DORIS YOUNG

Opaskwayak Cree Na­tion, Man­i­toba, age with­held

Canadian Geographic - - THE SURVIVORS CIRCLE -

I I HAD NOT TURNED four when I was taken to Elkhorn res­i­den­tial school in Man­i­toba. It was 500 kilo­me­tres from my home on the Opaskwayak Cree Na­tion. I was taken there on a bus. Adults were not with us. We were all sick. We had never been on a bus. I had been in my com­mu­nity with my fam­ily — lov­ing, kind and good peo­ple who gave us our val­ues of car­ing, lov­ing, shar­ing, be­ing re­spect­ful of one an­other and feel­ing safety. When I got to the res­i­den­tial school, my hair was cut off right away and put in the garbage. The clothes made by my mother and my aunts, my moc­casins, were con­fis­cated. I was in res­i­den­tial schools for 13 years. All 15 chil­dren in my fam­ily were in res­i­den­tial schools. I saw things that were not hu­man. Chil­dren strapped in front of us. It was like a Nazi con­cen­tra­tion camp. They threw us in harm’s way. I was al­ways afraid. To tell the Cana­dian pub­lic about it is very hard, but it’s some­thing that needs to be done. They don’t want to face what Cana­dian so­ci­ety did to Abo­rig­i­nal Cana­di­ans. My hope is that ev­ery time I talk to a non-abo­rig­i­nal per­son that you will be able to of­fer some kind of so­lu­tion, too, and say what you would be will­ing to do to be a rec­on­cil­i­at­ing per­son. You’ve asked us to give you this knowl­edge and go back into these places it’s very hard to be. Now you have a re­spon­si­bil­ity. What are you go­ing to do about it?

I saw things that were not hu­man. It was like a Nazi con­cen­tra­tion camp. I was al­ways afraid.

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