“215”…We heard this number a lot throughout the month of June. 215. Symbolizing the remains of 215 Indigenous children that were found on the grounds of an old residential school in Kamloops, B.C. Canada in late May. The discovery was announced by the Chief of the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation, and it sparked an outrage, finally drawing much needed attention to this awful part of Canadian History as these so-called schools, set up to “assimilate” Indigenous young people against their will, were run by both government and religious authorities. I first learned in detail about these residential schools a few years ago when CBC aired a documentary titled “Stolen Children”, click here to view segment . It also led me to another documentary titled “Life at residential school” from around 59 years ago. These children were often ripped away from their parents and forced to endure physical, emotional, and sexual abuse in these facilities. It’s heartbreaking to know that it wasn’t too long ago that the last residential school in Canada shut down, in 1996 to be exact. Located in Saskatchewan.
The Mohawk Institute was the longest continually operating residential school, from 1885 to 1970. However, The Mohawk Institute in Brantford, Ontario, accepted its first boarding students in 1831. This really hit home as Brantford is only about an hour outside of Toronto (my hometown). More than 130 schools were in operation across Canada. For a listing of residential schools in Southern Ontario please visit NewmarketToday.ca
According to an article in Now Magazine Officially, 3,213 children are reported to have died in residential schools thus far, and it is feared that the number is way greater.
Although the dark yet truthful shadow loomed over National Indigenous History Month this June, it was also a chance to showcase the continued contributions of Indigenous communities. I always remember the honour and gratitude that I felt being able to cover, as a Journalism Student at Seneca College, the first ever Masters Indigenous Games which was held at Downsview Park in Toronto. It was by far one of the proudest moments of my career! It was a chance for athletes and spectators from Indigenous communities all over North America, to come, join and meet each other while representing their respective communities and competing in various sports. There were also traditional ceremonies, foods, dances…I was in absolute awe of the vivaciousness, wisdom, camaraderie, brother and sisterhood of the Indigenous peoples. To even have the opportunity to speak with Chiefs about the importance of the very land that the games were held on was a privilege, especially as a Non-Indigenous attendee. It was such a learning opportunity. See for yourself! Here is the Masters Indigenous Games segment that I produced. Enjoy a few pics below as well!
Masters Indigenous Games Awards Ceremony; Women’s Basketball Championship winners
Sharma MacDonald reporting from the Aboriginal Sport and Wellness Council of Ontario Headquarters; going over her script before going on air! Sharma MacDonald reporting live and 3…2…1!