Paul: Hello, everyone. Welcome to our Learning and Legacy event. My name is Paul Seaman and I'm a partner here at Gowling WLG in Vancouver. I'm also the National Leader of our Indigenous law group and a Metis person. It's wonderful to see so many people join us today, virtually, to commemorate Canada's first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. But before we begin I want to acknowledge that I am speaking to you from the unceded Territories of the Coast Salish Peoples, the Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish and Musqueam Nations. Because everyone joining us virtually today is based in different cities and Provinces across Canada, we're all located in different Indigenous Territories. So I encourage everyone joining us today to take a moment to reflect and acknowledge the Indigenous lands on which you're living and working, wherever you happen to be. We've gathered in person here today in Vancouver because of the sensitive nature of what we're about to discuss as well as a practical fact that our internet connection here, in the Gowling WLG office, is much more reliable than our home offices. We are, of course, observing COVID-19 protocols and we're positioned 6 feet apart. But I also want to say a few words about today's program. In putting today's webinar I spoke with a number of Indigenous clients and colleagues and went back and reflected on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action number 80 and 92. Call to action number 80 calls for the recognition of today, not only just as a day, but calls on us to honour survivors, their families and communities and ensure that the public commemoration of the history and legacy of Residential Schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process. Call to action number 92 calls upon the corporate sector to provide education, for management and staff, on the history of Indigenous Peoples including the history and legacy of Residential Schools. Reaching to meet these calls to action is exactly what we aim to do gathered here today.
Now let me introduce our two speakers, both of whom we are very honoured to have with us here today. Our first guest is David Luggi. David is a member of the Stellat'en First Nation and is a former elected Chief. He's also a previous Tribal Chief of the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council. David has worked as the administrator for other First Nations, including the Lake Babine Nation and the Nadleh Whut'en First Nation, and he currently serves as a Senior Advisor to the Stellat'en First Nation. David grew up in Stellako which is about 150 kilometers West of Prince George. Between 1969 and 1976 David attended the Lejac Residential School in that same area. This Residential School operated from 1922 to 1976 and David will be speaking with us today about the 7 years he spent as a student there.
Our second guest is Mary Teegee. Mary is Gitxsan and Carrier from Takla Nation. She is Executive Director of Child and Family Services at Carrier Sekani Family Services here in BC and is a tireless advocate for Indigenous and women's rights. She sits on the Board of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, and I'm sure she's happy with yesterday's Federal Court win by the Society to upheld the Human Rights Tribunal's compensation order, directed to First Nations children who are placed in the child welfare system. Mary is also a film maker and will be telling us about her new documentary called 'For Love'. The film examines the harms Indigenous children are experiencing the child welfare system today. It's Mary's second film with director Matt Smiley, with whom she worked on the critically acclaimed 'Highway of Tears', a documentary about missing and murdered Indigenous women. I would be remiss if I did not mention that Mary is also a voice actor. She's the voice of Mary the Bear in the 'Spirit Bear' children's film which I also highly recommend.
Finally, our moderator for today's event is Scott Smith. Scott is a partner with me at Gowling WLG in Vancouver. Scott has a unique practice that sits at the intersection of Indigenous, environmental, energy and natural resources law. He works closely with clients in Carrier and Sekani Territories and with Carrier Sekani Family Services and he knows David and Mary very well. Before I hand things to Scott I thought I would invite Mary to lead us in an opening prayer.
Mary: Creator, ..., I want to thank you for this beautiful day of life you have given us on this very special day. Today we want to ask for blessings for all the survivors and for all those ones that are hurting because of legacies of colonization and Residential School. We want to ask that you give us guidance, spiritually, mentally and emotionally so when we talk about this very important topic today that we are saying good words, we are saying good words that is going to heal our Members. We're going to ask that you give us awareness and intellect so that we really understand together, colaboratory as partners, what true reconciliation means. Again, Creator, we thank you for this day of life you've given us and again we ask for your guidance on my relations.
Scott: So thank you, Mary, for that wonderful prayer. As Paul mentioned my name's Scott Smith. I'm a partner here at Gowling WLG. On this first anniversary of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation it is important for us to reflect back on the many findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which was constituted and created by the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. The Commission made the following findings: for over a century the central goals of Canada's Indigenous policies were to eliminate Indigenous Governments, ignore Indigenous rights, terminate treaties and through a process of assimilation cause Indigenous Peoples to cease to exist as distinct legal, social, cultural, religious and racial entities in Canada. Indian Residential Schools were at the center of this policy. Their objective, and I quote from Sir John A. MacDonald, was to "take the Indian out of the child". To solve what, at the time was commonly referred to, as the Indian problem. The Commission went on to find that Canada's actions amounted to a cultural genocide which it defined as follows: Cultural genocide is the destruction of those structures and practices that allow the group to continue as a group. States that engage in cultural genocide set out to destroy the political and social institutions of the targeted group. Land is seized and populations are forcibly transferred and their movements is restricted. Languages are banned. Spiritual leaders are prosecuted. Spiritual practices are forbidden and objects of spiritual value are confiscated and destroyed. And, most significantly to the issue at hand, families are disrupted to prevent the transmission of cultural values and identity from one generation to the next.
The Commission found that Canada had done all of these things to Indigenous Peoples. Canada had asserted control over Indigenous lands. In some cases Canada forced First Nations to relocate the reserves from prosperous to economically marginal lands. Canada replaced Indigenous Governments with Band Councils which, pursuant to the Indian Act which it enacted, Canada had the power to override decisions made by those Councils and to remove their leaders. Canada denied Indigenous Peoples who refused to abandon their identity the right to participate fully in Canadian political, economic and social life. Canada outlawed the spiritual practices. Put spiritual leaders in jail and despicably stole sacred objects. Finally, Canada directly attacked Indigenous families by forcibly removing children from their families and sending them to Residential Schools. The Commission also found that Canada pursued this policy in order to eliminate its legal and financial obligations to Indigenous Peoples in Canada and to gain control over their lands and resources. These are the unassailable, unimaginable facts of our dark shared history. Something that Former Chief Justice McLachlin described as "the worse stain on Canada's human rights record". Unfortunately Canada continues to do many of these things today. The Commission found that instead of moving towards reconciliation, divisive conflicts have emerged over Indigenous education, child welfare and justice. I would add something that I see daily in my law practice to that list. The continued denial of Indigenous ownership of their lands as well as full Indigenous soft Government, including inherent law making, jurisdiction and authority.
So during the panel today we encourage all of our attendees to ask questions. You can do so by typing them into the question and answer box. Throughout the presentation we will be selecting some of our questions to ask David and Mary. So without further ado, David, over to you.
David: Thank you, Scott Smith, and thank you, Paul Seaman, for inviting me here to vent. I understand there's quite a few folks on the line, like 1,800 people, and that blows me away, first of all. Secondly, to the day that the government finally set aside a day for truth and reconciliation, just personally I think that our parents would have been pretty proud of that. They would look at that as a victory, whether it be small or big, I think they would have accepted this as a victory, nevertheless. I think that as a survivor myself I look at it as a victory and a victory that the governments are starting to take further steps to acknowledge the impacts of Residential Schools. So in my slide show, coming up, I put it together based on my experience that Paul introduced to you the period in which I attended the Residential School. What I don't purport to say is that I'm speaking for all Residential School survivors. Each survivor has their own account and this is my account of my experience. What prompted it was the 215 children that were found in mass graves in Kamloops earlier this year. It triggered me in a way that it made me sad all over again. I kind of said, well, I've got to do something about it because for decades and decades it was the governments in denial about the whole thing. Today there's still a measure of denial there. So my goal in doing this presentation is that I'm at 4 or 5 major negotiation tables with Scott Smith and others. Currently finished off litigation, a 10 year litigation battle, I'll get into that a little bit later on but it prompted me to deliver presentation to governments that we negotiate with, the different ministries and industry folks that we have opposite to us, so that they can begin to learn and understand what has happened to us and what they need to do to help things move along. Help reconcile with us so they have a deeper understanding, a first hand experience of we're not just a bunch of old guys complaining and bitter, constantly complaining about stuff that happened to us in the past. Then remarkably we have about 7 or 8 in our administration, Stellat'en administration, that still work for us. I think that's resistance right there in action and their resolve to continue to fight, at all different levels, to seek recognition and reconciliation with government and industries. So that's a bit of a background of why I'm doing this. Scott and Paul invited me to do this and I was happy to do it.
So I'll get into the slide show now. Paul already covered the years I spent there. We'll just get right into the slide show. I mentioned earlier that the 215 children that were found in a mass grave on the grounds of the former Residential School in Kamloops and at that time, prior to the findings, official records show that there was only 51 children that were accounted for. In terms of dying at the School. Then of course since that news broke out there's approximately 1,300 children that the remains have been identified at various Residential Schools across Canada. So they just started the search and I expect that the search will last many, many years. The final tally will not be known for some time. The fact is that there is this happening. I mentioned earlier that this made me really sad and that prompted me to do this presentation. Looking at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the TRC, initially suggested about 4,100 children died at former Residential Schools and so, of course, looking at the 1,300 number to date, who knows where that number will land. There's going to be substantially more. In Kamloops Residential School we also had 5 or 6 Stellat'en and 5 in total that have attended both Schools. So the Lejac Indian Residential School and the Kamloops Indian Residential School. Those people are Emma Baker, Gus Allan, Lillian Louis, Archie Patrick and Irene Louis. When the news broke out all of us were grieving, stunned and shocked. As much as we've known before that this was going to happen, when it finally happened it felt like a tonne of lead. Next.
Here is the Members that attended both Kamloops and Lejac Residential Schools. Lillian Louis, she served as Chief from 1978 to 1980. She so was the first female Chief, Indian Act elected Chief, in our community and in the center photo there's Gus Allan. He passed in 1979, served on Council, he died as a result of an alcohol related death. In the 70s, 80s and 90s it was pretty common that our People, as well as other People in the neighbouring communities, passed as a result of alcohol related deaths. Emma Baker, on the right hand side of the screen, she served on a SFN Council so she still lives today and she's a fluent speaker. Next frame.
Carrying on with our community survivors, Archie Patrick, he served as Chief in 1986 for our community. He just finished serving a term from 2013 to 2020 as Chief of Stellako. In 1983 he also served as Carrier Sekani Tribal Chief. Then Irene Louis, she recently passed on of health related complications, but these are survivors and Archie is fluent in both languages, English and Carrier. He's also a school teacher. These are the guys and ladies that I looked up in my life that survived both institutions, and managed to live long lives and careers, but that's not the case for every single student that attended the Lejac Residential School. Next frame.
This is just an Indian Residential Schools map of Canada and all the dots there you can see where all the Residential Schools existed and operated. I expect that all of those grounds will be searched by ground penetrating radar to find more remains. Then Paul also mentioned that the era of when Lejac Residential School opened and closed, 1922 to 1976, it's located on Highway 16, one and a half kilometers East of Fraser Lake. When the news broke out again about the 215 it prompted me to look up, see if it's actually genocide because I didn't actually look it up before, but the Canadian Museum for Human Rights said it was. Many other people do and institutions do. I'm looking at it, yeah, it is what it is and that's what it was. Many students died in this School of unknown causes from trying to escape to a variety of health related reasons and injuries from the staff, priests and nuns and that sort of thing. So with that operation of 1922 to 1976 it created inter-generational trauma and so that's going to affect, and has affected, myself and that means my children and their children. Nobody knows exactly how far that will extend to but it will. So that again makes me feel sad. Some of us have survived the genocide. Many of our People lived short lives because of alcoholism. I mentioned earlier that alcoholism was rampant in the 70s and 80s for those of us coming out, and the generation before me, I couldn't figure out myself why they were drinking so much. Only in later years I figured out the reason for that is because what happened here at Lejac School and their attendance there. There was no support. The only support that there was, was to bottle and later on drugs. There was no mechanism for them to give them a path of healing. Family violence, of course with alcoholism, and suicide. Lots of people that I know just didn't make it out of the 70s and more just didn't make it out of the 1980s either. It was common to have plenty of funerals in the 70s and 80s. As a younger I couldn't understand, at the time. In reality, even though the operations for Lejac was there from 1922 to 1976, there's still other forms of genocide today and it's not obvious to some. The way I see it is that it still exists today in our fisheries because in fisheries we got blockaded by legislation and policies and procedures by DFO and other Provincial Ministries, water diversions. They're taking away our life blood, we as Dakelh People, we use and travel the water and that's what that means. They take it away and they begin to, really begin, to kill us. That's the objective as Scott told a quote from Prime Minister MacDonald. Other forms of genocide: land alienation legislation, past major projects affluent and pollution, police brutality. You see that all the time. All that flows from the Residential School framework that Canada built. Next slide.
The pain and suffering. In this slide the Catholic church had 38 documented deaths at Lejac and that's the school that I attended. What was common was physical and sexual abuse, at least, there all the time. That created also violence within the student body. So in other words our student body would break off into sort of gangs and we would have fights and that was sad. So also we were not permitted to speak our own language. We would be out of line just for doing that. So if you can imagine if your parents are from Sweden, or Germany, or France or anywhere in Europe that doesn't speak English, their children in school got a bar of soap stuck in their mouth. That's what happened to us when we spoke our own language. So it was pretty cruel. Another society has done that so that's one form of punishment. The wide strap were used to discipline students for a variety of different reasons. Sometimes the teacher or the priest would be having a bad day and that's all it took. Yard sticks were also used to strap student's hands and backside and also, whether it be on the wide side or the narrow side, both sides were used. The teachers and supervisors also punched and kicked students. Forced us to stand in a corner. So if you're out of line, in the teachers view, they'd force you into the corner. You couldn't go to the bathroom. We had to stay there all day. Just facing the corner. So some of the students, of course, wet themselves and soiled themselves. Some of them collapsed because they couldn't stand any longer. Then the other form of terrorism, I would call it, is a dog was used to terrorize us. The dog got better treatment than we did. In 1937 4 students tried to escape or attempted to escape Lejac grounds. It was minus 20. Their names are there on the second bullet. They were found later on all frozen to death. As you see their clothes there. They were not clothed when they were found because my understanding is when you get hypothermia and you're close to death you begin to strip your clothes off. That's how they were found. They were partially clothed. The full story of the boy's runaway and why it took nearly a day before anybody started to look for them has never been told. It's just one more shameful and grim reminder of the incomplete chapter in the history of Canada's Residential Schools. In my time there too it was always pretty common that student body was trying to figure out how to escape. It was almost always everyday conversation. Some did but by that time the school officials already figured out which routes to expect the students to be travelling, and they were caught within the same day and disciplined, and you wouldn't see them for a few days in the classroom.
So fast forward to today's what you see on your commute to work in the major cities, maybe folks, your friends visiting you, it's often that the outside world sees us first. For example, the Downtown East Side Vancouver. You see it in Winnipeg, Toronto, major cities and that's our People on the streets. A direct result of Residential Schools, and for you guys on the line, you have to understand that we didn't choose this. That this is a direct result of Canada's policy to eliminate us. In fact, elimination still exists because this generation, and the generation before, do populate the Downtown East Side and we're subject to all sort of health conditions. They populate the present community. So this is what you see. I guess my message to you is like don't judge our People. Canada did this to us and you're seeing the results of it today.
In this picture here shows 1975 and myself and current Chief Robert Michell. We're both survivors of Lejac and that is Christmas 75 so that is the last Christmas party that we had at Lejac before it shut down. Then in the other photo, in the cafeteria shot, there's a guy ..., Carl Dixon, he's from Sechelt and so he was one of the good guys. He was a supervisor and he protected us. He did a good job. To his right there's Robert Michell. He's the current Chief and he survived and witnessed and has own account of his experience there. I'm not pretending to speak for him. Like I said earlier I'm just giving you my account of my experience there. The food that was served there, typically you'd have beans for a week, a slice of bread on Friday, butter, soup that was horrible. We were constantly hungry and, not only that but the brutality that happens in there, constantly in a state of anxiety and fear.
Kind of fast forwarding to today so yesterday marked the tenth year anniversary that Stellat'en Saik'uz filed against Rio Tinto and then later on Canada and BC became defendants of Rio Tinto. It's the fourth major Aboriginal rights in title case to make it through Canada's justice system following the Tsilhqot'in case which had the decision come down in 2014. I served as a witness at the trial and reviewed at least 110,000 different documents to begin preparing for this trial. 24 hours of discovery by about 15 different lawyers. I spent 3 days at the trial itself last year as a witness for the two Bands. Before that, as well, I also reviewed the Delgamuukw cross-examination transcripts so I could prepare myself as best I could with all available information. I wanted to be the best witness that I could for our People. Looking back at the cross-examination transcripts of Delgamuukw the line of questioning is pretty darn racist by Canada and BC. It was no different in my experience with Rio Tinto, Canada and BC today. On one hand Canada and BC say, "Okay, yeah. We're reconciling with First Nations." but on the other hand, in the court system, nothing has changed. They're still as racist as ever and the line of questioning was virtually identical in those transcripts versus what we did in Rio Tinto. There's directive from the Crown, obviously, that still exists to deny our existence. So the way I'm looking at it, I explained to Scott Smith and Paul, it's like just like us trying to prove electricity exists before we even get to the next stage. Like how stupid is that? Lastly, the court system is still pretty racist so the judges here, now, don't dismiss that stuff. We still have to go through the process of proving you exist.
One little story I'll tell you about this. I was in discovery one day. I texted Terry Teegee who's the regional Chief of BC. There's 15 lawyers behind me. He goes, "What are you doing?" I said, "Well, I'm proving I exist." He goes, "What do you mean?" "Well, I'm in discovery." and he goes, "Well just slap them all and see if they feel that."
<laughter from panelists>
I felt like doing it but I know I'd probably would have been charged with assault or something but anyhow. Something a little funny and how stupid it really is. How dumb it is. Obviously we do exist and we finished the trial a few months ago. So 10 years yesterday that we filed on this trial. Another example of legislation and policy steep hill that we have to climb just to prove that we exist. Genocide.
Looking ahead so a lot of you have seen this. TRC call of action. So we've used this slide show with industry and government to really give them information that covers the four corners of what we think is the four corners of reconciliation. Really objective criteria that we can build upon and some of the ... is working and some of the negotiators are getting it. We've still got a long ways to go with the different ministries in both British Columbia and in Canada. Next slide.
So some of the things that come to mind here, like just personally, some of the events, truckers had events in Kamloops and the Sikh Bikers of Canada had a rally for the Residential School survivors. The way I'm seeing it is events like this support us survivors and it warms my heart. A warm heart is a healing heart. We're not looking for billions of dollars. I think just the truth will do for me and this is stuff that you never learned in high school. I guess my pitch to you is that push your school district to include this in the curriculum. Talk to your children. Tell them the truth about it and talk to your neighbours, talk to your friends. Just because you see dysfunction on the surface doesn't mean that we're bad people. It's because of this. It's not our fault.
Lastly, just thinking about the slide of our folks on the street who are having a hard time. Really anybody who attended any of the Residential Schools in Canada had one foot in hell from the day the stepped into those institutions. Some of us who survived have both feet in hell. Some of us it will take us a life long healing journey. It's not a switch were you just turn off and everything's good and turn on and everything's good. It doesn't work that way. The scars and the impacts from these Schools will always be with me and, unfortunately, more studies show that it will be with my children even though they never attended Residential Schools. So in the quote here I leave you with, "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it." I'll leave you with that. Thank you, Scott, and thank you, Paul, and thank you to all Gowling's world for listening to me.
Scott: So, David, if you're okay maybe we'll take one or two questions from the audience. So, there's a question here, what can I do more as a settler? Where do I start to make a difference?
David: Earlier I mentioned that you could go to your school district, the school board or however things operate in different Provinces, and insist that the truth be told by giving survivors and other technicians to help survivors to put forward curriculum so that your children will know the truth and that the truth will never be denied again.
Scott: Okay. So, David, thank you so much for that and for taking the time today to share your personal experiences at Lejac Residential School. I think we're all greatly indebted to you for that. So next up will be Mary Teegee. So Mary's going to make a few remarks and then after which we're going to get to see the trailer for her new film 'For Love'. So, Mary, over to you.
Mary: A few remarks. How much time do I have? I'd like to acknowledge the rightful owners of this Territory that we're standing on. We must do that protocol. Our laws dictate that. I also would like to thank Gowlings, especially Scott Smith and Paul, for inviting me to speak to you about this very important topic in the City of Reconciliation, Vancouver. But before I begin I would like to, for all of us, I know that you're lawyers, that you're academics, there's many people on the platform today, l would ask that you put yourself cell phones down, that you stop writing, that you stop scanning legal briefs because I know I do it as well. We all multi-task in this world so I would like for you to stop everything as you take a moment of silence to honour and to remember all those that we have lost to Residential Schools, starting now.
Thank you. Today we're going to be talking about understanding the past to build a better future and I just wanted to reflect that the past for us is not the past. We're living it everyday when we talk about impacts of Residential School and especially the impacts of colonization. Paul said my name is Mary Teegee. I am Takla Nation. I'm Luxgaboo. I come from the Wolf Clan. My house is ... My Hereditary Chiefs name is Maaxswxw Gibu, which is White Wolf, that's who I am and what I do is I am the Executive Director of Child Family and Services for Carrier Sekani Family Services. I am the President of the BC Aboriginal Child Care Society. I am a Board Member of the First Nations Carrier Society of Canada. I represent British Columbia on the National Advisory Committee for Child and Family Service Reform. I do all this work because it has to do with children and the betterment of our children. When we think about this day, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, we can never ever forget our children in this because it's our children that suffered. I want to acknowledge and I want to thank my brother here, David, for his story, for sharing that and it takes a lot of strength especially a man in David's stature. A man who has been my mentor and my hero. At a very young age when I first started in politics I looked to David to advise me and to guide me in a good way and he did, always saying, "Mary, do not swear."
I just want to thank you, David, for sharing your heart. It means so much to us.
I want to first start talking about, I always say this, the first impact of Residential School or even the impact of colonization, is a broken heart. You could imagine back in the day when we lived our life in perfect peace and balance and harmony. Not to say that there weren't wars but we had balance, we had harmony with the environment and we lived on our land. We lived on the land where the blood of our Chiefs were spilt. We lived on the land where our ancestral stories came from, and so when colonization happened and that first impact, you could imagine the broken hearts that we had when we could no longer go to where we used to live and hunt. I think speaking about understanding our past we have to understand that, already with colonization, we're already broken hearted. Not broken spirited, maybe broken hearted, our spirit was weakened. So since then it was the government's policy to obliterate us Indigenous People. So we look at the first Prime Minister, the first founder if you will, John A. MacDonald. Some of his comments that he made to the House of Commons, "When the School is on the reserve the child lives with its parent who are savages. He is surrounded by savages and though he may learn to read and write his habits and training and mode of thought are Indian. He is simply a savage who can read and write. The Indian children should be withdrawn as much as possible from the parental influence and the only way to do that would be to put them in central training industrial schools where they will acquire the habits and modes of thoughts of White men."
In 1882 MacDonald wrote, "I have reason to believe that the agents as a whole are doing all they can by refusing food until the Indians are on the verge of starvation to reduce the expense." In 1882. Then, of course, the Residential School Act making it mandatory, compulsory for children to be taken away from their parents from 1894 to 1947. So when David says this is not our fault, it is not our fault and you need to understand that. I tell parents and grandparents whose children ended up in the welfare system again and again, it's not your fault. I tell the children that are in care, that it's not their fault that they're in care. That their parents were too hurt and too sick because of all that has happened during the Residential School. That their parents still love them but because of the hurt that they've gone through that they were too sick to take care of their children. It's not their fault.
The Residential School, as you know, was a methodical, intentional system to assimilate us. It's cultural genocide. When we look at where we're at now we know that the high rates of children in care and I think sometimes people don't see that link. I will be talking about that link. I just want people to also to know that the government already knew how bad it was in Residential School. In 1907 Dr. Bryce, who's one of my heroes, he was Canada's Chief Medical Health Officer, wrote a report that highlighted that around 1,560 children, a quarter of those children in one School died of tuberculosis. He followed some children after that and found that 69% of all those students that went to School, after they left School had died, within a very short time of leaving School. So when David talks about the alcoholism and the drug abuse you can see it even started back then. This issue is so personal to all of us, as Indigenous People, and I always say that there's not one Indigenous Person in Canada that hasn't been impacted by Residential School because of the loss of human potential. How many of our scholars, how many of our brilliant minds, how many of our men and women that could have succeeded and excelled in what we call the 'White World' didn't get that opportunity because they were abused? Or because they just simply died. Canada, as a whole, is weaker because of the Residential School. So I would argue that every Canadian suffers from the impact of Residential School as well. We know that Dr. Bryce lobbied the government, lobbied Duncan Campbell Scott who's department ran the Residential School, of course Duncan Campbell Scott was the Indian Affairs Deputy Superintendent at the time and knew about this report. Again, Dr. Bryce wrote the report in 1907 and went on and on to try to get change. In 1922 what did Duncan Campbell Scott do? Is they disparaged him and he suffered professionally because he would not stop advocating. So he is an example of moral courage. He is an example of what we should all do is that it doesn't matter what happens. You need to advocate for change to make it better.
We know that later there were other journals and other reports. In the 1940s there was a report done by the Journal of Social Work, I believe, where it showed that 80% of children that were in Residential Schools, 80% of children that were in Residential School were there because of poverty issues. Because their parents or grandparents didn't have enough to give them. This is not very long ago. Then of course in the 1950s, when we look at what's happened today within child and family services legally, we know that the Indian Act is silent on child and family, child welfare if you will. In the 1950s what happened is that Federal jurisdiction for child and families was passed onto the Provinces. Shortly after that there was such an increase in Indigenous children going into care. We now call that 'The 1960s Scope'. I have to say this, again, that past is not the past for us. It's very real. My early memories is I know living on my street that if we saw a blue car, a blue government car, we all had to run. I remember just being so scared running and jumping in the ditch and hiding in case we were taken away. Oftentimes my parents would be talking and they said that they got the different children. They got this family's children for no reason. I know, and I called her my Auntie, she was a nurse. Her husband worked at the sawmill with my father. She was a nurse. They took care of their kids. Their sons were taken away from them for no good reason. That's real. That's my life. That's my limited experiences. It's not something that has happened in the past.
I also want to remind everybody those impacts of Residential School, David showed the pictures and spoke so poignantly about our People that are on the street and we see them. We know the opioid crisis is because of Residential School and the impacts of that. I want to really give you a human example of what we're talking about and it's a personal story. So I remember when I was just about 8 or 9 years old and my mother and father took a couple of my cousins in. I didn't know why but they took care of them and then later my little cousins went back to their parents. But about a year later my older cousins came back and they had lost all their children. The Ministry, Child Welfare, had come into my community in Takla, flew in, and because everybody was drinking again, because David talks about there was a trauma, took all those five children and they all went into care in different homes. There was a set of twins, 4 years old, that were placed in different homes, for heaven sakes. This is our lifetime. So years and years later, the kids are grown up now, and I started working and really looking at the child welfare system, but trying to get youth programming that was going to help our people. I was also part of the Steering Committee for the Cedar Project which looks at the incidents of HIV AIDS, Hepatitis C in Indigenous youth using intravenous drugs. That study led me to talk to people that were in jail and what happened is one of those young men that were in jail, 25 years old, was one of the kids that was ripped away from home. When I talked to him he said, because that was actually going to be my first documentary, was to look at the rates and the rates of HIV AIDS, Hepatitis C and comparing that to impacts of Residential School. So it's the first study of this kind that actually quantifies an impact of Residential School. Now when I talked to him cousin, we'll call him John, so when I talked to John and I said, "You're in jail and you want to do this interview and why is that?" He says, "I don't want what happened to me, to my younger brothers or anybody in my family." Now what he said is that when he left foster care, because they ended up in foster care, my older cousin, they fought for them. My parents tried to help them get their five children back and they never could get their children back. So what happened to my cousins is that they started drinking more and more and more. Now my two cousins, they went to Residential School. They went to Residential School and they suffered horrible sexual abuse, physical abuse and then they had these five children and they did really well for so long but, of course, the demons and the trauma and the hurts came forward and they started drinking to ease their pain and then that's when they lost their children. But they sobered up for many years and kept trying to get their children. But of course, the system at the time, right is right and they were better in a White home. So when later you look at, talking to John, he was one of those children and his brother and sister were actually the younger twins that were separated. So in jail he said, "Mary, what happened to me is that I ended up in foster care and they never took me home so I really didn't know my People. So when I was 19 I went back home to my home community. But I didn't feel like I belonged there. I didn't really know my People. I didn't really know anything. So I didn't feel like I belonged there. My foster parents were no longer having taken money from me so they didn't want me either. So my family became the homeless, the prostitutes and the drug dealers of Prince George." So he ended up in gangs. So when I talked to him he was HIV positive and had been using drugs since he was about 17. That story is real. He died 2 years later. We know that our People, especially our young People, when they're HIV positive die quicker. So he died 2 years later, and I stayed in contact with that family, and then 2 years after he passed away his younger brother was in the same situation.
So that's real. That's what we have to deal with. So you look at the cycle. Their parents went to Residential School. They were abused. They ended up in care. Now one of the girls, her child was in care, and we know that's a cycle. So out of those five children, two brothers are dead, one is on the street, one is battling drug addiction, and there's one of the sisters is doing well but she has a child that's in care. So we know that's a cycle so that isn't the past. That's now.
I think about cultural genocide and how that is what we're going through and what we've gone through. I think about the word reconciliation and I know in my heart that that is not the right word for us. I understand that we talk about that but we need to think about what that means. Reconciliation, there's an assumption that there was a conciliatory relationship at one point. That there was a mutually beneficial, respectful, balanced relationship with Canada. We never had that. So if we think about what we need to do there's other "re" words that we need to prioritize. There has to be reparation. When we think about genocide, internationally, we think about when there are unjust wars. What happens to that country? They are charged with genocide, with whatever, but there's reparations. We've never had that to the full extent in Canada. There has never been redress. There has not been the respect that we should be given. So how can we reconcile when we don't even have a conciliatory relationship. I think when we look at that we have to think about where we're going to go, moving forward from this day. We have to think about how we see things and I want to give one of the stories, again a personal story. Years ago we were having a multi-cultural dinner in Fort St. James where I grew up. This was to raise money for children to be able to go to sports activities and to engage in hockey and so we're raising money for this. So we had like this $100.00 plate. Back then that was a lot. It's not lawyer $1,000.00 plates but it was about $100.00 a plate which was a lot of money. So what happened was this logger came up and asked Chief Leonard George, who I absolutely love, Leonard gave a beautiful talk, and said, "Why should we keep paying? We're paying your taxes. We're paying for you guys to do this. Why do we keep having to pay up? Pay all this money. I didn't do anything to the Indian People." So Chief Leonard George was the beautiful man who eloquently asked, he goes, "Are you asking why you should pay for the sins of your father?" and the guy says, "Of course, yeah. Yeah, why should I?" and he says, "Maybe the question should be why should you benefit from the sins of your father?"
So we have to think, moving forward, what do we need to do? We understand where we've come from and, David, so again that basic humanity is to understand and to be aware when you see our People on the street to be human and to understand and to help. To listen to the stories of Indigenous People who have gone through all the atrocities that we have. I just want to acknowledge the work of Scott and Paul on this journey to cut into Federal enabling legislation. When I asked them to help me and both Paul and Scott, especially Scott was like, "No, it's not enough money." I'm just kidding, Scott. <laughter> Scott said, "This is not my thing. Like child welfare is not my expertise." But what I said is that, "Think about this way. Our children are our most important resource so the with the way that you fight for forestry, Indigenous rights and mining, water, is the same way we need to fight for our children." So we went through this journey together and I just wanted to commend them because through that we actually drafted a Federal enabling legislation, pre-C-92. We went across Canada. We listened to the advisors at the National Advisory Committee for Child and Family Services. We found some of the best minds in child and family services. We drafted a beautiful Act which Scott named the First Nations Family Caring Act. We then end up with C-92 which, again, it's a way for us to develop our own child and family services, our own child and family laws. I think that's really important. I need to say this that there's a misconception that jurisdiction was given to us for child and family. But it wasn't. I would argue that we've always had jurisdiction. What we didn't have was the resources to breathe life into our own laws and that's where we need to get to. What we need to do together is that we need all of the influencers, the people that have the ear of government, to push and to advocate and for fundamental change. It's not going to be cheap. Reconciliation isn't a cost neutral process. There's monies involved. There is the movement that we need to ensure that we are truly the decision makers when it comes to our resources. That the children that we're taking care of now, that when they are grown up, they are going to be true leaders of their own land and when they step on that land they know that they're the ones that are going to make that decision on the Territory. That's what we need to strive to. I also know that what we need to do is to push MPs and MLAs to implement the Spirit Bear plan and if you go on iamawitness.com you'll see the First Nations carrying society. We have a plan for the government so that to end inequity and end discrimination for First Nations children. I often think, before I am wrapping up here, that I think about what my mom says. She says, "We are like salmon. We always go home to die and that's our right." I think about the 215 and I think about all those all unmarked graves where they never got even the basic human dignity to be buried in their homelands. So that's real today. I want to leave you with the words of a young man. When I started the youth program all those years ago for Carrier's Child Family Services I asked youth what their dreams were. Many of them dreamt about becoming a lawyer, becoming a doctor, being an actor, but this one young man came up and said, "I dream of the day when I only have to read about the effects of Residential School. Not have to live it." It is incumbent on all of us to make this dream a reality. We must do this for our children. We must do this for love. Musi.
Scott: Thank you very much, Mary, and probably a fitting end with your comment for love. So now if we can go to the trailer of your documentary, 'For Love', that would be about 4 minutes and then we get to ask Mary some questions about making the movie. Without further ado over to the trailer, please.
#1: I always tell them, speak your mother tongue, I said. Because, like, if we lose it Chinese can go China and learn it. French can go France. Where do we go? This is it. We can't go home. This is home. I said, once we lose our language then we're White.
#2: How do you say, I love you?
#4: Indigenous children are vastly, disproportionately over-represented in the child welfare system.
#5: I'm constantly afraid. Even if I know I'm doing the right things I still am constantly afraid of the fear that someone could even take my kid.
#6: All these kids that I paddle with, we're all kids in Canada. So we barely know who we are and we don't know where we come from and where are roots are. Then just that little bit of information we can travel way back to our ancestors and we can figure out who we are.
#7: This is about co-creating a society where every kid counts. Every kid is worth the money and where everyone's differences are not overcome but they're celebrated.
#8: We got to recognize that this is not a one shot and then you think about something else. But the important thing is to make sure that in fact we continue to progress.
#9: I feel like the more you know what's going on with other people the more we can relate and the more we can help each other.
#10: To be proud, you have to be proud of where you've been, who you were. You can't forget that.
Scott: I feel like we're on Weekend Update here because of this panel setting.
Scott: So now's the time, Mary, I get to ask you a few questions about, 'For Love', which of course premiers tonight in Vancouver. How did the film come to be?
Mary: I was asked about our prevention services at ... Carrier Family Services. We had the cultural camp. We developed our own family law model. We did a lot of work without receiving prevention dollars. So what happened, of course, is that we won the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling when Canada was proven to be discriminatory against First Nations children and they were ordered, for the first time ever, to pay for prevention costs. Prior to that Canada paid for children to stay in care but not to prevent them going into care. So there was an opportunity to showcase all prevention activities across Canada and especially really the messaging that the culture was prevention, culture is medicine. So I was asked, working with Indigenous Affairs of Canada, so I said, "I want to have full artistic control and I also get to choose my director." and that's what happened. I said, "It's a limited proposal. This is what I want the film to be but I really wanted to ensure that at the end of the day that our children who watch this film, that were in care, and understand that they were loved. Understand that people belong to a culture and really have a feeling of hope."
Scott: I understand that you and Matt Smiley, who was the director and executive producer of the film with you, went all across Canada and conducted a number of interviews. So what was the most memorable thing that you observed in that process?
Mary: I think the most memorable thing that I observed was that the resilience and the strength of the children, and or our families, and how we're still here and how, regardless of how we're portrayed in the media and all of the atrocities that have happened, that we still just so exuberant. Just be so sparkly with what who we are as Indigenous People. I think that was beautiful and it didn't matter where we where. Whether or not it was an out of office camp where we really couldn't take a shower, drink the water, where it was just overcrowding in housing, you just saw the beauty and resilience and the strength of our People. I think that was so remarkable.
Scott: I think that leads me into my next question is, what would you like people to take away from the movie?
Mary: I really want, I think, Canadians generally, and this is why I really wanted it to be international in scope so people that were aware that, again, it's not our People's fault. That the child welfare system is something that was put onto us. That our children were ripped away from us and that even with that we still have a strong vibrant culture. But more importantly I also need Canadians and the world to know that we are still suffering the impacts of Residential School and we have a long way until we can sleep at night because there's still abject poverty in our communities. There's still the abuses. There's still the lack of mental health resources in our community. We still need a lot to do as a society to ensure that every child has equity and they're not there yet.
Scott: So today is a special day. First day for National Truth and Reconciliation Day and you decided to launch your movie today. Why was that?
Mary: I think it's a really good way to commemorate this day and it's really a film for the survivors than this day. Just an acknowledgment of the hurts that they suffered and just to celebrate the resilience of our survivors, and to show the world that our children being attacked and taken away is a direct impact of Residential School, but also to show how together, as cultures in our foundation that we must move together so that we, as the young boy said, that we would never have to feel and live the impacts of Residential School again.
Scott: How do you feel that the movie contributes to our dialogue on truth and reconciliation?
Mary: I think it's important because, again as I said earlier, we really have to consider what are we talking about when we're talking about reconciliation. That it's not something that you can just talk about, and wear an orange shirt on the day, but you actually have to take action. You actually have to do something. But I also think it's just having that understanding and awareness of why we're at where we're at. Understand why we have such a high rate of children in care. It's not that we're just bad parents, but because we were ripped away, we were ripped away and not parented when you went to Residential School. That's the reason why our children are in care. Also because it's a system of governance. Child welfare is a non-Indigenous system of governance. It's White man laws that have perpetuated this cycle of having children go into the care. I think that when we think about truth and reconciliation that there's so many things you need to do. As I said, urge your MPs and MLAs to make fundamental change. Urge them to stop taking us to court. For heaven sakes we're in court again. We're going to be in court again. We now have another judicial review, and I think people don't realize this, but Trudeau when he got into this next election, when he got in this last time a few weeks ago, one of the first acts he did is that we have another judicial review for the CHRT order and that's denying us funding for capital. So one of the issues, as you know for children going into care are those fractural interventions, issues of poverty, things that are beyond their control and housing is huge in our communities. So the CHRT ruled that capital should be an expense. That it should be funded at actual costs and now that's up for judicial review.
Scott: So, I'm going to go into a little bit lighter subject matter now. Shania Twain, everybody's talking about her and role as a narrator in the movie. Why did you and Matt pick Shania to narrate the movie?
Mary: I hang out with Shania all the time.
Mary: Because her story itself. At first I wanted a woman for sure. I definitely wanted a female narrator. I wanted someone that was international in scope. I could pretend and say that I'm really famous and I'm a very famous voice because I'm Spirt of the Bear but it wasn't going to get me further outside of Canada. So we wanted somebody international but I also wanted somebody that understood the issues and she definitely does. As you know her stepfather, which she called him as her father, was Indigenous and adopted her when she was 2 years old. She went through such difficult times and then when her parents passed away she actually raised her brothers. It could have been different. Those brothers could have ended up in care. So all the work that she does is advocating for youth and, as I said she has Shania Kids Can group, and she gives money, a lot of money, so it just seemed so appropriate.
Scott: One final question, Mary, before I turn to make some closing remarks. Premier is tonight. What's next for the movie?
Mary: We're going to be screening in Ottawa and Montreal and then we screen in LA in November and then we just have the film festivals.
Scott: Okay. Well, thank you for that.
Mary: You're welcome.
Scott: A few closing remarks from me before I turn the podium back over to our Indigenous practice group leader, Paul Seaman. So first and foremost, I'd like to thank David and Mary for their excellent presentations today. It was extremely generous of you to share some of your time with us on this first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. You're both very good, close personal friends of mine and I know approached you and asked you to do this and I'm just so grateful that we could share your stories and your experiences with almost 1,700 people today. Wow. What an audience. I think I can speak on behalf of everybody that we're extremely grateful for every thing that you shared with us today so thank you very much.
I'd like to conclude our panel today with a few remarks on the issue of Aboriginal type title. This is something that Paul touched upon in his land acknowledgement when he recognized that we are on the unceded, unsurrendered Aboriginal title lands of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh People. All of the history and current problems that we have heard about today affecting Indigenous People have a common cause. The intentional and thorough disruption of Indigenous legal orders and systems of governance when the Crown asserted sovereignty over what is now known as Canada. The Supreme Court of Canada has recognized in its leaving cases on Aboriginal title that, firstly, Canada's claim to sovereignty is based entirely on a unilateral assertion by the Crown. That it is sovereign over this Territory or country, and secondly, the Crown's assertion caused the title to all those lands to vest in the Crown. The Crown asserted sovereignty at a time when Indigenous People out numbered settler populations. In the leading case of Haida Nation, the Supreme Court of Canada held that First Nations had never been conquered. Many First Nations have not surrendered their rights through treaties and their rights have not be extinguished. All of this raises the fundamental question of how Canada came to control the lands that we now know as the Canadian Territory. Many of us today, on the panel and in the audience, are lawyers. As lawyers we should feel compelled to scrutinize this reasoning. That the Crown's mere assertion of sovereignty, and the subsequent de facto control it achieved much later on, as a result of its policies of cultural genocide. The very things that David and Mary spoke to us about today could have such an effect. Especially now on this first day of the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation and the learning that we've done today about the deep damage that was caused by this cultural genocide. We heard from David and Mary that that cultural genocide continues. Legal scholar John Burrows and others have made this case in academic commentary and I'm going to leave you with one final thought. My suggestion to you today is that we must question exactly what legal effect the Crown's unilateral declaration had or did not have in Canada. Doing so will help us reimagine a new constitutional landscape. One in which Indigenous Governments can reassume their inherent jurisdiction and law making authority within the Canadian policy. So Mary talked about this. It's not about the Crown granting Indigenous People jurisdiction, it's about inherent jurisdiction and law making authority that has always existed. Since time out of mind, as our friends from Tsleil-Waututh would say, time in memorial. I submit to you that doing so would form the basis of a more just, fair, equitable and inclusive society, one truly based on the rule of law. Not just Crown law but the many Indigenous legal orders and systems that continue to exist across Canada. I submit to you that reimagining such a new constitutional landscape in Canada will help us forge, together, a true path forward in reconciliation. So with those remarks I'd like to thank everybody for joining us and I'll pass the podium to over my good friend and partner, Paul Seaman. Thank you.
Paul: Thanks, Scott, and thanks so much, let me add my sincere thanks to David and Mary for being with us here today and agreeing to share your stories and your insights with all of us. I think it's been a powerful, a moving discussion and a very good way to commemorate Canada's first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Together I hope we've helped each other put into action, calls of action number 80 and 92. As Scott briefly mentioned, Gowling WLG is sponsoring the world premier of 'For Love', Mary's new film, and we're very proud to be supporting the production and the promotion of this very important film. As part of our sponsorship we'll be sending all of you who have attended today a link to access some exclusive on demand screening 'For Love'. So you should receive a message from Gowling WLG within the next 24 hours and the film will be available to stream until end of day, Sunday, October 3, so please watch for that. There'll be an opportunity as well to donate when you screen the film so please watch for that too.
Let me close by thanking you for attending our Learning and Legacy event. Our hope is that it'll help all of us reflect on the path towards reconciliation and what that means for all of us. Thank you again.