After expressing concerns over press releases related to the digging up of what may be mass graves on the grounds of a former Canadian residential school, I was accused of trying to keep information about the genocide of Canadian First Nations people, and the complicity of the Catholic and Anglican churches in Canada, hidden. Quite the opposite. I am, in fact, pissed off that this is being handled in such a way that these exhumations won’t receive any press.
In particular, I’m pissed off that a bunch of white people are spending a bunch of time talking about how one white guy has suffered for the survivors’ cause instead of everybody putting the survivors’ experience front and center. So, instead of listening to more of that, I decided to wade through it all and find some resources that put the survivors’ voices first.
In the Blackboard area, you’ll find a history of the schools that includes statements from survivors. Some sections here contain multiple pages, which is fairly subtle in the design. Don’t miss them.
In the Projector area, you can watch/hear recordings of survivors themselves.
This project has been collecting the stories of survivors. At this point, only a very tiny sample is available here.
The CBC has a number of historical television and radio clips on this topic. In “For survivors, the hurt comes back,” survivors discuss their experiences and their reaction to the apologies. In “Remembering the bad old days in the residential school,” three classmates talk about their time in school.
There are videos on this topic on YouTube as well, featuring both Canadian and U.S. survivors of the schools. This survivor is from Canada.
Libraries and Archives Canada has a bibliography that includes numerous first-person accounts of the schools. One of these, Indian School Days by Basil Johnston, is available in Google Books, as well as for purchase. Mary Lawrence’s book, My People, Myself, is available for purchase, as is Mary Fortier’s Behind Closed Doors, A Survivor’s Story of the Boarding School Syndrome. Celia Haig-Brown is not native, but her book Resistance and Renewal, Surviving the Indian Residential School collects first-person stories. It is available for purchase or on Google Books.