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Pelican Falls

Contemporary Life: Implications and Contentions
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Lorraine Kenny: My name is Lorraine Kenny. I came here to this residential school… I believe that would have been about 1960, and I was here ‘til 1966. And standing here today is… it’s quite a big change compared to when we first came here.

Ralph Johnson: There are things that… the residential schools did was tried to wipe out a lot of the things the Nishnawbe people use to keep them strong. We weren’t allowed to speak Ojibwe or even practice any other things we had been taught at home when we were young.

Richard Morris: Aboriginal people as a whole, we’ve suffered what I call oppression, suppression, for many generations. And that has affected our attitude and the way we look at ourselves.

Ralph Johnson: And there’s a lot of people that are still out there struggling and for me there’s a message of hope, I guess, in the way that I understand healing and what we need to do to take care of ourselves.

Lola Goodwin: This healing process that people are going through, they need to talk it over and get over it, and a lot of people are learning to heal in that way I guess – needing each other and that they aren’t alone.

Richard Morris: We have to move beyond these issues somehow. And we’re working on them through healing processes such as what we’re doing today.

Lorraine Kenny: I think about the turtle that is up there, and images that I have, and memories that I have, of my childhood, and remembering when my mother and dad used to talk about, for whatever reason we were upset, when we were small as a child, we would be told to go to sleep and the turtle would give us what we needed. And that was one of the reasons that I liked and supported having a turtle as a way of trying to help people help deal with whatever it is they have to deal with as a result of the experiences that they had.

Ralph Johnson: So, for a number of years that really had a strong impact on my life, I turned away from the traditional teachings of the Nishnawbe people.

Richard Morris: I feel this current generation, the older generation, we tend to stay stuck in this mental frame of mind in focusing on all that’s happening with us, and even though we’re starting on our healing journeys right now, I say we need to shift our focus and shift our attitudes, and have a change of mind to say, we are good people.

My grade two teacher was… I remember her very well. She was from Australia there, somewhere. Misunderstood her one time that she was taking us to New Zealand. She must have been talking about New Zealand but I got this [idea] that that afternoon we were all heading to New Zealand! Disappointed that, the afternoon, when the day was over, we were all waiting for her to come pick us up, I figured… I don’t know, just learning to understand English back then… seemed that I didn’t’ know how to speak English so I did a lot of misunderstanding. I remember that very well, so disappointed, yeah.

Richard Morris: I think it’s important to understand about those issues in our history, that somehow we have to move beyond that; beyond the hurt and the pain and everything. Our young people need to move beyond that, to look at the future with hope in a more positive way, and to believe in themselves.

Lorraine Kenny: And so when I think about this place, that’s what people will remember. There will be many people who cannot still come to this kind of gathering and I’m hoping by... I know there’s those of us who can talk about our experiences… We can encourage them and support them to be able to look at their experiences and then put them in a place where they belong, and that’s in the past. And we can make a difference for our children for the future.
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