Opaskwayak Cree Nation, Manitoba, age withheld
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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