Hearing the stories from the source

Speakers, Elder Eugene Arcand, Dr. Kevin Lewis and Kenneth Charlette prepare for the Residential School information session at the Woodland Wellness Centre on Fairchild Reserve. Photo by Valerie G. Barnes Connell Jordan.

The Woodland Wellness Centre hosted a Spring Youth Healing/IRS Intergenerational Healing Conference March 18 to 22 with a wide variety of events and activities.

Opportunities for alternative healing appointments were offered throughout the week and it included a three-day Residential School education and healing event with priority given to those 18 years and younger and people over 65.

Speakers throughout the conference included Elder Eugene Arcand, a member of Residential School Survivor Committee of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation Governing Circle; Dr. Kevin wâwakâyâsiw Lewis, an instructor, researcher, writer and a promotor of language-based education; Joey Genereaux, and Cheyenne McDonald, addictions survivors sharing their personal stories; and Kennetch Charlette, with a story of hope.

Cheyene McDonald shared her story of addictions, crime, gang activity, and a turning around of her life to give hope and encouragement to young people to make healthy choices. She is in her final year of a Social Work degree and works with STR8 UP, an organization offering support, education and mental health, cultural and healing resources. Photo by Valerie G. Barnes Connell Jordan.

Tom Roberts, himself a residential School survivor and LLRIB IRS support worker, was MC for the conference. He also shared some of his own story of his residential school experience.

Arcand’s main point – people, including children, need to take the opportunity to hear about the residential school experience from a survivor, who has lived the experience. Survivors are getting fewer in number as time passes, he said.

His concern, when there are no survivors left, the residential school experience will become more of history than reality.

Arcand also reported on the workings of the TRC Survivors Circle. They have chosen and done some preparation on a site for a national monument recognising Residential School Survivors on Parliament Hill and continue to work on the creation and construction of a permanent National Centre, which is slated to be built on University of Manitoba land in Winnipeg, and plans are for it to house the information and statements collected during the TRC hearings and events, he said.