Survivors and historical archives recount mistreatment at Marieval boarding school
âThey brought us there and we stayed there. We learned because they hammered it on us’
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As Canada is shocked by the discovery of 751 anonymous graves near Marieval Indian Residential School, survivors and historical documents recount the abuse inflicted on Indigenous students who were torn from their communities to attend the facility.
âWe went to boarding school, they took us there and we stayed there. We learned because they hammered it on us. Really, they were very mean. When I say hammer, I really mean hammer. These nuns were very mean to us, ârecalled Florence Sparvier, 80, at a press conference on Thursday.
Sparvier, who spoke to the media just after Cowessess First Nation Chief Cadmus Delorme revealed details of the gruesome find in a cemetery adjacent to where Marieval once stood, was the third in her family to attend boarding school after his mother and grandmother.
She said native students were sent there to learn to be Roman Catholics and were forced to put aside all aspects of their native culture, language, beliefs and education.
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âWe were taught at home that we have to take care of ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. But it all came off when we went to boarding school. They told us what to say, âSparvier said. âWe have learned not to like who we are.
âThey condemned our people very strongly. They told us that our people, our parents and our grandparents had no way of being spiritual because we were all pagans.
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As was the case with many boarding schools across the country, Sparvier said parents had no choice but to send their children to boarding school for fear that one of them would be sent. in prison.
Records and interviews gathered by Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), University of Regina (U of R) researchers, and newspapers all paint a similar picture of Marieval Residential School.
Cowessess First Nation resident Carol Lavallee told the Regina Leader-Post in 2007 that she was herded like cattle when she was taken to Marieval when she was just six years old.
âWhen they came and took me to boarding school when I was six, they picked us up in a cattle truck,â Lavallee said, quoted in a U of R document. remember I was so small I couldn’t see over the box. My sister was standing close to me to keep me still so I wouldn’t be tossed around in the back of that cattle truck.