Res­i­den­tial school pain shared

Pub­lic screen­ing of new doc­u­men­tary Muffins for Granny at Wen­jack The­atre on Satur­day night

The Peterborough Examiner - - COMMUNITY LISTINGS - JES­SICA NYZNIK EX­AM­INER STAFF WRITER Muffins for Granny, JNyznik@post­

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.

Theresa McCraw

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