There is help avail­able for what your mother is go­ing through

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ARTS & LIFE - MAUREEN SCURFIELD

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, and web­site 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.

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