 2000.
His father also attended Beauval Indian Residential School for nine years but passed away
before the IRSSA cut off date in 2005. Secretary Morin is married with children including one
adopted, and was now raising his three grandchildren so that they did not become wards of
Social Services as their parents suffered with addiction problems and instability.
Secretary Morin attended residential school in Île à la Crosse for a number of years. His father
was a Special Constable for the RCMP in Île à la Crosse and decided to go across the lake
and exchange homes with another clan in Sandy Pointe, where he started a mink ranch. Four
of the children attended the Île à la Crosse school. He remembered Morley Norton, and
Clément Chartier from school, noting that Clém’s father would sometimes bring him sugar
and jam.
Secretary Morin shared that he was raised by his grandparents and only spoke Cree up until
he went to school when he was six years old. He was prevented from speaking his language
or from using his left-hand. There used to be a theatre in the basement of the school where
they would show movies, but only for students with good marks. A lot of the times he would
see children taken in the middle of the night by a Brother, Father or Sister. The Brothers used
to take the children into their own rooms and he could not figure out what was going on, or
what was happening. They did not know what was happening until they were older and
people started talking about it.
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Secretary Morin wondered why the MNC had not signed onto the IRSSA. He recalled seeing
then AFN National Chief Phil Fontaine admit that he had been sexually abused at residential
school on TV. He had the expectation that Île à la Crosse would be added to the list of
residential schools, especially following Stephen Harper’s commitment to the people of Île à
la Crosse during his election campaign.
The federal government was responsible for Île à la Crosse until 1906 and then after that it
was the province. The province said they were only responsible for funding the education, not
the boarding school, which left the survivors with nowhere to go. Secretary Morin referenced
talking to the Elders, and a recent book by a doctor in Île à la Crosse who indicated that the
doctor’s wages and hospital were paid 50% by the Department of Health, and 50% by Indian
and Northern Affairs Canada – it was most of those staff who provided the food, laundry etc.
for the boarding school.
Secretary Morin remembered that his older brother was always being picked on by the
Brothers at school – until he ran away, and then his father came and took them all from the
boarding schools. Morley Norton had talked to him a few years ago about his older brother
Manny, and of many former students who had spent a lot of time incarcerated because of
the experiences they had in residential schools. His brother had spent 13 years incarcerated.
He asked, “Will my brother ever be compensated for all the fun and loving he missed out on
during the years of his incarceration?”
Both the Canoe Lake and Cold Lake First Nations have received money for the primrose air
weapons range. 20 years later, the Métis received an economic development package for four
communities –$19.5 million that was in a trust earning interest. Maybe in this case the Métis
would also receive something.
Secretary Morin was concerned about the Métis young people in the urban and northern
communities, because there was so much anger being put into them because of the
experiences of residential schools. He asked, “Should we forgive so that our young people
can have a future?” To forgive is hard to do, but at the same time, we have to look at the
future and with forgiveness it may be possible to move forward.
David Cardinal, Peace River, AB
Mr. Cardinal shared that he was a survivor who attended residential school for four years with
his sister. His school had a girl’s dorm on one side, and a boy’s dorm on the other side –
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they were not allowed to speak to each other. There was an imaginary line in the minds of
the students and his sister, who was a year younger than him, would come over to him and
cry and he would take her back to her side of “the line” and get hit for it.
Mr. Cardinal noted that there were no buildings now where that school was, but in his mind
it was still there. Anyone who was in a residential school knew what had happened. He was
physically abused, and did about nine years of his life in jail because of all the emotions from
residential school. It was such a bad memory, and everyone went through it. He had not
talked about this and what happened to him in the 1960’s – back home they would not talk
about it and would change the subject right away if it came up. This was the first time he had
talked about it.
Panel Two: Questions and Answers
In ensuing discussion, delegates’ questions/comments pertained to:
the power and importance of forgiveness
importance of talking about the experiences and getting them out
residential school experiences including hair cuts, being put into isolation, being
separated from family members, being sexually and physically abused, being taught
that parent’s teachings had been wrong and were pagan
need for workshops on depression, anger, parenting skills, and counseling for
individuals, couples and children in order to build healthy individuals and
far reaching impacts of residential schools, including loss of parenting skills, inability
to form relationships and bonds, and lack of knowledge about world events
encouragement to band together and support one another walking side-by-side
importance of remembering and honouring the children who died in residential
the power of love to change, and the related work of the Institute For the
Advancement of Aboriginal Women
ongoing feelings of anger, revenge and disassociation
need to address the high number of Aboriginal children in care, which is a greater
number than went to residential school.
A detailed account of delegates’ questions/comments (Q/C) and Panelist responses (R) on
which the foregoing is based, follows:
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The experience Max Morin shared was similar to mine. My dad taught me too that
the most powerful thing you could do for enemy or friend was to forgive. (Louis
I’m a Métis and victim. I had three sisters and we were taken away from our parents
and grandparents who only spoke Cree and who lived in Marlborough. We were
taken to Edmonton to the O’Connell Institute where Mother Superior sat us down to
tell us our mother was a whore and that we were dirty Indians and that our hair
needed to be cut because we had lice. They cut our hair really short and gave us a
very hot bath and took our clothes and burned them. Two days later I said to my two
sisters who were five and three years old that we would run away and we did, twice.
The third time we ran away they put me in Good Shepherd and locked me up for two
years, and let me out for one hour each Sunday. I remember that time, and that there
was a big dog named Eski, and a fence. I was sexually abused.
When my sisters laid charges against the Sisters of Charity we were made wards of
the provincial government. Even in 2001 I could not talk about it. I had this secret
buried so deep. The Priest said he would hold back 5-8 girls because we were pretty
and we had to sit on his knee.
My mother did not have an education but she was so smart. I have memories of
living a good life with my grandparents and sharing with the whole community. That
was all we knew. Then we were put in a big city.
My sisters won their case. There is a CBC documentary “The Sisters’ Secret” about us.
I became a LPN and worked in a Catholic nursing home because I believe Catholics
are born dirty. I had to look after a Priest and I never looked after someone who was
so afraid to die because he knew what he had done. At the very end peace never did
come to him. He had terror in his eyes.
As hard as it is to talk, it is really important to talk and get it out. My mother died not
knowing what happened to me. We went home from residential school as different
kids, and she was different because she was so afraid to lose us again. I lost a lot of
my Cree. I was beaten and pulled by the hair. I was in the jail cells with no beds.
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I thank you for allowing me to talk. (Edith Northcott)
My father’s mother, and my mother were in residential school. The churches taught
the children to not talk, trust or feel. From that we see the control that they had on
the children, and we see the impact on the parenting skills. It is probably normal that
one parent ruled the roost and we were controlled because we were expected to
respect. I raised my children the same way, with control. We missed out on some of
the parenting skills, and did not allow our kids to be kids and express their feelings –
we have repressed feelings of anger, guilt and depression. My mother taught me to
clean, pray and make the bed with hospital corners.
The only way to celebrate as victims of victims of victims is to deal with what is still
here. We have to be healthy individuals to be healthy communities. Workshops on
depression, anger, parenting skills, and counseling for individuals, couples and
children are needed. Elders and community people are needed to be role models. We
need to have the opportunity to be healthy proud people living in a healthy
community. We do not only need to talk about what happened, we need results in
the form of resources for workshops to support our needs to be healthy. In order to
celebrate our language and foods, we need to be happy.
I hope the panelists take into consideration that it was not only the parents who were
impacted but the next generations as well. It is not about money, it is about making
resources available in the communities so that people can make a difference in their
own lives. (Bev Knew)
I realize how difficult it is to open up and share. I also realize all the obstacles, and
barriers that many of us faced when we got out of the convents and residential
schools. I was listening and feeling like I was back there 65 years ago, feeling lonely,
abandoned and like I did not belong – because that was taught to me. We were
taught that what our parents taught us we needed to forget and that it was pagan.
But those values from my parents, I never lost them.
We all made the decision at some point to say “that’s enough” which is why we are
here today. My dad told me I had three choices: I could be a quitter, I could be a
follower, or I could be a leader. Being a leader was the hardest choice because you
had to accept responsibility, a commitment, and give of yourself unselfishly and
wholeheartedly. That is what it is about. Many of us say “that is our leader’s job”, but
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who walks alone and who works alone? You cannot achieve anything alone. Métis
people are very known for that.
It is time to pull together, it is time to walk side by side – not follow anybody – side
by side, everyone has something special – a gift, and I hope that you share with us.
Many people have an education and degrees. Others do not have degrees but they
are rich in life experiences and the wisdom of what they have achieved. Put those
together and you will have nothing but success.
When you first got out of the convent, what was the biggest challenge you met? Let’s
talk about it so that we can compare and teach our children how much we grew. We
do that by sharing. (Angie Carrier)
There were a lot of things we did not know about the outside world. The first
thing that I learned when I left Montreal Lake was that there was such a thing
as instant coffee. We were not privy to the radio or TV – we learned about
events of the day as history after we left schools. A lot of us left the schools
without any knowledge of parenting skills. We knew what not to do, not to
physically, sexually or mentally and spiritually abuse, but we did not know
what to do. If your children misbehaved you knew not to beat them, but you
did not know how to discipline them. I had no tools to discipline my kids,
which was probably the biggest life lesson after I started having children. Also
I left school with the misconception that you could not get pregnant unless
you were married. (Helene Johnson)
The first thing I remembered was the freedom and the ability to walk around the
community and being able to set a few muskrat traps and rabbit snares. Also I was
able to spend time with my parents who had moved from across the lake to town. If
they had not sent the kids to school the government would have taken the children
away. (Max Morin)
While I was with the Métis Nation of Alberta we formed “Remembering the Children
Society” to identify the unmarked graves of children who died. We have identified the
Red Deer Industrial School and did two ceremonies to remember the children there.
We still have two more ceremonies that will take place. This year, the Saddle Lake
Reserve is honouring the children. In that residential school there were nine Métis
families, none of whom are living. However, remembering the children was a very
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important aspect of what we did as a remembrance of those who died – 50% of the
children in residential schools died. As time passes, we have to be careful to do our
best to remember those children that never came home.
In the records of that residential school you will never find the word “Métis”, only
“half-breed” or “straggler”. When the children died many times they did not know
what they died from so they used the word “declined”. I imagine they died of
heartache, loneliness and loss of love.
The Institute For the Advancement of Aboriginal Women held a love conference. We
know the loss of love was the basis of what happened when those children were
taken away. We involved young men who were fathers without fathers who made
their way to a good life in spite of that. It was very beneficial.
At a prior Assembly when I reported out, I talked about the murdered and missing
women. I received a standing ovation and then one man said we should take off our
hats to the work I had done. I took that as the most touching, most remembered
thing for me until the day I die. We have enough love left in our hearts to change the
way things are going. (Muriel Stanley Venne)
In 1989 or 1990 there was a full-page article in the Star Phoenix on Indian leaders,
including me. I spoke on my experience at Île à la Crosse and shared that I was a bed
wetter. At that time, I was not prepared to share more than that.
I also repeated Grade 1. When I first went there, the Nuns took care of the boys for
one year and then the Brothers took over. I was a bed wetter and very lonely as well.
For those that went there, every time you wet the bed you received a strapping. But
you only changed your clothes once per week so if there was a stain in your
underwear you were strapped again. I only remember being strapped all the time,
and I associate the Nuns with wickedness.
Then the Brothers came in. We had good marks and bad marks and movies were
shown once per week for those with good marks. With the Brother, he was more
gentle, and rather than give a strap to me and others, he would give us a nice warm
bath and would wash us all over, which was nicer than getting a strap from the
perspective of a little boy. The Brother would come around at night to see if you had
wet your bed, and for a lot of the boys he lingered in that area for a number of
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minutes, but again it was not a harsh or hurt feeling, it was still better than getting
lickings and the strap. In 1989, when I was asked if I was sexually assaulted I said no,
because I did not want to share that story. A lot of young boys had it worse, much,
much worse.
I went to Île à la Crosse and The Pas and then stayed for several more years. When I
was 7 I fell off a high slide and dislocated my hip and could not do hard labour so I
ended up staying in school.
In terms of relationships, the experiences of residential schools affected me my whole
life. I could not form any emotional bonds with anyone, and that is still true today.
I would get lickings, run away and come back and hide in a dark closet to avoid the
lickings. I still have panic and anxiety when I’m closed in. It is a horrible thing that
stays with me.
I was separated from my family. When I was 16 in The Pas, my mother was viciously
raped and beaten to death and the people who did it got off. I have a lot of anger
and think of revenge. A good friend of mine named Joe was killed, again, because of
his experiences. A lot of harm has been done.
When I was in Parliament witnessing the apology from the Prime Minister to former
Indian Residential School Survivors it was very emotional and hard to do. When I
speak it is not only for myself but for all Métis. The residential school was a horrible
experience. Having conferences like this is a good start to opening up and sharing. I
went to the Senate after the Prime Minister’s apology and said that if they started to
peel away the layers they would get to the hurt that we all try to keep contained
each day. (Clément Chartier)
Today we have more children in foster care than there was ever in the residential
schools. We have to make sure that our children do not fall though the cracks that
we fell into. In Saskatchewan there are over 3,800 children in care, 90% of whom are
Aboriginal. The government is doing the same thing to those children as they did to
us, and our children are dying in some of those foster homes. (Max Morin)
Robert Lee has a class action against the Government of Alberta for the neglect of
children in care. All of the other lawyers are either beholden to the Alberta
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government or unwilling to take a case on behalf of the children. They tried to have
Mr. Lee disbarred. There are all kinds of obstacles that he has had to face, but he is
to be commended for his work. In Alberta, there are 12,000 children in care. (Muriel
Stanley Venne)
OPEN FORUM: Expressions
Co-Chair Durocher invited delegates to divide into three groups to have an open discussion
on topics of interest. Volunteer moderators and recorders were identified for each group.
The following is a transcript of the notes from the three groups, provided by the recorders for
There should be opportunities such as this Dialogue as some people are only now
coming forward with their stories.
What are we going to solve?
What are the healing processes?
What is the compensation that is available?
Youth from Ontario-BC were brought together last year, MNC getting youth to learn
about residential schools.
Many abuse victims hide what they have experienced.
People were kidnapped from their families – kids stayed at some schools for 10
months; some got to leave for Christmas, Easter, etc.
Access to records with churches is being withheld – everyone is supposed to share
information; some church officials are not opening up and being forthcoming.
Love is spiritual and we must all find our spirits.
Living on the land is part of our culture.
People, especially those in the Métis settlements attended “day schools”.
Children experienced physical abuse; strappings, slapping, get on hands and knees to
wash the floor; they were told they were savages – destroy self-worth.
One Nun in particular, was extremely abusive to the children in a day school here in
Saskatoon – did evil things to the children.
“Why did God hate me?” was how one lady felt because she was told she was being
punished because she was bad.
Rough time going to school, did not learn anything – government school.
Let forgiveness be a way of life.
Healing is starting for some people who have been abused.
We provided labour for the mission; recollections of being called names “les savages”;
the result was dislocation, isolation – impact was psychological “I couldn’t trust”; it
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created dysfunction in my own home from words, actions “the way we were treated”;
Nuns said they came to do God’s work but I know the difference between that and
true Christianity; Even though I have forgiven, the thoughts re-occur; I see unresolved
anger in my life daily; But we are resilient; we want to keep giving! We want to be
recognized, our experience recognized as Métis we have been too quiet; pain
lingers… our eyes are a mirror of what we have endured.
I didn’t go to residential school but my dad was affected; he never said “I love you”
but I know he loved me; I express to my children and grandchild “kisakihitin” – “I love
I was abandoned; I was put in residential school and lost track of my family; Because
of a canoe paddle I came to find my family and I found which I took into the house;
my paddle and design work brought my family to me.
I was in 13 foster homes and at 13 I used to wet my bed and was sent to boarding
school; the Nuns put my bed in the luggage room near the furnace room so I would
stop wetting my bed; there I would unscrew the furnace; I was taken out of the room
on condition that I not tell anyone about my experience; today I honour two women
in my life by growing my hair; I have two children and have fostered 34 – this is my
My father was in residential school passing on all the challenges addressed today;
firewater was the demon for my father; he would threaten us and carry out his
threats; father suffered from past traumatization, stress – I came to learn; now, we are
on a healing journey and I have forgiven my father; sexual abuse has been
intergenerational in my family.
In my father’s experience siblings were separated from each other; some to Sudbury
and some to Sault St. Marie.
What are we going to do? Class action, international law? Where do we go from
here? It is important that we take concrete steps.
I have a misconception of why we are hear; the terminology used was “boarding
school” – now language was “residential school” – what is the approach? By using
“residential schools” we fall into the trap – with suggestion that we were not a part of
residential schools.
The emphasis has to be on “Métis experience”.
I too am interested in where we go from here; 1. strategy is education; 2. Is healing;
3. Is political action; and 4. Is legal.
I agree with respect to the challenges of terminology.
Concern is that many of the survivors are dying; should we wait for Harry Daniels
case? Or should we video our experiences as soon as we can?
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What about information that “day students” are getting payment?
I am more concerned with those individuals who have not been recognized; there
should be an investigation of why some people were paid… (told to put a different
site re residential school attended); we should pursue all avenues open to us as Métis
People under 91(24) (including human rights).
Experience of receiving payment but it was less than what many First Nations
Desire to go away from this Dialogue with some concrete plans in terms of collective
political and legal articulations about the will for moving forward; opportunity to talk
about collective plans for healing, and concrete actions for opportunities for further
WRAP UP: Conference Rapporteur
Jaime Koebel, Métis National Council Policy Analyst
Ms. Koebel shared that it was an honour to be able to do the wrap up and to identify the
themes from the sessions that day.
At the commencement, the Elder opened the day in a good way; MN-S President Doucette
handed over archival documents, which was a good part of the process; and MNC President
Chartier opened the Dialogue with an overview to set the context, and to put delegates in
the right frame of mind.
The keynote presentation expanded on the history and background of the Métis and the
impacts of the historical education system and a framework developed. A main theme was
“Don’t talk. Don’t trust. Don’t feel” which were impacts of the residential schools affecting a
lot of Métis in terms of their traditions, language, culture and habits as a people. There was a
grief cycle discussed in that keynote presentation, which ended with the idea that there are
changes being made with youth becoming involved and active. Importance was placed on
resiliency, celebration and honouring Métis culture.
Panel One discussed the laws affecting Métis, and the term “Indian” for the purpose of
Section 91(24) of the Constitution; jurisdictional issues including past cases, those that are
stagnant and those that are a possibility; and the importance of and opportunities for
bringing Métis issues to an international forum.
Panel Two discussed people’s experiences in residential schools, which was a good way to
open the discussion and to invite delegates to talk about their own experiences. The themes
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in emerging dialogue were people’s own personal tragedies, experiences, and the effects on
their lives once they left the schools. Many Métis who went to residential schools are caught
in inter-jurisdictional purgatory, which was and is still frustrating for many.
Instead of an open forum setting to conclude the day, the moderators – on the advice of the
delegates – convened smaller discussion groups to allow for sharing in a more intimate
setting. The notes of those discussions had been handed over for inclusion in the Dialogue
report, and there was a film record of those as well. Further opportunities would be provided
for sharing on Day 2 of the Dialogue as well.
The Métis Nation Residential School Dialogue adjourned on Day 1 – Wednesday, March 28,
2012 at 4:15 p.m. and set the time to reconvene on Day 2 – Thursday, March 29, 2012 at 9:00
a.m. Norman Fleury offered a Closing Prayer.
Day 2 – Thursday, March 29, 2012
Co-Chair Durocher welcomed delegates to Day 2 – Thursday, March 29, 2012, and called the
Dialogue to order at 9:10 a.m.
Elder Abraham Gardiner provided an Opening Prayer.
PANEL THREE: Experiences of Day School Attendees
Melanie Omeniho, AB
John Morrisseau, MB
Nora Cummings, SK
Nora Cummings, Aboriginal Healing Foundation Elder
Elder Cummings shared that she was born and raised in Saskatoon, where she still lives, and
that she is the mother of 10 children, eight of which are living. She is raising her
granddaughter who is 17, and has 37 great-grandchildren. She is the Elder at 13 group
homes, working four days a week, four hours a day, and is quite involved in her community.
Elder Cummings shared…
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I went to school at St. Joseph’s School on Broadway Avenue, which is still there and being
used for programs for Aboriginal youth. When I went to school, I lived 1.5 miles from the
school, which was run mostly by Nuns. My cousins and I who attended the school had good
and bad experiences. The bad experiences made me a stronger Métis woman. They took
some things away, but not who I am, or what I have become.
When I first started school I did not mind it. Then one day I came to school and my cousin
and I had been sick and when they found out that we were both sick they told us that we
had played hooky because that was what savages did. We were taken to the coatroom and
given the strap and were told we needed to pay a penance. We told our mothers that we got
a strap every day, but being residential school survivors themselves they thought that we
must have been doing something wrong. So it continued on.
One day I decided I would not take any more straps and that I would not go to school. I told
my mom and she came to school with me. The principal of the school was a big, strongfaced Nun who even the boys were scared of. I was crying and pulled away from her and her
veil caught and came away, and she was mad. Eventually I went back to school and got
straps. She would make my cousin and I wash the floors and told us it was because it would
make us good housewives. She was very cruel. I had a cousin who was quite sick and she
would hit him with pointer sticks and tell him he stunk. I jumped up and told her to hit me
instead so she continued to hit us both. There were others who would come to the school
and their mothers had passed away and she would tell the dad that the kids had never
It was hard to go to school. We never really learned anything in that school. I did not know
how to read and write because everything we did we were told we were dumb. Then we were
told to stand up and were told we were savages. I thought it was something to be proud of. I
went home and told my mom, when I learned what it meant I told my cousins and then we
were quite hurt.
70% of the students were Métis kids at the school. We would take our lunches and the little
white kids would like what we had in our lunches so we would trade with them, it was one of
the perks.
I was the tomboy in the family. My cousins and I chopped wood and played games, including
hockey. After school one day my cousins wanted to play hockey. The next day the school
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doors were closed and they told me they were going to make an example of me for playing
hockey. I tried to tell the school that we did it every night – it was how we played, and Tony
Camponi and the Hoskin boys told me not to put my hands out to be hit, but I was so
scared, they said they would stand beside me. Tony poked the Priest and said not to hit me
anymore so they expelled Tony from school.
The things that took place in school sadden me because some of my cousins and our people
who went through the abuse have passed on. A lot of times it makes me sad to think that we
had to endure such things when we were just kids. I remember the white kids being proud of
their dads, and I was proud of my dad too for hauling manure to the Chinese gardens.
We were not allowed our language. We were not allowed to wear ski pants to school, and
one morning I did because it was cold and I was late. I was strapped for it. We would hide
our ski pants in a bag in the alley. The Nuns’ bathroom was across from the girl’s washroom
and I got strapped again for going in the bathroom when a Nun was in there. I grew to hate
that Nun. Another Nun was a wonderful lady who took all the Métis under her wing and
became our guardian angel. She made it much easier for us to continue in school.
What always bothered me the most was my mom making us pray the rosary every night. We
went to church, and that was our belief. I was going to church and fell and cut my eye and
she (the nun) said to me that God did not like me and was punishing me. I was 7 years old.
For the longest time I thought that God did not like me, and that I was a bad person. It stuck
with me for many years, even to this day.
I decided not to come back to school when I was 15. I said to the good Sister that I did not
really like it there. I cried and she put her arms around me. She gave me a rosary and she
told me that I was a good person, and to pray and ask for forgiveness for the Nun that I
hated and who had hurt me. She told me to think about it.
As the years when on I hated Nuns, I did not go to church, and then my mom told me I had
to baptize my children but I did not because I thought God would not like them anyhow.
Then my mom said that it was one person who hurt me, and that they were not God’s
workers, and that they would pay in their own time. When people hurt people, they get paid
back for their hurts to one another. I eventually baptized my children, and made it a point to
be there for my children so that they would not endure what I did. I have a boy who is 58
years old and who hated the church. I did not know why. There was a little Priest who used
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to come to the house and come for my boy, and I never knew what he was doing to him,
and what my boy went through.
Sometimes we carry the hurt and anger but I had to let go and leave it with that Nun who is
probably dead, and let her live with it, not me. If I did not, it would be like a cancer to me. If
anything, it made me a very strong woman. I am able to go out and stand up for myself and
for the Métis, and in my travels I make sure that people understand who we are, our identity
and our culture. I say that to my children and grandchildren, and have taught them to have
pride. In order to move on and become that person I am, I had to leave it with that Nun. We
do not have to forgive, but we can leave it with them. I will continue to work hard to help
people with what they went through. I encourage you all to continue a happy and good
journey and let our children and grandchildren know they can stand up for themselves and
that we do not have to have that hurt in us anymore.
Elder Cummings thanked MNC President Chartier for the opportunity to attend the Apology,
and to meet with the Prime Minister. She shared that when she shook the Prime Minister’s
hand she got such a cold feeling from him. She mentioned the day schools to him and his
answer was “we can only do so much at one time”. Elder Cummings continued…
I am saying to our leaders, we leave that in your hands. It is hard at the grassroots level, and
we are supportive of the work you are doing. I too feel that money will not cure us. We need
a way to come together and meet together.
I read the AHF reconciliation book and there were only two stories of the women, but there
are a lot of women who suffered. We have to share our stories for the betterment of our
children, grandchildren, etc. Even my mom would not talk about it. But we have to be open
for the betterment of our children and for the other ladies who are suffering. It is hard but
when your time is right you will know.
John Morrisseau, Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
Mr. Morrisseau shared that he was born and raised in Crane River, and that he currently
resides in Grand Rapids. He had started his life at 18 years old by joining the armed forces
for six years and then was honourably discharged. He then went to work in construction,
which was not easy, but it was a place that a person needed a strong back and a weak mind.
He had no education and so had to do something.
Mr. Morrisseau shared…
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I was in the armed forces in Edmonton and they called us out to parade in the morning.
There were 37 in my platoon. I was the only person who would identify as Aboriginal. In the
morning when the Sergeant came up and called our name he asked us to step forward and
give rank, serial number, name, religion, and nationality. The word I heard growing up at
home was Roman Catholic, and that we Métis were nothing but dirty half-breeds. I was not
ready to step forward in the Armed Forces and say that I was a half-breed. So, I took the step
forward and stated all the information, saying I was Canadian. Later a fellow punched me in
the ribs and said: “tell them you’re a dirty f-ing half-breed” and I grabbed him by the neck
and said: “let’s go find out who’s the dirtiest one”. That is when I started my education and
finding out who I was and what my nation of people had been contributing. I went to the
library and started to read.
I then went to work with the Government of Manitoba as a Community Development Officer,
and from there became the Assistant Deputy Minister in Northern Manitoba, and then the
Deputy Minister for eight years with the Province of Manitoba. I also became the Director of
Public Participation with the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP), which was
difficult as it was directed to First Nations. However, I was able to convince RCAP to establish
three teams to work with First Nations, Métis and Inuit individually.
Currently, I am the Mayor of Grand Rapids. I have been married to a Cree woman since
August 10, 1960, and will celebrate 52 years of marriage this summer. We have six children,
23 grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. We have been a fortunate family and have
only lost one grandson since our marriage, and I thank the Creator for that.
I am a product of the day schools. I did not start at a young age, but when I was 7½ years
Firstly, I want to tell you how we lived in our community. I was born in 1939 and started
school in the mid-1940’s. Our lifestyle was trapping, hunting, and fishing and in the
summertime picking roots. We were a small community in Crane River. We had two homes –
one in Crane River where we gathered in the summer, and one at Sandy Pointe, which was
about 10 miles north. In the fall after we finished the summer harvest we would load up a
calf or two and 3-4 cows and move the whole family to the winter house in Sandy Pointe.
There were no schools there. I went on the lake to help fish, and went trapping.
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My oldest sister and I did not got to school, and then there came a program to our
community which said that we would receive $5/month in family allowance but we had to go
to school to get it. It broke our family down. It took away our family life and the things we
grew up to know how to do.
The first European style building built in Crane River was the Catholic Church, which they built
with the idea that we would go to Church every Sunday. However, when the families moved
onto the land to hunt and fish there was no one left to go to Church. There was no one for
the Priest to preach to unless he went to see us on our trap lines. The second European style
building in our community was a school, owned and run by the Priest. The Church was the
teacher at the school for the first six years of schooling. There were no real teachers. No one
had a certificate to be able to teach. I’m not ready to talk about some of the things that
happened there.
Going to school with a Catholic Priest as a teacher only taught you a few things: how to
speak Latin and how to serve Mass. If you could speak Latin and serve Mass then the
community and the family was proud of you, and that made them feel good. The other thing
we learned was how to build and make gardens. We worked in the gardens and made fences
to keep the cows out. We plowed and hoed the gardens and when the harvest was done the
Priest loaded it up, drove away with it, and sold it. That was our schooling for seven years –
that, plus other things I am not prepared to talk about.
When I joined the TRC I began to listen to the stories closely to hear the things people said
about what happened to them in residential school. I learned that the only difference
between a residential school and a day school is that the student left home at residential
school. That is the only difference. The physical, mental and sexual abuse took place at the
day schools just as it did in residential schools.
What also happened to us in the day schools was that our parents were very controlled by
the Catholic Church. They thought that the Priests were “next to God”. When something
happened to us in school and we went home and told our parents, most of the time, our
parents gave us the willow and we were told we were lying. So at the end of the day you
learned not to talk about the Priest because he had control over our parents. That is a major
difference between the day and residential schools, because the Church also had control of
our parents. For years my dad and I did not communicate because he was a strong Catholic,
and he thought we children were lying. That was a very difficult thing to deal with.
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There was so much that could be told about what took place in the Métis communities. This
Dialogue was the opening of things to come for Métis people. In order to tell our stories
properly we will need to learn to trust ourselves as family. Right now everyone wants to hear,
and everyone is afraid to say. But there is need to get beyond that in order to share and feel
trust and kindness from one another. That would come after we have had a chance to be
together a few more times.
Mr. Morrisseau shared that he had started to write his story. Although it was a painful process
it needed to be done. If there was no forum to share what happened to the Métis as a group,
he wanted to leave his story behind as an obituary for his family because he did not have the
guts to tell them in person what happened to him.
Métis have been excluded from funding. It has been the story of our lives. The issue we are
dealing with is more of a moral issue of how to get information out on the Métis experience.
I do not want money for healing because I do not think that money will solve things;
however, if people could look at me and respect me for who I am, that would be a big step
in the right direction.
In conclusion, Mr. Morrisseau noted that governments are not listening to the Métis, and that
the Métis do not have a lot of things to help put their message across. There was need for a
national representative for the Métis in the international community, to tell the world what is
happening to the Métis, and MNC President Chartier should be the one to do that for us.
Panel Three: Questions and Answers
Thank you both to Nora and John who I’ve known for many years. John was the one
who initially encouraged me to move forward on the basis of Métis as a distinct
people. Both have been good teachers for me. John is the only Métis on the TRC and
he and I have an ongoing debate. Our Board of Governors and our Assembly and the
Île à la Crosse Survivors Committee have said we are not prepared to engage in the
TRC until the churches and governments accept responsibility because how can we
have true reconciliation unless someone is at the table with us? To the greatest
degree possible we have been working with the TRC. This event was made possible
through a proposal to the TRC Commemoration Fund for a national conference and
interviews of people who wish to tell their stories. I thank John for being consistent
and persistent in ensuring that the Métis voice is heard. (Clément Chartier)
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Thank you for sharing your very powerful stories. I too am a survivor. What will come
out of this Dialogue? Will there be any recommendations from this Dialogue? Will
there be a follow up?
I am concerned about intergenerational impacts on our children and youth who are
finding ways to solve their own problems in gangs and through violence. We have so
many social issues and killings. There has been a lot of pain and untold stories. There
is all the rage carried over and so many other things, and there are so many things
that we have been told not to talk about – to keep secrets, and that we would go to
hell otherwise. So many of us carry so much shame.
It is very difficult to be able to share what happened and to come to a Dialogue for
the first time and say anything – it is very personal and private, and there is a feeling
that the earth may open up and swallow us for what we say, and that we will go to
hell – that is what I was taught would happen. I feel incomplete if I have to leave
halfway through this Dialogue with no idea what will happen next. (Gloria Laird)
The planning committee, comprised of the Governing Member portfolio
holders, will continue the work. Rather than have an open forum later in the
day, there will be a discussion about next steps and an attempt would be
made to arrive at a consensus decision on next steps. (Clément Chartier)
There will be time devoted at the Dialogue to identify a number of
commitments and actions about where to go from here. There is
acknowledgement that the process of sharing personal experiences is very
profound and sometimes the effects of that are unexpected. Everyone is
encouraged to notice what is happening in themselves and to reach out for
help if they need it – both for survivors and for family members. (Victoria
My assumption is that the federal government is saying it was responsible until 1906
and that the province is saying it was only responsible for running the schools. In
some cases we attended a boarding school and a day school, and had strappings.
Our principal was a mean fellow from England. If you smiled or said the wrong thing
he would give you a strap. If the province was responsible we should pursue that.
They should be held responsible. (Max Morin)
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No one really knows where the funding came from for day schools. In the late
1800’s around 1896 there was a bill passed in the House of Commons to give
money to the provinces for education. That bill did not specifically say
“money” or “residential schools”. In Manitoba, we have had a whole issue on
the funding of Catholic schools that has gone on for years. That money came
from the federal government in the early days. The federal government is just
trying to find a way of getting out of what they are responsible for. (John
The school still operating down the street from here, on Broadway, is under the
Catholic division. It is attended by mostly First Nations and Métis and is run by the
Catholic School Board. I went through the school in recent years and when I went
into one area it made me feel really sick and I decided that I had seen enough and
had to leave it then. I still live on that side of town and drive by it often. I think now
that it has some good atmosphere and that with a lot of the smudging that has taken
place they have cleaned out a lot of the demons. (Nora Cummings)
It triggers a lot of bad memories to listen to the presentations. I went to a Catholic
school in Winnipeg and became an alter boy. The Priest exposed himself to me. I am
tired of being a victim. I went to school in 1963 and the Nuns told me I was mentally
retarded and diagnosed me as such. I choose not to have my kids baptized. My mom
is very religious and I told her what happened and she called me a liar.
It is important that they take responsibility for what they have done. They took away
our innocence. I am a leader and have three boys and I think I have protected them. I
have learned that parents are too trusting and giving. Those who did wrong will pay
in their afterlives, but these individuals are of cold heart and they take and take from
us. I am tired of giving because it takes a lot.
I am really proud to be here. It is important that we need to heal and move forward.
(Andrew Carrier)
Before I came here I was out trapping on the marsh for three weeks. It was
something that I had not done since I was 14 years old, and I will be 73 soon.
I went with my brother and we kept falling through the ice so my brother and
I went to buy chest waders. My sister-in-law said that if we were going to
wear them on the ice they would get cut up. She told us to instead buy
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overalls. She bought them for us, but I could not put them on because that is
what I wore when I was a boy at school, and when we were punished, either
with a strap or the yardstick, the Priest would bend us down with our head
between his legs and he would grab the braces on our pants and whip us. So,
I could not wear those coveralls. (John Morrisseau)
I have to agree with John that we as Métis people should all get an opportunity to
share our personal stories. We have to remember that this is a first opportunity for
that, and I have to offer my thank you to MNC President Chartier and the MN-S for
hosting this two-day Dialogue. I believe that down the road, maybe in three or six
months, there should be another one hosted. There is always the matter of money
and our politicians have priorities for money and sometimes the residential school
issue is at the bottom of the list. But each of us should take the opportunity to go
home and try to get the provincial organizations interested enough in this to try to
find the money for us to have another Dialogue such as this one.
John also works with First Nations people in negotiating trapping agreements, and
with fishermen, and is involved with MMF. I thank John for sharing his experiences in
day school. This is the first time in all the years I have known John that I have heard
his story as an attendee of day school.
I went to residential school for 5½ years. The information I have heard in the last two
days on day schools, the abuse, mental anguish, loss of trust… there is no difference
between day school to residential school people, except that one school was funded
by the provincial government and other was funded by the federal government. After
5½ years in school, they transferred out the provincial students and took in the
federal students because they were guaranteed a certain amount of money from the
federal government for some students, but not for others.
It is very important for us to realize that the hurt, the pain, the emotions that we have
all suffered as students will always be inside of us. No money can ever buy a fix for
that pain. I have reached my settlement with the federal government but it did not
take away the pain and the hurt. I get rid of pain by coming to conferences like this
and having the opportunity to share, and the comfort I receive back from you is
priceless. It is comforting to know that we have people who understand our pain.
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Let us not end this here today. Let us have another Dialogue down the road, and
soon. Let us continue to have these dialogues and conferences for Métis across
I wanted to talk so that I could personally show John that I am in support of what he
has to share. We have been in boarding schools, day schools, and residential schools
and it is all the same thing. We have to start our healing journey somewhere and the
only way I know that I can heal a little more each day is by being around people like
you. This Dialogue is a start and let us continue. (Norval Dejarlais)
Sexual assault of any kind – when our bodies have been used by people – men or
women – it leaves a very dark spot in our spirits. We can pretend we are okay but
those emotional scars remain forever. It was the Nuns and Priests that so violated us.
And at the other end of the spectrum our parents saw them as the Gods. Being
religious and being a Christian are two different things.
Along with the violation of our bodies and hearts, we carry the deep shame of being
“stupid” and “brown” – when we were labeled as lesser we carry that. Depression is an
inverted anger. We do not know how to express.
I want to commend MNC President Chartier. At the residential school in Beauval the
girls used to whip down their hair and try to make themselves presentable so they
could be seen by him when he came to play hockey at our school. Did he notice? No
way. He was the star on the ice, and he is still the star.
As far as the shame we carry, we may think that we are proud Métis, but look at the
fragmentation of our communities between provinces. Why do we not share amongst
our Métis brothers and sisters equally? Shame goes very far and deep. Some of us
have come a long way. I thank the MNC for organizing this and hope that it
continues. Do not ever give up the fight. (Annette Maurice)
I went to a day school. It was a residential school but I was not an inmate. We had
250 students and I could not wait to graduate Grade 9. I left in 1959 and moved to
Winnipeg to work in an accounting firm. I decided to go to Europe so I packed up
my nine suits and dropped off the clothes at home, and while I was there I ran into
Stan Daniels and Fred Jobin who were doing a northern tour. They introduced me to
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the Métis Association and gave me a membership. I have been a card holding Métis
since 1970.
While I was there in my community it was getting cold so I decided to stick around.
They were introducing Alberta vocation centres at that time and they asked me to
join. They were bringing in semi-educated Métis people and I looked at my ex-wife
and got her pregnant, and married her.
I would like to thank you for inviting me, for opening my heart and mind, for all the
things I forgot. In 1959 when I left Grouard I never ever thought about it again. It was
the furthest thing from my mind, but this Dialogue has done a world of good for me,
more than all my travels. I have been thinking about the things the children went
through and it is breaking my heart.
One young man in my class, who is probably in his 70’s now, was also a day student
and came to school late. Sister Paul Gerrard was our teacher – she was a huge thing
of a Nun. She went stomping out to meet him and cold-cocked him, then kicked him
until she drew blood telling him not to be late. That young man has been an inmate
in every institution in this country. He’s been in jail all his life and cannot function and
he is a pitiful looking man. I am a member of the congregation of a church in
Edmonton. I ran into him in a food kiosk in Edmonton and told him to come to
church to see so many of our people who have come back to church. In our church
the décor is all Native. He walked in and looked around and said thank you for
inviting me, but it still gives me the hee-bee-geebies. He walked out and has never
been back.
After I became a teacher I was assigned to Grande Cache, AB in 1972 and not one of
my students spoke English. I was teaching the students the concept of English in
Cree. The Superintendent caught me one day and told me that I could be suspended
for teaching the kids in Cree not English. (Art Nibbs)
PANEL FOUR: Experiences of Métis covered by the Indian Residential Schools
Settlement Agreement (IRSSA)
Jude Daniels, AB
Louis Bellrose, AB
Angie Crerar, AB
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Stirling Ranville, MB
Jude Daniels, AB
Ms. Daniels referred delegates to the book she had co-authored, “Métis Memories of
Residential Schools – A Testament to the Strength of the Métis”.
Ms. Daniels shared that she had first hand experience with the intergenerational affects of
residential schools. Her father was a person who was unable to talk very much about his
experiences. But the few stories that he was able to share burned holes in his soul. He did
not know how to be a father or a husband.
Ms. Daniels continued…
I think he loved his children but he was unable to be part of the family. When I was nine
years old, he was an alcoholic, he tried, but he could not stop drinking. He left and left for
good and ended up in a penitentiary in Manitoba. He visited us once again when I was 12
and then I saw him when I was 18 in his coffin. He died at 40 as a street person in
Vancouver. My mom shared with me that he wanted me to be social worker because at the
time they were very powerful people – they could take away your children, and they could
give you welfare. That was his greatest aspiration for me. I became a social worker and he
never saw it.
Many years later, MNA President Poitras asked me to take on a project on Métis people in
Indian Residential Schools in Alberta. I considered it a great honour. The book I wrote during
that time with my ex-husband was a profoundly changing experience for me because it
helped me to get to know my father. Many people opened their hearts and talked about
things that they had never spoken about. The effects on their children and grandchildren are
incalculable. Read the book and consider donating it to a local school or library so that other
Canadians can gain an understanding of what our families have experienced to this day.
This book was a project funded by the Aboriginal Healing Foundation. Another phase of the
project was a report on statistics trying to confirm that Métis people did attend Indian
Residential schools and day schools. There were a number of Indian schools funded by the
federal government and attended by Métis. Statistics Canada did a 1991 survey for RCAP and
found that in Manitoba it was close to 16% of students who were Métis, and in Saskatchewan
it was 8% of the students. There are some statistics out there, and archival research that has
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yet to be done. A lot of the Nuns and the churches did not share their records with us,
although the information was requested.
Louis Bellrose, Former Métis Nation of Alberta Vice-President
Mr. Bellrose shared that when he left Grouard at the age of 14 he went to Great Slave Lake
to gut fish with his aunt and uncle. They took him because his father gave him the ultimatum
of school or work, and he chose work. Later he went to Vancouver to log. He could hardly
speak English – Cree was his mother tongue. He worked in Bella Coola for a number of years
and was about 18 years old with a pretty fat paycheque. He got a room in a hotel and
started thinking about having a lady. He went to the bar even though he was 18 and there
was a lady sitting beside him who gave him the eye and then asked if he wanted to have a
good time. She offered to come with him, but he needed to have a “French Safe” that could
be bought in the drug store down the street. But all the drug stores were closed. When he
came back there were three French people sitting there, so he went and asked if they had
any “French Safes”. The guy hit him, and the bouncers threw him out. The “lady” he first
talked to stayed in the bar, and he stayed outside. That was his first sexual experience.
Mr. Bellrose was elected and served under three presidents in the MNA. He continued…
I was not very good at reading because I never went to school. I learned to read in logging
camps because there was nothing else to do on the coast in those camps. I read every book
that I could find. My late wife who passed away in 1990 was university taught, and
government people would meet with us, and I told people I went through every door of the
University of Calgary looking for my wife who I was married to for 23 years. She was
university taught and I was street smart and it was a very successful union.
The time in residential schools was very emotional and powerful. I am glad to have come
here to be with people who understand. I want to thank everyone for joining us, and helping
us try to cope with this monstrosity created by the federal government.
I am a victim of St. Bernard Residential School in Grouard. I have been paid a sum of
compensation. I have scars to prove my experiences. But like someone said, money is just
money. The richest man in the world is Phil Wally who owns Walmart and he said, “money is
only paper”. That’s the way I feel about money. It is nice to have, and you have to have it to
live, but you can still live on a trap line and make a good way of life. However, that was lost
when welfare and family allowance came along.
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The amount of time needed to heal is forever. I was going to die with my secrets about the
stuff that happened to me because a lot of my friends died like that and I miss them dearly. I
am really happy to be here sharing with people that have been through the system and to
see people helping each other. I am very proud to be here as a Métis.
I talked to the MNC President about putting another workshop forward and the Governing
Members will have to help with that as much as we can. That is what I will be doing when we
get back. Things can be changed along the way to help the people who are in the backlog.
People are dying off. Two died this week while we are meeting. It is sad to see that a week
from now one of my buddies and 3-4 cousins died before their hearings happened. If there is
no hearing nothing happens for the family. I think that the politicians deliberately set up the
backlog so that they could see us die before we get a dollar – it is a mean thing to say, but I
will say it because it is the truth.
I grew up with a very kind and hardworking Métis man who raised me – Frank Bellrose. When
the Métis Settlements in Alberta were going to be started, the leaders of the day included
Pete Tompkins. I asked Pete what he did to get 1.5 million acres for the Métis in Alberta. He
told me that if I wanted to deal with the government as a Métis, I needed to get in the room
with them first. Once I was in the room and at the table, then I could say anything I wanted.
They were scared of us then because we were warriors, and they still are scared today.
I always think of the Geneva conference and why no one went there for our rights in Western
I am so proud of the Métis working for the betterment of this Nation. Adrian Hope was one
of the founders, and a very good orator. I thought of him yesterday, he said one time “ when
that ship left England it took a long time to cross the ocean with no motors, strong men
were needed who had to be tough – they took the best and strongest men from Europe, and
when they got to shore in Canada they saw the Indian ladies who were the best of the
bloodlines at the time because the Chiefs met the Europeans first, and that is how we’re
Métis strong” and I believe it. We are very strong Métis people.
My dad was an uneducated philosopher. I asked him when I was 14 leaving home, what I was
going to do “out there”. He said “to be Métis you have to get up in the morning and go to
work”, and that I did not need anyone to give me a card to tell me I was Métis, just to get up
in the morning and go to work to be a strong Métis. I asked him about meeting people and
he told me to treat every man and woman the same because humanity is mostly kind and
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good people, and that one in one thousand might not be, but you would not know which
one – and that is the way that I have lived all these years.
Angie Crerar, Caring Canadian Award Recipient
Ms. Crerar thanked the MNC President for organizing this event, and acknowledged the Métis
Nation of Alberta (MNA) Presidents for Regions 4 and 5, and the delegates in attendance.
She expressed regrets on behalf of MNA President Poitras who was with a sick family
member and had been unable to attend the Dialogue.
Ms. Crerar continued…
The stories you have heard are the tip of the iceberg of what happened. People are afraid to
bring back the pain and sorrow that we lived and to explain to others the horrors they lived,
and the way of life taken away. There were many losses that we all experienced. They tried so
hard to beat us, but we are here.
I am going to open the door that I closed for over 60 years, although I know what it will do
to me. I will open the door in order to try to help the young people put the word out that
this is reality. What happened to our people is deplorable. Many have no voice. Many never
had a chance to grow up. Many died without an identity.
For me it was a journey of pain. I know that I had to work very, very hard but the value and
principles taught to me by my parents when I was very young are what saved me because
the schools sure tried to beat it out of us – that our parents were wrong, that their values
were wrong, and that everything they taught us was a sin. We lined up every Saturday and
went to Confession. We were in acres of a closed community – we did not have anything to
confess, so many of us made up lies. I was told so many times I was going to go to hell that
sometimes I am still hot.
I was 8 years old, my sister was 5, and the other one was 3. We walked into a different life.
My mother passed away and my life changed forever. I will never ever forget. I was so lost.
How do you explain that to a child who lived a happy life and then they are put in a cold,
uncaring and brutal lifestyle? There was no sign that anyone cared, no encouragement, and I
had come from a family of love that prayed together. I still live by the motto “a family that
prays together stays together”. How can I explain that I felt hopeless, homeless and
powerless? We were told what to do every minute of the day. You made no decisions. I
cannot go into those 10 years. I have seen so much cruelty, cruelty to my family and I, and
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the others that I carry in my heart. There were people who touched my life that never had a
chance. I came out of school at 16 unprepared to meet the trials and challenges of the real
world, and would never know an act of love. I was taught the magic words “I love you” and
am not afraid to say them, neither are my children and the people I love.
I was taught that the life of a Métis would not be easy. We were shunned and abandoned,
and no one wanted us. We are nobody’s children. It was exactly how I felt. We did not lay
down and stay down, we get up and fight with everything we have. Métis are very productive.
They work hard, make a living, and everyone has a job and they work with their children, for
their children. I am very proud to be part of this and yet we are still struggling. I do not need
the government to tell me I am Métis because I know I am, I have been Métis all my life.
When we got into the convent – the thing I have been struggling with is that they called me
by a number – #6 – and no name. How cruel is that? How would you feel even after one
hour of that? I tried that with students at the high school where I teach and they could not
last an hour. Our beliefs were discarded at school. They tried to beat it out of us. But we
formed an alliance. The older ones started to work together and help the little ones and 15 of
us are still survivors today and work together. I was told to speak today on behalf of the
survivors and the thousands of children who went to school in the NWT where I am from.
I live with a nightmare I have lived with for many years. Before my mother passed away she
told me to look after the family and I was 8. I did not know that my little sister was being
sexually abused by a Priest for four years. I have lived with the guilt of that – how well did I
look after my sister? I have taken a lot of programs to help over the years, and I discovered
that if you do not look for the signs and you are taught nothing, how could you know? I
finally got through that with the help of many people.
I talk with Elders who have been my strength. But that horror lives in our soul. It’s not a
pretty story. How could it be? They take everything you have and try to turn you into
someone else. How many of you have been through that? I felt so alone and lonely and
heard the sobs and crying in the night as the girls tried to help each other but were punished
for it. I have scars on my body, my heart and my soul that will never be erased. Some of
them are scars of honour because no matter what they did, they did not break my spirit. I
would not allow it.
I do not trust because the very people that took us in and told us everything we did was
wrong were going against our values. I did not trust for years and years and I always watch
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myself. But I was taught that respect is earned, and to do unto others like I wanted them to
do unto me. My mother always said: “Do not gossip because it is damaging and destructive
and how do you know if it is true? It could be a big lie that you are repeating. Stick to facts.
If you cannot say something nice, do not say anything at all.” I live by that.
I have a wonderful life now, but it took a lot of work. I have been very lucky, with a wonderful
husband and children and community that I work with. I have worked with thousands over
my years from coast to coast and have learned so much. In my heart those years in school
were wasted – 10 years of my life. The teachings of my parents I never lost, but they were
pushed down to survive we had to say “Yes, Sister”, I’m sick of it. I will not say yes to too
many things nowadays.
This journey we will walk together. This Dialogue has started the support, being there for
each other, sharing what we learned and also our pain. That is who we are. We help each
other and will never stand alone. When you stand alone you fall, but united you stand.
People say that they got over it, but do you really get over it? When one song, word, or
expression reminds you and opens the door again and then you feel that child never had a
chance? You have a voice, use it, in a positive way.
I lived negative for 10 years and it was destructive. Our way of life was my safety. I feel safe
around Métis people. Our work will never be done but together with our children and
grandchildren we will take a step forward. It is not up to our elected officials to do it all, it is
up to each one of us. How proud are we of our heritage? How proud are we of our identity?
We have an identity, we do. We are Métis and we always will be. I thank you for your time. I
love you.
Stirling Ranville, Winnipeg, MB
Mr. Ranville shared that the photo of the residential school, which was displayed at the
Dialogue, looked identical to the one that he attended except for the colour of the building.
He had enjoyed the stories he had heard since he arrived at the Dialogue, and acknowledged
his wife Yvette for being here to support him.
Mr. Ranville continued…
I have never been able to talk to anyone about the things that happened in our school. I am
well practiced at holding up the shell I have built around my life. One thing that was good at
this Dialogue was the sharing of stories. Being here the last few days, my wife now knows
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why I do the things I do. She used to ask why – when I used to drink – every time I was
drunk I cried, now she knows because I can identify with almost all the stories that have been
shared the past few days.
At St. John’s Minor Seminary we were next door to the Indian Residential School. If it were
not for that I would not have received any payment. I am not ready to go into the details of
the abuse and to get graphic about the things that happened. But not many here have talked
about the very severe loneliness of being away from your parents and siblings for so long.
You can do what you want to my body beat me as much as you want, but just let me go
home. I would like to be home. That was the hardest thing for me.
The real victims of the abuse have already died. Things were a little better already in 1958,
1959 and 1960 when I went to school, but I heard some of the stories of the people older
than me.
I think that what is good about this Dialogue is that a lot of the shells that we built around
ourselves were based on denial and pretending that these things never happened and trying
to forget them. When I come to these types of conferences it reminds me of all the stuff I
have buried and I am grateful for that. When you bury stuff it does not go away, it has to
come out, and maybe one day I will be able to share all the gross details. My uncle Angus
used to say that the toughest, hardiest white men came across the ocean and married the
most beautiful and intelligent Indian women and made the Métis, so now you know why I am
so good looking. When I was younger I was tough.
I only realized this in the last few years when I was remembering… my dad loved me very
much. I was his firstborn and I think he wanted me to be the model child. He went about
doing this the only way he knew how, to give me lickings, starting when I was 1½ years old. I
do remember when I got to be about 4 years old but I buried that too. I have a lot of respect
for my dad, he was a good man, but the things he did to me were not right. I am grateful
that I asked my mother in 1995 if she remembered the lickings I used to get. She said she
did. She used to go into the bedroom to see if I was still breathing and alive after the
A few years later I heard a speaker talking about the damage to a child wounded by trauma. I
identified with everything said. I ordered the book and read it – “The Wounded Child”. I
started to think of what my mother said, that did not even seem to affect me. But when a
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mother is going into the bedroom to see if her son is alive and breathing after being beaten,
there is something wrong with that picture.
So when I came into residential school it was a double whammy. I was already wounded.
I am so grateful I have learned all that I have, and for these types of meetings that I have
been to over the years. A wounded child, when they have trauma at that age, suffers brain
damage. Their body starts to produce too much adrenaline and they are always operating in
a panic mode. There are a few more ingredients that go into your brain when you reach
puberty and if that does not happen you keep growing physically but you are still a baby in
your mind – that is me. I fit right into that picture. I am still taking treatments to control
adrenaline. Whenever I was in danger or attacked by another human I got that same rush of
adrenaline so I was extremely tough. I was told by one person that they had never seen a
human being move as fast as I did. I wondered about that and what made me like that. I did
not find out until I learned later about trauma.
The brain can make a path around a wound if you feed it the right information. That is
starting to happen in my life. In 1997 I stopped drinking and I called out “Jesus if you’re real I
need you now” and that is what worked for me. I had been to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) for
years and years before that but never got fixed with those wounds. Today, I’m starting to heal
and that is how it began.
I heard things said about the crooked things that happen in government, and with lawyers
and the church. I could go into graphic details about what the church has done to the Métis,
but in many ways it is politically incorrect to do so. I lost jobs because of some of the things I
said about the church. I forgive the Roman Catholic Church and I forgive everyone. I love all
the Catholics but I do not love the institution.
When I first came into the Métis organizations in 1969, most of the leadership was Catholic. I
found out that Louis Riel would have never been hung if it were not for the Catholics – he
spoke out against the Pope and the Church and in so doing lost all favour with Quebec and
then he was hung. It was ironic that the first time there was celebrations at his gravesite they
were carried out by a Catholic Priest. I watched and tried to keep my mouth shut.
I heard about CEP from my cousin. When the people came and spoke to me I decided I did
not want to do it, that I would be unable to talk. So I put everything aside and even threw
away the papers. My wife Yvette wondered about it at the time. Then I got a phone call from
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a friend, George Monroe, who encouraged me to pursue it and shared that he had received
an award – we attended the same school. I opened the issue again, but from then on it was
like playing the slots.
I am grateful to my cousin and to George for encouraging me on. I applied for the CEP and I
got it – but one year less than I was supposed to get. I wrote to them and that said they had
awarded my cousin for different amounts of time although we arrived and left the school in
the same car. A few months later I received another cheque. It was $10,000 for the first year
and $3,000 for each year after.
George encouraged me to go after IAP and he coached me to highlight the abuse that took
place in the rectory, which is considered part of the church and the residential school –
legally. But what I noticed about the interviews was that they changed the rules along the
way. One hint of that was that they do not recognize the rectory, only the residential school,
and that as far as they were concerned my school never existed. So I highlighted the abuse
that happened in the residential school. There was abuse everywhere, depending on where
the Priest took you.
I told them some of the things that happened in the car on the way to the school, right from
the very beginning. I was picked up from my home and I was not even at the school and
there was abuse. The Priest said that we would have to stay in a hotel because the trip was
too long. I was only 14 years old and did not know the geography of Manitoba, but now I
know that it was only about a 2½ hour drive. So there you go. We got to the school and the
same thing started happening there. I told them about that and the federal representative
said “we don’t even listen to that, it happened on the way, and your school is not recognized
either”. I started to bend my story and say more about what happened at the residential
There was a little room next to the recreation room in the residential school and if we did not
cooperate we were imprisoned there for long periods of time, often.
IAP gave me an award. In April 2009 I received $101,500. From that, they took about $15,000
for legal fees and then taxes, and left me with about $86,500. Because I would not talk about
the graphic details of the abuse I lost money. I had to sign a paper that I would never appeal
and would never come back to the government for more money. I thought long and hard
about that. I asked the lawyer what would happen if I refused to sign, which included signing
away the rights of my children to sue – and they were all adults over 18 years old at the time.
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They said I had to sign the paper or we would go back to square one. At the time I was not
very healthy and had just had triple bypass surgery so I thought, if we go on for another 3-4
years I may not make it, and if I died my family would not receive anything, no one would,
but if I signed it I could receive $200,000 or more because of listening to the testimony of
George and of some First Nations people I know. I got something because I signed away my
rights and the rights of my children. That does not sound right. It seems there is something
wrong there with human rights laws – to make you sign a document like that in that state.
I got the money before I died. Money is not everything, but it is good to have.
I cannot overemphasize the good feeling you get at a conference like this. The church and
the government were in cahoots on this whole issue. I was doing research and I found out
that I was very naive. I was walking with a MLA in Winnipeg and there was a man rolling
there on the ground unable to get up and she said “what’s wrong with these people?” and I
thought if she only knew, but I would have had to write a book to tell her.
I lost money because I could not talk about what happened to me. But I am always reading.
In my reading of history I have never seen a people treated like the Aboriginal Peoples in
Canada. There were lots of generations of slaves in Israel, but they were at least given a
home, food and clothing and they had their children at home. We were given money for
food, shoes and a home but many of us are now homeless, and staying with relatives. The
slaves in Egypt were better treated than the Métis in Canada.
The Blacks in the U.S. were able to keep their families. Yes, they were auctioned as slaves, but
in most cases they stayed at home with their moms and dads. I looked at the 6 million Jews
killed in Europe, but when they went to the oven, their kids went with them. We were not
able to hold our children right to the end, and our children were not able to hold their
parents right to the end. This has not happened to another people in the world like it has in
Canada and the U.S.
In IAP make sure that you say whatever happened to you happened in an approved place –
the car, or the beach has no relevance in the decision-making when it comes to
compensation. I know a lot of treaty people, much of my family has married into First
Nations, and I know the awards they got. If we compare notes, I got about 1/3 or less of
what First Nations received, that is what you pay for being a Métis.
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PANEL FIVE: Residential School Impacts on Family, Culture and Language
Yvonne Vizina, Métis National Council
Norman Fleury, AB
Ashley Norton, SK
Sky Blue Morin, AB
Norman Fleury, Michif Educator
Mr. Fleury shared that he was from a predominantly French community where the Michif
people maintained who they were. He did not learn Michif in school, he learned it at home
and he lived it.
He continued…
I lived in my ancestral home, ancestral province, and we were the buffalo people. The Métis
are the water people. We were the entrepreneurs of the prairies. We were involved in
different efforts and traveled and traded and built, and this is where the newcomers came. I
did a video documentary on the Michif language and in that a Mennonite person shared that
the Mennonites would have never survived in Canada if it was not for the Métis.
The Métis had and still have rich culture. We have archived our materials and life, we just
need to go back and get them. I was the youngest in my family. My parents and
grandparents decided to leave a legacy. People phone me when they want to know their
genealogy. They ask where grannie and grandpa were from, what they did, and where they
lived. None of those people were on welfare. My mother was a widow who received a
widow’s allowance of $59/month and raised five children. My mother died at 108 years old –
1½ years ago. When you are raised with history and culture you are rich – money cannot buy
that. I am rich and proud.
When I was 8 or 9 I started school. The white man’s school was different. I started to feel the
affects. Before that I knew the protocols to picking medicines, hunting, and the life of our
people. When I started school the trauma started because I had to adapt in a different world.
These people who thought they were the high power of the world were teaching me things.
My sister had taught me A-B-C’s and how to write my name. She said I would be smart and
would look smart and she shared her knowledge with me before I went to school. My
grandmother told me to walk with my head high, and to be proud, that no one else would
make me proud, and that I had to make myself proud. I was a Michif and they knew I was
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I asked a fellow who lived beside some Aboriginal people who they were and he did not
know that they were Sioux. I showed his ignorance publically. I advocate for everyone
because I am the best of both worlds, but first and foremost I am Michif, but I also advocate
for First Nations. My son is 7 years old and he dances the Red River Jig. At 7, if he can do
that we are not lost. My daughter has entered Princess Pageants and won. My children play
fiddle. There are 50% plus Métis kids in St. Lazar and they have no curriculum for Métis. They
raised a Métis flag when my daughter was 14 and she played her fiddle and I did the
opening ceremony in Michif and my niece asked me to do the eulogy of my brother in
Michif. I did, I talked and the Métis who were there shook my hand.
We have to think of our reflections and look to our future. As people were speaking here I
was writing things down. All those things are reminders of what we were told as our Elders
were talking – to be healthy and strong, and we have to continue and embrace what we have
in life.
When we go to Métis celebrations like Batoche and others – that is where I show off my
language. I have always put Michif on display for years. I have translated for Census Canada,
and I just translated the Île à la Crosse dictionary into Michif – a file of 38,000 words. That is
a passion and a love. I am very proud, and I know that Île à la Crosse people are our relatives
from the Red River. A lot of their expressions and language are the same. Let’s get involved!
Ashley Norton, Activist
Ms. Norton shared that her contract with Regina Health Region, Métis Portfolio, ended Friday.
It had been an oppressive working situation. She was hired to do work for the Métis people,
and was the only Métis working in the office, but it did not matter because she was
recognized by her own nation and she was so proud to be presenting at the Dialogue. Her
Aboriginal Traditional Parenting Course mentor recently told her that she might be doing
already what she’s supposed to be doing with her life.
Ms. Norton continued…
I grew up in a racist world in the city of Regina and was not in touch with my culture. I miss
being up north. My mother is Métis from Red River, and my father is Morley Norton, also
Métis. It made me stronger in who I am and understanding the effects of residential schools
and how we are still living today in a world of hurt, shame and sadness. Life is what we make
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it and it is up to us to take a stand, talk about it, and move forward rather than to live in the
ruts we have created for ourselves.
I lived in a domestic violence relationship for almost six years, getting out of that, and
knowing that I would not live like that forever made me stronger. Residential schools affected
my ex and his mother and I do not judge them for that. We do not talk about the abuse, and
why I could not finish school, because of what I was dealing with at home. But it only made
me a stronger woman.
With reference to an overhead titled “Nobody’s Children Intergenerational Affects of the
Métis Residential School Experience”, Ms. Norton discussed photos of November 14, 2011,
and her part in planning and hosting the Métis flag raising ceremony at Regina City Hall, and
of jigging with the Mayor. She was never taught of the Métis in school, but she learned about
the Métis at Back to Batoche, and met a lot of really good friends who were all doing
something with their lives. It helped her to put pieces of the puzzle together – until then she
had known she was different but never really knew how.
Ms. Norton talked about colonial experience and how history can make you sick. Stress
causes much anger, and hurt and frustrations and sickness. There is need to learn to let go of
it, and talk about it. The Métis are beautiful and it was genocide that the Métis were taught
to be ashamed of being part Indian, and half-breeds and half-bloods. The Métis lost lands,
culture, and were oppressed. There was a stigma to being Métis. She shared that she still had
family who were ashamed to be Métis and that she was doing her best to promote Métis
Residential schools took away the child from all their supports, and all of the teachings of the
communities, and prevented the children from growing up in the way that they were
accustomed to. She was taught never to speak back to her aunties and elders and wanted to
help and serve, and yet so many Métis had lost so much of the culture and respect for one
Ms. Norton discussed four types of Métis: 1) traditional who still have their language and
culture and can hunt and trap; 2) assimilated who totally disregard that they are Métis; 3)
those who are lost in between and have addictions and are homeless and lost their identity;
and 4) Bi-cultural Métis who are the Métis that can work in both worlds: First Nations and
European. She spoke of being 19 and getting involved with an Elders assistance program, and
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that the Métis Elders really helped her. She then became involved in Friendship Centres and
was thankful for them giving her a place to go and be herself.
Ms. Norton shared…
I believe in living in a holistic way, learning what our resources are and showing our youth
the right way to go – to go to a ceremony, a sweat, or a smudge. I grew up going to church,
and am now more spiritual than religious. Many youth feel the same way and blame much on
the church and the white culture, which was dominant. If we give the youth spiritually and
learning to go in their mind and be quiet and in the moment, that is how we will get our
youth back – bringing back the culture.
Métis are strong and powerful and resilient to all the things they have done to us and are still
doing – they are still not recognizing that we have been in the Constitution since 1982. It was
all meant to keep us down but even though we have had all these hardships we are still here
and strong, and you have lit a fire under me to keep going and to empower our youth.
In Saskatchewan we have Métis farms, many of which are not thriving economically today. It
is important for the Métis to have a land base and to have a sense of ownership and pride
back to these lands. Métis are emotional, social and spiritual beings. It is important to gather
and talk and have forums. There has not been a youth forum for a long time – that effort
needs to be stronger and strengthened.
Stress causes all these things, youth should do cultural camps and do jigs, learn about who
Louis Riel is, and how to tie a sash. We should be celebrating the accomplishments, knowing
we have a long way to go. Gangs and prostitution have given some youth a sense of
belonging to a community group that accepts them. They have all been abused and we need
to regain them back to our strong community.
Sky Blue Morin, AB
Ms. Morin shared that a half-breed medicine woman gave her the name Sky Blue and that
she was very proud of that name. She was related to the Morins in Green Lake, and the
Kyplains and Île à la Crosse. She grew up in an alcoholic home and did not know the good
things in life. When she started researching her grandmother’s history, her grandmother told
her not to ever lose her language. She found out that her family was well off compared to
others because they had chickens and cows and cream and eggs every day. But she lived in
an alcoholic home where her mother was battered for seven years.
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To the residential school survivors, Ms. Morin commented, “God loves you, God is all loving
no matter what they taught you”. She continued…
I am not a Christian, I walked out when I was 22 years old and I followed the traditional way
of the pipe, sweat lodge and the sun dance. The Elders who attended residential school
should have had a good life and they deserved a good life and unconditional love.
The Métis worldview was very different before colonization. The greatest impact that Métis
people experienced was a change in their worldview – a paradigm shift when they came from
a culture of living off the land with unconditional love and safety and harmony with the land
and where they had a culture and the medicine wheel. All of the sudden, money was
introduced to the Métis and given to the Métis if they worked for it. This was moving from
trading to a monetary system which has kept the Métis at extreme poverty levels ever since.
We are in a culture where money talks and is the life force.
We were civilized in our own culture and then Métis children were taken away to schools to
fend for themselves. There were caregivers and people there who preyed on the children.
Children were assaulted on their whole being. They were told that their parents did not love
them. There was physical abuse and murder and mental abuse with name calling, and
spiritual abuse and the fear of a God that we did not understand and they took away all of
our spiritual beliefs in pipes and medicine pouches. We were isolated into those residential
schools for reprogramming to bring us into the worldview of money.
Residential schools are part of colonization. In those days they received $100 per child. Métis
were given scrip of $1 per acre and people sold it to feed their children. In the Batoche
Resistance they hung eight chiefs after Louis Riel and they brought children from residential
schools to watch the hanging. That is psychological abuse.
Métis were known as the “half-breed problem” after 1885. Our ancestors were put onto farms
to teach them how to live. In the Indian Act we were first known as “half-breeds” and then as
Métis – it was changed over the years. The government changes it every time they need
something for themselves and we have to remember that. It is colonization and it continues.
We need to keep at it, and forge ahead. Many have given their lifetimes for this work and we
need to keep doing that for our children.
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In 1931, there were 80+ residential schools that colonized children as the Europeans came
across Canada. The last one closed in 1996, and 86,000 survivors launched a lawsuit.
Government had to come up with the IRSSA because otherwise the survivors would have
bankrupted the government. That 86,000 did not include the 75,000 that went to day school.
The IRSSA focused on those who lived in residential schools, and there are many loopholes in
the IRSSA.
In Calgary, I provide support to survivors who are homeless. I work with 90 residential school
survivors, and 70 second generation children. I was homeless in Edmonton and Calgary. As a
single parent you have to go where the jobs are. You have no choice. I ended up there and
homeless. In Calgary I wanted to do something for the homeless and started giving out
backpacks, which I initially paid for. I still give them out but now receive some funding for
The IRSSA and its CEP, IAP and TRC are all systems. In the IAP the government takes the 5%
GST off the settlement, which they should not be allowed to do. The compensation is based
on a point system and if you have made it okay in the world in spite of your experiences
then you get less, which is very unfair. It should be equal across the board.
Somewhere along the way we lost our interrelatedness. We have lost it because we did not
pass it on to our children. Aboriginal people are kept in third world conditions, with dirty
water and pollution even today. We need culturally relevant parenting programs. Métis can
learn about European parenting, but that will not “stick” for them as much as cultural
Family breakups lead to addictions. Dependency was created 100 years ago. That was our first
traumatic experience. The suicide rate is highest amongst Aboriginal Peoples in this country.
We have lost our self-esteem, self-love and spirituality and all of that has to come back to us.
We get our self-esteem from our culture.
Peer pressure is incredible. Peers learn from each other. I suggest involving youth in the MNC
and provincially and mentoring them. I am glad to see a lot of young leaders here today.
There is a program called “Growing Miles”, which teaches kids leadership. We need to keep
our youth out of jail. They need more community corrections so that they can avoid going to
jails where they will be in survival mode and have to fight or run and they will be fighting for
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Métis lost the traditional supporting roles of family and it is important to get it back.
Residential school students have minimal reading and writing skills. Alberta has the highest
drop out rate and yet is the richest province in Canada. We have to write our stories and
cannot be afraid to talk about the ugliness. It is our legacy.
An article in 2008 said that Métis language was continuing to lose speakers because that
knowledge is not transferred to the next generation. In Canada, the Métis are the largest
population and there is need to increase the language level. In Alberta, Michif is taught in
Kindergarten and Grade 1, and in the schools we need to teach the history of residential
schools. We need to develop our own archives so that they are there for the public and our
children to research.
Ms. Morin presented the following recommendations/actions for change:
do not carry your shame, put the shame on the government and do not ever let them
forget what they did
have to follow up on Prime Minister Harper’s election promise
ask government for treatment programs, parenting programs, suicide prevention
programs, community corrections, homeless prevention programs, and language
retention programs
in “Ziens” you can talk about your language, and yourself, and these can be archived
cultural camps for youth
do not be afraid to tell your story to the TRC; it is a history that they need to know;
those stories should be documented and archived so that Métis people are
represented in those stories; it does not affect the IAP or CEP processes
involve youth in producing video documentaries – it is one of their interests
create CDs on which youth can rap about their experiences
Europeans are saying that they have been here 100 years – we need to say that we
were here first and that we have been here forever
we need to be critical thinkers and critique when people speak; we need to use what
we have heard and speak up about it; we need to turn our anger outward by
speaking about it.
Karen LaRocque, SK
Delegates were extended an invitation to address the Dialogue.
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In ensuing discussion, delegates’ questions/comments pertained to:
control that the Catholic Church had over the parents of Métis children who attended
day schools
reluctance to engage with the TRC until the churches and government accept
responsibility for what happened to the Métis
next steps and follow up from the Dialogue
intergenerational impacts on Métis children who are solving their problems through
gangs and violence
support for continuing to pursue whoever was responsible for running the day
schools, whether it was the federal or provincial governments or the churches or both
importance of healing and moving forward
support for another Dialogue to be hosted within the next several months
there is no difference between the abuses suffered by those who attended day
school, and those who attended residential school
the comfort in knowing that there are people who understand the pain
shame carried by those who attended the schools
there is need for archival research to prove the high numbers of Métis who attended
the residential and day schools
forever is the amount of time needed to heal
backlog in the AIP process and concerns that when people die before their hearing
the families receive no compensation
the Métis always have been and always will be warriors
importance of treating every man and woman with kindness
strength of the Métis families, culture and lifestyle before residential and day schools
severe loneliness of being separated from family
damages done to children who suffered trauma
human rights concerns that in order to receive IAP it was necessary to sign away your
own rights and the rights of your children to sue in future
inequalities in the compensation received by Métis as compared to First Nations
using culture to re-engage the Métis youth
need for a youth forum
impacts of colonization and the introduction of money into the life of the Métis
there is also need to talk about the children who lived in compounds.
A detailed account of delegates’ questions/comments (Q/C) and responses (R) on which the
foregoing is based, follows:
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Beginning in the 1950’s, Alberta began paying for Métis to attend schools, but the
real issue appeared to be who had jurisdiction for the children. A 1953 letter said: “if
these are non treaty Indians then they are nobody’s children” that is where the name
for this Dialogue came from. This has been a good meeting for me in a therapeutic
way, and I thank everyone for that.
I was in the House of Commons for the Apology. When I went home that night I
cried all night and did not sleep, and then I spoke in the Senate the next day. Over
the next few weeks I wrote it down. Last night I was laying awake thinking of this and
I remember the nightmares in boarding school of falling in a big black hole. We had
an outhouse that had six stalls with a hole in the floor 1 foot wide and 3 feet long.
When it froze enough we would go down in there to be in private and be alone
because it was the only place you could be alone – in the frozen human waste.
We learned to play hockey and compete because it meant that we had the chance to
go to the Beauval Indian Residential school to play and there we would get a good
meal. That was why they were good hockey players – to eat well. My number was
#46. (Clément Chartier)
I made a presentation to the TRC last month and was the only Métis who presented.
It made me sad. I wondered “where are the Métis?”. It was astonishing that a Priest
was there as well. I have a strong issue with having a reconciliation session with the
Catholic Church that admits to nothing. It bothered me to have those people there.
It seems that no matter where we speak or what we speak, our atrocities are the
same as others’. They took the Métis out of you at the residential school and then
they did not include you in the list of schools in the IRSSA. Those are the people I
think are responsible for how we behave to each other and how we blame ourselves
– the Roman Catholic Church. We do tons of lateral violence to each other still and
that needs to stop. Everything in that church is not a good way and there are a whole
lot of Métis people who need to realize that they were not there for your good. It
was good for them, but not for us. This is called the intergenerational effects because
we were told we were no good.
The physical abuse we suffered is what we do to our children. We were taught that
you change someone by hitting them and hitting them hard so they really change.
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We were schooled by the wrong people – by people who did not even go to
Teacher’s College. They set up the genocide, which they did very well to our own
people. My mother died making rosaries and putting pennies for lent for the same
Priests and Nuns that molested my brother and I. I am going home to Île à la Crosse
and I will talk. My mother is dead but the hold on that community is still there. It is
really evident as soon as there is a burial.
No one told us that was a group of people we descended from – it changed
everything to learn that. To go back to it now and look at the problem is
disheartening. The genocide has not stopped. People have told me “God is with you”
and I appreciate that as a residential school survivor. I went to that school and they
did not accept my God, they said that it was witchcraft. You have to look at the
church and what it has done to us and how they have manipulated the concept of
God and how we relate to it as Métis in Île à la Crosse. The Cree part gets pushed
away because the churches have told us it is evil.
We need to heal ourselves from denial, we need to come back and say: “let’s get
busy and talk about spirituality”. I go a traditional way because I was born in the bush
and the residential school did not get me. But because they caught everyone else, the
town is littered with it. How do I save them from the Catholics? Their denial of doing
anything wrong is wrong. The United and Anglican and other churches have
compensated but the Catholics will not. I am going to go to the Police and charge
the people because I do not believe any other forum will bring these people to
justice. Many of them are still alive and still doing the same things. That was my
strategy to save myself.
I am a victim of residential school. It has followed me. Every once in a while you need
to try to heal yourself. The way to go is to ask for compensation and
acknowledgement of our pain that went on there. Prime Minister Harper has said that
we are not included and that is it. But consider that the churches that ran the schools
continue to run to this day. (Bernice Daigneault)
I grew up in Thunder Bay and live in Brantford. Through the law office of Jeffrey
Lawson there is a 60 class action lawsuit that Prime Minister Harper is trying to close
down. What came up in the Toronto case is that children’s rights began in 1965 in
Canada. Is it possible that residential schools started to close down because the
Catholic Church was wiping its hands of child abuse? (Ruth Robbins)
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In the NWT there was a leader who said “Indian education for Indian people”
and a decision was made by First Nations to take back the education of their
children and it forced the federal government to stop funding Indian schools.
It was the primary impetus for the ceasing of Indian Residential Schools, that
plus the statements of the damages, rather than the church backtracking.
Those in Île à la Crosse went through a struggle in 1973 to wrest control of
the school from the church. They run that school to this day. The Church was
God and ran the whole government and the religion in those communities.
People started standing up and that is why the control was eventually taken
away from the Church. It (the boarding school) is sitting there empty and
when we receive the settlement we will do a public display of demolishing it.
(Clément Chartier)
I thank the Panels and Norman Fleury for his stories and his struggle to keep Michif
alive, and the others who spoke on the Panels.
I was born in 1943 in St. Boniface, MB. I do not have a very pretty story. I was the
oldest of 11 and my mother was French Canadian and my father was half-breed. My
mother went to the convent and they cut her hair. She came from a French family but
she was disowned when she got involved with my father. My father never went to
school. They met in St. Boniface. I went to the school from Grade 1-4 and once each
month the Superintendent would come to visit. There were history lessons that talked
about Louis Riel as a traitor to Canada and that the Métis rebelled against Canada
and he was hung in 1885.
My parents had problems with alcohol. My dad was killed when he was 47. They
called my mom an unfit mother and other names. I went to Precious Blood School
until 1957 and it was the same ordeal with the Nuns and Priests. I was a ward of the
State so they gave me a “free education”. As a Catholic you cannot go to another
church, it is a sacrilege and you are taught that you have to suffer on earth to get to
heaven. They would show us pictures of people burning in hell and would tell us that
was where we were going. I used to have dreams about the devil grabbing me by the
feet and I used to wake up many nights sweating. Then I went for two years to the
Oblate Fathers.
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I filled out the CEP and all these schools are not in the list. My mother taught me that
kind of money is not good money. I lost my identity because I did not grow up in a
community proud to be a Métis. I was born during WWII and my parents did partying
and drinking and fiddling – there was no pride and no dignity. It was lost.
In 1982, I met an Ojibway Elder from Rocky Mountain House and started walking that
road. I drank for 25 years and I have five children who suffered. In 1973 I went to
sober up in Winnipeg. Until then, the only God I knew was the one the Nuns taught
me. I went to Little Black River and received my spiritual name. The sweat lodge is my
church now and I can identify with the part of my life that I lost. All those years I
could pray, kneel down and take all the pain, but the emotional scars are inside me.
When I sobered up that is when I started exploring my roots and became elected on
the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) Board.
Listening to the speakers at the Dialogue has given me a lot of strength. I keep
thinking about the similarities between myself and Louis Riel. I would go every day all
summer to the Saint River, but at school there was hell to pay. Today the Saint River
is a dirty old ditch but back then, there were turtles and fish and you could swim in it.
In college with the Oblate Fathers there was a Priest who would hit me hard. He was
also the Priest that gave haircuts but he would give you more than a haircut, and this
is the first time in my life I have ever brought that out when I was not drunk.
I want to thank Clém for his work and dedication with the MNC and all the people
who shared today. I can be proud of who I am. I have lost brothers and am just
starting to repair some of the damage with my own children. I have a little boy who
is 12 and has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and I fought the Chief and Council and took
that little boy. He is 12 today and next year he will be taller than me. He will pull on
me sometimes when I am busy and he will say: “I love you”, and I can give him that
back. The only reason young people take their lives is because they do not have
anyone to love them. He made me think about a different God, a God who loves us
all. (Norman Fontaine)
No one brought up the compound kids. We were locked into the compound and
there was an electric fence. We were there for 10 years and there were a lot of
families in that compound and a lot of time we were thrown in the residential schools
when our parents were sick or had to go out with the cattle. We were known as
compound kids. No one knew about that compound. In Green Lake there was a
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convent. I remember when my dad quit the mission (Ile a la Crosse), we moved there
and there was a convent there too. (Jean Morin)
Thank you for bringing the youth here to listen to the stories. I am a teacher of
Grades 7 and 8 and am a motivational speaker. When you speak about your
experiences you take the burden off your shoulders and share it. As Métis, our spirits
have been in a coma, like Louis Riel said “100 years from now the Métis will wake up
and express in the form of arts and music”. Love is spiritual and that is how we
connect to others.
Another predominant theory is the connection to nature. We can never forget that.
When we love ourselves we can connect to others and to our earth. My grandfather
was a wicked alcoholic, but he is not now. I always carry jack pine, sage and willow to
connect me to my people. Know that you are loved, lovable and that love is spiritual.
We are so blessed to be Métis. (Brandy Vezna)
Thank you Clém and the organizers for being great MCs, and to the Panelists. It made
me feel honoured to see our youth involved at the Dialogue – they are our
tomorrows and it is nice to see them participate. Many times I am thankful for AA,
which sobered many of our people up. It took time for the healing and will take more
time still. We are not the forgotten people – we are the people of our nation and will
continue to carry the pride of our nation as survivors. I thank each and every one of
you for coming to my home in Saskatoon. (Nora Cummings)
Thank you to the panel, the youth and the Elders who will guide us. I was one of two
people who recently spoke to a bunch of school children through the Internet. The
Métis have to have a story to tell and should be involved in telling it. We talked
about Métis residential school and the impact and the need to move forward.
Thank you to all the people who spoke Michif and all the languages. Keep on
personally healing and we will move along collectively, legally, politically and
personally for healing under the leadership of MNC President Chartier. (Ray Laliberte)
Jaime Koebel, Métis National Council
Ms. Koebel acknowledged that the delegates had heard from a lot of great speakers during
the day, and that all of their stories were valued. Delegates heard about the negative
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experiences of missions, boarding school, residential schools, and instances of physical, sexual
and spiritual abuse and the degrading of self-esteem and using God as an agent to suppress.
Impacts of the church on children and those who became parents and grandparents were
also discussed.
A main theme was the resiliency and pride of being Métis people and taking the initiative to
recognize that being Métis is something to be proud of. We heard from different generations,
and the overarching idea was that everyone is affected whether they went to residential
school or not, or know someone who went. There were recommendations and suggestions
for next steps, and requests for another conference to be held soon so that we do not lose
the momentum. Not everyone is ready to talk but in time, somewhere, the stories need to
get out and be heard to help further the justice in this area.
Many people who were not on the Panels spoke. It was valid and necessary to validate the
speakers. Many people who did not speak were witnesses, which was an important role as
well. Another recurring theme was appreciation to the MNC President for moving forward on
something that he had promised.
Ms. Koebel shared that in hearing about intergenerational affects at the Dialogue, she had a
terrible sleep the prior night and dreamed that her son had been stolen and came back 10
days later and had been abused. Her son was 8 years old. She felt the stories and could carry
the importance of being a witness to anyone who will listen. Ms. Koebel committed to
making sure that these messages move on, and expressed confidence that somewhere the
cycle on the intergenerational affects will be broken.
Clément Charier, QC, Métis National Council President
MNC President Chartier reviewed the names of Residential School Committee members for
the information of delegates, noting that these were the people who had the portfolios from
their respective Governing Members. The Committee would take the direction from this
Dialogue and would continue working towards a next meeting. He had also spoken to
Melanie Omeniho who has agreed that the Women of the Métis Nation will work with the
Committee to jointly seek resources to hold the next Dialogue. The representative from
Alberta had indicated that they would like to hold it in Alberta, and they would strive to
arrange that as soon as possible in Edmonton.
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MNC President Chartier concluded with the proposal that, during this Decade of the Métis
Nation, the next year be declared The Year of the Métis Residential School Child. Delegates
indicated support of this by their applause.
The President thanked the delegates for participating and sharing, and thanked the co-Chairs
for their facilitation.
The Métis Nation Residential School Dialogue concluded on Day 2 – Thursday, March 29,
2012 at 4:00 p.m. Participants joined hands in a Circle, and Norman Fleury offered a Closing
Métis Nation Residential School Dialogue Proeecedings
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The following acronyms were used throughout these Proceedings and Appendices:
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada
Assembly of First Nations
Annual General Assembly
British Columbia
Congress of Aboriginal Peoples
Common Experience Payment
United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Independent Assessment Process
International Labour Organization
Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement
Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami
Keewatin Yatthé Regional Health Authority
Manitoba Metis Federation
Métis Nation of Alberta
Métis National Council
Métis Nation of Ontario
Métis Nation - Saskatchewan
Memorandum of Understanding
National Aboriginal Organizations
Non-Governmental Organizations
Non-Insured Health Benefits
Office of the Federal Interlocutor
Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples
Truth and Reconciliation Commission
United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples
An invitation was extended to the delegates to sign in with their name, Governing Member
and information on school(s) attended. The following is not a complete list of all delegates at
Métis Nation Residential School Dialogue Proeecedings
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the Dialogue, but is a list of delegates who added their information to the circulated sign-in
School(s) Attended
George Belcourt
Sturgeon Lake
Louis Bellrose
St. Bernard’s Mission, Grouard, AB
Rosemarie Bellrose
St. Bernard’s Mission, Grouard, AB
St. Joseph’s Academy, Grande Prairie, AB
Cecil Belrose
Micheline Boisvert
Age 13-16½, Amos Pro Que Residential School
Guy Bouvier
Île à la Crosse, SK
Grade 10 – The Pas, MB
Caroline Brehaut
Île à la Crosse Residential School
Bridget Brown
4th generation child of a victim, St. Annes; daughter of
mother sent to convent
Andrew Carrier
1963-69, Ecolé St. Marie, St. Boniface, MB
Helen Clarke
Île à la Crosse Boarding School
Angie Crerar
St Joseph’s School, Fort Resolution
David Cardinal
Little Buffalo Boarding School
Nora Cummings
St. Joseph’s School, SK
Île à la Crosse Boarding School, SK
Clara Morin DalCol
St. Paul’s School, Hay River, NWT
Norval Desjarlais
1947-1951, Birie Residential (Indian) School
Liliane Ethier
Child of victim
Patsy Ewenin
Catholic Schools in Taber, AB
Jim Favel
Île à la Crosse Boarding School
Norman Fontaine
1949-53, Ecolé Ste. Marie
1953-57, Ecolé Precious Sons
1957-58, Junwiate College, Oblate Fathers
Abraham Gardiner
Île à la Crosse Boarding School, SK
Erin Gunville
Joanne Gunville
Bernice Hammersmith-
1964, Île à la Crosse Boarding School
St. Bernard’s Mission, Grouard, AB
Arthur L. Knibbs
Métis Nation Residential School Dialogue Proeecedings
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Flora Knight
St. Bernard’s Mission, Grouard, AB
Gloria Laird
St. Bernard’s Mission, Grouard, AB
George Lavallee
Berier Day School, St. Ambrose, MB
Georgina Liberty
Shyraun Logan
Annette Maurice
Benny Michaud
Art Mordal
Mary Hill School, near Winnipeg, MB
Gerald Morin
K-12, Greenlake Day School, Greenlake, SK
Jean Morin Peerless
Île à la Crosse Residential School
Beauval and some Indian Residential School
Greenlake Convent, Greenlake, SK
Leó Nolin
Edith Northcott
Morley Norton
St. Joseph Vocational School
Good Shepard Home, Edmonton, AB
1958-60, Timber Bay Boarding School
1960-62, Île à la Crosse Boarding School
1962-63, Timber Bay Boarding School
Richard Petit
Lisa Pigeau
Shelby Rose
Île à la Crosse Boarding School
Margaret Samuelson
Convent at Duck Lake
Thelma Schell
St. Bernard’s Mission, Grouard, AB
Mavis Taylor
St. Thomas, Llyodminster, AB
Fern Welch
St. Bernard’s Mission, Grouard, AB
Bavharanne Wright
Child of a victim – Boys School, St. Boniface, MB
Métis Nation Residential School Dialogue Proeecedings
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