UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds

Another country

Finding a healing space with Residential School survivors

By Carolyn Pogue


I have been to another country. This country didn’t have borders or make passports necessary. For me, it was a country of welcome and generosity. And it was only a five-hour drive from my home.

I have been to another country. This country rides around inside people who were born there. In fact, they would find it difficult to give up citizenship in this country. And even if they tried, others may not allow it. 

I have been to another country. Last week, I sat in a sacred circle with seventeen other women, each with a story to tell. We were there to encourage the writing of these stories in ink, thread, paint, laughter and tears. We were there for solidarity and sharing. We were there to talk about how survivors of Indian Residential Schools could tell their life stories in 15 minutes at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings in Edmonton between March 27 to 30. In this other country, there is pain and there is fearlessness beyond imagining.

Photo provided by Carolyn Pogue
Photo provided by Carolyn Pogue

In this other country, stories are different from the ones I heard growing up while at home, school and church. They are completely alive, and require the courage to live and to tell, instead of being prepackaged by faraway people — and viewed only on an electronic screen. They are similar, in some respects, to stories I have lived, but they are different in one important way. These are stories of children who were taught that they were savages; that their spirituality and parents were inadequate; and that they should have been born white. 

In this other country, the women prepared to place on record what the Indian Residential Schools actually accomplished. Let the record show — from these women and  150,000 other children — that Canada made a terrible mistake. And let it show, too, that the apologies from the Canadian government, the United Church of Canada and others were essential steps toward reconciliation. After all, there is much for which to apologize.

I want to live in a country that understands its own history. I want to live in a country of citizens who, when we welcome new people to this land, will inform them of this history. I want to live in a country that teaches every school student what happened. 

Of course, people who cannot visit another country can still learn its stories in books, films and Friendship Centres. There is opportunity for that. 

But I have been to this other country, and I am grateful.

Author's photo
Carolyn Pogue is a longtime Observer contributor. New posts of The Pogue Blog will appear on the first and third Thursday of the month. For more information on Carolyn Pogue, visit www.carolynpogue.ca..
Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!
Promotional Image

Editorials

David Wilson%

Observations

by David Wilson

A perfect send-off

Promotional Image

Video

ObserverDocs: A Tale of Two Cancers

by Observer Staff

Catherine Gordon's October 2017 feature for The Observer, 'A tale of two cancers,' recently caught the eye of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and his Washington, D.C.-based team, and inspired a short documentary. Gordon talks about the experience of writing the article and participating in the film.

Promotional Image

Society

November 2017

Trump country

by David Macfarlane

A northern Alabama county voted almost unanimously for Donald Trump in 2016. One year later, the writer, together with photographer Nigel Dickson, travels there to try to understand why.

Faith

November 2017

Involuntary pilgrim

by David Giuliano

The return of a tumour sets David Giuliano on a path he calls his ‘Camino de Cancer’

Faith

October 2017

A tale of two cancers

by Catherine Gordon

One year after the writer discovered she had breast cancer, her sister in California received the same diagnosis. They both recovered, but their experiences were worlds apart.

Society

November 2017

Trump country

by David Macfarlane

A northern Alabama county voted almost unanimously for Donald Trump in 2016. One year later, the writer, together with photographer Nigel Dickson, travels there to try to understand why.

Faith

November 2017

Involuntary pilgrim

by David Giuliano

The return of a tumour sets David Giuliano on a path he calls his ‘Camino de Cancer’

Faith

November 2017

Grey matter

by Trisha Elliott

Is consciousness just a function of the brain — or something more?

Promotional Image