Over 300 people were in attendance at the Conexus Art Centre in Regina on Sept. 16, as the community looks to heal from one of the darkest chapters in Canadian history.
Named “The truth telling gathering” and hosted by the Keeseekoose First Nation, the event hosted over 30 speakers, many of whom shared stories of their times students in residential schools, facing mental, physical and sexual abuse.
The Keeseekoose chief, Lee Katchemonia, said remembering the uncomfortable history is important, adding that those unfamiliar with residential schools, tend to brush off the experiences of survivors.
“That’s the whole reason why a lot of them won’t come forward, because of the backlash they might get, plus there’s a lot of shame involved,” Katchemonia said.
He added, “a person has to carry that shame, for all those years, and it’s not their shame to carry, it’s not their fault. They were just children when it happened.”
Katchemonia attended a day school where students were abused. He said the healing process will take a while as the best approach is helping one person at at time, as everyone is on a “different step in their healing journey.”
He added that teaching this history to the next generation will help them understand and connect with their elders.
Alvin Musqua Jr. Is the first generation in his family to not attend a residential school.
He said he saw first hand, his grandparents and parents deal with the trauma of residential school, but is grateful that his parents broke the cycle when they had him.
It’s a tradition he aims to continue with his own children, he said.
“I also wanted to be a good role model to them, I work in Keeseekose but I also work a full time for Mosaic at the Esterhazy mine, to show them that there’s a lot of opportunities out there that you can get, you don’t only have to stay on the reserve like how it was in the past,” Musqua Jr. said.