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École Victoria students memorialize residential school survivors

A mural has been made to honour and acknowledge the impact of residential schools on Métis survivors.

SASKATOON — Métis Nation-Saskatchewan on Monday, Sept. 26, hosted first-grade students from École Victoria on Monday as part of their events of National Truth and Reconciliation Week.

MN-S wants to make sure stories of Métis children who were lost to the residential school system will never be forgotten and one way of doing this is to engage youth by learning about its history on the way to healing and reconciliation.

First-grade students were invited to memorialize Métis children who never came home by placing their handprints, dipped in orange paint, on a canvas. The visual art is on display at the MN-S office downtown and serves as a stunning reminder for individuals passing by.

MN-S vice President Michelle LeClair welcomed the students while MN-S Early Learning, Childcare, and Child and Family Services Senior Director Lisa Fleming read stories to the students, who were later treated to a pizza lunch.

LeClair said the mural was made to honour and acknowledge the impact of residential schools on Métis survivors, its people and the ongoing impact on their community that continues to be felt today.

“We will proudly hang this work of art in our office as a reminder of the children who were taken from their families, survivors of residential schools, and others impacted by this difficult time in history,” said LeClair.

She thanked the principal, teachers, staff and the grade one class of École Victoria for their assistance with this important project.

MN-S President Glen McCallum also participated in a separate event in Regina on Thursday, Sept. 29, the first annual Truth and Reconciliation gathering at the provincial capital where he emphasized to the young crowd stories of Métis survivors that were largely gone unrecognized.

McCallum added that the MN-S government is committed to helping the survivors of the Île-à-la-Crosse residential school and called for action from the federal government when it comes to recognizing their struggles.

For years, Métis survivors of the Île-à-la-Crosse Boarding School struggled with their lives and the stories of abuse and the horrors they experienced were often ignored, and the remaining survivors and their families are still waiting to get compensation.

However, a memorandum of understanding between the Canadian government and a committee representing Île-à-la-Crosse school survivors was signed in 2019 to begin discussions on the school’s legacy.

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