Labrador residential school lawsuit postponed
Warning: Some language in this story may be offensive
As the residential school class action lawsuit against Ottawa gets postponed in St. John's, one survivor says the Labrador school that was supposed to educate her turned into her prison.
Former students of residential schools in Labrador were at the Supreme Court on Tuesday, expecting the trial against the federal government to go ahead, but the lawyers representing Newfoundland and Labrador, Moravian Mission and The Grenfell Association were not ready to proceed.
Justice Robert Stack is set to decide on a new trial date on Monday. It will likely proceed in late 2015.
I was very ashamed of what I was. I rejected my Inuit ancestry, I denied everything. I didn't even want to be seen with my mother in public, that's what it did to me.- Nora Ford, on residential school experience
Nora Ford was five years old when she first attended the residential schools in North West River and Cartwright, where she went for 10 years, and says her mother thought she turned her daughter over to be educated and get a chance at a better life — but that's not what happened.
"There are no words. I can't describe how it felt — it was just as if I died," she said. "I wanted to run away from the time I got there."
Ford said there was abundant name-calling that eventually changed the way she saw herself and her heritage.
"When someone is calling you a dirty S'kimo, or blackie, or huskimoo or [N-word], the words that they used to describe us or make fun of us, it destroyed us. Literally destroyed the Inuit culture within you," said Ford.
"By 13, I was very ashamed of what I was. I rejected my Inuit ancestry, I denied everything. I didn't even want to be seen with my mother in public, that's what it did to me."
Ford said she was a prisoner at the place meant to be her school, and was even forced to eat porridge she had thrown up into her bowl.
Waiting for apology
In 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued an apology and a compensation package for survivors of Canada's residential school system. However, lawyers for the federal government said it wasn't responsible for schools in St. Anthony, Cartwright, North West River, Makkovik and Nain.
People in this province launched a class-action lawsuit to get an apology and compensation package.
Ford said she was "insulted" that people from Labrador were excluded from the apology.
"I said this isn't even for us. Labrador people are invited here. I said, you know what this this is. I'm a token Inuk here," she said.
"I want an apology, and I want to be validated because all these things that we have gone through, all the punishment and cruelty that was inflicted on us and that was allowed to be done to us at the hands of people who were supposed to take care of us and nurture us."
Justice Stack will release his decision on Nov. 24 on a new date for the trial to begin.
With files from Chris O'Neill-Yates