A group of First Nations people and their supporters gathered in Thunder Bay Thursday to communicate the feelings that continue to surface from the legacy of residential schools.

A group of 30 supporters gathered in Vickers Park at noon and talked about experiments which used aboriginal school children as a test population in studies that started in the 1940's.


First nations drumming (CBC)

Fifteen-year-old Sabrina Angeconeb came with her mother. She said her great grandmother was educated at a residential school.  

"It's like a shockwave," she said. "It affects everyone. Like, everyone in our family. So, like, it's hard to talk about and, it just affects everyone and it's really hard."

Learning to heal

The group gathered at the rally also shared stories about residential school experiences.

An eagle feather was passed around the circle, giving everyone a chance to share their story

Some told of abuses they endured at the St. Joseph's Residential School in Thunder Bay, including malnourishment, beatings and being cut off from their culture.

Others spoke about how the experiences of parents and grandparents have shaped reality for younger generations and has manifested itself in alcoholism, drug addictions, and dysfunctional families.

The group also discussed the apology Prime Minister Stephen Harper made to First Nations people in 2008. The attitude toward Harper's 2008 apology was divided — one man said the apology wasn't accepted, while others said they had learned to forgive. Others said — apology or no apology — First Nations people have the power in themselves to make a brighter future

Angeconeb said her hope is that everyone will heal, though she admitted that she doesn't expect everyone to heal completely.

First Nations are currently asking the federal government to release all information relating to residential schools.