The Christian Science Monitor

Canada’s indigenous seek to break vicious cycle tearing families apart

Joe Norris, at 81, still wakes up with blood on his pillow some mornings, the result of a blow to the ear that he received as a boy for speaking his indigenous language at the residential school where so many of his generation were sent.

The stain represents the violence of forcefully being taken away from his family to a boarding school intended to assimilate indigenous peoples. But it also represents the bonds to his grandfather, who brought him home and taught him the language, customs, and culture of his Halalt First Nation on Vancouver Island.

“I’m glad he did. I don’t think I would have made it at that school; it would have killed me,” says Mr. Norris, a hereditary chief and retired businessman.

Today he is playing the role his grandfather did for him, as an elder working with the Red Willow Womyn’s Society in the Cowichan Valley, a grassroots

Canada’s residential schools‘We see what you are doing’Words of value

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