By Matt Barron and Ashleigh Mattern
“ One of the greatest impacts was the residential school
system, which the federal government has to take
responsibility for...because of our loss of language,
social skills, parenting which, of course, resulted in
alcohol and drug abuse, family breakdowns, child
abuse, suicides as well as low self esteem...The
residential school system has...more or less made you
be shameful that you are a Nuu-Chah-Nulth child.”
- Chief Councilor Kelly Dennis,
Ohiaht Child Protection
(Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, 1992)
On his flight back to Saskatoon after appearing last June
on CBC Newsworld to discuss Stephen Harper’s apology to
former residential school students, Jim Miller struck up a
conversation with a young Cree woman.
“ The residential school was created by government to change our people forever and, to some extent, has succeeded. I take myself as
an example of that success...I am a Nuu-Chah-Hulth person who is culturally at a loss and I do not know my language because the
important years of my life were spent...wasting away and being from my parents. For 10 months of the year we did not have our
parents to nurture us and love and care for us. Instead, we had those people who abused us in many ways: physical, sexual, emotional.”
- Chief Charlie Thompson, (from 1992 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples)
Documenting a Legacy
By Bronwyn Eyre
University of Saskatchewan Archives and its partners have launched Our Legacy, a web-based research tool for material found in Saskatchewan cultural and heritage collections on First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples. The website, which contains material in English, Cree, and Dene, takes its name from the Cree phrase ka-ki-pe-isi-nakatamakawiyahk (Our Legacy) as a sign of respect for the indigenous peoples’ history it documents.
“We didn’t have a name for the site, but a Cree researcher used ka-ki-peisi- nakatamakawiyahk in his emails about the project, so we considered that name a gift,” says U of S archivist Cheryl Avery.
Our Legacy has one of the most extensive digital collections of indigenous artifacts in Canada, with more than 4,700 descriptive records and 67,800 digitized items. The website provides access to individual artifacts as well as web links to books, theses, interactive digital slideshows, and 3D artifact images.
“Creating an easier means for discovering archival resources was the primary reason for developing the site,” Avery says. “It was also a wonderful opportunity to offer a research and publishing venue for graduate students, several of whom have completed exhibits based on material available on the site.”
The site is a cooperative initiative among several of Saskatchewan’s publicly accessible archives.
“The Northern Saskatchewan Archives was an early partner in the project, and to honour their participation we included Dene resources.” Our Legacy was made possible with the assistance of several federal and provincial programs, including the Canadian Content Online program, the National Archival Development Program, and the Saskatchewan Ministry of Education.
For more information, visit: http://scaa.sk.ca/ourlegacy/
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