Attawapiskat Elder brings Survivor knowledge to Gatineau learners


Teacher Lisa Howell made the winter term a meaningful one for her students from Pierre Elliott Elementary School in Gatineau. Her class commemorated the children who went away to La Tuque IRS in Quebec, and never made it home. Lisa and her students made a video of their experiences and also documented their work with photos.  You can see the video — and the impact that Elder Mary-Lou, an Indian Residential School survivor from Attawapiskat, had on Lisa’s students. Lisa puts it like this:

“We made this video to document our experiences and our feelings through out the project-but most of all, to recognize, respect and honour the children and families impacted by Indian Residential schools.”

Student reflections show just how important “learning from the experts” is:

Dear Mary Lou,
It’s nice for you to talk a lot about your past. My
grandpa went to residential school. I learned more about
my grandpa from listening to you. I promise to go to bed
early; Most of the time!

Thank you for caring about me
-David Gunner, Mistissini Cree Nation


Dear Mary-Lou,

Thank you for coming to our school. It was a pleasure to
meet you. I felt shocked when they you told us that they
fed you dog food at the IRS. I feel sorry about when they
would hit you on the knuckles. It meant a lot to me to
see you do smudging on yourself. I liked when you were
singing your song and playing your drum. It must have
been hard for you back then being in a Residential school.
I wish you to have a good future and come back to our
school again.

-Sincerely Nicolas


Dear Mary-Lou

Thank you for coming.

It was cool when you were singing because I felt at home. It
reminded me of my grandpa, because he is half Native.

It meant a lot to me to see you do the smudging on yourself.

I am so glad you survived.


For their social justice component, the students participated in “Have a Heart for First Nations Children” on Parliament Hill on February 14th

Congratulations students at Pierre Elliott Trudeau!

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