Forgotten: The Métis Residential School Experience

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Exhibit, open to public until January 31, shines light on history of the Métis and the legacy of residential schools

People came together in our atrium for the official opening of Forgotten: The Métis Residential School Experience exhibit this week, which features three 8×7-foot panels that chart the history of Métis through to today and present the lesser-known story of Métis and residential schools. The double-sided panels of silk-screened fabric are joined by artifacts from Métis culture and the schools.

Pottery, bead work, and a fiddle bow adorn a larger-than-life portrait of a Métis family shown in the exhibit.

Pottery, bead work, and a fiddle bow adorn a larger-than-life portrait of a Métis family shown in the exhibit.

Sarah Cook, co-chair of United Way’s Council for Indigenous Relations (CIR) and a United Way board member, thanked The Legacy of Hope Foundation for developing the exhibit, as well as the Manitoba Métis Federation and the Louis Riel Institute for collaborating to present it.

Sarah Cook spoke of the long-hidden nature of the Métis residential school experience.

Sarah Cook spoke of the long-hidden nature of the Métis residential school experience.

Sarah said the exhibit shows “Métis childrens’ unique experiences of residential school students that have been long hidden.”

“As one of our Council members and member of United Way Winnipeg’s Board of Trustees, Reid Hartry, has reminded our Council – the apology offered to residential school survivors in 2008 did not include the Métis.”

Andrew Carrier, the Manitoba Métis Federation’s Minister of Métis and Residential & Day School Survivors, shared that three generations in his family, including himself, suffered abuse in residential schools.

Manitoba Métis Federation Minister Andrew Carrier shared his family's inter-generational experience of abuse at residential schools.

Manitoba Métis Federation Minister Andrew Carrier shared his family’s inter-generational experience of abuse at residential schools.

Children suffered many abuses including starvation, corporal punishment, and sexual abuse. Minister Carrier pointed out the onion and apple displayed in the exhibit – a reminder of what children had to eat to survive when food was in short supply and withheld from students.

“It does talk about being resilient. We Métis are very resilient…we’re looking towards rebuilding our foundation with hope and an understanding of our past.”

Oliver Boulette, left, and Jim Flett provided music for the reception.

Oliver Boulette, left, and Jim Flett provided music for the reception.

United Way Winnipeg President & CEO Connie Walker told those gathered that it is an honour to host the exhibit.

She said previous exhibits hosted at United Way have also helped shine a light on hard and painful truths, including We Were so Far Away: The Inuit Experience of Residential Schools and 100 Years of Loss – The Residential School System in Canada.

“We know we need to recognize the truth in our history if we are ever to forge a meaningful path of reconciliation.”

Forgotten: The Métis Residential School Experience is free and open to the public in United Way’s atrium, 580 Main Street, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday until January 31.