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John Saylors, Shingwauk Residential School survivor, shares his story of healing

Saylors endured sexual abuse by priests, before eventually running away, turning to a life of promiscuity, alcohol and homelessness. 

Saylors was forced to attend the Shingwauk Residential School in Sault Ste. Marie

John Saylors, 72, was forced to attend the Shingwauk Residential School in Sault Ste. Marie. (Erik White/CBC)

WARNING: This story contains distressing details.

John Saylors knows all about healing.

Saylors, 72, spent 11 years of his childhood at the Shingwauk Residential School in Sault Ste. Marie. 

It was in the school that he endured sexual abuse at the hands of the priests, before eventually running away, turning to a life of promiscuity, alcohol and homelessness. 

"I didn't know at that time that I was on the verge of suicide," Saylors said. 

Eventually, Saylors said he faced his pain, and that put him on the path to healing.

"The spirits, they showed me," he said. "They don't tell you. They show you." 

"They show you that you still have hope."   

Now, following the story of the detection of remains on the grounds of a residential school in Kamloops, he wants to share his story of healing and help others find their way, despite the painful memories it may elicit.

"That's what people have to feel if they want to heal," he said. "You can't run from it."

"I used to run, a lot of times, but you've got to face it, to talk to somebody." 

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