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
Hurricane Ian left a path of destruction in southwest Florida, trapping people in flooded homes, damaging the roof of a hospital intensive care unit and knocking out power to 2 million people before aiming for the Atlantic Coast.
Canadians in Florida are hunkering down as the massive Category 4 storm lashes the southwest coast with heavy winds and rain.
Jeremy MacKenzie, the founder of the online group 'Diagolon,' was arrested in Nova Scotia on Wednesday on charges related to an allegation of assault in Saskatchewan from last year.
A fourth leak on the Nord Stream pipelines has been reported off southern Sweden, the Swedish news agency said Thursday.
Coolio, the rapper who was among hip-hop's biggest names of the 1990s with hits including 'Gangsta's Paradise' and 'Fantastic Voyage,' died Wednesday at age 59, his manager said.
Nova Scotia premier slams telecom companies over service issues in wake of Fiona, calls for action from feds
In the aftermath of post-tropical storm Fiona, the premier of Nova Scotia is calling on telecommunications companies to 'step up', saying that many residents are still without cell phone service or access to 911 days after the storm pummelled the province.
Firefighters in Florida push smoking fire truck through more than a metre of water as hurricane hits
Florida firefighters pushed a smoking truck through rising water as Hurricane Ian battered the southwest state, Wednesday afternoon.
The body of a famed U.S. extreme skier who went missing this week after falling from the world's eighth-highest mountain was recovered Wednesday and transported to Nepal's capital.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he had called on Canada on Wednesday to lead an unprecedented drive to rid his country of landmines linked to Russia's seven-month-old invasion.
A 26-year-old woman injured in a stabbing rampage on James Smith Cree Nation says she doesn’t know why she was attacked.
A Saskatoon man fleeing police in a U-Haul van resorted to desperate measures after they spiked his tires -- he hopped on a nearby bike and tried to ride away.
All Saskatchewan residents 18 years and older who are able to get a COVID-19 booster will be eligible for the Moderna bivalent vaccine as of Thursday, according to a news release from the province.
'We weren't heard:' Northern Manitoba mom claims health-care negligence after daughter’s near-death experience
A mother from Mathias Colomb Cree Nation in Northern Manitoba is sharing her and her family’s experience at the isolated community’s nursing station, claiming their concerns about their daughter’s breathing were not listened to until the situation became critical.
The race is on to get crops off the field and in the bin, as a slow start to the growing season and wet fall weather have delayed this year's harvest.
On Monday, the federal government announced it would be dropping COVID border restrictions for anyone entering Canada and masking on planes and trains will also come to end.
A section of Stoney Trail in Calgary's southeast was shut down for hours Wednesday evening after a motorcyclist was killed in a crash.
An SUV collided with a moose in the area of 43rd Avenue and 68th Street N.E. on Wednesday evening.
Alberta police have seized an estimated $55 million in illegal drugs through a cross-border investigation into organized crime, trafficking and money laundering.
A 90-year-old woman and a 56-year-old man are dead after a five-vehicle crash in Mill Woods Wednesday afternoon.
The widening of the southwest segment of Anthony Henday Drive is moving into the next phase.
Alberta doctors have ratified a proposed agreement with the provincial government.
Ontario is asking to extend the life of the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station and is weighing a refurbishment that could see it in service for several more decades, sources told The Canadian Press.
Canadian actor Robert Cormier has died at age 33 after a 'tragic accident,' his sister says.
New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge tied the MLB American League record for most home runs in a single season Wednesday night during a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
Hurricane Ian made landfall in southwest Florida near Cayo Costa on Wednesday as a catastrophic Category 4 storm. About 2.5 million people were ordered to evacuate southwest Florida before the storm hit the coast with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph (241 km/h).
NEW THIS MORNING
NEW THIS MORNING | Events happening in Ottawa for the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation
CTVNewsOttawa.ca looks at events happening in Ottawa on Friday to mark National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada.
NEW THIS MORNING
NEW THIS MORNING | Ottawa police, bylaw prepare for Panda Game following last year's post-game street party
Ottawa police are vowing to take a zero tolerance approach for public disorder during Panda Game festivities this year, after last year's post-game celebrations saw thousands of people attend a street party in Sandy Hill and damage to property.
The owner of the Vancouver Canucks has responded to bombshell allegations that he abused his children, which were heard during a family court proceeding this week.
On Sept. 12, two Vancouver park rangers on a routine patrol came across a tent by the pond at Andy Livingstone Park. They conducted a check, and found the tent empty, with drug paraphernalia inside. Both the tent and its contents were then removed and discarded.
When Cindy Brodowski bought her North Vancouver home earlier this year, it came with an eye-catching feature: a hedge trimmed into the shape of a face. As she found out, it had been there for years.
The Quebec election is on Oct. 3, and for the first time, five parties have a chance of winning at least one seat in the 125-seat legislature. Here is where the parties stand on some major themes.
'80 per cent of immigrants go to Montreal, don't work, don't speak French': CAQ immigration minister
Outgoing CAQ Immigration Minister Jean Boulet claims the vast majority of immigrants move to Montreal, don't speak French and don't work. Party leader François Legault adds that accepting more than 50,000 immigrants would be 'suicide.'
Quebec's director of public health Dr. Luc Boileau will hold a news briefing this morning on the evolution of the COVID-19 situation in Quebec.
A beloved Victoria toy store is looking for a new home after operating out of its downtown location for more than 13 years. Cherry Bomb Toys is moving from its location along Broad Street near Johnson Street since the building was purchased by a new owner.
As of Wednesday, the government of Canada has banned the import of dogs from 100 countries that have a track record of canine rabies.
Flight safety personnel from the Royal Canadian Air Force are investigating after an incident occurred involving a CP-140 Aurora aircraft out of Comox, B.C., on Wednesday afternoon. According to Captain Brad Little at 19 Wing Comox, the flight crew of the Aurora noticed they had a possible malfunction in one of their four engines shortly before 1:30 p.m.
Five days after Fiona knocked power out for more than 500,000 customers in Nova Scotia, over 100,000 are still without power. Many more remain without internet and cell phone service.
Prince Edward Island Premier Dennis King says, although there is still a lot of work to be done before things get back to normal on the island, there has been quite a bit of progress after post-tropical storm Fiona wreaked havoc across the province Saturday.
With more than 1,400 people in the field and hundreds more behind the scenes, Nova Scotia Power is continuing its restoration efforts across the province.
The World Animal Protection organization has released a new investigative report on the state of so-called roadside zoos in Ontario.
Sudbury police are investigating a shooting at a home on Grandview Boulevard in the New Sudbury area Wednesday morning and say they believe it is a targeted incident.
More than six years ago, cancer survivor Ryan Arnold says he was certain he was going to die.
The death of an 88-year-old woman in Baden, Ont. is now being investigated as a homicide.
A controversial Puslinch, Ont. street is getting a new name.
A new mural has been unveiled at Kitchener’s Victoria Park Pavilion, with the artwork created by a youth Indigenous program in collaboration with Family and Children’s Services of Waterloo Region.