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by MaryAnn Wilhelm

I am a damaged package of goods, worse than a suitcase that has gone through a US airport - I was a child, my mother was a child. These residential school adults were only children then. Rather than learning, kindness, love and compassion; they were stripped of parents, stripped of identity, raped, abused - neglected. I will never be whole and perhaps many more are like me and have come to those terms of understanding. I've long since accepted that reality. The void will always be there, a reminder of the past, like a grave with cross without a name.
My fingers fumbled their way this morning; a little hungover from the aftermath of last night's ‪Trith and Reconciliation conversation- #‎TRC2015‬. My fingers danced across the keyboard, searching for the words that represent what I experienced last night. For countless others across this country, spirits fight for survival, seek to find meaning, to find pride. Last night should have been a proud moment for all Canadians and Aboriginals but it's been smeared by one act. This act is an indignity to the dead, indignity to the nations, an indignity to all our missing and murdered aboriginal women and a cyber slap to all those who are missing family members. Even if Conservatives don't support the inquiry, Valcourt was a guest and should've at least stooLast night, like many survivors across this country - I felt the agony of remembering - triggered by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. After witnessing the refusal of the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs to stand up after recommendations for an inquiry- the sheer agony ripped through me, my spirit wanting to leave my body to hide somewhere, a natural instinct it seems of wanting to retreat from pain. ‪#‎BernardValcourt‬'s refusal to stand is an indication of Conservative hostility towards the original inhabitants of this land. If residential school spirits can travel through us - last night was excruciating. It felt like my chest was too small to carry that pain.
We were too young to fight back. We were too young to stop the hurt. We made errors as adults, as parents. We seek forgiveness of ourselves. We work to make amends with those we hurt and we embrace the child within that was not protected. The life of a survivor is a long journey full of bumps and lumps along the way. We are adults now and our victory will be when Aboriginals takes their seats in Parliament, it is our right - our nation's right to be seated at the table.
Let's not let Valcourt's actions deflate us. We have a right to be proud of bringing light into a dark place. I placed a burning candle in my window. May all those who struggle in a dark place, find light. The Truth and Reconciliation Canada is just that - a candle to guide us through the dark. We hope that Canadians and the world will join us in demanding the recommendations be accepted.
Ride the pain, accept it - use it; those are the embers that set the fire for tomorrow's victory.
For those of you who were triggered and struggling, reach out, talk about it. There is a a Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line (1-866-925-4419) that is available 24 hours a day for anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of his or her residential school experience.
You can also call the Crisis Line to get information on other health supports provided by the Health Canada Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program.

 

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