Survivors push to turn former Portage la Prairie residential school into museum
Some survivors optimistic after release of Truth and Reconciliation final report
Ruth Roulette said she believes the TRC has opened Canadians' eyes to the tragic legacy of residential schools.
Roulette turned to drugs and alcohol after years of being whipped and beaten in a residential school in Sandy Bay, Sask.
"I still get very emotional because it still hurts, the pain is still there, the fear is still there," he said.
On the heels of the final report released Tuesday, Roulette said she feels more non-indigenous Canadians are starting to reach out and mend relationships with people in First Nations communities.
"I've met a lot of people here in this town of Portage la Prairie, and a lot of people have come up and said 'I'm sorry,'" Roulette said. "So, I know it's going to be okay. I know that."
Portage la Prairie residential school
The school opened in 1915 and closed in 1970. It's one of the few such schools that is still standing.
At the age of six in 1956, Daniels and his sister were put in the school by a federal agent, he said.
"I call it a place of cultural genocide," he said while taking a tour of the building with CBC's Cameron MacIntosh
Daniels pointed out a series of rooms — one of which was called "the dungeon" according to Daniels — where children used to be sent for punishment.
Keeping the building around
While he said it was painful to walk through the building, as a former chief of Long Plain First Nation, Daniels has remained committed to keeping the building around.
The plan is to transform it into a memorial to those impacted by the residential school system.
"We are going to restore the original look of this place," he said.
Roulette is helping spearhead a movement to turn the former Portage la Prairie residential school into a museum dedicated to residential school survivors.
She has a basement full of boxes and artifacts in her possession that capture aspects of stories many survivors shared with the TRC workers, she said.
"We need to showcase our stories, the survivors' stories," she said. "We need to showcase the artifacts we have."
Daniels said he sees positive potential in the building that continues to house so many negative memories.
"For me I see this as the future for reconciliation," he said.