Nov. 10, 2022
Stories shared by Métis residential school survivors spur important conversations for next generations
It takes enormous strength for individuals to share their personal, often traumatic, stories of abuse endured at the hands of Canada’s residential school system, an arm of colonialization and a tool for forced assimilation. Many Métis people living in Alberta today are survivors of the residential school system and have taken on the burden of sharing their stories to ensure the cruelty and abuse suffered by the children forced to attend will never be forgotten.
In honour of Métis Week, Nov. 14 to 20, 2022, the University of Calgary’s Office of Indigenous Engagement invites the community to listen to the voices of four remarkable Alberta Métis women as they lead a panel discussion on the book and impressive educational mural project titled, Métis Memories of Residential Schools. Billie-Jo Grant and Yvonne Poitras Pratt will join the book’s co-author, Jude Daniels, and Elder Angie Crerar for a webinar that will stream noon to 1:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 14.
Drawing inspiration from the book, the mural project is a collection of stories from Métis survivors of the Alberta residential school system. The book was co-authored by Jude Daniels and published in 2004 by the Métis Nation of Alberta. In its introduction, Daniels describes the voices of Métis people as their most compelling tool: “Voices that had been silenced, month after month, year after year, by the ugliness of cultural genocide perpetuated through the Indian Residential Schools.”
We are privileged to welcome two Métis Elders for this event. Elder Kerrie Moore will help us begin in a good way with a blessing and thoughts for reflection. Elder Angie Crerar has been invited to share her work on the collaborative Métis mural project that now lives in the Canadian Museum of Human Rights. This educational, interactive art, which was co-created by Elder Crerar, Daniels, Grant and Pratt, can also be experienced online.
As one of three distinct Indigenous peoples recognized in Canada, the Métis — according to the Métis Nation of Alberta — are “a post-contact Indigenous nation, born from the unions of European fur traders and First Nations women in the 18th century” with a distinct culture, collective consciousness, and strong Nationhood in the Northwest.
The educational experiences of Métis children who attended residential schools varied wildly; some were forced to attend through various measures of apprehension, many attended for 10 or 12 years, and some attended for only a few years. Few received little more than a second-grade education.
Daniels and her co-authors interviewed dozens of Métis survivors — many of whom recall their traumatic experiences in striking detail, decades later. The co-creators of the project chose to honour Métis survivors and storytellers by preserving the words they shared without analysis or editing, wherever possible.
For people whose history has been distorted and rewritten by oppressors, voice is a powerful medium. Shawna Cunningham, director, Indigenous Strategy, says, “It’s important for educational institutions to provide a platform for the voices of First Nation, Métis and Inuit residential school survivors.”
Cunningham notes, “These stories are a form of truthing, demonstrating Indigenous resilience. They are a gift for future generations to better understand our individual and collective responsibility towards reconciliation.”
Register to attend
Celebrate Metis Week webinar
Nov. 14, 2022
noon – 1:30 p.m.
About the speakers
Jude Daniels, co-author of Métis Memories of Residential School, has been a corporate legal counsel in the oil and gas sector and Aboriginal consultation adviser since 1998. She is a semi-retired lawyer, former social worker, mediator and yoga instructor. Daniels is a proud member of the Métis Nation of Alberta, the Indigenous Bar Association and the Law Society of Alberta.
Billie-Jo Grant is a proud citizen of the Métis Nation of Alberta and an award-winning educator with more than 20 years of classroom experience teaching K-9 students in both public and Catholic school classrooms. Formerly the associate director of Métis education with Rupertsland Institute, Grant is currently the Indigenous consultant with Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools.
Yvonne Poitras Pratt (Métis) is an associate professor with the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary. Her ancestral roots trace back to the historic Red River settlement and more recently to Fishing Lake Métis Settlement in northeastern Alberta. Pratt is an award-winning educator who has been published in the realms of social justice, media studies, Métis studies, reconciliatory pedagogy, service-learning and the integration of arts in education.
Angie Crerar is a Métis Elder from Grande Prairie, Alta. She is a born leader devoted to enriching the lives of her people, involved with the provincial Elders Wisdom Circle, the Social Housing Community Advisory Board, the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women, National Aboriginal Day, and Canadian Red Cross fundraising activities.