Mi'kmaw woman from Summerside writes poem about residential schools
'I needed to talk about it and let people heal from my words'
WARNING: This story contains distressing details.
Cassidy Gallant's great-grandmother was a survivor of the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School in Nova Scotia — and now Gallant is writing poetry about the lasting harm of residential schools.
Gallant, who grew up in Summerside, P.E.I., said she's faced a lot of intergenerational trauma because of the effects of residential schools on her family.
"I don't know my own language," she said.
After hearing the news about the discovery of what are believed to be the remains of 215 children on the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C., Gallant decided to write a poem to express her thoughts.
"I cried after I wrote," said Gallant, who's been writing poetry since she was about 16.
"I needed to talk about it and let people heal from my words if that was possible."
Gallant said Indigenous stories and history must be remembered — and not just on National Indigenous Peoples Day.
"It should be celebrated every other day," said Gallant. "We should have that recognition."
Gallant plans to publish a book of poetry, half of which will be written in English and the other half translated into Mi'kmaw.
NOTE: Support is available for anyone affected by the effects of residential schools, and those who are triggered by the latest reports. A national Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for former students and those affected. People can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419.