Infamous Port Alberni residential school dormitory to be demolished Tuesday

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saga saga's picture
Infamous Port Alberni residential school dormitory to be demolished Tuesday

[url=Infamous">http://www.google.com/hostednews/canadianpress/article/ALeqM5ilz-9E2yE8Z... Port Alberni residential school dormitory to be demolished Tuesday[/url]

Good! Canadian Press has picked up this story about the Port Alberni School being demolished, though not the full picture.

This is the school where crimes against children were first revealed to Kevin Annett. The deaths of children at this school have not yet been investigated by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Working Group on Missing Children.

Please email the following people to request that there be an immediate moratorium on any disturbance of any former residential school sites or buildings until the Working Group has investigated and reported on missing children.

Stop the demolition of the Port Alberni School dorm.
strahl.c@parl.gc.ca
harper.s@parl.gc.ca
trc-cvr@irsr-rqpi.gc.ca
Attn: Frank Iacobucci, John Milloy
ignatieff.m@parl.gc.ca
russell.t@parl.gc.ca
crowder.j@parl.gc.ca
lunney.j@parl.gc.ca
nene@tseshaht.com
cstern@tseshaht.com
saml@tseshaht.com
georgel@tseshaht.com
gallicb@tseshaht.com
samr@tseshaht.com
fredl@tseshaht.com
robinsone@tseshaht.com
gallicw@tseshaht.com
wattsm@tseshaht.com
billd@tseshaht.com
gordon.campbell.mla@leg.bc.ca
scott.fraser.mla@leg.bc.ca

 cwatts@nuuchahnulth.org  lcelester-koehle@nuuchahnulth.org  lfrank@nuuchahnulth.org  lisasam@nuuchahnulth.org  lisasam@nuuchahnulth.org  lizgus@nuuchahnulth.org  ntc-nro@nuuchahnulth.org

LeighT

thanks Saga, done.

LeighT

Saga, for some reason all the tseshaht.com addresses 'failed to deliver', though it appears others got thru. just fyi, don'tknow why

Unionist

Just before I hit "send" on my group email, I wondered whether this is the right thing to do. The article seems to quote Tseshaht leaders and survivors supporting the demolition, as an opportunity to heal, while saying that: "Some have suggested that since the school's main building is no longer standing, the dormitories should remain as a reminder of the atrocities committed within."

What should we do here?

 

LeighT

i think unionist that is why saga said 'not the full picture' ie)in the article.

i don't think saga would make the call out on her own, from what i've seen of her work, i note there are other First Nations in the list.

and it seems imminently sensible, from a justice-seeking perspective, that we support indigenous efforts calling for full investigation of atrocities before the opportunity is demolished.

Unionist

Ok, I've sent the email, and I also got bounces from all tseshaht.com addresses.

ETA: I added Jack Layton to the list.

 

remind remind's picture

One might try contacting the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council and asking them for a press release, on their stance, as this council pretty much covers a significant portion, if not all, of those FN tribes who attended said residential school.

And/or one could go to the links at the Four Directions Institute home page and click on some links there for info.

And the following is the Tseshaht home page it has lots of info and newsletters.

http://www.tseshaht.com/?page=11

Ancedotal info snippet

2 women friends of mine were forced to endure this hell hole, and they cannot live in Port, as it is too much of a trigger for them to cope with. They cannot go back to their tribal lands comfortably, as they have no history with those there and their historical way of life, and so they live marginalized, on what was/is Snuneymuxw traditional land, many hours away from their heritage base. 

They do not know if the tearing down of this prison camp will make it better or worse for them.

Unionist

Well, I checked both those resources (except Four Directions) before sending my email and couldn't find anything at all about the Port Alberni dormitory. I sent the email anyway, but left it sort of discreet - asking whether it was proper to proceed with the demolition before the inquiries have taken place. Anyway, if anyone knows what position the affected FN people are taking, it would be much appreciated if they could post the info here.

LeighT

I understand that there have been efforts by Squamish leaders to reclaim the land from the churches, as it within their territory.

Who is 'organizing' the demolition?  the church? i've only seen the one CP article circulated by a number of mainstream media,  quoting one individual,  though many different  First Nations youngsters were taken to that place of terror.  we will no doubt hear more of this to come, but in the meanwhile it's important to respond to flags to ensure that there IS an opportunity for full discussion amongst those directly affected.

saga saga's picture

Unionist wrote:

Just before I hit "send" on my group email, I wondered whether this is the right thing to do. The article seems to quote Tseshaht leaders and survivors supporting the demolition, as an opportunity to heal, while saying that: "Some have suggested that since the school's main building is no longer standing, the dormitories should remain as a reminder of the atrocities committed within."

What should we do here?

 

There won't be one answer, of course. People will have different opinions, and some won't agree with protesting the demolition.

My concern is possibly destroying evidence just ahead of the  Working group on missing children. I hoped there was already a halt on any demolitions, etc., but apparently not.

 

 

Maysie Maysie's picture

saga wrote:
My concern is possibly destroying evidence just ahead of the  Working group on missing children. I hoped there was already a halt on any demolitions, etc., but apparently not.

Yes this is my concern as well. If the buildings are going to be destroyed, wonderful. That will be the end result, whether it happens now or a year from now. 

But isn't it interesting how fast the Canadian government can make things happen when it has its own self-interest at the core? That these interests happen to mesh, this time, with the band that is currently using the space and wants it torn down, is purely coincidental.

I had cynical in my corn flakes this morning, btw. 

Unionist

More media reports on the demolition:

[url=http://www.canada.com/topics/news/national/story.html?id=1224349][=... Valley Times[/color][/url]

[url=http://www.westcoaster.ca/modules/AMS/article.php?storyid=6003][=re... West Coaster[/color][/url]

[url=http://www.westcoaster.ca/modules/AMS/article.php?storyid=6054][=re... Quinn of Black Press[/color][/url]

Can't see any indication of any opposition to the the demolition, nor any clear sign of who ordered the job.

Nor did I see anything on Kevin Annet's site, although they wrote about the Port Alberni situation [url=last">http://www.hiddenfromhistory.org/RecentUpdatesampArticles/Apr102008Locat... April[/url].

Oh well, we'll see what the emails produce...

 

LeighT

i just wrote a note that disappeared into cyberspace- my link keeps timing out..

anyway, i'm still not feeling comfortable at all about the way this is playing out, as Maysie notes, too quick, too tidy. 

the complete absence of any differing views is very disturbing.

we've had reports for the past year of bones found between the walls of demolished buildings, under foundations, in basement furnaces, and multiple call outs from aboriginal groups across the country, families of the disappeared, international indigenous groups seeking full forensic investigation of remains, and yet a demolition is happening, apparently, tomorrow, without a word of response regarding these demands.

there is unclarity about where the demolition elements will go, will they be buried onsite?  will some private contractor haul them off?  how will they be inspected? by whom?  what control will indigenous observers be allowed to have of the situation? I hope that any aboriginal people who do have concerns are given their rights.

 

Unionist

I have now received responses from Jack (saying he would task Jean Crowder, Aboriginal affairs critic, with following up) and from the PM (referring it to Chuck Strahl, although I had already cc'ed Strahl). Nothing from Iggy or any of the others yet.

 

Unionist

This just in - excerpt from the NDP's response to my letter to Harper:

Quote:

The buildings have been used for over a decade by the Tseshaht First Nation as their band council offices. The Tseshaht have planned this demolition for some time and have plans for healing ceremonies to take place during and after the demolition.

Elders are involved and are guiding the community through the process. They have sent communications out to all community members, including those who live away, to come and witness the demolition. As you may know, witnessing a ceremony in a Coast Salish culture is very important and indicates the gravity with which the Tseshaht Elders are approaching this demolition.

Although the Working Group on Missing Children may investigate claims of bodies buried on the Port Alberni Residential School grounds, the continuous use of the building by members of the Tseshaht means it is unlikely that there is information to be found within the buildings themselves.

saga saga's picture

Unionist wrote:

I have now received responses from Jack (saying he would task Jean Crowder, Aboriginal affairs critic, with following up) and from the PM (referring it to Chuck Strahl, although I had already cc'ed Strahl). Nothing from Iggy or any of the others yet.

 

Thanks for following up folks. There may still be some time for authorities to act. I would have thought that Dr.John Milloy (TrentU), head of the TRC Working group on missing children, would have called for a moratorium on demolition. I think we have to ask ourselves ... and him ... just exactly what he is doing if not protecting the sites of the disappearances of so many children! However, the TRC is well protected from the public as email addresses are not available, except the general one. Last I heard, it was being received by someone in the Dept of Indian Affairs! Now there are simply no responses at all. The TRC appears to be a black hole where no public views penetrate!

How is THAT independent???

However, it does appear that there is still some time as tomorrow's event is largely symbolic.

[url=http://www.bclocalnews.com/vancouver_island_central/albernivalleynews/ne... man travels to Valley to watch former residential school building dismantled[/url]

People will be allowed tear the building’s facing away, which they can then place on a fire that is being set specifically to burn it. The entire building won’t be taken down on Feb. 10; it will instead will be demolished by a contractor later, George said.

I can certainly understand the survivors wishes to 'crush the beast'. However, someone also has to speak out for justice for the children who did not survive the school.

It certainly appears that preserving the sites should be Milloy's first priority!!However, perhaps he just wants some 'stories', not the reality of buried children and unmarked graves, or the horrific truth of infants buried between walls and under foundations!

[url=http://www.trentu.ca/newsDetails.aspx?Channel=%2FChannels%2FAdmissions+C...

Historian John Milloy Seeks Out Stories of Residential School Children Who Never Went Home[/url]

Once the graveyards and burial grounds are located and documented, the working group's plan envisions traditional aboriginal ceremonies being conducted at the sites to "ask the spirits of the missing children" to return home to their communities. The second phase of the massive research project is more ambitious and complicated because it will require Canada's provinces to open up confidential and sensitive files.

“The goals of this project - identifying those who died in the schools or who went and remain missing, as well as documenting the burial grounds and those children buried there – have a very high priority with residential school survivors and the families and communities of the dead and disappeared,” explained Prof. Milloy. “A thorough and transparent review of all documentation held by the government and the churches as well as a respectful process of collecting the oral record will not only bring closure to many but will symbolize the willingness of Canada to expose the truth fully and will be therefore an important contribution to reconciliation.”

 

I REALLY question the work of the TRC. It is quite apparent that it works FOR the Government of Canada, not independently as it is mandated to.

I personally believe very strongly that it should be turned over to the appropriate independent INTERNATIONAL body.If you have similar concerns, please contact ICTJ.

ICTJ Offices New York Office (Headquarters) 5 Hanover Square. Floor 24 New York, NY USA 10004 Click for directions Google Map of office location Tel: +1 917 637 3800 Fax: +1 917 637 3900 info@ictj.org

egonzalez@ictj.org

[url=http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20081103.wcotruth04/B... and Mail article by Eduardo Gonzalez of ICTJ[/url]

As The Globe and Mail has reported, bodies of aboriginal children lie in unmarked graves across Canada, on the grounds of residential schools where the federal government sought for more than a century to extinguish aboriginal culture.

... many of the children are thought to be in the anonymous graves at the school sites. It is their memory that Canada should honour as it presses forward with its historic truth commission, and works to achieve a healthier, more united country.

Eduardo Gonzalez is deputy director of the Americas program at the International Center for Transitional Justice and a former staff member of the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

 The question in my mind today is ... IF there is no attempt to preserve the sites of possible deatrhs/burial/graves, is this a real investigation by John Milloy or just a pretense? Yell

 Recallig that the Working group on missing children was never part of the TRC mandate, UNTIL protesters and media and finally an MP demanded action to investigate deaths in the schools. The Working group was formed, but not funded, and seems to be, frankly, just a pretense to me.

John Milloy is an 'apologist' for genocide, who already concluded in his slyly named book 'A National Crime' that there was no intention to commit genocide, just thousands upon thousands of 'accidental' deaths. <Yes, that's sarcasm>.

I think he should be forced to respond about this issue.

For those who don't know, the Globe and Mail did an independent investigation of government records and confirmed Kevin Annett's findings. I want to again thank the Globe for addressing this issue:

[url=http://canadiandimension.com/articles/2007/04/29/1086/]Natives died in droves as Ottawa ignored warnings[/url]

Bill Curry and Karen Howlett

Globe and Mail April 24, 2007

Globe and Mail April 24, 2007

As many as half of the aboriginal children who attended the early years of residential schools died of tuberculosis, despite repeated warnings to the federal government that overcrowding, poor sanitation and a lack of medical care were creating a toxic breeding ground for the rapid spread of the disease, documents show.

 

saga saga's picture

There are reports of children's remains in the walls/foundations.

There should be no demolitions until investigations are completed.

I see no problem with going ahead with the ceremonial part, but not actual demolition.

remind remind's picture

Someone at the NDP communications office better get their information straight theTseshaht are NOT Coast Salish, they are of the Nuu-Cha-Nulth nation. Formerly labelled a "Nootka".

 

LeighT

thanks for updates.

a) The ceremony held with survivors needs to respected.

b) The demolition is not going to take place tomorrow, which is good news. 

c) There is still insufficient information regarding the process of the demolition, reported above to be done by a contractor.  It is still unclear  whether the mandate of the Working Group on Missing Children will be upheld before the demolition, and if the requests of families and  indigenous groups for full investigation will be met or not.

d) I'll admit I'm a bit ticked, saga, that it appears you did this call-out on your own, and not in support of a particular current effort of a local group.  That makes it difficult to trust your judgement/call-outs in future.  Nevertheless I stand by the concerns stated in my letter, and above, that given the history of the situation, demolition should not occur before full investigation.  Even then there should be full oversight by affected groups, including survivors if they so desire.  As one survivor quoted in the bclocal article said, he wants to "tear the whole place down [him]self,”.  It might increase the levels of accountability.

thanks again for updates on this.

saga saga's picture

remind wrote:

Someone at the NDP communications office better get their information straight theTseshaht are NOT Coast Salish, they are of the Nuu-Cha-Nulth nation. Formerly labelled a "Nootka".

 

Wink

Thanks for the clarification, remind.

 

I want to share an observation so people know where I'm coming from.

Well ... now that I look at it, maybe a couple of points. lol

This is the mandate of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, developed in collaboration with the AFN and survivor groups.

http://www.residentialschoolsettlement.ca/SCHEDULE_N.pdf

Nowhere in the TRC Mandate does it acknowledge the fact that children died and disappeared in the schools and some may be buried there. The word "death" (etc) does not appear.

This TRC Mandate was part of the (court) Settlement Agreement (2006), developed well after the RCAP report and chapter on Residential Schools (1996). The RCAP chapter on residential schools, researched by John Milloy, shows 20 incidences of the word "death", the first one here:

Those conditions constituted the context for the neglect, abuse and
death of an incalculable number of children and for immeasurable damage to Aboriginal communities.

then here ... 

The cumulative weight of underfunding of the system throughout this period, which pressed down on the balance books of the churches and the
department and drove individual schools into debt, was nothing compared
to its consequences for the schools and their students. Badly built, poorly
maintained and overcrowded, the schools' deplorable conditions were a
dreadful weight that pressed down on the thousands of children who
attended them. For many of those children it proved to be a mortal weight. Scott, reviewing the history of the system for the new minister, Arthur Meighen, in 1918, noted that the buildings were "undoubtedly chargeable with a very high death rate among the pupils."

 ... and so on.

It is this avoidance of the topic of missing children by the TRC - dead or disappeared - that concerns me. Frankly I think the government(s) of Canada would like to avoid the issue entirely, but that isn't right.

It's understandable that as the Truth and Reconciliation begins its work, Indigenous communities are reflecting on ceremonies and healing, and I certainly understand their desire to pull, sledgehammer, and/or burn the places down asap!

My concern is that significant evidence related to the missing children might thus be lost, and that 'forces' may be at work to help that happen.

Of course, Port Alberni School is infamous because it's Kevin Annett's former parish where former students spoke from his pulpit about deaths in the school, burials on the hill and infants/fetuses entombed in buildings.

There are some people in government and throughout Canada including in Indigenous communities who might like to glide over the painful 'truth' part, and just 'put it behind us' and 'get on with healing' and with reconciliation.

I don't see reconciliation working at all unless the whole truth is clearly told to all Canadians.  Maybe I'm wrong in thinking that, but the story certainly does not end at cultural, physical and sexual abuse.

To date, on the issue of the death of children in the schools, the government, INAC and the TRC itself have acted only in response to public pressure, and then only marginally: John Milloy (TrentU) has a contract to review records looking for evidence of children's deaths and of locations of burial. That will take years. By the time that is completed, all existing physical evidence may be destroyed as communities (understandably) want to destroy the buildings and reuse the sites.

 The Truth and Reconciliation Commission itself has only office staff in attendance, it seems. However, I think we all know that Indian Affairs is still pulling the strings on the Commission, and strahl.c@parl.gc.ca is the prime contact, as indicated above by Harper.

At a minimum, there should be physical investigations by experts onsite to locate possible burial locations without disturbing anything, imo.

 

Maysie Maysie's picture

saga wrote:

There are reports of children's remains in the walls/foundations.

That's absolutely horrific, not very surprising but appalling all the same.  

saga wrote:
There should be no demolitions until investigations are completed.

I see no problem with going ahead with the ceremonial part, but not actual demolition.

I completely agree.

saga saga's picture

LeighT wrote:

thanks for updates.

a) The ceremony held with survivors needs to respected.

b) The demolition is not going to take place tomorrow, which is good news. 

c) There is still insufficient information regarding the process of the demolition, reported above to be done by a contractor.  It is still unclear  whether the mandate of the Working Group on Missing Children will be upheld before the demolition, and if the requests of families and  indigenous groups for full investigation will be met or not.

d) I'll admit I'm a bit ticked, saga, that it appears you did this call-out on your own, and not in support of a particular current effort of a local group.  That makes it difficult to trust your judgement/call-outs in future. Nevertheless I stand by the concerns stated in my letter, and above, that given the history of the situation, demolition should not occur before full investigation.  Even then there should be full oversight by affected groups, including survivors if they so desire.  As one survivor quoted in the bclocal article said, he wants to "tear the whole place down [him]self,”.  It might increase the levels of accountability.

thanks again for updates on this.

I think we all hope when we send things out that others will send them on to their contacts, and that's what I do, to some effect. I don't claim to speak for anyone but myself, and I don't ask anyone to trust my judgment: I ask them to use their own, as people here have done. There will always be different perspectives in this babble community and others.

 

I am glad to hear that the Alberni ceremony can go forward, and is separate from the actual demolition.

I certainly agree that investigations should be done before any more demolitions. However, now that I've looked at it again, it appears that John Milloy's mandate includes only records, not any site investigation at all. I just don't think that's adequate.

[url=http://news.scotsman.com/world/Playground-bones--force-Canada.4845558.jp... bones ...[/url]

Since there are no Commissioners at present, I expect only Strahl can send the order to local Band offices to stop any demolitions or disturbances of residential school sites.

ps. I think some of the Tseshaht emails went through.

saga saga's picture

Now doesn't this just give you the chills!

 

[url=http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Mumbai/Explain_deaths_in_tribal_schoo...(India) Explain deaths in tribal school: HC[/url]

    

saga saga's picture

Well, I have to give the Alberni Valley News credit for printing this letter from Kevin Annett: [url=http://www.bclocalnews.com/vancouver_island_central/albernivalleynews/op... move to demolish residential school buildings is happening now, I suggest, because of a panic by the government and churches and their need to hide the growing evidence of the deaths of thousands of children in these institutions.[/url]
  And there is also this update from the Council: [url=http://www.bclocalnews.com/vancouver_island_central/albernivalleynews/ne... privacy paramount during dismantling of residential school building[/url]  

Former residential school residents will be allowed to take part in dismantling the dormitory they once lived in, but the event will largely be a private one.

“I want to take a sledgehammer in my damn hands and tear the whole place down myself,” said Ray Guno, 63. “I hated what that system did to us.”

The former Tseshaht First Nation administration building is being demolished on Feb. 10 at noon. At one time named Peake Hall, the building had historically been used as a dormitory housing Grade 11 and 12 students. They lived, slept and ate in the building for 10 months out of the year.

According to Tseshaht councillor Williard Gallic, the event will be traumatic for many, and therefore privacy is in order. "We won't be allowing any pictures to be taken during the tear down," he said. "We want to give people respect and privacy when they say their farewell to those bad times."

A cleansing will also take place, as well as a meal at Maht Mahs gym, Gallic said. Media will be allowed to take pictures and conduct interviews at 3 p.m., he added.

  .....  And some background from 1998 ... [url=http://www.firstnationsdrum.com/education/Default.htm]Alberni School Victim Speaks Out[/url]

LeighT

saga, your comment is reasonable; "At a minimum, there should be physical investigations by experts onsite to locate possible burial locations without disturbing anything", and with community representatives involved.

Where are the groups formerly involved in the process?, eg.

Mike Cachagee, the chairman of the National Residential Schools Survivors' Society (from the 'Playground Bones' article you've linked).

 

 

LeighT

Here is the National Residential Schools Survivors' Society website, with contact info. http://www.nrsss.ca/

 

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

I'm impressed with your courage to speak up when others might not be brave enough to saga.  Thank you, there is no need to rush here.  Because of history, even more reason to go slow.

 

At the risk of sounding rude, I'd even say that to the survivors.  "Our people have disappeared".

saga saga's picture

RevolutionPlease wrote:

I'm impressed with your courage to speak up when others might not be brave enough to saga.  Thank you, there is no need to rush here.  Because of history, even more reason to go slow.

 

At the risk of sounding rude, I'd even say that to the survivors.  "Our people have disappeared".

Thx rev.

We were concerned about the demolition date tomorrow, but that's just ceremonial. I hope the publicity will slow it down more.

 However, it points out the problem of possible disturbances to sites before the Truth Commission. Unfortunately, the 'Commission' doesn't exist at the moment, and no such directive has ever gone out.

 

 

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

If iit weren't for babble, i'd have no clue.  Keep posting.  I get a little word out.

saga saga's picture

LeighT wrote:

saga, your comment is reasonable; "At a minimum, there should be physical investigations by experts onsite to locate possible burial locations without disturbing anything", and with community representatives involved.

Where are the groups formerly involved in the process?, eg.

Mike Cachagee, the chairman of the National Residential Schools Survivors' Society (from the 'Playground Bones' article you've linked).

 

Forward to as many contacts as you can think of.

As for investigation, I think a surface mapping team should be made  available to every First Nation community, under their direction, to map the surface of the grounds of residential schools to locate possible burial sites that may not be marked, if they choose to.

However, that is expensive technology and not high priority right now since the Commission is still 'out of commission' (so to speak) ... and it would likely take moving a mountain ... but that's never entirely out of the question. 

thx babble!Cool

Unionist

Another response this morning, this time from Jean Crowder. Here is the conclusion:

Quote:
As this is a building owned by the Tseshaht First Nation and it is their community process that has resulted in a decision to demolish the building as part of their healing, it would be inappropriate for the NDP to call on them to ignore their own process and delay the demolition.

 

LeighT

"The majority of the school’s residents were from northern, B.C., Guno said. “There were kids from Aiyansh, Kitimat, Prince Rupert, Port Simpson and Gitsksans.”"

http://www.bclocalnews.com/vancouver_island_central/albernivalleynews/news/39311904.html

Also, I read the Working Group on Missing Children draft recommendations which Jean Crowder attached to her email today.

Here are some quotes from the Working Group's recs:

"a) Statistical Survey:

The statistical survey will aim to achieve a precise estimate of;

o Total enrolment throughout the history of the IRS system;

o Rates of infection; and

o Rates and cause of death.

c) Unmarked Burials (& Commemoration):

This study will seek to identify the location of cemeteries and grave sites in

which IRS students are believed to be buried.

Research will make use of oral testimony (obtained through TRC

statement taking activities) and archival documents, including site maps

and parish registries. Other research methodologies may be adopted as

required in consultation with key stakeholders and partner organizations.

Once possible grave sites are located, the TRC will consult with the

appropriate Band Council offices to determine if and/or how the

community wishes to proceed with further research and commemoration.

The consultant should be familiar with the methodologies

associated with historical research and cultural/social archaeology.

When the TRC receives information of specific incidents where a student

died or went missing, efforts will be made to identify the details of the case

including the location of the burial site (if applicable)." pp.7,8

Thus, there does seem to be some scope for more investigation prior to full demolition, but most certainly the initiative has to come from directly affected groups, not outsiders.

As there are indigenous peoples from areas far beyond the school location who attended, it would be up to them and their communities to decide on directions.

There are several big problems with jumping in unasked, aside from the obvious ones in this situation.  Practically speaking, if survivor groups and involved indigenous communities, including those far from Port Alberni, do not actually have control of the process, then any 'investigations' 'demolitions' or combination of the above has a most certain likelihood of being done exceedingly badly.   Counter-productively.

 So while this exchange of info has been useful, I really think any further initiatives for action need to be taken first and foremost by indigenous peoples' groups themselves.  Once there is confirmation that such is the case, then I'd be happy to participate in a campaign.

But not further until then.   I wrote the National Residential Schools Survivors' Society earlier, asking for information, and will share that if i hear back.

in the meanwhile, i'll keep checking back here periodically for ongoing info.  Perhaps there will be more clarity forthcoming in future.

thanks again,L.

LeighT

saga, regarding your comment here, "Forward to as many contacts as you can think of. ", I think it's important that Indigenous people take the lead here, not those of us who are not indigenous to this country.

I've written to the NRSS Society to ask them for information, and if I get anything back i'll post that, but I'm not going to write further to press political action until there is a campaign initiated by those affected.  This may involve the survivors who lived far from Port Alberni, or other families of the disappeared. 

"The majority of the school’s residents were from northern, B.C., Guno said. “There were kids from Aiyansh, Kitimat, Prince Rupert, Port Simpson and Gitsksans.” "

http://www.bclocalnews.com/vancouver_island_central/albernivalleynews/news/39311904.html

Here are some quotes from the Working Group on Missing Children draft recommendations pdf which Jean Crowder attached to her recent email on the subject: 

Quotes from the

Working Group on Missing Children recommendations (draft)

“a) Statistical Survey:

 The statistical survey will aim to achieve a precise estimate of;

- Total enrolment throughout the history of the IRS system;

- Rates of infection; and

- Rates and cause of death…

 

c) Unmarked Burials (& Commemoration):

This study will seek to identify the location of cemeteries and grave sites in

which IRS students are believed to be buried.

Research will make use of oral testimony (obtained through TRC

statement taking activities) and archival documents, including site maps

and parish registries. Other research methodologies may be adopted as

required in consultation with key stakeholders and partner organizations.

Once possible grave sites are located, the TRC will consult with the

appropriate Band Council offices to determine if and/or how the

community wishes to proceed with further research and commemoration…

d)…The consultant should be familiar with the methodologies

associated with historical research and cultural/social archaeology.

When the TRC receives information of specific incidents where a student

died or went missing, efforts will be made to identify the details of the case

including the location of the burial site (if applicable).”  pp.7,8

 ***

Aside from inappropriateness of outside intervention, there are big issues if any investigation does occur WITHOUT the direct involvement and supervision of directly affected indigenous groups.  All kinds of stupidity can occur when the wrong people do things. 

So thanks again for the heads up on this, and i'll be happy to participate further once leadership is provided by Indigenous people themselves.  Probably not further until that is the case, though. 

 

LeighT

well, that's twice now today, comments lost to cyberspace.

the bottom line, i'll take further action once and not until there is leadership provided by people Indigenous to this country on this issue.

thanks again,Leigh.

remind remind's picture

I agree, which is why I suggested people contact the actual people, first.

Those I know, would not want me saying a thing about it, either publically, or to them, they have had enough white man's interference for a lifetime, or twenty. If they need my assistance they will ask, or the tribal council would make an annoucement if they wanted general public assistance with anything activist wise.

Seriously, we are talking about a nation that has very adroit individuals within it. Which is why I gave the links that I did, so people could actually inform themseves, as to who the Nuu-Chah-Nulth were, and are. Conatained within, are all the relatives, and decendants of  Hyas Tyee (Great Chief) Maquinna and Chief Wickaninnish.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maquinna

"Maquinna played a key role in relations between the Spanish envoy, Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra, and his British counterpart, Captain George Vancouver, who negotiated the settlement of the Nootka affair and enjoyed Maquinna's hospitality at length.

Maquinna is notable also for having kept European slaves on a number of occasions. The most notable account is told in the writings of John R. Jewitt, one of two slaves kept for several years after the crew of the ship Boston was massacred by Maquinna and his men. A Narrative of the Adventures and Sufferings of John R. Jewitt, only survivor of the crew of the ship Boston, during a captivity of nearly three years among the savages of Nootka Sound: with an account of the manners, mode of living, and religious opinions of the natives is one of the first published glimpses into the social and cultural life of the Pacific Northwest peoples. Jewitt refers to Maquinna throughout as "king".

Jewitt learned the language of the people and was accordingly treated very well by Maquinna during his years in Nootka. He was able to learn directly from Maquinna that the ship Boston was taken in response to several depredations committed by earlier American and Spanish visitors.

The Narrative also describes an earlier, less fortunate, group of European slaves who were eventually sentenced to death by Maquinna after they attempted to escape to the lands of the Tla-o-qui-aht"

 

 

Jerry West

As an aside, the descendents of Jewitt periodically come up here and visit with the Mowachaht at the summer celebration at Yuquot

remind remind's picture

Yes, Maquinna's great + grandsons usually make a point of being there when they come up. A few years back, I was trying to get down there to go up with them, and then go to Kyuquot, sadly things did not work out.

http://www.kyuquot.ca/

LeighT

just to be clear though,

http://www.nuuchahnulth.org/tribal-council/welcome.html refers to lands on Vancouver Island.

The Alberni news stated,

"The majority of the school’s residents were from northern, B.C., Guno said. “There were kids from Aiyansh, Kitimat, Prince Rupert, Port Simpson and Gitsksans.” "

http://www.bclocalnews.com/vancouver_island_central/albernivalleynews/news/39311904.html

Therefore, more First Nations were involved, from other regions of BC.

The Working Group on Missing Children recommendations draft which Jean Crowder sent along with her note included a number of statements indicating that there were directions the Working Group could take, depending on the wishes of the Indigenous peoples involved. 

So, I'm not saying that this is necessarily 'end of story' for the issue of demolitions, but that it is not up to non-indigenous people to lead, and really to define. 

perhaps it just comes back to a sense that those of us who are non-indigenous to this country have some responsibility to ensure that the institions set up by the government do what they're supposed to do, and I think that was essentially what saga was trying to get at initially.

it gets difficult when there are tight timelines, and lack of knowledge, i'm speaking for myself here, so it's appreciated if those of you who have more direct experience in this area give babblers more lead time on actions, and more background, including clarity about which peoples are involved.  Normally this is the case with call-outs that happen via other channels, so I just assumed this was happening here as well, with broader background omitted for the purpose of a short direct version in  the initial post.  it's also my own fault for making assumptions.

 

 

 

saga saga's picture

LeighT wrote:

perhaps it just comes back to a sense that those of us who are non-indigenous to this country have some responsibility to ensure that the institions set up by the government do what they're supposed to do, and I think that was essentially what saga was trying to get at initially.

Absolutely. That's always my focus - what Canada and Canadians should be doing, and knowing. I do cc Indigenous Nationjs so they are aware, but the target of action is our politicians and government and bureaucrats. Since the government and AFN have been so quiet about it, very few Canadians are even aware that there is an issue of children dying and disappearing in the schools.

And the 'Working group' should be preserving evidence until Indigenous  communities can decide their own directions once they know what options and technical support are to be made available to them. However, none of that information is available to them yet, so this action does seem premature.

It's important that all Indigenous communities know that there will be opportunities to investigate the fates of missing children, but the TRC just isn't ready to proceed yet.

 

remind remind's picture

Perhaps back east saga, but here in BC everyone knows!

lurkalot

LeighT wrote:

The Alberni news stated,

"The majority of the school’s residents were from northern, B.C., Guno said. “There were kids from Aiyansh, Kitimat, Prince Rupert, Port Simpson and Gitsksans.” "

 

Actually it is Kitimaat and yes it does make a difference.

LeighT

LeighT wrote:

"The majority of the school’s residents were from northern, B.C., Guno said. “There were kids from Aiyansh, Kitimat, Prince Rupert, Port Simpson and Gitsksans.”" [and we're to understand that's Kitimaat].

http://www.bclocalnews.com/vancouver_island_central/albernivalleynews/news/39311904.html

Also, I read the Working Group on Missing Children draft recommendations which Jean Crowder attached to her email today.

Here are some quotes from the Working Group's recs:

"a) Statistical Survey:

The statistical survey will aim to achieve a precise estimate of;

o Total enrolment throughout the history of the IRS system;

o Rates of infection; and

o Rates and cause of death.

c) Unmarked Burials (& Commemoration):

This study will seek to identify the location of cemeteries and grave sites in

which IRS students are believed to be buried.

Research will make use of oral testimony (obtained through TRC

statement taking activities) and archival documents, including site maps

and parish registries. Other research methodologies may be adopted as

required in consultation with key stakeholders and partner organizations.

Once possible grave sites are located, the TRC will consult with the

appropriate Band Council offices to determine if and/or how the

community wishes to proceed with further research and commemoration.

The consultant should be familiar with the methodologies

associated with historical research and cultural/social archaeology.

When the TRC receives information of specific incidents where a student

died or went missing, efforts will be made to identify the details of the case

including the location of the burial site (if applicable)." pp.7,8

Thus, there does seem to be some scope for more investigation prior to full demolition, but most certainly the initiative has to come from directly affected groups, not outsiders.

As there are indigenous peoples from areas far beyond the school location who attended, it would be up to them and their communities to decide on directions.

There are several big problems with jumping in unasked, aside from the obvious ones in this situation.  Practically speaking, if survivor groups and involved indigenous communities, including those far from Port Alberni, do not actually have control of the process, then any 'investigations' 'demolitions' or combination of the above has a most certain likelihood of being done exceedingly badly.   Counter-productively.

 So while this exchange of info has been useful, I really think any further initiatives for action need to be taken first and foremost by indigenous peoples' groups themselves.  Once there is confirmation that such is the case, then I'd be happy to participate in a campaign.

But not further until then.   I wrote the National Residential Schools Survivors' Society earlier, asking for information, and will share that if i hear back.

in the meanwhile, i'll keep checking back here periodically for ongoing info.  Perhaps there will be more clarity forthcoming in future.

thanks again,L.

LeighT

ha ha ha ! [crazy sounds from my frustration with !@%&**! computers, especially combined with excess coffee and a serious need for a run]

[deep breath]

ok, if anyone wants to get the quotes from the Working Group on Missing Children please go to any of the above empty comment boxes and click on quote, i think this should work, and you'll see, presto, the clauses which imply scope for further lobbying on this by indigenous groups.

or just email Jean and get the doc. directly.

chow for now.

 

saga saga's picture

Leigh T,

Just checked the 'quote'. I just want to point out that I do not wait for permission or direction from government funded organizations such as the Working Group, AFN, survivor groups or Band Councils.

It's our governments that created the issue of children dying in the schools. It's our governments that created divisions within Indigenous communities, and continue to play those divisions to their advantage, especially to cover up the extent of death and dying in the schools. It's our governments that continue to ignore evidence being destroyed, because it's in their interests to do so. It's our governments that promote the conclusion that it was all 'accidental' and there was no 'intention' to destroy Indigenous Peoples.

The government would be very pleased if all of the communities decided to destroy whatever evidence is left. However, I see that as just playing into the governments' hands once again.

My hope is that the flurry of emails, news, and discussion will bring about an official or unofficial moratorium on demolition until proper independent investigations can be conducted.

The children who did not survive do not have an official 'voice', and they deserve one just as much as survivors. You have to ask yourself why, in all the discussions that went into the TRC mandate, no one included any mention of the children who died in the schools. The government works in devious ways.

If we've only created discussion and consideration in some Indigenous communities for the children who are still missing, then that's progress.

 My target is on the actions or inaction of my own governments, though I keep Indigenous communities informed of my actions as well.

 

saga saga's picture

Port Alberni residential school destroyed in ceremony By Quintin Winks, Canwest News ServiceFebruary 11, 2009 

Emotions flowed as former students of the Port Alberni Indian Residential School came from all over British Columbia to help in its destruction.

In a private ceremony, victims and former students grieved, prayed and reminisced on the years they spent in the school. They also lent a helping hand in pulling the siding from the building and throwing it on a fire built on the old school property. The building was used as a residential school from 1920 to 1972.

"It's amazing because up to three months ago it felt like there was nothing but terror here," said Elizabeth Good, a member of the Snuneymuxw First Nation in Nanaimo. Good was only six when she was sent to the school, making her the youngest student between 1967 and '69.

"Today these people helped me realize there isn't a monster here," she added. "There was a lot of horrible things that happened here. I felt a release today, like there isn't a monster here. The tears I cried today were real joy."

[url=more">http://www.timescolonist.com/Port+Alberni+residential+school+destroyed+c... ...  [/url]

keithff75

its a great work to modify the port Alberni resential as it has been used for decades now, i think investements must have flown from the government, however you need to be very careful and use the services of a property managemengemt group like Salt Lake City property management to get the best usage

remind remind's picture

white male privilege knows no bounds