Ottawa apologizes to Sask. First Nation for its role in experimental colony
The Government of Canada offered a national apology to Peepeekisis Cree Nation on Wednesday for its role in the File Hills Colony Scheme.
The apology is something that was welcomed by Peepeekisis Chief and Council, along with many community members who worked for years, looking to get that national apology and be fairly compensated for the wrongdoings linked to the experimental colony.
“Prior to me, there were 18 Chiefs before me that had major roles in this past claim,” said Peepeekisis Chief Francis Dieter.
“The File Hills Indian Farming Colony was a socially engineered project that contributed to the genocide of Cree people who resided on Peepeekisis reserve.”
The community accepted a $150 million settlement in August 2021.
Although the settlement was reached, the project has left many with unanswered questions about themselves, some grappling with identity issues stemming from the colony.
‘I AM NOT 100 PER CENT POSITIVE WHERE MY FAMILY ORIGINATES FROM’
Sara Poitras is a mother of two, and an elementary school teacher.
Like many with ties to Peepeekisis, she said she feels proud to be from the community, even if her family’s ties may not be easy to track down.
“To my understanding, the best of my knowledge, I believe Poitras come from South Dakota but unfortunately, I am not 100 per cent positive where my family originates from,” Poitras said during Wednesday’s event.
She spoke, along with multiple members of the community, about how she is dealing with her traumas.
Poitras said she hoped to become a Cree teacher as her education career progressed, but said something didn’t feel right about speaking it at times.
It’s another element she said she’ll need to work through on her healing journey.
“It's conflicting because as Indigenous people, we’re so connected to the lands. To be taken from your ancestral lands and to be displaced -- just put somewhere else -- it's just, a loss of connection,” Poitras said.
She and another young Peepeekisis band member, Keegan Montgrand, spoke of their links to identity, as products of the File Hills Colony.
“My family feels the effects … we don’t know if we still have blood relatives from our family’s original nation. Here on Peepeekisis, we are known as placements. As outsiders — even though we were born, and raised on these lands,” Montgrand said.
“We can free of wrongdoings, but we must never forget.”
‘INVASIVE IN NATURE:’ THE APOLOGY
Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous-Crown Relations, spoke at an event in the community on Wednesday morning to acknowledge the wrongs of the past.
He said the government hopes the apology can help the healing process within the community.
“At the time, Canada claimed wrongly that this scheme would enhance agricultural productivity. Now we understand this was an experiment that was invasive in nature, and an experiment in radical social engineering,” said Miller.
“For this, we are deeply sorry. The historic harm caused by the colony scheme goes far beyond the transfer of prime land. It created divisions in the community.”
Peepeekisis Cree Nation was home to the File Hills Colony between 1897 and 1954. Participants in the colony were selected for the experiment after graduating from residential schools and industrial schools.
Colony members were forced to work on a community farm which was located on what is now called Peepeekisis Cree Nation.
They were not permitted to return to their home communities where they had originally lived before attending residential school, where most of their families were still living.
In looking to the future, Miller said the words of Poitras and Montgrand gives him “great hope,” but a lack of belonging was something that “hit home.”
“It is the direct result of a devastating social experiment that occurred on this land. Knowing it gets transmitted from generation to generation — it’s not a myth. It’s a reality. And it’s a lived reality,” Miller said.
“They’re breaking the mould and realizing there is a bright future without sugar coating the reality of what they go through.”
As Peepeekisis takes another step Wednesday within its healing journey, some may look at the national apology as another step in the right direction.
But for some, such as Poitras, grappling with identity uncertainty caused by the experiment — the road to reconciliation may not be as smooth.
“We didn't ask to be put here. We didn't ask to be taken from our land -- we didn't ask to come here. And then, the originals didn't ask for us to come here. Nobody asked for this. We just have to work with what we have now.”
If you are a former residential school student in distress, or have been affected by the residential school system and need help, you can contact the 24-hour Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419, or the Indian Residential School Survivors Society toll free line at 1-800-721-0066.
Additional mental-health support and resources for Indigenous people are available here.
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
The Ottawa woman who former Hedley frontman Jacob Hoggard is convicted of sexually assaulting says she is now suing him for $2.8 million.
Videos of revolts and unrest started to flood the internet when Iranian protestors flocked to the streets in response to the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman allegedly detained for wearing her hijab improperly.
This fall, teachers and parents have been sharing photos on social media of do-it-yourself air purifiers that they’ve made for classrooms to help protect kids from COVID-19 — and according to researchers, these low-cost purifiers actually work.
Hockey Quebec says it has lost confidence in Hockey Canada and will not transfer funds to the national organization, while Tim Hortons and Scotiabank have extended sponsorship boycotts.
Nearly all Conservative members of Parliament voted for a bill they say would protect the conscience rights of health professionals when it comes to medical assistance in dying.
North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles toward its eastern waters Thursday after the United States redeployed an aircraft carrier near the Korean Peninsula in response to Pyongyang's previous launch of a nuclear-capable missile over Japan.
In the first footage of its kind, scientists captured the moment a pod of orcas hunted great white sharks in South Africa.
A Texas death row inmate whose case redefined the role of spiritual advisers in death chambers nationwide was executed Wednesday, despite the efforts of a district attorney to stop his lethal injection.
Colorado baker fights ruling over gender transition cake years after case involving gay couple's wedding cake
The Colorado baker who won a partial Supreme Court victory after refusing on religious grounds to make a gay couple's wedding cake a decade ago is challenging a separate ruling he violated the state's anti-discrimination law by refusing to make a cake celebrating a gender transition.
The chief forensic pathologist for the Saskatchewan coroners service took to the stand in Saskatoon on Wednesday for the trial of Ranbir Dhull.
Following his $1 million lotto win, Rollins Head was in such a state of disbelief he checked his ticket at two different stores.
With rising inflation across the country programs that provide free food in Saskatoon are contending with unprecedented need.
More than one-third of Winnipeggers believe people who have occupied public spaces in the city should be allowed to stay there briefly, according to a recent poll.
The Winnipeg Police Service has charged five more people after an encampment was cleared at the Manitoba legislature on Tuesday.
A mayoral debate Wednesday hosted by the Manitoba Heavy Construction Association saw four of Winnipeg’s 11 mayoral hopefuls talk crime, infrastructure and economic development.
Decisions made at a conference of international oil producers are expected to affect the crude oil market and the price of gasoline at Alberta pumps, which are already back to summer peaks.
Premier Jason Kenney, speaking a day ahead of the UCP leadership vote, said he is uncertain of his political future, but is proud of what he's done for Alberta.
Thousands of mail-in ballots in the United Conservative Party leadership vote have been rejected and now some voters are receiving phone calls and emails telling them they'll have to vote in person on Thursday.
The St. Albert RCMP held a press conference Wednesday night regarding an investigation involving a teenager who was taken into police custody Oct. 2.
Alberta’s governing United Conservative Party is scheduled pick the province’s new premier Thursday, and political observers say its next step should be getting back on the same page as the rest of the province.
Edmonton restaurants will not be allowed to serve food in styrofoam containers and plastic shopping bags will be banned starting July 1, 2023.
Businesses in Ontario will be allowed to pass on credit card fees to customers starting on Thursday. There are a few things businesses and consumers need to know.
Insults, discrimination, mental distress and a lack of support from leadership – these are some of the claims brought forward by Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) employees who say bullying and harassment have become commonplace in the publicly funded workplace.
Ottawa police say a man is dead, and two other people were injured in a shooting in the area of Tompkins Avenue and Tenth Line Road Wednesday night.
Ottawa police are reporting a sharp rise in the number of vehicles stolen in Ottawa this year, with newer model Honda CRV's topping the list of targets for thieves.
Ottawa city councillors may soon need to disclose personal relationships with city staff to the city’s integrity commissioner.
'The worst that it has ever been': Concern mounting as severe drought conditions persist in parts of B.C.
On B.C.'s Sunshine Coast, home to about 20,000 residents, drought conditions have caused water levels to drop so low an emergency operations centre has been activated.
People in New Westminster will be getting a new mayor in 10 days, with two-term mayor Jonathan Cote not seeking re-election. Advance voting began Wednesday in the city, where voters will be choosing between three mayoral candidates.
3 taken to hospital after trailer flips, spills load into oncoming traffic on Vancouver-Burnaby border
A trailer attached to a dump truck flipped and spilled its load into oncoming traffic on the Vancouver-Burnaby border Wednesday, and paramedics say three people have been taken to hospital.
Hockey Quebec says it has lost confidence in Hockey Canada and will no longer transfer funds to the national organization.
Organizers of the Montreal Pride need to pay for security, communicate better, and hire more experienced staff to avoid another repeat of the devastating cancellation of the parade next year, according to a post-mortem report into the August 2022 fiasco.
The new rule allowing businesses in Canada to pass credit card fees onto customers will not apply in Quebec.
Victorians lined up outside city hall on Wednesday to cast an advance vote for the next leader of the city. Across the street, those vying to be the next mayor squared off in a live debate hosted by Victoria radio station CFAX 1070.
The B.C. Conservation Officers Service (BCCOS) has confirmed that two African servals are on the loose in the Qualicum Beach area of Vancouver Island. The exotic cats have killed a domestic cat, according to the BC SPCA.
B.C. Premier John Horgan says the New Democrat government's crime-fighting agenda involves more than increasing arrests of alleged violent offenders. Horgan says he agrees with Attorney General Murray Rankin who told the legislature on Tuesday that a focus on more arrests of prolific offenders to curb crime would be “futile.”
More than 16,000 customers in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island are still without electricity 12 days after post-tropical storm Fiona hit the Maritimes on Sept. 23. The ongoing outages and restoration efforts have prompted the Nova Scotia government to declare a state of emergency in several counties in northern Nova Scotia.
Some Nova Scotians are unsure if they qualify for the federal Fiona recovery fund announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday.
Post-tropical storm Fiona changed the coastline of Prince Edward Island forever, however nowhere is more obvious than the P.E.I. National Park on the island’s north shore.
Two recent incidents of adults trying to lure children have North Bay and area parents and caregivers on edge.
Cambrian College in Sudbury is still offering a free dental clinic as a way to help both people in need and students in the dental hygiene program.
Candidates vying to be Sault Ste. Marie’s new mayor say a few issues appear to be top of mind for voters: homelessness, drug addiction and mental health.
The family of a man with a service dog who was forcibly removed from a Kitchener, Ont. restaurant last fall, is speaking out after assault charges against the two men involved were withdrawn.
The process to remove a truck that crashed into a building in Atwood a month ago started on Wednesday, as portions of the building were torn down to help dislodge the truck.
The Region of Waterloo is reminding business owners to start winterizing their property while avoiding over-salting surfaces.