Muffins for Granny Documentary Response

Nadia McLaren begins her documentary with a memory of her childhood, in which barely being able to see over the edge of the kitchen table she listened to her Granny recount the events of her childhood in a residential school. Similarly, I have a memory like this, except instead of talking about residential schools, my grandma was talking about her cancer after she once again relapsed. These memories may be similar, especially in that they share painful memories, but I cannot imagine listening to someone I hold so dear tell me about such horrible things which happened to them in their youth. From the video, I learned that many Indigenous families “lived like outlaws,” as one of the speakers put it. For some reason, I never thought about such a possibility when I learned about residential schools. In my mind, when I have learned about residential schools in the past, I knew that some families fought to keep their children from being sent to these schools, but I never realized that families uprooted their lives and went on the run to protect their children. Another thing that boggled my mind was when they mentioned that there were one hundred and thirty residential schools, over a one-hundred-year period and they questioned how many children were sent to these schools? I had known that many children were sent, but when it was put like that, for some reason it hit me just how long and how many children suffered through these institutions.

Another fact that made me think was that the students were given numbers, rather than the use of their names to be identified as, which is reminiscent of the Holocaust and how victims of the Holocaust were given numbers to be identified with.  One thing that puzzled me in this documentary was when Ralph Johnson described his thought process while sitting in the woods contemplating as to whether to commit suicide or not. While doing this, he remembers at priest at the residential school tell him that if you commit suicide you would burn in purgatory forever. Ralph chose to shoot himself despite this, believing that burning in purgatory would be better than whatever life he was living then. After watching this video, what still troubles me is how the last residential school closed in 1996 in Lebret, Saskatchewan. This was only three years before I was born and I am puzzled that it took that long to close it down, but also that the history of residential schools did not end that long before or far away from where my life began. Lastly, Delaney Sharpe mentions that “yes, [she] ha[s] a lot of sad stories, but [they have] made [her] strong,” which I find super inspiring, that in the face of all of her pain, she understands this strength she has and uses it to bring light to her experiences, as well as honouring the experiences and lives lost by many of children, including her friends, in the residential schools.

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