It is ‘about heal­ing’

Event will bring to­gether res­i­den­tial school sur­vivors

The Expositor (Brantford) - - FRONT PAGE - mruby@post­media.com MICHELLE RUBY EXPOSITOR STAFF

Sur­vivors of res­i­den­tial schools from Six Nations, north­ern On­tario and Que­bec will gather at the Wood­land Cul­tural Cen­tre for a two-day event meant to pro­mote heal­ing.

The first-ever Mov­ing For­ward To­gether Sur­vivors’ Gather­ing, a part­ner­ship be­tween Wood­land and the On­tario In­dian Res­i­den­tial School Sup­port Ser­vices, will be held Sept. 29 and 30.

“Sur­vivor gath­er­ings have been held in other com­mu­ni­ties, in­clud­ing Shing­wauk (In­dian Res­i­den­tial School in Sault Ste. Marie),” said Car­lie Myke, Wood­land’s out­reach co-or­di­na­tor. “This is the first time we’ll have one here.”

Myke ex­pects about 300 res­i­den­tial school sur­vivors, their fam­ily mem­bers and other sup­port­ers – from Six Nations of the Grand River, Tyen­d­i­naga Mo­hawk Ter­ri­tory (near Belleville), Wahta Mo­hawks (Muskoka) and be­yond to at­tend.

“The event is about heal­ing,” said Myke. “It’s about find­ing strength to­gether.

“When we’re talk­ing about res­i­den­tial schools, it’s a very emo­tional sub­ject with years of trauma in a com­mu­nity.”

The first day of the gather­ing (Fri­day, Sept. 29) will be geared mainly to sur­vivors with work­shops on jus­tice and the types of ser­vices avail­able and an em­pha­sis on holis­tic heal­ing. There will also be an art ther­apy ac­tiv­ity.

The key­note speaker on Sept. 29 at 6 p.m. will be au­thor and spir­i­tual leader Tom Porter. Evening en­ter­tain­ment will be pro­vided by Cec Sault.

The talk will be held outdoors, weather per­mit­ting.

For those sur­vivors who wish to par­tic­i­pate, Six Nations me­dia pro­duc­tion company Thru The Red Door will be con­duct­ing video in­ter­views that will be used in the Save the Ev­i­dence cam­paign to pre­serve the his­tory of the for­mer Mo­hawk In­sti­tute Res­i­den­tial School. In­ter­views can be pre-booked by con­tact­ing ste@wood­land­cul­tur­al­cen­tre.ca or 519-759-2650.

Myke said sur­vivors and their fam­ily mem­bers are also be­ing asked to bring pho­to­graphs taken dur­ing their time at a res­i­den­tial school that will be added to Wood­land’s archives.

A heal­ing walk in sup­port of sur­vivors will take place on Sept. 30 at 11 a.m. Res­i­den­tial school sur­vivors will lead a walk down the laneway from the Mo­hawk In­sti­tute, fol­lowed by their sup­port­ers who are en­cour­aged to write words of heal­ing and en­cour­age­ment on the walk­way with chalk.

“Every­one is wel­come to at­tend,” said Myke.

Par­tic­i­pants are in­vited to wear an orange shirt in hon­our of Orange Shirt Day, which hon­ours res­i­den­tial school sur­vivors across Canada. Shirts will be for sale at Wood­land for $20, with the pro­ceeds go­ing to sup­port the Save the Ev­i­dence cam­paign.

On Satur­day at 1 p.m., writer and mo­ti­va­tional speaker Eddy Robin­son will talk.

Wood­land Cul­tural Cen­tre is at the site of the for­mer Mo­hawk In­sti­tute Res­i­den­tial School on Mo­hawk Street.

More in­for­ma­tion about Mov­ing For­ward To­gether is avail­able at www.wood­land­cul­tur­al­cen­tre.ca.

The Mo­hawk In­sti­tute op­er­ated un­der the fed­eral gov­ern­ment from July 1, 1885 to June 27, 1970. Prior to 1885, the Angli­can Church of Canada was in­volved in the oper­a­tion of a school and res­i­den­tial school in the same lo­ca­tion. En­rol­ment at the school ranged from 90 to 200 stu­dents per year. Many for­mer stu­dents have de­scribed suf­fer­ing phys­i­cal, sex­ual and emo­tional abuse at the school.

Res­i­den­tial schools were gov­ern­ment-spon­sored re­li­gious schools es­tab­lished to as­sim­i­late In­dige­nous chil­dren into Euro-Cana­dian cul­ture. Since the last res­i­den­tial school closed in 1996, for­mer stu­dents have pressed for recog­ni­tion and resti­tu­tion, re­sult­ing in the In­dian Res­i­den­tial Schools Set­tle­ment Agree­ment in 2007 and a for­mal public apol­ogy by Prime Min­is­ter Stephen Harper in 2008. In to­tal, an es­ti­mated 150,000 First Na­tion, Inuit, and Metis chil­dren at­tended res­i­den­tial schools.

When we’re talk­ing about res­i­den­tial schools, it’s a very emo­tional sub­ject with years of trauma in a com­mu­nity.” Car­lie Myke, Wood­land Cul­tural Cen­tre out­reach co-or­di­na­tor

POST­MEDIA NET­WORK

A ban­ner shows im­ages from the Mo­hawk In­sti­tute Res­i­den­tial School in Brant­ford. The Wood­land Cul­tural Cen­tre will host a Mov­ing For­ward To­gether Sur­vivors’ Gather­ing on Sept. 29 and 30.

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