What the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation means for residential school survivors
Posted September 29, 2021 6:37 pm.
Last Updated September 29, 2021 6:41 pm.
WINNIPEG (CityNews) ─ As Canada prepares for the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation Thursday, some survivors are offering advice on how to honour and remember those who were forced to attend residential schools.
Christina Kitchekesik went to Guy Indian residential school near The Pas, Man. from 1956-1970. She calls herself a thriver, not a survivor, because she is going through her healing journey.
She says the days leading up to Sept. 30 were full of emotion.
“I had to change my ways of speaking and my behaviour, and that took a lot of work to work on,” Kitchekesik said. “Learned to love myself and that’s why I do my own reconciliation through myself.
“I’ve been healing for the past 40 years.”
Kitchekesik says it’s important for people to be educated on residential schools.
“The truth is coming out and it took a long time for this truth to come out and it came when they found the remains of the little ones that didn’t make it home,” she said. “So it really impacted everyone around the world and in Canada.”
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Pauline Petti, who also was forced to attend residential school, says it’s essential to have a day to honour and remember.
“All my life, I kept it a secret,” said Petti. “I didn’t want to talk about nothing and that’s why I turned to alcohol. Now I talk about it. I’m not ashamed. I’m not ashamed of who I am.
“We are survivors. I consider myself a strong human being.”
Susan Caribou also went to residential school from 1970-1978. With the recent findings and the pain inflicted from attending the school, Caribou has become increasingly ill.
“I’m very grateful this day is here,” said Caribou. “I know the other survivors are struggling every day. It’s a battle for me every day.”
Wa-Say Healing Centre is hosting a walk and powwow on Sept. 30. Wayne Mason, cultural support provider at the Centre, says it will be a day to remember those who never came home.
“It’s going to be an eventful day but we’re going to have a lot of supports for people that if they are triggered or anything they are going through, will have lot of support on stand-by to help with them.”