In their words: Southeast Collegiate students

Participant quotes from the students of Winnipeg’s Southeast Collegiate were very powerful — and worth sharing here:

“When they started Residential Schools, everything was different. They lost a lot of hope. When our people went to Residential Schools, they were physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually abused by clergy and school staff. Today, many of the Residential School survivors have been drinking a lot. They still cannot stop the pain from the past.” Myrna F

“Indian Residential Schools made our people suffer just because they believed in something else…I say this because the IRS have caused Aboriginal people so much pain, because they were different from others and believed in another culture. Many people still suffer today as we speak. I thought that the ‘Project of Heart’ was very interesting. I thought that it was a very amazing thing to do for Aboriginal children who died in the past because of the Indian Residential Schools. This project must have inspired and taught people many things. People must have put their lives into their drawings. It touched me in so many ways, but I also thought to myself, ‘Why don’t they expand this project? Let other schools all over the world try it out, just so that we can prove to the Residential School Survivors that someone in the world loves them for who they are.’ ” Joanna C.

“Many people have been affected by the Indian Residential School System. Many of our parents and guardians have gone to Residential Schools in many places. What I have learned about Residential School is that there were many children who were physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually abused. It affected me a lot because my father went to Residential School, but he never got to sit down with me and talk about it. I figured that he’s still kepping a secret from his experience of how he was treated. I have done something good for my father and it is called ‘Project of Heart’. It’s about painting tiles for the Residential School Survivors and I made six tiles and it has meanings for the people that went there, especially for my dad.” –Cora F.

“My feelings toward Residential Schools are mostly about the impact they had on the students. The Aboriginal students have been physicaly, spiritually, mentally and emotionally affected. They’ve been abused in these ways. The memories are with the students to the day they’ve become Elderly. To this day a possible 50% learn to cope with alcohol. The other 50% may learn to cope with the trauma through using traditional practices.” Farrah B.

“The TILES project was fun and interesting. The Residential School System was obviously not the smartest thing, not the greatest thing that the government has done for Aboriginal peoples. It’s nice to know that non-Aboriginals are putting in the time to read and understand what has happened to our ancestors in these Indian Residential Schools. Project of Heart is a new approach to informing people of a hidden history.” Stephan B.

The topic of Residential Schools is not an easy one to talk about, but it has to be heard. People need to learn about the mental, spiritual, physical and emotional abuse that our people suffered when they were forced to attend these schools.” Chasity H.

I feel that what the European Government and Christian Churches did to Aboriginal people was so wrong.It kills Aboriginal people that they were forced to endure the “Residential School System” in Canada, where in some schools 50% did not survive. Residential School was a place were Aboriginal people could not be themselves, and where other people changed them.Now, Aboriginal people are who they are because of the government and the churches. I loved being a part of “Project of Heart.” All of the painting on the tiles were amazing and paid much respect to those who both died and survived Residential Schools.
Hailley R.

After we went through the unit on the Residential School System in class, it made me feel sorry for those who attended Residential Schools in Canada. I could not even imagine how much our people went through, it almost made me cry watching videos about Residential Schools and listening to the experiences of a Residential School survivor. It must be tough for them to try to put their lives together again. I wonder how they are dealing with it and all. Still today, survivors are struggling with the pain that they had from these schools and how they were transformed into totally different persons. The tiles project (Project of Heart) was a good idea because it was like saying a prayer from those who attended Residential School because we were thinking about the people that attended residential schools while we were making the tiles.Katelyn M.

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