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4th annual feast held in Regina to honour children of residential schools

A memorial feast was held to honour the lives of the children who did not make it home from residential schools.

Faye Cote attends the annual feast to honour her late father, Tony Cote, a residential school survivor who attended the St. Philips residential school near Kamsack, Saskatchewan.

“When he entered residential school, he could not speak a word of English. But if he didn’t speak English, he was harshly punished,” said Cote. “He never told us of the punishments that he got, though, he also said that residential school was the worst experience of his life. He was also a Korean War veteran for eight years. That says a lot when residential school is worse than going to war.”

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The Cote story is one of many shared at the First Nations University of Canada during the “Honouring the Children Feast.” University president, Jacqueline Ottmann, said with the honouring feast in its fourth year, people will also gather in other ways to remember and share their stories.

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“There are there are members that are younger than me that didn’t come from residential schools … but it’s still a very recent experience for Indigenous people,” said Ottman. “The search for the remains continues across the country even though there have been initial discoveries. The work isn’t done.”

Ottman said going forward, people across the country need to continue learning the stories of residential schools and more about the children that were forced to be there.

“What it’ll do is help us understand how we got to where we are today,” she said. “As Indigenous peoples, also as Canadians, it is our responsibility as we move forward not only for reconciliation, but to begin relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.”

The Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line (1-866-925-4419) is available 24 hours a day for anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of their residential school experience.

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