School settlement an acknowledgement, not closure

  • Oct. 17, 2007 4:00 p.m.

By Heather Ramsay-The cheque may be in the mail, but for Marlene Ankerman, of Old Massett, the coming residential school settlement payments do not provide closure.”It’s an acknowledgement that we did go, but that is all,” she says.She says the money, $10,000 for the first year and $3,000 for every following year she was enrolled, does not make up for any of the suffering she and many others faced during their years at residential school.Seventy-eight people in Masset and Old Massett, ranging in age from late 30s to late 80s applied for the Common Experience payments offered by the federal government to all former residential school students.The 58-year-old Ms Ankerman, who volunteers to organize residential school survivor meetings and dinners, went to Alert Bay for three years and Port Alberni for one year and she did not have a good experience there.She was first sent away from home when she was 10 years-old. She says her mother was forced to sign consent forms to send four of her eight children to one of several Anglican and United Church run schools in BC and Alberta. If she hadn’t signed, her mother was told she’d go to jail or all of her children would be taken away.Ms Ankerman says it was the Indian Agents who decided who should be sent away and not everyone in the community was sent.Physical, mental and sexual abuses while at school were not the only experiences that have had an impact on Ms Ankerman’s life. She says going to residential school changed the experiences she had back in her home community too.”You felt like you didn’t belong anymore,” she said. Not only could she not speak the language, nor feel connected to the culture, but she didn’t even know her brothers and sisters or other community members anymore. “It changes everyone’s life .not just the survivor,” she says.Some of the impacts include an entire generation who never learned how to parent normally, after spending most of the year in a boarding school, away from their parents or other loving community members.She says a lot of residential school survivors don’t like to be touched – something she is trying to remedy in herself by hugging and cuddling her grandson as much as she can.The average time Old Massett residents went to residential school was for around four years, she said, but her grandmother, who was from a different reserve altogether went from age 5 to 18.Some of the older generation had good experiences at residential school, she says. They learned trades, like bricklaying, and other important skills.But even talk of truth and reconciliation does not mollify, Ms Ankerman. “Not even an apology would do it,” she says of the federal governments efforts to address the longstanding issue.She has her own methods of dealing with the experience, everything from keeping a journal to talking openly about her experience.”There is no one right way,” she says. Along with the Common Experience Payments says the federal government’s Indian Residential Schools Resolution Agreement also provides money for healing workshops, commemoration activities and counseling. Those who have suffered sexual and physical abuse can also apply for more money through another process.Applications were sent in September from both Old Massett and Skidegate. In Skidegate 40 applications were sent in, says Isabel Brillon, a support worker with the Ngystle Society, who also spent a year at residential school.The money is expected in the mail within 60 days of the Sept. 19 implementation date. So far no one in either community has received a cheque. Ms Brillon says there have been a lot of concerns in other areas about how the influx of large sums of money will affect elders and others, but she doesn’t foresee any problems in Skidegate. Residential school survivors have been meeting regularly in both communities.Ms Brillion also says having money on the way does not mean the residential school experience all over. She’s planning at the very least to have some kind of closure event.”But I really believe that the healing has to go on.”

Just Posted

Painting her way home

Janine Gibbons talks about all she learned illustrating Haida and Tlingit story books

Haida Gwaii gets top spot in The World

It was already a nice Christmas present, but Keith Moore was really… Continue reading

McNeill fined again for illegal fishing

A local man with a long history of poaching has been convicted… Continue reading

Old Massett taps grassroots for community plan

Over coffee, kitchen tables, and community dinners, Old Massett is taking a… Continue reading

Subsea internet cable to link up Haida Gwaii

Cable to connect Haida Gwaii, Prince Rupert, Vancouver Island, Sunshine Coast with mainland network

Testing the Google Arts & Culture app

Going face to face with art

VIDEO: Fuel truck and train collide in B.C. causing massive fire

More emergency crews are still arriving on scene of a massive fire at the Port Coquitlam rail yard.

Back to work: U.S. government shutdown ends after Democrats relent

Short-term spending measure means both sides could see another shutdown stalemate in three weeks

Man lives despite malfunctioning defibrillator at B.C. arena

A middle-aged man went into cardiac arrest after at game at Pitt Meadows Arena last Wednesday.

Cause of Northern B.C. seaplane crash released

TSB releases report on seaplane crash during a water landing in 2016 near First Nations community

Vancouver police crack down on pop-up pot vendors

Officers raided merchants’ tables on Robson Square late Sunday

Bell Media, NFL take appeal over Super Bowl ad rules to top court

At issue is a ban on substituting American ads with Canadian ones during the game’s broadcast

Crown seeks 4.5 years jail for B.C. woman convicted of counselling tax evasion

Debbie Anderson the latest from group to face jail for teaching debunked ‘natural person’ theory

UPDATE: Brother of B.C. teen killed by stray bullet says the death left a void

Alfred Wong, 15, was gunned down in Vancouver while on his way home from dinner with his family

Most Read