As It Happens

Survivors of St. Anne's Indian Residential School demand government hand over damning new documents

For the second time in the past year, Edmund Metatawabin was in a Toronto courtroom fighting for the documents that help tell his life story. Mr. Metatawabin is a survivor of the the St. Anne's Indian Residential School in Fort Albany, Ontario. Yesterday, he was in court fighting to have the federal government release documents related to the trial of...
St. Anne's Indian Residential School in 1945 (Edmund Metatawabin collection/Algoma University)

For the second time in the past year, Edmund Metatawabin was in a Toronto courtroom fighting for the documents that help tell his life story. Mr. Metatawabin is a survivor of the the St. Anne's Indian Residential School in Fort Albany, Ontario. Yesterday, he was in court fighting to have the federal government release documents related to the trial of Anna Wesley.

"Anna Wesley was our [school] supervisor and she was there for the eight years I was there," Mr. Metatawabin tells Carol. "She was very cruel. A cruel woman. She liked to inflict punishment: a slap on the side of the head with her right hand, then the left hand, and both hands over the ears. She liked to inflict pain. One way was to force children to eat vomit."

Edmund Metatawabin, 66, a survivor of St. Anne's Residential School in Fort Albany, Ont., speaks outside Osgoode Hall in Toronto on Tuesday. Metatawabin remembers being shocked in an electric chair at the school. (Photo: Colin Perkel/CP)

In 1999, Ms. Wesley was convicted of administering a noxious substance to children.

Wesley was a nun while at the residential school during the 1950's and '60's, and she left the order in 1971.

In January, an Ontario judge ordered the Canadian government to hand over documents related to abuse at the school. However, Ottawa has not provided the documents related to Anna Wesley. But shortly after we recorded this interview, Mr. Metatawabin's lawyer, Fay Brunning, contacted As it Happens to say that the federal government has now agreed to to provide the transcripts to the Department of Aboriginal and Northern Affairs, where they can be requested by former residential school residents.

Hear Carol's full interview with Mr. Metatawabin by selecting the "Listen" button.

UPDATE (June 11, 2014): Shortly after our interview, the government said it would hand over documents to the Department of Aboriginal and Northern Affairs, where they can be requested by former residents.

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