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Canada Canada's museums wrestle with history of residential schools

11:35  20 july  2021
11:35  20 july  2021 Source:   cbc.ca

Graves found at former B.C. island residential school ‘deepens pain’ for survivors: PM

  Graves found at former B.C. island residential school ‘deepens pain’ for survivors: PM The Penelakut Tribe said more than 160 unmarked graves have been found on the grounds of the former Kuper Island Indian Industrial School in B.C.Trudeau reinforced his commitment at a news conference in Nova Scotia on Tuesday, one day after the country woke up to the news of the discovery by the Penelakut Tribe in the Southern Gulf Islands of B.C.

In Canada , the Indian residential school system was a network of boarding schools for Indigenous peoples. The network was funded by the Canadian government' s Department of Indian Affairs and

Canada ' s residential schools were compulsory boarding schools run by the government and religious authorities during the 19th and 20th Centuries with the aim of forcibly assimilating indigenous youth. Kamloops Indian Residential School was the largest in the residential system. Opened under Roman Catholic administration in 1890, the school had as many as 500 students when enrolment peaked in the 1950s. The central government took over administration of the school in 1969, operating it as a residence for local students until 1978, when it was closed.

a large room: Witness Blanket, by Indigenous artist Carey Newman, is shown at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg on July 14, 2021. © Gary Solilak/CBC Witness Blanket, by Indigenous artist Carey Newman, is shown at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg on July 14, 2021.

Last month, the Canadian Museum of History announced that it would cancel its Canada Day celebrations after unmarked graves were found at the sites of former residential schools across the country — one of a number of adjustments it is making in the wake of the traumatic discoveries.

In an email to CBC News, the museum in Gatineau, Que., said other changes it has planned include signage detailing the history and ongoing impact of residential schools, a content warning for exhibits that covered the topic, and a full review of its content.

Plaque donated by residential school teacher elders say abused children removed from Sask. church

  Plaque donated by residential school teacher elders say abused children removed from Sask. church Elders from the Cote First Nation in Saskatchewan have succeeded in getting a plaque removed from the property of St. Philip's Roman Catholic Church in Kamsack that they say was donated by a music teacher who sexually abused Indigenous boys who were forced to attend the St. Philip's Indian Residential School.According to elders, the plaque was donated by Ralph Gray, a longtime music teacher at the St. Philip's Indian Residential School, which operated from 1928 to 1969. Gray has since died.

The Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement (IRSSA) has recognized 139 residential schools across Canada . However, this number excludes schools that operated without federal support, such as those run solely by religious orders or provincial governments. The 139 schools operated in all Canadian provinces and territories except Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador. (There were residential schools in N.L., but they weren't included in the IRSSA.)

It was part of a cross- Canada network of residential schools created to forcibly assimilate Indigenous children by removing them from their homes and communities, and forbidding them from speaking their native languages or performing cultural practices. At least 150,000 children attended such schools in what a historic 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission described as a “cultural genocide” targeting Canada ’ s Indigenous people. In documents submitted to the commission, former Kamloops attendees described the harsh conditions of the school , which did not receive enough per-capita funding from

CBC News reached out to more than a dozen of museums across the country about how they were addressing the legacy of residential schools in Canada.

Responses from the museums varied: Some pointed to long-running exhibits displayed in consultation with Indigenous communities, others hosted ceremonies to honour residential school victims and survivors, and a few said that they had long-term plans to address the issue.

But a difficult task lies ahead: How do museums better tell our nation's story in a way that accurately reflects the role of Canadian institutions in destroying Indigenous lives and communities through the residential school system?

CBC News spoke with an Indigenous artist and the executives of two major Canadian museums to get a sense of what changes could be in store and what they mean for reconciliation.

Regina archbishop attends Cote First Nation gathering of residential school survivors

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History . Residential Schools Authorized. Based on the recommendations of the Davin Report, Sir John A. Macdonald authorizes the creation of the residential school system, designed to isolate Indigenous children from their families and cut all ties to their culture. It explores the history of the residential school system, the experience of former students and their families and the impact such institutions had on Indigenous peoples in Canada . Over the next five years, six more events follow in cities around the country, with a national closing ceremony in Ottawa.

Residential School survivor Lorna Standingready, left, is comforted during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada closing ceremony in Ottawa earlier this week. The recurring illness stems from her childhood years at one of Canada ’ s horrific residential schools . “I was thrown into a cold shower every night, sometimes after being raped”, the frail 50-year-old indigenous mother of six said, matter-of-factly. Caribou was snatched from her parents’ house in 1972 by the state-funded, church-run Indian Residential School system that brutally attempted to assimilate native children for over a

Great art captures who we are, says CEO of human rights museum

Niharika Acharya smiling for the camera: Isha Khan is the CEO of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. She took over the post last year after the museum came under fire over allegations of racism, homophobia, sexism and censorship. © Gary Solilak/CBC Isha Khan is the CEO of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. She took over the post last year after the museum came under fire over allegations of racism, homophobia, sexism and censorship.

Isha Khan, CEO of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, says the role of museums has evolved, from showcasing artifacts to amplifying voices and stories.

On the topic of residential schools, the institution currently exhibits a piece called Witness Blanket, which was first displayed there in December 2015.

It is a wooden "quilt" made by Indigenous artist and master carver Carey Newman, meant to chronicle the residential school experience through a collection of items from survivors, former school sites, government buildings and churches.

"I call it a piece of truth," Khan said of the artwork. "I think what we learned is that art is powerful. Great art captures who we are and where we've been.

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  Researchers say that TB at residential schools was no accident (ANNews) – Two experts in tuberculosis say the mass death from TB at residential schools was no accident, but the result of deliberate neglect that was part of Canada’s broader genocidal project. Lena Faust, a PhD student at the McGill International TB Centre in Montreal, and Courtney Heffernan, manager of the Tuberculosis Program Evaluation and Research Unit at the University of Alberta, acknowledged in a July 12 Globe and Mail op-ed that it’s unknown how many of the children whose remains were uncovered from unmarked graves in the past two months died as a result of TB.

The indigenous school system was funded by the Canadian government and run by the Catholic Church, and operated until the late 1990s. There were nearly 140 such institutions around the country, with an enrollment of some 150,000 Aboriginal children who had been forcibly taken from their families to be taught a new language, culture Canada ’ s indigenous services minister, Marc Miller, recently called for a formal apology from the Pope for the Catholic Church’s role in the abusive residential schools , echoing a request made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau directly to the pontiff back in 2017.

image captionIndigenous children at a residential school in 1950. For more than a century, they were anonymous. But now the names of 2,800 indigenous children who died in Canadian residential schools will finally be known. It took more than a decade for researchers to identify nearly 3,000 children who died in Canada ' s residential schools - compulsory boarding schools run by the government and religious authorities during the 19th and 20th Centuries with the aim of forcibly assimilating indigenous youth.

"You develop a really profound respect for it being more than just an artifact … this being a piece of someone's life, their family history, something that is full of emotion."

Khan was appointed to the CEO position last August, after an external report found that there was "pervasive and systemic" racism and content censorship at the museum. Another report released only last month outlined allegations of abusive and fetishistic behaviour toward racialized male employees, especially Black men, while they worked for the institution.

Because museums capture historical narrative and memory, Khan said, there is potential for those institutions to determine how we deal with the dark parts of the country's history and how we shape our national identity with those realities in mind.

"We're a platform for storytelling," she said. "And if you look at it that way, there is limitless potential for us to educate, define who we are as a society at any one point in time, and then to make sure there is a memory of where we came from.

"We have a lot of work to do, because before we move forward, you know, you talk about the path of reconciliation. We need to know our truth — and we don't know it."

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RCMP museum plans to consult with Indigenous communities

a person posing for the camera: Tara Robinson is the newly appointed CEO of the RCMP Heritage Centre. © Richard Agecoutay/CBC Tara Robinson is the newly appointed CEO of the RCMP Heritage Centre.

The RCMP Heritage Centre in Regina has not updated its exhibits for several years, said its newly appointed CEO, Tara Robinson. But that will change as it seeks national museum designation.

"There are many stories, and some come with national pride, some with great celebration," said Robinson. "But others come with sadness and some collective grief — [an example being] the residential schools across this country.… And we believe that those stories need to be told."

The museum plans to tell the history of the RCMP from multiple perspectives, including that of Indigenous communities. During the residential school era, the national police force was responsible for forcibly removing children from their families and homes so that they could be sent to the schools.

"I strongly believe that museums are here to educate and they are to educate about the good, the bad and the otherwise," Robinson told CBC News.

a man standing in front of a store: The RCMP Heritage Centre in Regina will receive $4.5 million in funding from the federal government as it seeks national designation. © Richard Agecoutay/CBC The RCMP Heritage Centre in Regina will receive $4.5 million in funding from the federal government as it seeks national designation.

In May, it was announced that the RCMP Heritage Centre would be transitioning to a national museum, with $4.5 million in funding from the federal government set to be distributed over a three-year period. Board chair Steve McLellan said that the funding would allow the museum to engage with Indigenous communities more than it has in the past.

B.C. helps fund searches for Indigenous remains

  B.C. helps fund searches for Indigenous remains VANCOUVER — The B.C. government says it will provide immediate funding to 21 First Nation communities to help with searches for human remains at former residential schools or hospitals. Murray Rankin, the minister of Indigenous relations and reconciliation, said on Tuesday that each community can receive up to $475,000 as it carries out searches, planning, technical work and archival research, while also engaging with elders, survivors and other First Nations that have an interest in an area.

However, he also said that current exhibits make minimal reference to the dark history between the Mounties and Indigenous communities in Canada.

That same month, the RCMP released data which showed 102 members who identify as Indigenous had left the force in the last three years, after the figure was requested by member of Parliament Matthew Green.

Now, the RCMP Heritage Centre has an opportunity — and a responsibility — to build relationships with Indigenous communities and collaborate with them in historicizing the national police force, Robinson said.

"The consultation with Indigenous communities is going to be extensive," she said. "Probably the most extensive we have ever done."

Schools only 'one part' of RCMP role in colonization, artist says

a man holding a fish: Carey Newman is the artist and master carver behind Witness Blanket, a wooden 'quilt' featuring items collected from residential schools, survivors, government institutions and churches. He is pictured here via Zoom. © CBC Carey Newman is the artist and master carver behind Witness Blanket, a wooden 'quilt' featuring items collected from residential schools, survivors, government institutions and churches. He is pictured here via Zoom.

Carey Newman, the Indigenous artist, professor and master carver behind Witness Blanket, said the RCMP played a much larger role in colonization beyond residential schools.

"If we're going to come to grips with our identity, with our collective identity of what it means to be Canadian, I think that this step toward acknowledging all of the history when it comes to … the RCMP in this country is important," said the artist, whose traditional name is Hayalthkin'geme.

"I hope that it isn't limited to residential schools."

Sagkeeng First Nation searching former residential school site

  Sagkeeng First Nation searching former residential school site Recent discoveries of unmarked graves at similar residential schools across Canada spurred the community to take action and conduct a search using ground-penetrating radar. "We've had meetings in our community in the last while, since we heard about what happened in Kamloops with the 215 graves that were found there," Henderson told 680 CJOB. "That triggered our community.... We know through the residential school hearings and the Truth and Reconciliation report that a lot of our elders had spoken and said there were children that weren't found or went missing. Some of them were friends of theirs.

He pointed to other instances of the RCMP's historical interactions with Indigenous communities, such as clearing them from the Prairies and enforcing the reserve system.

Newman is the son of a residential school survivor. A concept that helped him understand his father, he said, was what he described as "concentric trauma," which roots intergenerational trauma in its original source of harm, rather than implying responsibility on the individuals and families affected by it.

"I can see all the ways in which it affected my dad, and how that impacted our relationship and how I process that in the artwork I do," Newman said. "But maybe more importantly, in my personal relationships and how I approach being a father to my daughter."

More than 800 items from 77 communities were gathered for Witness Blanket. © Gary Solilak/CBC More than 800 items from 77 communities were gathered for Witness Blanket.

Having worked with the Canadian Museum for Human Rights to display the Witness Blanket, Newman said change is possible "if the intent is there" — but that institutions like the RCMP Heritage Centre will need to walk the walk.

"I know how difficult it can be to create change," he said. "So I guess there's a bit of skepticism in me, waiting to see how these words are translated into action; what the exhibit says and looks like."

Do you have information about unmarked graves, children who never came home, or residential school staff and operations? Email your tips to CBC's new Indigenous-led team investigating residential schools: WhereAreThey@cbc.ca.

First Nations group says all residential schools need to be investigated .
WINNIPEG — A First Nations advocacy group in Manitoba is urging RCMP across the country to open criminal investigations into all former residential schools following a decade-long investigation into allegations of sexual abuse at a former residential school in the province. The Southern Chiefs' Organization says investigations are warranted and critical in helping First Nations people heal. "By exposing all of the horrors inflicted upon our people and seeking justice, we can then chart a clear path to reconciling with everyone who now shares this land," Grand Chief Jerry Daniels said in a statement Wednesday.

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