The first memory I have of residential schools is sitting on the porch of my house on the reservation of my people; the Atikamekw people. I had asked grandma (Noohkoom awa) where the neighbor's children went, the ones that used to babysit me while mom was at work and she told me that they got taken away. My mom was taken from her and they never talk about it.
They go to a place where people who don't know us, try to fix us wile there is nothing to fix, we know better of how to live on the land and take care of the environment.
I couldn't help but notice the way the same people who took my babysitter away treated my people and my family
If i say anything, we could be arrested.
When I first got to the Mohawk Institution residential school I was scared. They took me from my family, cut our hair short, only allowed us to speak the little English I knew and gave some children new names. They stripped me of all I had ever known. My identity, it was more than hair, they were more than just words. They were me.
The residential school system in Canada was an attempt to assimilate Indigenous culture and replace it with European, Catholic culture. It was unbelievably damaging to the Indigenous community.
If you don't stop speaking your language, your mouth will be washed with soap and water!
I soon became what they wanted me to be. Quiet, obedient and at a loss of who I used to be. I lost myself. I lost the girl my family raised and become who the government wanted even though I knew it was wrong. I quietly watched others be abused sexually, verbally and most of all, physically.
The Mohawk Institution residential school, located in what is now Brantford Ontario assimilated around 15000 children from 1828 - 1970. They claimed 54 deaths when recent research has shown over 200 unmarked graves and counting.
I am going to run away just like Chanie Wenjack. I can't stand this any longer
After surviving residential school, Maya led a delegation on First Nations representatives to the Vatican to petition the Pope to issue a formal apology for the crimes committed against my people.
I frequently find myself questioning who I am. I have tried to keep my past present in my mind but when I go home for breaks I simply do not fit in anymore. I barely even remember my language and my family looks at me like I'm a stranger. I know this is not me but who am I?