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For residential school survivors, the hurt comes back

The Story


Eva Cardinal still cries when she remembers seeing an older girl punished and humiliated at her residential school. Classmates were forced to pin the girl down on a table as a nun beat her. The hurts of the past are coming back to Cardinal and thousands of other residential school survivors as the churches that ran the schools begin to apologize. But as a CBC reporter learns, the survivors say the apologies are too little, too late.

Medium: Television
Program: Alberta Newshour
Broadcast Date: March 15, 1991
Guests: Eva Cardinal, Maggie Hodgson, Everett Soop
Reporter: Rick Boguski
Duration: 7:26

Did You know?


• Students were subject to all kinds of abuse in residential schools. Emotional abuse, such as denigrating a student's native heritage, was common. Many survivors of both sexes have also reported physical and sexual abuse.

• Even when abuse wasn't present, the living conditions often bordered on neglect: poor nutrition, inadequate clothing, cold buildings and heavy physical labour.

• Other details of life in the residential schools highlight the dehumanizing treatment by authorities. In many schools, students were referred to by numbers instead of their names. Boys' hair was cut short -- a confusing experience for those who came from cultures where shorn hair was a sign of mourning. Children who tried to run away and were caught were beaten in front of their peers.

• Everett Soop, seen in this clip, was an editorial cartoonist and newspaper columnist who attended an Alberta residential school until Grade 5. He completed high school off the reserve -- one of the first of his generation of Blood Indians to do so. Soop received a cultural scholarship from the Department of Indian Affairs and took courses in art and journalism at universities in Alberta and Utah. He died in 2001, aged 58, of muscular dystrophy.


More

A Lost Heritage: Canada's Residential Schools more