P.E.I. residential school survivor says historic recognition is part of healing
'I think the big thing is the recognition of things that happened'
A residential school survivor from P.E.I. welcomes the news that the federal government has formally recognized the residential school system as an event of national significance.
It also designated two former residential schools as national historic sites, one in Manitoba and the other is the Shubenacadie Residential School in Nova Scotia.
In the 1960s, Charlotte Morris, her sister and brother were taken from their home on Lennox Island.
Morris was seven years old when she arrived at Shubenacadie Residential School and would spend three years there.
She says it's important to recognize what happened at the residential schools.
"What it means to me is what happened in the schools did happen and it's like a recognition for those two schools," Morris said.
"It's known from a lot of people that attended the schools and tell their stories, but not everyone can do that."
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Morris hopes the federal recognition will also raise awareness about the residential schools, including the one she attended.
"It will be an eye-opener for some people that are not aware of the Shubenacadie Residential School and probably there's some people out there who haven't heard of it," Morris said.
"When they do hear, it's like, what, I didn't know about this and a lot of people like to know what happened, why they were sent there, who was in charge, why did they do it?"
Morris said not all residential school survivors will agree with making the schools historic sites.
"They probably just want to forget about what happened in that school and that's normal, people are going to feel like that, some of the survivors," Morris said.
"That's just where they're at, it depends on where you're at when it comes to residential schools."
Morris said she is curious to see what will placed at the spot where the Shubenacadie school used to stand, now that is a historic site.
"It's gone physically, but mentally, it's still there and I think it's because if you don't deal what happened there, it's always going to be there mentally," Morris said.
"When I travel to Nova Scotia, if I'm going to Truro or Halifax, when I go by Shubenacadie, memories come back."
The federal government's announcement comes five years after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommended national commemoration of residential school sites, something that Morris agrees is important.
"It's something that you can't really avoid for the rest of your life, and to me, it's part of healing," Morris said.
"Forgetting all about it is not healing for me. You need to talk about it."