June 18th, 2024

Blood Tribe pays tribute to residential school victims, demands gov’t action

By Herald on June 4, 2021.

The sacred Sundance pole is adorned with 215 orange tobacco ties prayer sticks gathered and placed during a memorial event this week near Standoff for the Kamloops Residential School victims. - Photo Courtesy of Elder Keith Chiefmoon

Tim Kalinowski – Lethbridge Herald

The Blood Tribe is responding to revelations about the remains of 215 Indigenous children discovered in unmarked graves at the site of the former Kamloops Residential School with calls for acknowledgement of the colonial legacy of residential schools and the endemic problems this discriminatory system continues to perpetuate on Indigenous peoples to this day.

“Our people, Kainai, had experiences at five different residential schools, four of which were located on the Blood Reserve,” states a letter released to public signed by all the chief and council of the Blood Tribe. “St. Joseph’s Industrial School (Dunbow), the first Catholic residential school in Standoff, the first Anglican New School in Old Agency, St. Paul’s Anglican Residential School, and Immaculate Conception St. Mary’s Catholic residential school. In addition, it is necessary to include the experiences of our people in the Blood Indian Hospital.

“Today, we all continue the work to overcome what happened to us and to our ancestors,” it goes on to say. “Unfortunately, many of the children who reached adulthood could not endure the traumatic effects and found their own ways to silently cope. Many found ways of unhealthy coping led to problems beyond the reach of their stolen childhoods because the trauma was much more than they could bear. When our ancestors made treaty with the British Crown, the intent of including education was to benefit Blood Tribe/Kainai members and not the inadequate education and trauma brought about by the residential school system. This ‘education system’ is now attributed to our current Opioids crisis from the intergenerational trauma. Although words of condolence and acts of kindness are appreciated, now is the time to seek tangible outcomes from the governments of Canada and Alberta on how they can put their words into action.”

The letter goes on to demand the Province of Alberta fully include Indigenous experiences and history in its K-12 curriculum, demands provincial legislation to protect Indigenous languages, and seeks a strong commitment from the Canadian government to work on the pressing issues facing First Nations across the country.

“It is of utmost importance that we all move forward in order for the innocent souls of the 215 children to finally be at peace along with the over 100 souls of the children of Kainai who suffered a similar fate,” the letter reads.

Blood Tribe councillor Martin Heavy Head reiterated these local calls to action when he spoke to The Herald on behalf of council on Friday. He emphasized the need for the federal government to take action on Indigenous poverty, crumbling infrastructure on reserves, better education and better healthcare.

“If you really want reconciliation that’s what needs to happen,” he said. 

“We need to eradicate poverty and all the social issues that are rampant on Indian reserves in Canada.”

Reflecting on the legacy of residential schools, Heavy Head said the discovery of 215 dead children in Kamloops has brought sadness, anger and bad memories for many on the reserve this past week.

“I am a third generation residential school survivor,” Heavy Head explained. “My grandfather went to Dunbow Industrial School up around Calgary. My dad went to St. Mary’s Residential School. And I went to St. Mary’s Residential School. In the history of Blood reserve there were four residential schools, and none of them had a very good history. We don’t remember our residential school years fondly.

“I think at every residential school they have found bodies,” he added.

Elder Keith Chiefmoon held a special ceremony at Standoff on Thursday to help deal with his people’s own trauma and grief. He hoped by doing so he would help lay the spirits of the 215 children to rest, and help soothe the ghosts which still haunt many on the Blood Tribe from their own families’ residential school experiences.

“For each victim we honoured them with a beat of the big drum,” he explained. “The big drum comes from thunder; so the big boom we hear symbolically represents the thunder spirit. For each we had 215 beats, and we put the tobacco pouch acknowledging we don’t know how they died because of the way records were kept (at the Kamloops residential school).”

Chiefmoon said he prayed to the Creator to help his people because they didn’t know what to do about these dead children in Kamloops from “their relatives across the mountains.” He prayed for the children to continue on their journey into the next world and find rest.

“We paid tribute to the 215 victims, and I guess from our perspective we are just disappointed in the leadership we have (in Alberta and Canada),” he said. “For us at the Kainai community those types of things are unacceptable. I can’t begin to imagine taking the life of a helpless young child.

“I guess all across the world Canada is the only place you are allowed to kill Indigenous people without any consequences.”

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Citi Zen

Unacceptable? What government action do they want?? Numerous apologies have already been made. More money, perhaps?? Maybe all of the money?
We, or Canadians, did not kill these children. What a ludicrous statement! Let’s find what they died from before making this type of comment. Most likely victims of tuberculosis or smallpox.

Last edited 3 years ago by Citi Zen
Seth Anthony

Blood Tribe councillor Martin Heavy Head reiterated these local calls to action when he spoke to The Herald on behalf of council on Friday. He emphasized the need for the federal government to take action on Indigenous poverty, crumbling infrastructure on reserves, better education and better healthcare.
“If you really want reconciliation that’s what needs to happen,” he said. 
“We need to eradicate poverty and all the social issues that are rampant on Indian reserves in Canada.”

Wait, what???

When the indigenous people lost the war, they were given the choice of assimilating, or living on the reserve according to their ways. That was rather generous, as normally when a society loses a war, they would never get that option. It would be either die, or assimilate. So the ones that chose to live on the reserve in their traditional ways with tee-pees while hunting for food, are talking about their housing problems and poor infrastructure? What housing, what infrastructure? The land didn’t come with housing and infrastructure. That’s not their traditional ways.
If they don’t want to live in their traditional ways, then they should assimilate. The amount of resources they have available to do just that is phenomenal.

As far as the their very high addiction rate goes, well that is their own doing. It’s because they teach their kids to be racist, hateful, and shameful. Ask anyone like myself who has worked on the blood reserve and they will tell you that the racism there is rampant. It’s not just from the adults either. It often included kids throwing rocks at us and yelling out profanities and racial slurs. Their minds are being corrupted by hatred, anger, and shame. Those are painful psychological characteristics that easily get quenched via drug and alcohol abuse. Is it any wonder why their addiction rate is extraordinarily high?

White people have been conquered all throughout history, and we all will again. All empires fall, and so will the North American empire…probably by China or Russia. Call it or right or wrong, but it’s just the way it is.

The indigenous people need to get over the fact they lost the war and were conquered. As of now, instead of moving forward, they dwell on the past and use it as an excuse for their behavior.

Last edited 3 years ago by Seth Anthony

if the option to live off the land was for real, that had largely been usurped by decimation of the necessary habitats that would allow for living off the land by the ‘victorious” europeans, and then further undermined by the toxic legacies of countless mining ventures that poisoned land and water alike.
furthermore, being pushed to the margins of liveable terrain – as in mosquito and black fly infested swamplands – hardly favoured a quality of life as per pre-conquest. moreover, creating reserves based upon separations of great distances between the various groups was a further significant barrier. furthermore, many groups were mobile, not homesteaders. however, we cannot undo what was the accepted mentality of the times – conflict and hatred, with little emphasis on conflict resolution or compassion. fast forward to today, and while we speak of things like compassion and resolution, there is little to demonstrate much of that, at least with positive effects.
racism does indeed run both ways – let’s face it: ignorance is not best owned by any one group. why is it we only finger whites for racism and prejudice? every group has as much. it is high time we address that ugly elephant in the room, because it is in the room of every race, religion, and ethnicity.
as a species, we consistently make two fatal errors. 1) we endeavour toward exclusionary status, via stupid disrupters to unity, such as race, religion, sex, ethnicity. 2) divided, we are easily ruled, groomed, made suspicious and paranoid and ignorant and fearful. thus, we are easily led to war, or toward ongoing acts of hatred of one to the other. we then also fail to examine issues from the greater perspective of human problems, and tend instead toward trying to manipulate the small parts without acknowledging the whole (hello black entrepreneur fed programs, rather than attending to all that face obstacles to being able to run a business; hello to “equal opportunity” employment, which locked out white, non-jewish males in fewer words). we had best let go of superficial “differences” coming from ignorant “tribalism” of all sorts, and begin to solve issues as the human concerns they are. we need each to stand for one another of the whole. for, where we all come from might be up for debate, but hardly can anyone prove we come from different creators.

Seth Anthony

Granted, an argument can be made regarding the buffalo, but that’s about it. However, that doesn’t negate the housing, infrastructure, better education, and better healthcare points that Heavy Head states. They want autonomy and to live in their traditional way, yet they also want the white people way of life on the reserve and want us to pay for it. That’s trying to have your cake and eat it too. If they want white people’s luxuries, then they can assimilate just as so many of them already have. If they want white people’s luxuries while living on their reserve, then they should be paying for it themselves. Why is Bruised Head telling us that we have to pay for housing and infrastructure on the reserve? Above and beyond that, ever seen their houses? They pretty much all have major and deliberate damage (which is related to the anger / hatred/ shame issues I spoke of).

This is similar to indigenous people constantly claiming that they want to be treated as equals, yet they support Gladue law that gives them special treatment when they commit crimes. They constantly talk about their traditional ways and going back to that, yet in another breath, they complain they don’t have the luxuries that white people do. Basically, they constantly contradict themselves.

Last edited 3 years ago by Seth Anthony

there is little to refute in your entry. your questions beg responses, and i do not have them. however, if i may unload on another piss off – cultural appropriation – to which i wonder: how is it that only anglo saxons are accused of this, but not every other race/ethnicity that runs with the anglo saxon cultural aspects…you know, various clothing, food, music/musical instruments, cars, indoor plumbing/heating, stories/narratives that depict anglo saxons…written language…painting in a style that is not stuck solely in one’s own “culture” (hope to see more of your work amanda pl https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/toronto-gallery-indigenous-art-cancels-amandapl-1.4091529) …etc. how idiotic and hypocritical are we? what hubris to say that anyone or group holds sole right to ways of doing/approaching/believing.

Seth Anthony

I’m familiar with that story.

The complaint against Amanda seems rather petty, and the claim that she is engaging in cultural genocide is way over the top.

I think Amanda nailed it by saying, “I think it’s a shame to say that an artist can’t create something because they’re not from that race. That’s like saying any other culture can’t touch something like abstract art unless you’re white, or you can’t touch cubism art.”

..and ya, you’re right about every other race running with anglo saxon culture, but somehow it’s wrong if anglo saxons do it. That’s another example of hypocrisy, and hypocrisy is exactly what I’m exposing with every point I’ve made in this thread.

Last edited 3 years ago by Seth Anthony

Dead on, treat them as equal, until you do, then I get special treatment.