The discovery of 215 children’s bodies near the former Indigenous residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia, brought back painful memories in La Tuque, Mauricie, where voices are raised for the site of the former residential school. be searched.
It is a wound that we are trying to heal in La Tuque. From 1963 to 1978, hundreds of children from the Cree Nation were sent to residential school to be assimilated by the Anglican Church. And the recent Kamloops drama raises the question of whether excavations should be undertaken.
The answer goes to the families of the community, according to the Cree Grand Chief, Abel Bosum, who himself attended the establishment of La Tuque.
“We should ask them if they are aware of the disappearance of one of their relatives. But above all, if they have proof of death. It’s important for families to have answers and to be able to move on, ”he said.
Grand Chief Bosum added that he does not trust the federal government to find the answers.
“With what we’ve seen with Kamloops, it’s hard to trust,” he said.
Although La Tuque is located relatively close to the territories of the Atikamekh nation, it is the young people of the Cree nation from Nord-du-Québec who were torn from their families and sent to Haute-Mauricie.
According to the Grand Chief of the Atikamekhs, Constant Awashish, this practice was aimed at ensuring that young people are away from their loved ones. He then wanted the site to be searched to give answers to the Crees.
“It is a decision that must be made by the First Nations, with the cooperation of the government. We don’t want things to drag on and become laborious with the government apparatus, ”he explained.
The story of the victims of Kamloops brings back some very bad memories in a former resident. Mary Coon told us the story of a friend who got pregnant at residential school. The fate of the baby is, to this day, unknown.
“When she had the gas anesthesia she heard the baby cry. And when she woke up, they told her he was dead. I always wondered if he hadn’t been buried back, or if he hadn’t been brought somewhere else in the residential school to be killed. It’s terrible what we’ve been through, and my kids want answers. ”
The City of La Tuque and the owners of part of the site, where there is now a childcare center (CPE), say they are ready to collaborate. The flags of the town hall are also at half mast in solidarity. A gesture that went without saying for the mayor, Pierre-David Tremblay, since 30% of the Latuque population is of Aboriginal origin.
“We must show empathy for these people, who have always lived with us in harmony,” he added.