During the age of the Canadian residential school system, at the end of August, Indigenous children were rounded up and taken back to school.
The fall is a difficult time for survivors, as the memories of leaving home are brought up and compounded with the ever-present discussion of residential schools in the build-up to the Sept. 30, day of Truth and Reconciliation, said Gloria Morgan, Splatsin First Nations.
Morgan is the retired chair of the Okanagan College Board of Governors, lawyer and federal adjudicator with the Indian Residential School Independent Assessment Process, former member of the RCMP, and survivor of Indian residential schools.
She spent four years at residential school with five of her siblings. After four years, Morgan was sent into foster care for another four years.
“For eight years of my life I was away from my home, my family, my friends, my community, my language, my culture.”
While the fall is triggering for survivors, it is also an important time of year, where those impacted by residential schools share stories and talk about their suffering.
“It’s a healing process for my people, as well as transferring knowledge and creating relationships.”
She has spent a career listening to stories of survivors and sharing knowledge.
Morgan travelled the country as an adjudicator with the Residential School Independent Assessment Process, listening to “the most horrendous stories that you can imagine,” from survivors.
Then, based off a series of metrics, she would offer compensation for their suffering at the residential school.
While retired from her career with the RCMP and as a lawyer, Morgan still serves on boards for the Provincial Health Services Authority, and is not done her work to help survivors.
“I have to keep trying… there is so much work to do.”
She hopes that the Day of Truth and Reconciliation inspires the sharing of knowledge and creates understanding within society.
“I want people to see the person, not the stereotype. “