OFS JPIC Communiqué JPIC - August 2021
Say something. Do something.
“Say something. Do something…”
... these words were spoken by Abigail (not her real name), a survivor of the residential school system. Simple words that express so much pain and hope.
“Say something. Do something… because…
“I ran away from the residential school when I was 14. I travelled 2 weeks on the road in the middle of winter, begging food and shelter on the way. When I got home, I was afraid my mother would send me back. She looked at me and said:” I love you; you’re not going back.”
“I was nine years old and forced to pray on my knees all night next to my bed for something I had done wrong, I don’t even remember what it was. All I remember was waking up in the morning with my head on my mattress.” “One day two of my friends ran away… we never saw them again”
“On the second floor of the Spanish Residential School were Visitors Rooms. There were two. One for the elite visitors like the government and church officials, and another room for our parents and family. Even in the school our lives were segregated.”
“Three times a year (Christmas, Easter and Summer) we were sent home to see our families. Some had no family to visit and stayed in the school. I remember walking to the bus taking us away and, seeing a small hand under an open window sash, slowly waving goodbye. I cried.”
“On our Reserve we still can’t drink the water without boiling it first.”
“Every family on our Reserve has experienced the tragedy of suicide and addiction”
In July, I (Michel David, International Counsellor and JPIC Team Leader, OFS Canada) participated in a three-day Spiritual Retreat at the Anishinaabe Spiritual Centre in Espanola, Ontario (Spanish is a town in the province of Ontario, located on Trans-Canada Highway 17 in the Algoma District near the border of the Sudbury District). The retreat had been organized by Kateri Native Ministry (Ottawa). Approximately 20 of us met around a Sacred Fire. We came in solidarity from as far as Akwesasne in Québec, Hamilton in Southern Ontario, and the upper Great Lake lands. We came to listen, share, pray, and remember the children who died at the Spanish Residential School less than an hour away.
“The Canadian Historical Association, which represents 650 professional historians from across the country, including the main experts on the long history of violence and dispossession Indigenous peoples experienced in what is today Canada, recognizes that this history fully warrants our use of the word genocide……”
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