Métis Residential and Day School Survivors Speak

A new MNC video production captures the experiences of Métis survivors of Church-run residential and day schools.

Nobody’s Children:
Métis Residential School Survivors Continue to Fight for Recognition.

Many former Métis residential school students have consistently voiced their desire to move forward with recognition, compensation and healing for the devastation that has plagued them. Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued an apology for those who attended Indian Residential Schools but failed to acknowledge those who attended Métis residential and day schools.

On June 11, 2008, Prime Minister Harper in the House of Commons apologized on behalf of all Canadians for the Indian residential school experience, which saw 150,000 Aboriginal children taken from their families in an attempt to assimilate them into the dominant culture. Many students were physically, psychologically and sexually abused in those Indian residential schools.

“There is no place in Canada for the attitudes that inspired the Indian residential schools system to ever prevail again” Harper said as part of the apology, “you have been working on recovering from this experience for a long time, and in a very real sense we are now joining you on this journey”.

Meanwhile, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), a central part of the 2006 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA), designed to effect healing and reconciliation, has heard heartrending testimony from residential school survivors across the country. The TRC as part of the IRSSA does not have a mandate to deal with residential schools excluded from the settlement agreement, thus precluding a true and just reconciliation for the Métis Nation.

Nevertheless, President Chartier has made a number of speeches at TRC National Events, continuing to make the Métis Nation’s position clear with respect to the settlement agreement, the apology and the TRC, along with the challenges Métis continue to face.

“The truth is that the exclusion of the Métis Nation, of the Métis people, from the agreement, the apology and the mandate of the TRC itself is reflected throughout this whole period” said president Chartier, “we need to ensure that everyone is aware of that.”

“It is therefore in the best interests of all Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in Canada that no one is left out and that a true and lasting reconciliation be vigorously pursued on the basis of the right of all Aboriginal peoples to exist within the Canadian State as equals, exercising the right of self-determination in its many manifestations” stated President Chartier.

The Métis National Council has brought together Métis residential/boarding and day school survivors from across the Métis Nation homeland to share, learn and lean on one another on the journey towards healing. So far, two national gatherings have been held: one in Saskatoon, SK, in March 2012 entitled “Nobody’s Children”; another in Ottawa, ON, in March 2013 entitled, “We are children of the Métis Nation”.

According to President Chartier “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 day schools. It is a continuing struggle trying to convince the federal government to do the right thing for all Aboriginal peoples, including the Métis”.

“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 adolescence out of us through physical, sexual, emotional and psychological abuse which 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. “These dialogues 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 will come out of this a stronger, more unified and caring Nation for our future generations”.

TRC National Event Saskatchewan 2012

Nobody’s Children – A Métis National Residential School Dialogue, March 2012

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