Ottawa, ON – (April 5, 2012) Métis residential/boarding and day school survivors were joined by Métis Nation leadership and fellow citizens in Saskatoon, SK., for a two-day Métis Nation Residential School Dialogue titled, “Nobody’s Children”. This gathering was the first time that survivors from across the Homeland were brought together in a safe place to share, learn and lean on one another as the Métis Nation took it’s first collective step on the journey towards healing.
Métis National Council President Clément Chartier says that the hurt runs deep. “As a people we have faced many challenges, but nothing has been more personal and hurtful than the lack of recognition for our people who attended Métis residential and boarding schools. It is a continuing struggle trying to convince the federal government to do the right thing for all Aboriginal peoples, including the Métis.
The Dialogue included panel sessions on the legacy of exclusion, experiences of Métis residential school attendees, experiences of day school attendees, experiences of Métis covered by the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement and the impacts on family, culture and language as a result of the residential school systems. “We have several generations now that require healing, the residential school system has scarred our Nation and the time has come for us to address these issues and feelings that we have been suppressing for so long,” states President Chartier.
In the Constitution Act 1867, the federal government only recognized its responsibility for two of the three Aboriginal Peoples leaving the Métis Nation in jurisdictional limbo bouncing between the federal and provincial governments – the Métis were ‘Nobody’s Children’, a position the Métis Nation finds itself in even today.
“In the end it doesn’t matter who funded these schools that were full of thousands of Métis children. The policy set out to extinguish our culture, language and beliefs while torturing the adolescents out of us through physical, sexual, emotional and psychological abuse was as real for us as it was for the survivors of the Indian Residential Schools that Canada recognizes and takes responsibility for,” explains President Chartier. “This Dialogue gave us the strength to move forward as a Nation and to find our way through this damaging part of our existence. I am confident that we come out of this a stronger, more unified and caring Nation for our future generations.”
Three primary outcomes emerged from the Dialogue: a working list of Métis residential, boarding and day schools that were attended by the Dialogue attendees which will be added to as more schools are identified; the stories of several Métis survivors which have been recorded on video for historical purposes; and lastly, that second conference will be held within the next year to continue the healing process and determine what the next steps are for the Métis Nation in resolving the outstanding issues of Métis residential, boarding and day schools.