WARNING: Disturbing content

A wellness gathering speaking to personal experiences of residential schools is happening in La Ronge. It focuses on sharing the experiences of those who attended the schools and encouraging others to come forward with their stories.

“There’s a lot of us out there, and there’s still a lot of us out there that are not willing to talk about it yet, about what really happened there. What we’re trying to do is inspire people by telling our stories, so that they will hear our stories and one day they will say is I want to tell my story,” said Tom Roberts, a member of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band. “It has drained the life of a lot of our people, and it hurt the lives of a lot of our people, it hurt our people, our generation, our kids and grandchildren and even into the third generation now.”

Roberts attended residential school in Prince Albert from 1958 to 1966.

“When we got there, we were told we couldn’t talk to our brother and sister. We were lined up to get our haircuts and get our heads soaked in water with chemicals to kill the lice—even if we didn’t have lice, we would get our heads soaked as well,” Roberts said. “I was there seven years and changed dorms every year, from the junior boys all the way to the senior boys, I went to every dorm. From there the number game started where our clothes were numbered, our jacket was numbered, our shirt, our t-shirt, our pants, and our underwear.”

The gathering at the Jonas Roberts Memorial Community Centre continues today.

Support is available for those affected by their experience at Indian Residential Schools and in reading difficult stories related to residential school.  The Indian Residential School Crisis Line offers emotional and referral services 24 hours a day at 1-866-925-4419. In Saskatchewan, the Regina Treaty Status Indian Services at 306-522-7494.