Ever since I found out this was an old Indian residential school I've never looked at it the same..

December 8th, 2013, 9pm

It was -23.5°C. The breeze was light.

Portage la Prairie Indian Residential School How convenient that my next topic be situated in walking distance minutes away from the Keeshkeemaquah statue? This school was in operation from 1891 until 1975 when its doors closed as a school the last time. Initially in the city of Portage la Prairie, southern Manitoba, the school was moved in 1913 just east of town, on the shores of Crescent Lake where it remains today. Driving by this building as a young child I had no idea the secrets that could be kept within its brick walls. To me it was just another building, not some residential school that stripped the Indigenous of their culture. This school in particular was operated by the Women’s Missionary Society of the Presbyterian Church, and after 1925, by the United Church of Canada. In 1969, the Department of Indian Affairs took the school over and managed it until its closure in 1975. The intent of the Residential School System was to educate, assimilate, and integrate Aboriginal people into Canadian society. In the words of one government official, it was a system designed “to kill the Indian in the child.” Children that went to these schools were no longer surrounded by their strong cultural background and instead were taking classes on how to sew, bake, and learned various trade skills. These Indigenous children were leading two lives: one back home where they were free to show their culture and secondly at school where they were punished for the same thing. Many children hated having to attend these schools and for the lucky ones who left for home during the summer months did not want to return. These feelings were mutual for their parents who hated seeing their children being turned into the “white man.” Attendance at residential schools was mandatory for Aboriginal children across Canada, and failure to send children to residential school often resulted in the punishment of parents, including imprisonment. Other experiences reported from Survivors of residential schools include sexual and mental abuse, beatings and severe punishments, overcrowding, illness, children forced to sleep outside in the winter, the forced wearing of soiled underwear on the head or wet bed sheets on the body, use of students in medical experiments, disease and in some cases death.

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Nicki Mekkes

I'm a 21 year old supervisor at our local tavern by night and work as a nanny by day! I'm in my 4th year of school working towards my early years education. I love working out and hanging out at my parents farm in my down time!

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