Our second post for Truth and Reconciliation Week, are brief except from one of the reports from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) called “The Survivors Speak”. These 6,750 survivors’ statements were recorded during the TRC’s hearing across the country between 2008 and 2013. These particular excerpts are from the chapter on life before Residential School. “As Albert Fiddler was growing up in Saskatchewan, his father taught him how to live off the land. I remember my dad teaching me how to hunt, and learn how to snare rabbits, learn how to take care of horses. I was riding horses already on, four years old, and I’m rid- ing with a bareback, and I enjoy that thing. I still remember that because I was a fairly decent cowboy, you know, like little beaver, as they used to call him in the comic books. I used to hang on onto just the mane. I didn’t, I didn’t even have a bridle. His father also taught him to hunt. And it’s funny sometimes, you know, and some of it was fun. Some of it was kind of patience, and pretty chilly sometimes when he was telling me when, how to snare chickens out of the, out of the willows. We’re using this, a little wire, and a long stick, and standing on the dark side of, and waiting for the chickens to come and feed on the willows, and now we’d snare them down, yeah.” “Doris Young attended residential schools in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Her early childhood was spent in northern Manitoba. The family that I had, my mother and father, and my brothers and sisters, and my grandparents, and my aunties and uncles. The community that I lived in was a safe one. It was a place where we were cared for, and loved by our parents, and our grandparents, and that community that I lived at we were safe. We were, we were well taken care of. We lived off the land, and off the water, meaning by fishing. My dad was a chief, but he was also what we would call a labourer in those days, but he was also a hunter, trapper, and fisherman, and that’s how he supported us. And my mother spoke only Cree, and that’s the language that we spoke in our household, and she thought it was very important for us to, to have that language because, it was the basis of our culture, as I came to understand it later in life. And she was the one that enforced that, that language that we spoke in our house.” Here’s a link to the full copy of the TRC’s “The Survivors Speak” report: https://ehprnh2mwo3.exactdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Survivors_Speak_English_Web.pdf?fbclid=IwAR18HKc-1IvZeTMOId0sr4sF0pv3BX_hPWNIm7hDnBmAsospdfvy9tAmMQ0
2 Corinthians 5:19 This past Sunday, Bethel church had the privilege of having Harold Roscher, an Indigenous preacher, deliver God’s message. One of our offerings that day was for the Edmonton Native Healing Centre, where Harold is Director. This was a great way to start off Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Week.
I mention these actions, as they are a few of the acts of reconciliation that we, as a church, are called to do. If you are not familiar with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, follow this link to get a .pdf copy of the document. https://ehprnh2mwo3.exactdn.com/.../Calls_to_Action... In particular, Calls to Action 58 to 61 apply to churches.
59. We call upon church parties to the Settlement Agreement to develop ongoing education strategies to ensure that their respective congregations learn about their church’s role in colonization, the history and legacy of residential schools, and why apologies to former residential school students, their families, and communities were necessary.
This week, I will be posting various Indian Residential School (IRS) stories. Thursday, please make it a point to learn something about IRS if you haven’t done so already. And let’s all try to wear orange on Friday, and again on Sunday in solidarity with those who have survived IRS. This week’s first post is on IRS history. https://nctr.ca/.../teaching.../residential-school-history/
Our third post on Reconciliation this week - the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report “The Survivors Speak”, a chapter entitled:
FORCED DEPARTURE. “For many students, the trip to residential school began with the arrival of an official let- ter. When Josephine Eshkibok was eight years old, a priest came to her home in northern Ontario and presented her mother with a letter. “My mother opened the letter and I could see her face; I could see her face, it was kind of sad but mad too. She said to me, ‘I have to let you go,’ she told us. So we had to, go to, go to school at Spanish Residential School.”27 Isaac Daniels recalled one dramatic evening in 1945, when the Indian agent came to his father’s home on the James Smith Reserve in Saskatchewan.
I didn’t understand a word, ’cause I spoke Cree. Cree was the main language in our family. So, so my dad was kind of angry. I kept seeing him pointing to that Indian agent.
So that night we were going to bed, it was just a one-room shack we all lived in, and I heard my dad talking to my mom there, and he was kind of crying, but he was talking in Cree now. He said that, “It’s either residential school for my boys, or I go to jail.” He said that in Cree. So, I overheard him. So I said the next morning, we all got up, and I said, “Well, I’m going to residential school,” ’cause I didn’t want my dad to go to jail.”
“In the late 1940s, Vitaline Elsie Jenner was living with her family in northern Alberta. “My, my mom and dad loved me, loved all of us a lot. They took care of us the best that they knew how, and I felt so comfortable being at home.” This came to an end in the fall of 1951.