By Lorraine Rousseau
Couple of days are left until the end of June, that has annually been dedicated to celebrating all Indigenous Peoples and cultures in Canada. This year’s celebrations are with heavy and broken hearts across the lands as more and more unmarked mass graves are found at varying sites of residential schools.
Canada Day is around the corner. With heavy hearts, this year will be different. I empathize with calls to cancel this year’s celebrations. Indigenous communities need the time and space to heal and mourn. I’ve learnt that many will be taking action: attending events on July 1st while wearing Orange Shirts in solidarity with Indigenous communities. Our communities across Canada mourn and honour the children who didn’t make it home. Will you have fireworks if your neighbours are grieving?
Earlier versions of this government and organizations run by the Catholic Church fully participated in and sanctioned the efforts of annihilation of a people. Their justification for the systemic discrimination and oppression was to ‘civilize’ a culture that they were unable to understand.
The education system presented by government combined with a European settlers and churches, are the origins of residential schools, dating back into the 1600s. Here we are in the year 2021, approximately 400 years later, facing the results of genocide and systems in organizations that continue a slower destruction of those individuals who do not ‘fit’ in standards set that encourage unfair treatment and exclusion.
It’s more important to understand the history of genocide in Canada, a topic that rarely makes it to our mainstream education systems and schools. “So why is it important to understand the history of genocide in Canada? Because it’s not history. Today’s racist government laws, policies and actions have proven to be just as deadly for Indigenous peoples as the genocidal acts of the past, says Pamela Palmater, Mi’kmaq lawyer, professor, activist, and politician.
On this Canada Day, let’s take the time to reflect and pledge to stay in solidarity with Indigenous communities as they strive towards justice.
As difficult as it is to view media and resources providing these truths, we must witness what has been permitted to happen. We cannot allow this atrocity to quiet the voices of those who can speak and of those who cannot – the death and abuse by ‘care givers’ and authority – the intergenerational effects, the lives lost – we cannot be complacent.
Wherever you’re in Canada, there is a chance that a residential school is located in the heart of your city, town or community. Included below is a list of the 34 Residential Schools across the Territories.
To all residential school survivors and their families, please use the resources available if you need support: NWT: 1-800-464-8106; Nunavut: 1-800-265-3333; Yukon: 1-867-456-3838. National Crisis Line: 1 866 925 4419. The Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program provides mental health, emotional and cultural support services to eligible former residential school students and their families. Workers tending the National Crisis Line are able to provide more information on the support program. Resources are also available online.
|Northwest Territories Residential Schools|
|Akaitcho Hall (Yellowknife Vocational School)||Yellowknife|
|Aklavik Roman Catholic (Immaculate Conception)||Aklavik|
|Aklavik Anglican (All Saints)||Aklavik|
|Deh Cho Hall (Lapointe Hall)||Fort Simpson|
|Federal Hostel at Fort Franklin||Fort Franklin|
|Fort McPherson (Fleming Hall)||Fort McPherson|
|Fort Providence Boarding Home (Sacred Heart)||Fort Providence|
|Fort Resolution Residence (St. Joseph’s)||Fort Resolution|
|Fort Simpson Anglican (Bompas Hall)||Fort Simpson|
|Fort Simpson Roman Catholic (Lapointe Hall)||Fort Simpson|
|Fort Smith (Breynat Hall)||Fort Smith|
|Fort Smith (Grandin College)||Fort Smith|
|Hay River (St. Peter’s)||Hay River|
|Inuvik Roman Catholic (Grollier Hall)||Inuvik|
|Inuvik Anglican Hostel (Stringer Hall)||Inuvik|
|Nunavut Residential Schools|
|Chesterfield Inlet (Turquetil Hall)||Chesterfield Inlet|
|Coppermine (Tent Hostel)||Coppermine|
|Federal Hostel at Baker Lake/Qamani’tuaq||Qamani’tuaq/ Qamanittuaq|
|Federal Hostel at Belcher Islands||Sanikiluaq|
|Federal Hostel at Broughton Island/Qikiqtarjuaq||Qikiqtarjuaq|
|Federal Hostel at Cambridge Bay||Cambridge Bay|
|Federal Hostel at Cape Dorset/Kinngait||Kinngait|
|Federal Hostel at Eskimo Point/Arviat||Arviat|
|Federal Hostel at Frobisher Bay (Ukkivik)||Iqaluit|
|Federal Hostel at Igloolik/Iglulik||Igloolik/Iglulik|
|Federal Hostel at Lake Harbour||Kimmirut|
|Federal Hostel at Pangnirtung (Pangnirtang)||Pangnirtung/Panniqtuuq|
|Federal Hostel at Pond Inlet/Mittimatalik||Mittimatalik|
|Yukon Residential Schools|
|Coudert Hall (Whitehorse Hostel/Student Residence – Predecessor to Yukon Hall)||Whitehorse|
|St. Paul’s Hostel (September 1920 to June 1943)||Dawson City|
|Shingle Point (Predecessor to All Saints, Aklavik)||Shingle Point|
|Whitehorse Baptist Mission||Whitehorse|
|Yukon Hall (Whitehorse/Protestant Hostel)||Whitehorse|
This article originally appeared in the Yellowknifer on June 30, 2021