Saskatoon man makes 300-km snowshoe trek to support residential school survivors
After a 300-kilometre trek on snowshoes in cold temperatures, a 21-year-old University of Saskatchewan student is set to reach his destination Tuesday - the site of the former Timber Bay residential school.
B’Yauling Toni is advocating for the recognition of the school's former students.
The school was operated by the provincial government and is one of many across Canada the federal government does not recognize as a residential school.
As a result, its former students are ineligible for compensation under the residential school settlement that awarded $1.9 billion to thousands of victims.
“The denial of designation is atrocious, Timber Bay survivors deserve our respect, and Toni has successfully shown us all what the power of one individual can do,” said Chief Bobby Cameron of the Federation of Sovereign Nations.
Toni also rode his bike more than 3,000 kilometres this summer to residential schools around the province to pay tribute to the Indigenous children who were forced to attend the schools. Timber Bay is the last school on his list.
Toni left Saskatoon on Dec. 18 and is set to arrive at the Timber Bay hamlet Tuesday afternoon. He is to be greeted by supporters and survivors, including youth from Timber Bay and Montreal Lake schools.
Timber Bay Children's Home, near Lac La Ronge. (Source: Linda McCullough)
The Timber Bay Working Group, comprised of former students of the Timber Bay Children’s Home, is leading legal efforts to have the home named as a residential school.
"We are very grateful and honoured to have this young man walk for us to ensure Timber Bay is recognized as an official residential school. He sacrificed his Christmas holidays and demonstrated his commitment and determination for this important cause,” said Montreal Lake Cree Nation Coun. Eldon Henderson, who chairs the working group.
The Timber Bay Residential School Monument Project is also set to be unveiled next summer. It will honour past and present survivors of the home, including a special tribute to the late Bobby Bird who died at the age of 10.
Timber Bay is located in northern Saskatchewan on the east side of Montreal Lake.