Feds recognize 'harm was done' at Ile-a-la-Crosse boarding school
Published Friday, July 19, 2019 5:26PM CST
Last Updated Friday, July 19, 2019 7:01PM CST
The federal government and president of Métis-Nation Saskatchewan signed a memorandum of understanding on Friday addressing the dark past of the Ile-a-la-Crosse boarding school.
"When I first got in there, I didn’t know a word of English and we were told not to talk in our Cree language, and that’s all I knew so it was very hard for me because I was just six-years-old," said Max Morrin, who attended the school 63 years ago.
He and other Indigenous kids were stripped of their culture. Morrin said if he spoke Cree, he wasn't allowed to eat.
"And I got a number and we were known by our number, not our names ... like a concentration camp."
The province was not involved in the signing.
"There is a placeholder in that MOU for the province to come to the table. And it is in the province’s best interest to engage fully with Métis-Nation Saskatchewan. I won't say anymore."
The facility is not considered a residential school, since it was run by the Province of Saskatchewan, and not the federal government, meaning people who attended haven’t been included in the residential school settlements.
"The signing is really about our recognition that harm was done. The technicality is the school had been run by the province but we still feel we had to do the right thing," Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett said.
Metis-Nation Saskatchewan said it hopes the MOU will lead to a conversation with the province about financial compensation.
When CTV News asked about the signing, the province would only say it would not comment because of a matter before the courts. The province would not say specifically what that matter is.