The Yukon Human Rights Commission will screen a film this week to raise awareness of the continued impacts of the residential school system on aboriginal communities.
Residential school survivor Joanne Henry will speak before the screening.
She hopes that people will come out and get a better understanding of what Canada’s aboriginal people and communities lived through, and continue to live through, she said in an interview this week.
“The message was given out years ago, to take the Indian out of the child. Well, they not only took the Indian out of the child, they took the identity, they took self esteem, they took everything that makes us persons. How do you take something out of somebody and expect them to carry on in their life?”
The film, We Were Children, tells the story of Lyna Hart and Glen Anaquod, two survivors of residential schools.
The National Film Board and Eagle Vision production combines documentary interviews with dramatic re-enactments that tell the story of the abuses suffered by the children who were ripped from their families and sent away to school.
The film shows a very harsh reality, said Henry.
“I imagine any boy or girl who went to residential school could relate to it. It tells the story.”
It’s not an easy story to tell, and it’s not an easy story to hear.
Commenters on the National Film Board’s website for the movie describe being deeply disturbed by the film, sobbing uncontrollably, wanting to vomit and only being able to watch it in bits and pieces.
At this week’s screening in Whitehorse, there will be elders and counsellors on hand for those who need support during or after the film. There will also be quiet rooms available for ceremony and reflection.
The screening will take place Wednesday December 4 at 7 p.m. at the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre.
The United Nations’ Human Rights Day is Dec. 10.