There is help available for what your mother is going through
DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: My mother is a residential school survivor. She went through her court process and was awarded compensation. She shared most with family members. I’ve seen that large amount of money bringsthe ugliness out in people, who fight over their cut. My mother is silent, but it bothers her. This is not the whole reason I’m writing. Before and after the court proceedings, I have woken up in the dead of night to my mother screaming for dear life. She has terrible nightmares. She’s also picking up weird behavior, like she’s in the miltary or something. She’s waking up at a certain time in the morning going to bed early, her belongings neatly in a roll, her living area always clean. She’s also hiding food, constantly reading the Bible. I try talking to her but it’s no use. She did finally share with me a document from her court proceedings. It talked about her childhood. I cried when I read it. I held my mother in my arms and embraced her and told her everything that had happened is over now and she’s OK and safe. My mother’s story sounded so horrible and frightening, like The Holocaust. Everything finally became clear to me. I looked at my own childhood and realized why my mother was the way she was. I don”t blame her for the things she did. From what I have read, she had no one to love and teach her anything. She was a lost child who grew up to be the elder she is today. I’ve noticed a huge change in my mother since this residential school proceedings started. Her health is going down and her emotional state is bad. I’m worried about her. My other relatives are scared to go through their own proceedings now. They feel they’d rather take their stories to the grave than bring them out. This is very bad; these people really need help. I’ve tried to look for places that can accommodate my mother’s needs for counselling. We have tried a few, but they are mostly addiction substance-related and does not really fit the circumstances of my mother needs. In my mother’s settlement she was granted extra money to use for healing and counselling. Do you have any advice for what kind of direction I should take to find help for my mother — any doctor, treatment centre, hospital? I cannot understand why the government never thought of healing for the victims of the residential school survivors. — Need Help for My Mother.
Dear Needing Help for Mother: How heartbreaking for your mom to be re-living the horrors of what she went through when she is becoming so fragile. As people get older — even if they’re not experiencing dementia — they lose some control over their emotions, especially the ability to repress experiences that were not adequately dealt with earlier. The memories can be triggered by many things. Who knows what your mom’s triggers are at this point, but the bedroll behaviour and ultra-neatness may refer back to the feeling of fear of authorities in the dorms where she lived and slept as a child. Is she perhaps fearful of being moved into an insitution/’residence again? A National Indian Residential School 24/7 crisis line (1-866-925-4419) has been set up to provide support for former Residential School students. You can access information on other health supports from the Government of Canada and also get immediate help from a counsellor on the phone, plus referral to a counsellor in your area for ongoing help. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission office (TRC) is responsible for following-up on these situations — and the head office is here in Winnipeg at 1500-360 Main St. (204984-5885), with email email@example.com, and website www.trc.ca. I’ve also sent you privately some other resources with names attached and their phone numbers. Any readers with additional help or advice to offer, please write in with your support and suggestions.
Darren Stebeleski with his sculpture, Sentinel of Truth, located at the Millennium Library Park.