Residential school pain shared
Public screening of new documentary Muffins for Granny at Wenjack Theatre on Saturday night
When her grandmother died, Nadia McLaren was left with many unanswered questions about the indigenous woman’s time in residential school.
There was still so much she wanted to ask her gramma and always thought she’d have a chance to hear her story.
But Theresa McCraw died before her granddaughter got a chance to listen.
“When she passed, it was like a catalyst into realizing her story passed with her,” McLaren said. Her grandma’s death inspired
a documentary about the residential school policy told through the eyes of its survivors.
The film is screening at Trent University’s Wenjack Theatre on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. There’s a question and answer period with McLaren afterwards.
McCraw was about four years old when she was taken to St. Joseph’s Boarding School, a four-hour train ride from her home on Heron Bay Pic River Reservation. She lived at the school until she was 12.
Growing up, McLaren was very close with her jovial and loving granny.
“But now and then she’d cry – she would just cry,” said McLaren, 40.
Her grandmother would also have gatherings with friends, where they’d speak Ojibwe and talk about their time in residential schools. Not knowing the language, McLaren didn’t know what was being discussed.
She often wondered why her granny kept her from learning “this beautiful way of life.”
Through filming her documentary, McLaren was given answers.
“I learned she was protecting us ... that for her, being Ojibwe brought her nothing but a lot of pain, so she was protecting us from that,” she said.
The 88-minute film shares the stories of six residential school survivors. Within it, the spirit of McCraw’s story is shared, too, and old video clips of her are peppered throughout the film.
McLaren spent five years working on the film, completing it in 2007. It’s screened in cities across Canada and countries around the world.
She moved to Peterborough with her family about two years ago and works at Nogojiwanong Friendship Centre as a cultural resource co-ordinator.
The centre and Trent are presenting the free film Saturday in the spirit of reconciliation.
McLaren hopes the documentary sheds light on people’s understandings of First Nations people in Canada, helping to build a bridge to reconciliation.
“I hope it helps (people) understand the depths of the trauma that is still very much alive today and how wonderful and resilient these storytellers are.”
NOTE: Trent University’s Wenjack Theatre is named after
Chanie Wenjack, the 12-yearold boy who died in 1966 after he ran away from a residential school in Kenora, Ont. and tried to walk 600 kilometres to his family home at Marten Falls First Nation in northwestern Ontario.