On March 25, the Anishinabek Nation erected a monument to honour their citizens who suffered in the residential school system. The monument was unveiled by the Grand Council Chief of the Anishinabek Nation Patrick Wedaseh Madahbee in front of the head office of the Union of Ontario Indians (UOI) in North Bay, Ontario.
The memorial is part of an initiative prompted by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, which seeks to honour those who were affected by residential schools. “We should look at the monument as a symbol of strength, not victimhood,” said Madahbee. “It will remind visitors to our UOI headquarters that residential schools are a part of their history, as well as ours, and should not be hidden.”
The purpose of this collaborative effort is to develop a pathway for education and healing. As a part of the project there is a narrative picture book, which illustrates the story of a girl who attended a residential school and the scars it left on her. All of the multimedia material will be available in the near future on an educational website.
The goal of the project is to dissipate the cloud of ignorance that has hung over this subject. “We know that it has only been recently that the truth about Indian residential schools has started to be told and documented,” Madahbee explained. “We also know that provincial and federal schools have limited and inconsistent curriculum on the subject.” The lack of knowledge of what happened remains widespread and providing ways to inform the public is key to raising awareness.