CFR Circles and Locations

There are a number of circles starting that have places open for persons to take part. Please register and indicate a particular site if it is a good location for you. We thank all the host sites for allowing us to have a circle on their premises.

Carman MB TBA

Charleswood Historical Society, 5006 Roblin Blvd. TBA

Churchill United Church, 525 Beresford Ave, Riverview area. Start Nov 19, Sundays 12:30 to 1:45. Full

Flin Flon, MB. TBA

Fort Whyte Centre. January 8, 2018

Harrow United Church, 2018. TBA

Headingley United Church, 110 Bridge Road, Headingley MB. TBA

Jubilee Mennonite Church, 365 Edelweiss Crescent, North Kildonan. TBA, Thursdays, 6:30 p.m. to 7:15 p.m.

Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries, St. James Area. TBA

North Point Douglas Women’s Centre (Full)

St. Andrew’s River Heights United Church, 255 Oak St., Starting Soon, Wednesdays, 6:00 p.m. to 7:15 p.m.

Selkirk MB, Starting Soon. TBA

Sentient Book Store, Wednesday mornings, 9:45 to 11:00

Steinbach, MB, TBA

South West Family Information Centre, 800 Point Rd, in United Church building, TBA

Trinity United Church, 933 Summerside Ave. Fort Richmond. Mondays  October 16, 7-8:15 p.m.

Trinity United Church , 933 Summerside Ave. Fort Richmond. Youth Group,  January 22, 2018

Young United Church, 100-122 Furby St. Broadway Area. Starting Soon. TBA

Gathering Theme: The Justice System

GATHERING THEME

The Justice System

Kate Kehler
Maraleigh Short

Opening common to all gatherings

The criminal justice system in Canada and Manitoba is primarily based on the European adversarial model. The crown attorney seeks to prosecute on behalf of the government while the defense attorney works to discredit the Crown’s arguments. The Crown’s role is to do what is best for society as a whole, not seek revenge for an individual. However, day to day reality is such that many Crown attorneys seek the strictest punishment they think they can get, and the defense lawyers just try to mitigate that. Often this results in a plea bargain – a joint submission that the judge then accepts. In Manitoba, courts today are so backlogged with procedural matters that resolving cases has seemingly become more important than resolving them well. It is often so rushed that the accused can be asked to make decisions that will affect the rest of their lives in cramped little rooms, just minutes before going into court.

The Crown does not lay charges. The police do that. However it is up to the Crown to decide which charges to pursue. The Crown is not supposed to pursue a charge they are not convinced they can prove beyond doubt. However, Crown attorneys routinely pursue charges that are only ‘triable’. The fear here is that someone who has spent months incarcerated prior to trial, if promised immediate release given time served, will just plead guilty and no real resolution will have been achieved.

Remand and bail

Manitoba continues to be the province that holds the most people for the longest period of time on pre-sentenced (or remand) status. On any given day, about 70% of the people we have in custody are awaiting trial or sentencing.

The wealthier amongst us can pretty well count on getting bail because we are viewed as low risk and can afford a lawyer or afford to borrow to hire one. People in poverty may or may not have a stable home or job and have to rely on the chronically underfunded legal aid system. The perceived risks in both this instability and lack of advocacy mean they are more often than not denied bail.

To the average person it must seem that we have jails and prisons overflowing with very dangerous individuals. This is not the case. Most people in our provincial jails are there for breaches of bail or probation conditions, and not for committing a new crime. Most front line workers and even some judges complain about the number of conditions recommended and imposed on people as simply setting them up to fail.

Here are just some of what we know about who we currently have incarcerated in Canada with some Manitoba specific statistics:

  • The adult non-Indigenous population in jail has been decreasing steadily, while the Indigenous (a younger demographic) population has increased dramatically. Indigenous peoples represent about 4% of the total population, but about 25% of those we incarcerate.

  • There has been an increase of 112% in the incarceration of Indigenous women in recent years. In the prison for women in Headingly, 8 out of 10 inmates are Indigenous.

  • In Canada, you are 10 times more likely to be incarcerated at some point in your life if you are Indigenous.

  • 90% of the 11,000 children in care in Manitoba are Indigenous,

  • 65% of the men in Stony Mountain Penitentiary were children in care.

  • 80% of those we incarcerate grew up in poverty and lack a grade 12 education.

Being Indigenous and poor is the most direct path to prison. Canadians worry about a two-tier health system? We have long had a two-tier justice system.

Poverty and Crime

Let’s look more closely at the link between poverty and crime. Former Conservative Senator Hugh Segal said, given that 80% statistic above “if crime abatement is the goal then it is time that all Canadians and their governments got tough on poverty.” Many will say that they know lots of people who have grown up in and/or continue to struggle in poverty but have never committed a crime. Of course the majority don’t commit crime. They are in fact more likely to be the victims of crime given that they are forced to live in high crime areas due to the lack of truly affordable housing elsewhere. Furthermore, that is their community so they may not want to leave.

In Manitoba, one in three children live in poverty. Winnipeg Harvest shares food with nearly 62,000 Manitobans a month, through emergency food programs across the province. Of these, more than 26,000 are children and more than 4,000 of them are under the age of 2.

Harvest also reports that those growing up in poverty were far more likely to be in ill health and die before the age of 65, than those who do not.

When we allow people to be raised in desperate situations, we should not be surprised if some become desperate. Children know when they are being left behind or left out. The effects of that knowledge has lasting impact. Crisis thinking and impulse decision making becomes all too easily entrenched.

Our current justice system relies on incarceration to rehabilitate individuals who commit crime.

What is actually happening in our jails is another matter .The vast majority of resources simply go to keeping staff and inmates alike physically safe. Rehabilitative programing resources are scarce. Headingly’s workshop rooms were converted to provide more beds. The use of solitary confinement as a security measure remains a huge issue. The Government of Manitoba and Justice Department recently changed terminology. They stopped calling the provincial institutions “jails” and renamed them “correctional centres”. It was meant to highlight the importance of rehabilitation. However, the reality is that people come out not corrected, but institutionalized.

Institutionalization creates its own consequences. Taking decision making out of people’s hands creates dependency. People lose the ability to stay on a schedule and manage what little money they may have properly. This culture of dependency, added to a criminal record, keeps people from establishing stable living conditions and employment.

When we incarcerate people we stop any progress they may have made. If they had a job or place to live, that is gone. If they are a woman with kids, those kids usually end up in government care. The disruption and cost to us all is massive.

It costs three times as much to incarcerate a person than it does to keep them supported in the community. These costs do not even include police, court and Child and Family Services’ costs.

The TRC highlights the need for child and family service, education and justice reform.

Restorative justice

Restorative Justice is the traditional justice system for many Indigenous peoples. It also has the added benefit of being the form of justice for many of our newcomer communities who are also becoming one of the fastest rising populations caught up in our justice system for much the same reasons; trauma, poverty, colonization through violence and war.

Restorative Justice approaches crime and harm as an imbalance that needs to be corrected.

It ensures that the person who committed the harm is accountable, takes responsibility for and works to repair the harm.

When possible, it allows for direct restitution to the person harmed, but also provides more peace to these victims as they get a better understanding of the whys of what was done to them. Victims of crime who engage in restorative justice processes report much higher levels of satisfaction than those who go through our current system.

Restorative Justice can also come into play at various stages in the system. It can divert one out of the system before all of the ill effects of incarceration makes matters worse. But it has also been used after a sentence has been served. Some family members of murder victims have received peace of mind when meeting with those who have served their sentence and have ‘owned’ what they have done.

Contrary to the popular perception that restorative justice is easier than incarceration and tantamount to ‘thug hugging’, most perpetrators who go through the process say it is much harder to ‘own-up’ to their failings and face the ones they harmed than it is to sit in a jail cell and focus on their own suffering, rather than what they caused.

Most importantly, by a careful examination of the incident, the context of the crime is better understood by the community and the community gains a better understanding of how it can address the root cause of the imbalance.

Discussion; passing the talking stick

Closing common to all gatherings

Gathering Theme: Métis Struggles for Land

GATHERING THEME

Métis Struggles for Land

Author: Dr. Fiola

Red River Resistance: Provisional Government & Manitoba Act (1870)

Métis families were established in the region where the Red and Assiniboine Rivers converge (“The Forks,” Winnipeg), by the time the Selkirk Settlers arrived in 1812. French and Métis voyageurs retired there with their families when their fur trade contracts expired. Here, the Métis Nation would emerge shortly.

In 1670, King Charles II of England gave the HBC an exclusive trade monopoly over Rupert’s Land (Hudson’s Bay drainage). In 1869, the HBC transferred Rupert’s Land to Canada. Surveyors arrived in Red River ‒ where the Métis formed a majority ‒ to divide the land without consultation. Fearing an influx of settlers, Louis Riel and others stopped surveyors in October 1869; so began the Red River Resistance.

Métis, and others, politically organized to protect their land. The Comité National des Métis was formed in December 1869 with John Bruce as president and Riel as secretary. In March 1870, Bruce would become president of the provisional government; Riel would eventually become president. The provisional government issued a “Declaration of the People of Rupert’s Land and the North-West,” rejecting Canada’s authority over the North-West, asserting the legitimacy of their provisional government, and inviting Canada to negotiate the region into confederation. Since Canada had yet to establish formal government in Red River, the provisional government became the legal government in the area. Ottawa begrudgingly recognized this and began negotiations.

The provisional government drew up a bill of rights ‒ terms by which they would agree to confederation ‒ and sent three representatives to Ottawa to negotiate. The bill of rights would become the List of Rights which secured the confederation of Manitoba as the fifth province of Canada via the Manitoba Act (1870). The list aimed to secure Métis land use, rights, and customs. Section 31 of the Act reserved 1.4 million acres of land for Métis families in the new province; Section 32 secured land rights for already established inhabitants (including white farmers).

Only the British Parliament could legally amend the Manitoba Act; however, the Canadian government ignored this and passed amendments limiting eligibility for sections 31 and 32. These included Eurocentric ideas of a “proper” home, garden size, and fence; many Métis lived in shacks without fences and were sometimes bison hunting during harvest time. Métis faced backlash from English Canada for confederating a province, and because a Métis tribunal condemned Orangeman Thomas Scott to death by firing squad in March of 1870.

Prime Minister John A. Macdonald sent Colonel Wolseley and the Red River Expeditionary Forces to ensure the transition from a provisional to a provincial government. For two years, they beat Métis men, raped Métis women, established saloons which increased alcohol-related violence, and prevented Métis from voting. Scrip, a federal land grant system, also cheated many Métis from their land (more below). Métis began to flee from Manitoba.

North-West Resistance (1885) and The Forgotten Years

Métis established themselves in communities further west (St. Laurent, Batoche, SK). Settlers followed and again Métis feared they would lose their land. They formed a second provisional government with local Métis leader, Gabriel Dumont, assuming the role of Adjutant General. Petitions sent to Ottawa were ignored. Instead, Macdonald used the new railway to send militia to suppress the Métis. The series of battles that ensued became known as the North-West Resistance (1885). After their defeat, the Métis scattered again. Some stayed and faced oppression on the prairies, others moved to British Columbia, to the Northwest Territories, and into the northern United States ‒ these were roughly the boundaries of the historic Métis Nation; many had trade and kinship relationships therein.

After 1885, the Métis entered a period of repression known as “The Forgotten Years.” Riel was executed and the Métis experienced severe poverty, unemployment, and racism; many become known as “Road Allowance People.” The only places left for Métis to live were along road allowances set aside for future buildings, roads, railway. Families moved every time construction crews arrived; community cohesion suffered. Many Métis denied their Indigenous identity. Survival trumped passing on cultural knowledge. Repression began to lift only after WWI.

Historic Treaties and Scrip

Meanwhile, the Canadian government was extinguishing Aboriginal title (rights) to land via treaties and scrip. One year after the Manitoba Act, the government began signing the Numbered Treaties. Treaty 3 is the only historic treaty that Métis were permitted to enter as a collective. Otherwise, only individual Métis were accepted. Initially, one could choose treaty or scrip; however, Métis faced increasing pressure to take the one-time scrip as it let the government off the hook for annuities. Many First Nations chiefs, like Shingwauk, requested that Métis enter treaty. Treaty commissioners were instructed to say no – the government denied Métis indigeneity to reduce the number of people entering treaty.

In Manitoba, scrip was supposed to distribute the 1.4 million acres promised to the Métis. This lottery system of land allotment issued coupons to individuals for 160 or 240 acres or dollars. Eurocentric amendments by the federal government regarding what constituted a “proper” house, fence, garden size drastically reduced those who were eligible. The system was slow (scrip wasn’t issued until 1876), disorganized, confusing (many Métis were illiterate and spoke Indigenous languages but instructions were in English/French), and fraud was rampant. Residence patterns were ignored and split up families. Many sold their scrip for a pittance; most did not receive their entitled land ‒ many left Manitoba.

Phases two and three of Métis scrip occurred in the North-West (Saskatchewan and Alberta) and during the signing of Treaties 8 and 10 (Alberta, Northwest Territories, Saskatchewan), respectively. Scrip coupons did not specify that they were meant to permanently extinguish Aboriginal title.

Métis Settlements & Modern Treaties

Métis lobbying in Alberta led to the Métis Population Betterment Act (1939) which created 12 Métis colonies (four dissolved in the 1950s). This is the only constitutionally-protected Métis land base in Canada. Métis own their land in fee simple (strongest land right) and have a measure of self-government.

Since 1975, Indigenous peoples have been signing modern treaties (comprehensive land claims) with Canada. There are currently 100 treaty negotiation tables across Canada with dozens of treaties in various stages of negotiation; on average it takes 15 years to finalize a treaty. Some of these treaties include a self-government clause. Self-government agreements are slowly gaining traction. A few of these agreements have fee simple ownership. With exceptions in the north, the government refuses to negotiate treaties and self-government agreements with the Métis.

Courts & Legislation

In 1982, Canada patriated its constitution and included section 35 which identifies the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada (First Nations, Métis, and Inuit), and states that Aboriginal/treaty rights must be honoured. The terms Métis and Aboriginal rights were not defined; the courts are defining these. Government refuses to negotiate unless they are forced to in court.

In 2013, the Supreme Court declared that the Crown failed when distributing the 1.4 million acres promised in the Manitoba Act (MMF v Canada). In May 2016, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between President David Chartrand of the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) and Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Carolyn Bennett, to advance reconciliation. The MMF’s goal is to sign a modern treaty with Canada including a trust fund, lands for collective use, and programs, supports and initiatives to benefit Manitoba Métis.

In July 2016, Thomas Issac, Ministerial Special Representative for Métis rights, issued his final report and recommendations regarding section 35 Métis rights, and implementation of the MMF v Canada land claim. Isaac asserted that rights-bearing Métis communities have outstanding land claims from Ontario westward that must be negotiated; that First Nations treaty rights should not trump Métis rights; and that Canada should accept unique forms of Métis self-government. He urged the government to develop a Framework Agreement with the MMF to settle the 1870 land claim. Formal negotiations have not begun.

In 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Métis (and non-status Indians) are “Indians” in section 91(24) of the Constitution Act (1867) which states that the federal government has jurisdiction over “Indians and lands reserved for Indians” (Daniels v Canada). Like in MMF v Canada, remediation/compensation was not awarded; however, it opens the doors to federal assistance for Métis like that enjoyed by First Nations.

In Powley v Canada (2003), the Supreme Court recognized that Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario is a historic Métis community with section 35 Métis rights. This case devised the “Powley Test” to define what constitutes Métis rights and who is entitled to them. Courts are taking a case-by-case approach; a ruling in one case does not necessarily apply to other Métis communities.

Nonetheless, Métis people are maintaining relationships with their home territories. Many Indigenous peoples are moving from rural to urban locations, yet remaining connected to their communities/land through celebrating culture days, pursuing subsistence activities, and reconnecting with land through ceremonies. Métis are not waiting for government/court assistance; we push forward and continue nurturing our relationships with land.

References – Métis Struggles for Land

Adams, Howard. 1989. Prison of Grass: Canada from a Native Point of View. Calgary: Fifth House Publishers.

Augustus, Camie. 2008. “Métis Scrip.” Our Legacy. University of Saskatchewan Archives. Accessed February 13, 2017. http://scaa.sk.ca/ourlegacy/exhibit_scrip.

Barkwell, Lawrence, ed. 2002. Métis Rights and Land Claims: An Annotated Bibliography. Winnipeg: Louis Riel Institute.

Chartrand, Paul, and John Giokas. 2002. Who Are the Métis? A Review of the Law and Policy. In Who Are Canadas Aboriginal Peoples? Recognition, Definition, and Jurisdiction, edited by Paul Chartrand, 268-304. Saskatoon: Purich Publishing.

Daniels v. Canada. 2016. Judgements of the Supreme Court of Canada. Accessed February 13, 2017. https://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/15858/index.do

Fillmore, W. P. 1978. “Half-Breed Scrip.” In The Other Natives: The-Les Métis, edited by Antoine Lussier, and D. Bruce Sealey, 31-36. Vol. 2. Winnipeg: Manitoba Métis Federation Press.

Fiola, Chantal. 2015. “Re-Kindling the Sacred Fire: Métis Identity, Anishinaabe Spirituality and Identity.” Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press.

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada. 2008. Treaty 3 between Her Majesty the Queen and the Saulteaux Tribe of the Ojibbeway [sic] Indians at the Northwest Angle on the Lake of the Woods with Adhesions (1875). Accessed February 13, 2017. http://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1100100028675.

Milne, Brad. 1995. “The Historiography of Métis Land Dispersal, 1870-1890.” Manitoba History, no. 30: 30-41.

MMF (Manitoba Métis Federation) v Canada (Attorney General). 2013. Judgments of the Supreme Court of Canada. Accessed February 13, 2017. http://scc.lexum.org/decisia-scc-csc/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/12888/index.do.

Murray, Jeffrey S. 1993. Métis Scrip Records – Foundation for a New Beginning. The Archivist 20(1): 12-14.

Peterson, Jacqueline, and Jennifer S. H. Brown, eds. 1985. The New Peoples: Being and Becoming Métis in North America. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press.

R. v. Powley. 2003. Judgments of the Supreme Court of Canada. Accessed February 13, 2017. https://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/

Gathering Theme: Residential Schools

GATHERING THEME

Residential Schools

“My father was raised by people who didn’t love him…” Wab Kinew, “The Reason you Walk”  

1. Opening for all gatherings.

2. Introduction of the theme by Facilitator

There is a separate volume published by the TRC, entitled “The Survivors Speak.” We encourage you to read it. Thirty different dimensions of school life are addressed. The full publication is available online here.

(What follows is an edited excerpt from Honouring the Truth, Reconciling the Future, “The History,” pages 36-43)

It can start with a knock on the door one morning. It is the local Indian agent, or the parish priest, or, perhaps, a Mounted Police officer. The bus for residential school leaves that morning. It is a day the parents have long been dreading. Even if the children have been warned in advance, the morning’s events are still a shock. The officials have arrived and the children must go.

For tens of thousands of Aboriginal children for over a century, this was the beginning of their residential schooling. They were torn from their parents, who often surrendered them only under threat of prosecution. Then, they were hurled into a strange and frightening place, one in which their parents and culture would be demeaned and oppressed.

For Frederick Ernest Koe,  “And I didn’t get to say goodbye to my dad or my brother Allan, didn’t get to pet my dogs or nothing.” (1) Larry Beardy travelled by train from Churchill, Manitoba, to the Anglican residential school in Dauphin, Manitoba—a journey of 1,200 kilometres. As soon as they realized that they were leaving their parents behind, the younger children started crying.

At every stop the train took on more children and they would start to cry as well. “That train I want to call that train of tears.” Florence Horassi was taken to the Fort Providence, Northwest Territories, school in a small airplane. “When the plane took off, there’s about six or five older ones, didn’t cry, but I saw tears come right out of their eyes. Everybody else was crying. There’s a whole plane crying. I wanted to cry, too, ’cause my brother was crying, but I held my tears back and held him.”

The arrival at school was often even more traumatizing than the departure from home or the journey.

Nellie Ningewance went to the Sioux Lookout, Ontario, school in the 1950s and 1960s. “When we arrived we had to register that we had arrived, then they took us to cut our hair.” Bernice Jacks became very frightened when her hair was cut on her arrival. “I could see my hair falling. And I couldn’t do nothing. And I was so afraid my mom … I wasn’t thinking about myself. I was thinking about Mom. I say, ‘Mom’s gonna be really mad. And June is gonna be angry. And it’s gonna be my fault.’”

Campbell Papequash (says) “And after I was taken there they took off my clothes and then they deloused me. I didn’t know what was happening but I learned about it later, that they were delousing me; ‘the dirty, no-good-for-nothing savages, lousy.’”

Archie Hyacinthe compared the experience (of going to the school) to that of being captured and taken into captivity. “That’s when the trauma started for me, being separated from my sister, from my parents, and from our, our home. We were no longer free. It was like being, you know, taken to a strange land, even though it was our, our, our land, as I understood later on.” When she first went to the Amos, Québec, school, Margo Wylde could not speak any French. “I said to myself, ‘How am I going to express myself? How will I make people understand what I’m saying?’ And I wanted to find my sisters to ask them to come and get me. You know it’s sad to say, but I felt I was a captive.”

On their arrival at residential school, students often were required to exchange the clothes they were wearing for school-supplied clothing. This could mean the loss of homemade clothing that was of particular value and meaning to them. When Wilbur Abrahams’ mother sent him to the Alert Bay school in British Columbia, she outfitted him in brand-new clothes. When he arrived at the school, he was told to hand in this outfit in exchange for school clothing. “That was the last time I saw my new clothes. Dare not ask questions.” Martin Nicholas went to the Pine Creek, Manitoba school. “My mom had prepared me in Native clothing. She had made me a buckskin jacket, beaded with fringes.… And my mom did beautiful work, and I was really proud of my clothes. And when I got to residential school, that first day I remember, they stripped us of our clothes.”   On her arrival at the Presbyterian school in Kenora, Ontario, Lorna Morgan was wearing “these nice little beaded moccasins that my grandma had made me to wear for school, and I was very proud of them.” She said they were taken from her and thrown in the garbage.

Gilles Petiquay was shocked by the fact that each student was assigned a number. “I remember that the first number that I had at the residential school was 95. I had that number—95—for a year. The second number was number 4. I had it for a longer period of time. The third number was 56. I also kept it for a long time. We walked with the numbers on us.”

Older brothers were separated from younger brothers, older sisters were separated from younger sisters, and brothers and sisters were separated from each other. Wilbur Abrahams climbed up the steps to the Alert Bay school behind his sisters and started following them to the girls’ side of the school. Then, he felt a staff member pulling him by the ear, telling him to turn the other way. “I have always believed that, I think at that particular moment, my spirit left.”

When Peter Ross was enrolled at the Immaculate Conception school in Aklavik, Northwest Territories, it was the first time he had ever been parted from his sisters. He said that in all the time he was at the school, he was able to speak with them only at Christmas and on Catholic feast days. Daniel Nanooch recalled that he talked with his sister only four times a year at the Wabasca, Alberta, school. “They had a fence in the playground. Nobody was allowed near the fence.

The only reason Bernice Jacks had wanted to go to residential school was to be with her older sister. But once she was there, she discovered they were to sleep in separate dormitories. On the occasions when she slipped into the older girls’ dormitory and crawled into her sister’s bed, her sister scolded her and sent her away: “My sister never talked to me like that before.” Bernard Catcheway said that even though he and his sister were both attending the Pine Creek school, they could not communicate with each other.

“I couldn’t talk to her, I couldn’t wave at her. On her second day at the Kamloops school in British Columbia, Julianna Alexander went to speak to her brother. “Did I ever get a good pounding and licking, get over there, you can’t go over there, you can’t talk to him, you know. I said, ‘Yeah, but he’s my brother.’”

Taken from their homes, stripped of their belongings, and separated from their siblings, residential school children lived in a world dominated by fear, loneliness, and lack of affection.

William Herney, who attended the Shubenacadie school in Nova Scotia, recalled the first few days in the school as being frightening and bewildering. “Within those few days, you had to learn, because otherwise you’re gonna get your head knocked off. Raymond Cutknife recalled that when he attended the Hobbema school in Alberta, he “lived with fear.”  Of his years in two different Manitoba schools, Timothy Henderson said, “Every day was, you were in constant fear that, your hope was that it wasn’t you today that we’re going to, that was going to be the target, the victim. You know, you weren’t going to have to suffer any form of humiliation.”  Shirley Waskewitch said that in Kindergarten at the Catholic school in Onion Lake, Saskatchewan, “I learned the fear, how to be so fearful at six years old. It was instilled in me.”

At the Fort Alexander, Manitoba, school, Patrick Bruyere used to cry himself to sleep. “There was, you know, a few nights I remember that I just, you know, cried myself to sleep, I guess, because of, you know, wanting to see my mom and dad.”

Students’ hearts were hardened. Rick Gilbert remembered the Williams Lake, British Columbia, school as a loveless place. “That was one thing about this school was that when you got hurt or got beat up or something, and you started crying, nobody comforted you. You just sat in the corner and cried and cried till you got tired of crying then you got up and carried on with life.”  Nick Sibbeston, who was placed in the Fort Providence school in the Northwest Territories at the age of five, recalled it as a place where children hid their emotions. “In residential school you quickly learn that you should not cry. If you cry you’re teased, you’re shamed out, you’re even punished.”  One former student said that during her time at the Sturgeon Landing school in Saskatchewan, she could not recall a staff member ever smiling at a child. (38)

Stephen Kakfwi  said this lack of compassion affected the way students treated one another. “No hugs, nothing, no comfort. Everything that, I think, happened in the residential schools, we picked it up: we didn’t get any hugs; you ain’t going to get one out of me I’ll tell you that.” (41) Victoria McIntosh said that life at the Fort Alexander, Manitoba, school taught her not to trust anyone. “You learn not to cry anymore. You just get harder. And yeah, you learn to shut down.”

These accounts all come from statements made by former residential school students to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. These events all took place in Canada within the realm of living memory.

Like previous generations of residential school children, these children were sent to what were, in most cases, badly constructed, poorly maintained, overcrowded, unsanitary fire traps. Many children were fed a substandard diet and given a substandard education, and worked too hard. For far too long, they died in tragically high numbers. Discipline was harsh and unregulated; abuse was rife and unreported. It was, at best, institutionalized child neglect.

5. Talking Circle

Option: Facilitator: “I want you to imagine you are a nine year old girl (or boy). How do you think you would feel  arriving at the school the first time?”

6. Determination of theme for next meeting.

“Intergenerational trauma” would be the logical theme to follow at the next gathering.

7.  Closing common to all gatherings.

Closing Protocol for Meetings

Closing Protocol for Meetings:

(Each sentence to be read by a different participant,
with the last sentence being read together by all six)

  1. Reconciliation must become a way of life.
  2. It will take many years to repair damaged trust and relationships in Aboriginal communities and between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples.
  3. Reconciliation not only requires apologies, reparations, and relearning of Canada’s national history, and public commemorations, but also needs real social, political and economic change.
  4. Ongoing public education and dialogue are essential to reconciliation.
  5. Governments, churches, educational institutions, and Canadians from all walks of life are responsible for taking action on reconciliation in concrete ways, working collaboratively with Aboriginal peoples.
  6. (All six readers) Reconciliation begins with each and every one of us.”

(Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future, Page 18)

 

Opening Protocol for Meetings

Opening Protocol for Meetings:

(To be read aloud at the start of each session)

  1. I wish to acknowledge that we are on the original lands of the Anishinaabe, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene peoples, and on the homeland of the Métis Nation.
  2. Following the presentation of the topic for today, a general discussion will follow with each of you being given an opportunity to speak to the issue. You are encouraged to keep in mind seven sacred teachings of the Anishinaabe in your thoughts and words.
  3. (The Seven Sacred Teachings are then to be read aloud by one of the participants)

    LOVE: it is important to care for one another
    HONESTY: better to fail with honesty than succeed by fraud
    RESPECT: give it, earn it, receive it.
    TRUTH: it is always easiest to speak the truth
    HUMILITY: to be humble about your accomplishments is to be strong
    COURAGE: let nothing stand in the way of doing the right thing
    WISDOM: with hard work and dedication will come knowledge

  4. Sharing around the circle, clockwise  is  recommended. Should you wish to “pass” at that time, you will be given a chance at the end to offer your thoughts. While you may not wish to speak at all on a given week, your participation is desired as each individual has gifts to offer the circle.
  5. An item, such as a talking stick, will be passed around giving each person a chance to speak. Speak on behalf of yourself only and speak what comes from your heart and from your own experience.
  6. It is very important that we all recognize that the feelings of an individual are neither right nor wrong. They are real and need to be respected.
  7. In accordance with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report, the four guiding principles for the new relationship are “mutual recognition, mutual respect, sharing, and mutual responsibility.” (Interim Report, page 23)
  8. We ask you to be conscious of your sharing time so that everyone has a chance to participate. Because we have a number of gatherings you will have ample opportunity to share your ideas and feelings.

 

 

Registration

Register for Circles for Reconciliation

Circles open for new participants

The information below indicates simply the physical location of the circles. There is no requirement for membership in any of the organizations where the circles are being held. Where known, we have also indicated the time of the circles. If you would like to participate in one of these circles please indicate which circle when you register online. You can also register without indicating a specific site where you would like to participate.

Carman United Church, 134 1st Street SW, Carman, MB
Charleswood Historical Society, 5006 Roblin Blvd
Flin Flon, MB
Fort Whyte Centre, 1961 McCreary Rd
Harrow United Church, 955 Mulvey Avenue
Headingley United Church, 110 Bridge Road
Jubilee Mennonite Church, 365 Edelweiss Crescent
St. Andrews River Heights United Church, 255 Oak Street
Selkirk United Church, 202 McLean Avenue, Selkirk MB
Sentient Book Store, 284 Tache Avenue (Wednesday 10:00 – 11:15)
Steinbach, MB
Southwest Family Information Centre, 800 Point Road
Trinity United Church, 933 Summerside Avenue (near Fort Richmond Collegiate)
Group 2 (Monday 7:00-8:15)
Trinity United Church: youth group
Young United Church, 100 – 122 Furby Street

A more detailed list updated as of October 1st can be found here.

Common interest in achieving truth and reconciliation and equality of opportunity for Indigenous people is the only requirement for participation.

There is no cost to participation.
Each meeting will be approximately 75 minutes
Participation will include attendance at 10 meetings.

If you know others who might like to take part, please invite them to respond. Once we have 10 participants we will announce the particulars of a new Circle.

Having reviewed and agreed to the “Guiding Principles” posted on this website, I wish to join a group.

We ask this next question to ensure that we have a balance of participants in each circle:
First NationInuitMétisNon-Indigenous

New groups are starting on a regular basis. This is a two year initiative so if you can not take part now, register and check off the appropriate box. You will be informed as soon as 10 participants register for a given time. Groups are held in various areas of the city. Please check all that apply to your schedule preference.

Mon. 7:00-8:30 pm
Tue. 7:00-8:30 pm
Wed. 10:00 am
Wed. 10:00 am (St. Boniface)
Wed. 6:00-7:30 pm
Thr. 10:00 am
Thr. 7:00-8:30 pm
Sun. 1:00 pm
Can not participate now. Available starting

I would like to be trained to be a facilitator of a group (I agree to be contacted by email).

Recommended Readings

Recommended Readings

 

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission Final Report
Did you know? Each  of the seven flames in the circle of the TRC’s logo represents one of  the Seven Sacred Teachings –  Truth, Humility, Honesty, Wisdom, Respect, Courage, and Love.
 
94 Calls to Action from the TRC
In order to redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission makes the following calls to action.

A Survivor

“A Survivor is not just someone who “made it through” the schools, or “got by” or was “making do.”

A Survivor is a person who persevered against and overcame adversity. The word came to mean someone who emerged victorious, though not unscathed, whose head was “bloody but unbowed.” It referred to someone who had taken all that could be thrown at them and remained standing at the end. It came to mean someone who could legitimately say “I am still here!”

For that achievement, Survivors deserve our highest respect. But, for that achievement, we also owe them the debt of doing the right thing. Reconciliation is the – thing to do, coming out of this history.

In this volume, Survivors speak of their pain, loneliness, and suffering, and of their accomplishments. While this is a difficult story, it is also a story of courage and endurance. The first step in any process of national reconciliation requires us all to attend to these voices, have been silenced for far too long. We encourage all Canadians to do so.

The Survivors Speak, The Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Page XIII.

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