FORMER RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL STUDENTS COMMEMORATED AT SPECIAL GATHERING
For Immediate Release
Muncey, Ontario (June 15, 2012) – Former students of the Mount Elgin Indian Residential School will receive special recognition from their leaders and community members next week when a new monument is unveiled at Chippewas of the Thames First Nation. Hundreds of people from Ontario, Quebec and parts of the US are expected to gather June 20 & 21, 2012 for the Mount Elgin Indian Residential School Student Commemoration and Gathering. Invited dignitaries include National Chief Shawn Atleo, former National Chief Phil Fontaine and the Cree political icon, Elijah Harper.
“We want this commemoration to honour the strength and resilience of those who were forced to attend the school here so many years ago,” says Joe Miskokomon, Chief of the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation. “Itʼs about turning something that was very negative for so many of us, into something we can all be proud of, and leave behind for future generations.” The event will feature the unveiling of a seven pillar monument, bearing the names of more than 1,100 students who attended the school from as many as 18 First Nations communities in southern Ontario and parts of Quebec.
The school was started by the Wesleyan Methodists in 1851 with the goal of assimilating First Nations people. Its mandate as an ʻIndustrialʼ school meant that it focused on turning First Nations children into farmers and household servants. Survivors recall being severely punished for speaking their own language, spending long days tending to fields and livestock and living on a diet made up primarily of mush (porridge) and boiled vegetables, while serving roast beef and canned fruit to their teachers. Mount Elgin closed in 1946, due to decreasing enrollment during World War Two.
“We want to make sure that future generations understand and never forget the impact residential schools had on our families and communities,” says Miskokomon. “We are now at a point in history when we are ready to turn the page on this legacy, and begin the work of true reconciliation so that we can move toward the future,” says Miskokomon. The Mount Elgin commemoration and gathering is one of several community organized events which have received financial support from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
The two day event will also feature a special ʻHonouring our Survivorsʼ Pow Wow and ʻHealing with Laughterʼ Comedy Night, where some of the best First Nations comedians will entertain survivors and their families.
The Mount Elgin Commemoration and unveiling will take place at 330 East River Drive, Muncey, Ontario, Chippewa of the Thames First Nation, at 10:00am.
For more information, contact Media Liaison, Sherry Huff, 519-401-5166,
(Release - Pdf)
(Agenda - Pdf)