The journey toward “Reconciliation” has scarcely begun. Current survivors speak their horrors, shoehorned into a system of testifying and tallying created by the same government that worked with churches to oppress them as young people. While educating ourselves about Indian Residential Schools (IRS), it becomes ever more evident how much our adult lives are defined by our time on earth as children. There are memories from which we as Indigenous artists can draw parallels, memories of physical and mental abuse at Catholic Schools we attended, or the window of insight opened when an IRS survivor parent reluctantly or randomly reveals facts about her school experience. We find small experiential references to try to understand the innumerable atrocities, and our empathy deepens. An aspect that screams beyond the boundary of comprehension is the willful and or accidental death of a young person while wards of these institutions. How can we ever reconcile such a loss? How do we recover from the profound tragedy of children taken when their murders are not documented and therefore not acknowledged? How can we move through these spaces without buckling under that pain?
Time and children are vulnerable, subject to circumstance and in need of our minding. Neither can be replaced if taken, and the potential lost in that thievery is unknowable. This work is dedicated to those who did not emerge alive, yet bravely embodied the fighting spirit that has lived on.
RUN Project Credits:
The actor in the video is Owen Louis Soop (Kainai/Nlka’pamux/Irish.) Wardrobe, hair, make-up, costume and props apprentice was Diana Marie Soop (Kainai/Nlka’pamux/Irish.) Diana and Owen are the grandchildren of two IRS survivors, one paternal (St. Mary’s in Alberta) and one maternal (Kamloops IRS in B.C.)
Thanks to mighty mama Rebecca Beagan for letting us hire your kids for the project, and to Pauline Beagan for her courage in sharing stories.
Thanks to Bronwyn Pel, Banff Centre wardrobe intern, for helping us find boots and facilitating the loan of them.
For more info on the artists, click here: Article 11