Stories of a Residential School Survivor – Scot Scoop News


“Hello, my name is Deborah and I am a genocide survivor,” begins Deborah Hayward, a Native American elder.

The words “genocidal prison” are often associated with a concentration camp in Poland 80 years ago or a mysterious communist gulag far away. However, Hayward is referring to a school where she was locked up in Canada.

Indigenous Foundations Arts describes residential schools as “a vast school system set up by the Canadian government and administered by churches which had the nominal objective of educating Indigenous children, but also the more damaging and equally explicit objectives of indoctrinating them into Euro-Canadian ways of life and Christians and assimilate them into mainstream white Canadian society.

The residential school system had a motto: “Kill the Indian, save the child”. Photos taken throughout the 20th century show nuns shaving the heads of Indigenous boys, pulling their hair out, which is considered sacred in their culture.

A frightening photo taken in 1950 at the Shingwauk Indian Residential School Center shows young Native boys praying on their knees on neat bunk beds, under the supervision of a nun. But what happened off-camera was much more sinister.

Native boys pray on bunk beds in a dormitory at Bishop Horden Memorial School, a residential school in the Native Cree community of Moose Factory, Ontario, in 1950. (via REUTERS)

In June 2021, ground-penetrating radar technology discovered the bodies of 215 Indigenous children buried near Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia, Canada. Residential school survivors felt inspired to share their stories online. One of those people was Hayward, who posts daily videos to his TikTok @ amadeb7 account.

“I attended residential school in Port Alberni in 1969,” Hayward said in a video she posted on June 1. “I came home from school one day and my bag was ready and I traveled for two days to the Port Alberni residential school. . “

Hayward was sent to residential school in the 1960s and 1970s, but the accessibility of photo and video documentation, color television, and telephones did not stop the nuns from mistreating and controlling her and others. children.

“Sometimes in the girls’ dorm at night, I could hear some girls crying. I remember standing by the window doing the same thing sometimes, ”said Hayward. “There was once, they put a phone outside the laundry room. I remember seeing the phone booth and getting excited and picking it up and trying to call home and being tied on the back of my legs by one of the supervisors saying the phone was not there for me.

Many survivors also said they were deprived of food and other essentials.

“My brother and I were talking about the lightness of our meals,” said Hayward. “I was telling my brother that I think we were probably part of this scientific study where they are trying to see how many vitamins and minerals you need for the day. And I said I felt like we were part of it because we were so limited in what we could eat. We were fed very small portions and very tasteless.

She went on to say, “I got a good rest last night. I dreamed of being a girl running through our village, having a lot of freedom, visiting my family and visiting my grandparents. So I woke up very happy because I could see my grandparents in my dream.

Hayward now has 26,000 subscribers on his account and a total of 337,000 likes. It comes with shocking hateful comments.

An anonymous profile by the name of Aaron Velt commented, “We don’t care about the lives of your welfare recipients, so as far as I’m concerned, 215 is a good start.

In turn, the TikTok community of all ages responded with love. Indigenous youth call her aunt as a sign of respect, and other users point out how grateful they are that she shares her story.

“I appreciate you,” Hayward replies.

This scale of attention and advocacy in the internet age has never been seen before, but many believe it is not enough. Thousands of Indigenous people took to the streets on Canada Day, July 1, to directly confront the colonial systems designed against them and their ancestors.

Protesters in Winnipeg covered the statues of Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II in red paint to symbolize blood on the hands of the monarchy in addition to handprints depicting all the children who were stolen from their families. BBC reported that statues of other colonizers were covered in red paint and demolished, in addition to ten churches built on burnt indigenous lands. The actions have been condemned by Winnipeg Police Chief British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and members of the Canadian Parliament, but activists say it is a start on the road to closure.

“I was thinking about how there were 5,296 and I was counting the kid leftovers, and we’re the kids, and every kid counts,” Hayward said. “I’ve been thinking in the media lately that it has calmed down. Please don’t forget the children who did not come home and the families who were waiting for them.

“How many children?” ask indigenous activists.

In August, 1,794 children were found buried in just 11 residential schools, the largest finding being 751 bodies in Cowessess, Saskatchewan. As of September, the number exceeded 6,000. There are 1,300 residential schools in Canada and 367 residential schools in the United States that have yet to be searched. At this rate, there could be tens of thousands of children or more lost in anonymous graves. But for now, the question remains unanswered.

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