* This video is graphic and may be disturbing to some viewers.
School should be a place of refuge. A place where children go to learn. An environment that encourages growth and kind human beings.
However, none of the above statements apply when we talk about residential schools. No amount of money can reconcile the physical and emotional damage these survivors live with.
You don’t know what you don’t know. We must listen in order to learn. It’s important that the Indigenous lead the conversation.
Arnold Taylor is a residential school survivor.
The events that took place inside the walls of residential schools are unacceptable. Some may find these conversations difficult and/or uncomfortable.
Food was hard to come by – this lead the older children to guide the younger ones to the dump, scavenging for food in order to survive. Speaking their language lead to abuse, leaving many survivors unable to speak Ojibway upon their arrival home.
After 6-7 years at Mohawk Institute, Arnold was placed into the care of Children’s Aid. In their care, Arnold was moved from farm to farm for another 4 years. By the time he returned home, his parents didn’t know who he was.
While he was gone, he was stripped of his culture, language and spirituality.
Statues & Memorials
During our interview I took a moment and asked Arnold his thoughts about new and existing statues.
There was a great deal of trauma experienced by those in residential schools. Events and situations that nobody should have to experience. Arnold believes that existing statues should be erected and new ones should not be placed. The deaths of those in residential schools shouldn’t be idolized. He feels that statues can be incredibly triggering for survivors.
Arnold, thank you for graciously sharing your story with me and allowing me to share it publicly.
National Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line – 1-866-925-4419
To learn more about Indigenous Communities and their culture, check out this FREE course offered by the University of Alberta.