An organization founded by a man from Montreal Lake Cree Nation is gathering signatures on a petition to get the Saskatchewan government to recognize the Timber Bay Day School as a provincially-run residential school.

The Ballantyne Project, founded by Dwight Ballantyne, works to raise awareness of life on Canadian reserves and of the impacts of residential schools.

Ballantyne said he’s looking for the provincial government to take responsibility

“This year, I wanted to focus on Timber Bay, spread awareness and get as much pressure (as) we can to get the provincial government of Saskatchewan to take responsibility and to acknowledge that it was the same as a residential school.”

Ballantyne said the online petition has already garnered over 1000 signatures but they’re looking for more physical signatures.

He said he is working with local Indigenous leaders to get more people to sign.

Ballantyne said  he took on this cause as for him, it’s personal.

“At the Ballantyne Project, I spread awareness about life on reserve and the effects of residential schools, and growing up, I learned that a lot of my family and community members had been forced to go to Timber Bay, and it has not been recognized.”

He said his hope is that his campaign, if successful, can help other day school survivors accomplish the same thing.

“I hope that if Timber Bay School gets recognized as a residential school, it’ll open the door for all the other Indian day schools that are not recognized,” Ballantyne said. “That’s the hope and that’s the goal.”

He added he thinks this will be a good step towards reconciliation.

Although the Ballantyne Project doesn’t have a date set to present the petition to the provincial government, Ballantyne said they’ve given themselves a deadline of Feb. 1 to get as many signatures as possible.

(PHOTO: Dwight Ballantyne founded the Ballantyne Project three years ago. Photo courtesy of the Ballantyne Project Facebook page.)