Joseph Metatawabin Jr. attended the school in Fort Albany, Ontario in the 1950s. He recalls missionaries encouraging children to attend. He describes abuse, poor quality food and resulting illnesses.
The school gave the children a pail for a toilet and did not allow them to leave bed after 8:30p.m. Metatawabin recalls soiling his sheets and being beaten when he used the pail at night; his mother was allowed to take him home for one night.
Metatawabin's grandfather trained him to use a dog team; he still has a camp and houses on his ancestors’ land. Metatawabin explains that it is a healthy lifestyle.
Metatawabin is glad to share traditions with younger generations and is looking forward to a rafting trip. He plans to be an obstacle for a resource company to prevent extractions; he prefers the land remain healthy.
Metatawabin recalls when the government pushed welfare on the First Nation people, creating dependence on it and not the old ways. He describes the recently decommissioned resource company’s pollution and mistreatment of the land; he worries for the future.
Credits: My Story: Joseph Metatawabin Jr.
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Joseph Metatawabin Jr. tells the story of his life in his language, Omushkego (Swampy Cree). Translation of his interview into English is by Edmund Metatawabin, one of his first cousins.
Joseph was forced to attend St. Anne’s Residential School in Fort Albany, Ontario in the early 1950s where he and other students were dehumanized and abused by priests, bishops, nuns, and workers at the school. It was law, notably the Indian Act, that dictated that Indigenous children attend and live at the school, where they were removed from the purview and comforts provided by their families and communities. There the children were brutally beaten, forced to eat their own vomit, and humiliated in front of other students. Childhoods were lost within moments of arriving at St. Anne’s. Once leaving the school, Joseph embarked on a healing journey by returning to the land and traditional ways. Throughout his adult life, Joseph’s objective was to lead his family and young people in the region back to traditional ways of living.
Length: 34 minutes
Copyright date: ©2021
Prices include public performance rights.
Not available to Home Video and Publisher customers.
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