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Thursday, April 21, 2022

NAN’s search at notorious residential school continues #TRC

 

NAN’s search at notorious residential school continues

Written by Ryan Forbes Wednesday, Apr 20 2022, 4:55 AM
Students at St. Anne’s Indian Residential School in Fort Albany First Nation. Photo courtesy of Algoma University.

If you are a residential school survivor, you are able to contact the 24-hour National Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419 for support. Indigenous people can also access the Hope for Wellness Help Line at 1-855-242-3310 or online chat at www.hopeforwellness.ca.


The provincial governent is committing nearly $500,000 to support community members in the Nishnawbe Aski Nation area with the region’s search of one of the most notorious Indian Residential School locations in Canada.

Ontario and Ottawa have committed $475,000 over two years to support survivors affected by the six former Indian Residential Schools in the NAN territory, including those of St. Anne’s Indian Residential School in Fort Albany First Nation.

Records from the federal government show students at St. Anne’s were subjected to a homemade electric chair, with survivors describing physical, mental and sexual abuse. Legal battles over compensation for survivors continue to this day.

“This funding will help us develop healing initiatives to support our families and communities through community-driven initiatives as they search for their loved ones,” said NAN’s Deputy Grand Chief, Anna Betty Achneepineskum.


“The search for these innocent children will be a painful experience and needs to be done with great care and respect. We look forward to implementing our Reclamation and Healing Strategy and will continue to develop and implement cultural and spiritual mental health supports to support all those who undertake this important work,” she adds.

Achneepineskum adds the strategy will be developed with survivors and will include recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action of 2015. Funding will also support communications and technical supports, as well as public education and awareness initiatives.

St. Anne’s Indian Residential School was run by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate Catholic Church and the Grey Nuns of the Cross in Fort Albany First Nation between 1906 and 1976, with support from the federal government.

Records show that the school was originally located at the Fort Albany Mission on Albany Island in Treaty #9, before relocating to the banks of the Albany River in 1932. The school burned down in 1939 and was later rebuilt.

First Nations youth from Fort Albany, Attawapiskat, Weenusk, Constance Lake, Moose Fort and Fort Severn all attended the school.

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Detailed discussion of the Bering Strait theory and other scientific theories about the population of the modern-day Americas is beyond the scope of this essay. However, it should be noted that Indian people have expressed suspicion that DNA analysis is a tool that scientists will use to support theories about the origins of tribal people that contradict tribal oral histories and origin stories. Perhaps more important,the alternative origin stories of scientists are seen as intending to weaken tribal land and other legal claims (and even diminish a history of colonialism?) that are supported in U.S. federal and tribal law. As genetic evidence has already been used to resolve land conflicts in Asian and Eastern European countries, this is not an unfounded fear.

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