Residential school records should be made public, Blood Tribe researcher says
A First Nations researcher says Canada’s residential school records need to be made public to fully understand the scope of what happened in schools and to help communities heal.
Over the past decade, Tiffany Prete has researched the history of residential schools in the Kainai (Blood) First Nation trying to piece together what happened to the victims and survivors.
Her ancestors, including her mother and grandmother, were sent to St. Paul’s and St. Mary’s Residential Schools in the Kainai First Nation.
After the Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan announced the preliminary results of 751 anonymous graves in a cemetery near the former Marieval Indian Residential School on Friday, the Catholic religious order that operated the residential schools said it would disclose all historical documents.
For Prete, who has devoted most of her research to finding public and private historical documents, this is incredible news, but she wants documents across Canada to be made public.
“We know from our ancestors, and the survivors have said that there are many more graves across Canada that have yet to be disclosed. So everyone could benefit from these records available to them,” he said. said Prete, adjunct professor at the University of Alberta. and postdoctoral fellow at the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary.
Last month, the Tk’emlÃºps te SecwÃ©pemc First Nation announced preliminary findings indicating the remains of 215 children at a burial site adjacent to the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia
Although news of the discoveries sent shockwaves across the country, Prete said it was not surprising to indigenous peoples.
âThis is something we heard about growing up around people who have survived things like this,â she said. “So that doesn’t shock me. It’s very, very sad but we already knew it existed.”
Prete said she decided to research residential schools to better understand the current situation of Indigenous peoples today.
âI really wanted to be able to help change some of these negative perceptions that currently exist in Canada about the way people look at Indigenous peoples. ”
The work has been a challenge. Prete reviewed government policy and memos. She has collaborated with museums and archives, both public and private. She said public records were easy to access, but private records took time and effort.
It was through conversations with different archivists that she said she learned of their existence and even then the process of acquiring these records was hard work.
Prete said there was also a lot of paperwork and meetings with staff to see the records themselves and more paperwork to get copies.
She said there are still a lot of restricted documents that she was unable to access.
âI think it would be very beneficial for people to be able to see what this restricted material is,â she said.
Access to these records is essential to understanding what happened in these schools and for the current generation to move forward, Prete said.
“So that we can learn what happened and we can heal from what happened and hopefully be in a better position to move on.”
Prete said she also wanted to see the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action, especially number 78, to remember the history of residential schools.
Edmonton AM8:01Research on the history of residential schools in Alberta
Support is available for anyone affected by the lingering effects of residential schools and for those triggered by the latest reports.
A national residential school crisis line was established to provide support to residential school survivors and others affected. People can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419.