Residential school survivors share their stories at Regina healing gathering
Regina’s mayor joined Indigenous leaders on Tuesday at the Regina Indian Industrial School cemetery for a healing gathering following the discovery of 215 children at the Kamloops Indian Residential School.
The event included a pipe ceremony, a feast and school survivors shared their stories in hopes of helping others heal.
“That forgiveness to me is very important, ‘cause I’m a survivor. I learned to forgive the people who have done me wrong,” said Audrey Eyahpaise, a residential school survivor.
Ray McCallum, another survivor, said he is aware of 181 children who died at the St. Anthony and Beauval Indian Residential Schools in Saskatchewan.
“Normal children lost in ordinary routines of daydreaming until the darkness came and set upon us a dark cloud of fear, shame, anger and uncertainty. Of diminished ambition and a world without colour. For many, that colour would never come as they lie endured, many forgotten, until now,” said McCallum.
Cowessess First Nation Chief Cadmus Delorme said Cowessess is conducting its own radar search of the former Marieval Indian Residential School area in hopes of identifying the bodies currently in unmarked graves.
“[We’re] just looking at them is a little different now after what we found out last week,” said Chief Cadmus Delorme of the Cowessess First Nation.
Delorme said since the discovery in B.C., he has received numerous calls from residents that are angry and need to talk.
“It opened up the wounds, the hurt, the anger in many First Nations people that attended residential school,” said Delorme said.
Chief Roberta Soo-Oyewaste of the Standing Buffalo Dakota Nation said finding the graves of children who died at residential schools will bring closure to communities.
“Closure to a wound. Those angels, they wanted to be found. They wanted to be put back with their family and their nations,” said Soo-Oyewaste.
Regina’s mayor Sandra Masters said she quickly became aware of how the B.C. discovery would impact other residential school survivors. She said the city is willing to help in any way it can.
“If this is a call to arms across the country from the province, from the federal government and they are willing to participate in this, then there has to be the technology…we should find every single unmarked grave and honour it,” said Masters.
Delorme said even if a body can not be identified, at least a plaque can be placed to honour and remember the lives lost at residential schools.