But he often tells me stories about their lives.
For example, tell me about a time his father taught him to fish or describe his mother’s favorite rocking chair.
I was never able to meet my grandparents, but they survived the stories my father gave me. I also feel some sadness in his eyes when he remembers his childhood memories.
He has always been very open to talking about his experiences at a boarding school. Even today he wants to inspire others by talking about his journey and that of the boarding school survivors.
It is important to hear and listen to the voices of older people. And not only pay attention to disturbing stories in boarding schools, but also listen to them talk about their lives. Ask questions about their trip and what made them still there today.
My father’s journey was difficult. I won’t say more than that, because I want to respect his privacy.
But what he went through in the boarding schools also affected the rest of our family. I had to grow up without a father. I was fortunate to have a wonderful mother taking care of me.
However, I was unable to learn my language or receive the teachings of the elders in my community. All my life I’ve felt like I’m missing a part of myself.
But today we both went on a healing journey. We still do it.
However, we are at a point where one can bring the other. It’s too late to make up for lost time, but here we are. together. And we listen to each other.
This is also healing.
So September 30th has always been a tougher day for me. Because I can’t help but think of all the children we’ve lost and are still looking for today.
But also for the children who survived and how they were silenced.
I see my father’s sad, tired eyes again. But I also remember when they lit up with pride when he told me about the bark boat he and a group of people made together. The canoe is still in Kinawat in Val d’Or for the time being.
I laugh at his father’s jokes even though he keeps repeating them. I stick to the times he tells me
I love you In his tongue and the long hugs that one gives before parting with him again. Because even though we got together, we are still far from each other.
I hold on to the hope of seeing my father love himself the way I love him.
I get my strength from my father. I am inspired by my father’s resilience. Because despite everything life has sent him, he’s still here today.
So when I put on my orange jacket, I think of my parents, the children who are still missing, those who were found and those who survived.
So today I wanted to write to you, Dad. Because today is not for us a political strategy. It is just a day for us to support each other and the rest of the population to show their support.
Today is also the first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. It is even announced on the official website of the Government of Canada and everywhere. The orange sweaters are sold at La Baie. The bishops apologize. Media spotlight on us. What does that mean to us now on this day? Yes we have come a long way. Things are moving.
I’m just not sure which direction we’re going. But I remain hopeful as I watch the different communities across Canada come together and take action to help each other.
My heart warms when I see all these aborigines and allies wearing an orange shirt this day.
I also hope that now that it has been recognized at the national level by the government, more and more people will be made aware of our reality.
In short, I think many of you Dad and other people share our same story with you.
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