Maeengan Linklater lobbies for Manitoba residential school memorial day

A Winnipeg man has put in his request for a new day that would commemorate what was done to indigenous residential school students in Manitoba.

Linklater wants June 2 recognized as 'Indian Residential School Genocide Reconciliation Memorial Day'

Maeengan Linklater wants June 2 to be recognized as 'The Indian Residential School Genocide Reconciliation Memorial Day.' (Jillian Taylor/CBC)

A Winnipeg man has put in his request for a new day that would commemorate what was done to indigenous residential school students in Manitoba.

Maeengan Linklater went to the Legislative Building Friday and met representatives from the NDP, Progressive Conservatives and Liberals.

Based on recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which concluded Tuesday, Linklater is asking the province to recognize the ills of the residential school system by dedicating June 2 as the "Indian Residential School Genocide Reconciliation Memorial Day."

"Being able to have the experience and the knowledge to create change, I am honoured to put something forward that will hopefully create change," said Linklater.

Residential school legacy

Both Linklater's mom and dad are survivors of the residential school

"I guess I would like the recognition, that what the government did back then was an attempt at cultural genocide," said Patricia Ningewance, Linklater's mom.

Ningewance said she and her husband had their Anishinaabe culture and Ojibway language stifled by the residential school system and were unable to pass them on to their son.

"My son doesn't speak Ojibway. Every time I tried to teach him, or speak to him, in my language, it would always get stuck here, so that must have been an effect of being punished at that early age," she said.

The TRC findings present Canadians with a long-overdue moment of reckoning and an opportunity to heal, Linklater said.

"If we all take time to reflect on the history and the legacy of residential schools in Canada's history, it's an opportunity for people to learn," said Linklater. "When the report came out, it validated what people already knew. It shares that experience with everyone else, and as a learning moment, it's an opportunity."

Cultural inheritance

Linklater said the memorial day could encourage people to work to preserve and pass on elements of indigenous culture to the next generation.

"I want to honour my mom, and my dad who was never in my life," Linklater said. "It makes me pass on what I know and what history I know with my son, and he will carry it forward in his life, and pass it on to his children."

All three parties accepted his request and told him they will consider it.
While the Canadian Museum for Human Rights says it already handles residential schools within the context of a genocide and welcomes survivors to do so, too, it will only start using the word in its exhibits after the federal government recognizes the term. (Jillian Taylor/CBC)

On Thursday, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights said that while it already treats residential schools within the context of genocide, it's waiting on the federal government to start using the term before it integrates that language with its exhibits.

"Manitoba can be a leader and set precedent and ultimately when it comes down to it, it's the Parliament of Canada that should pass an acknowledgement," Linklater said.