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Story Publication logo June 29, 2021

Residential School Survivors Reflect On A Brutal Legacy: ‘That Could’ve Been Me.’


MIKE PINAY, Qu’Appelle Indian Residential School (1953-1963).“It was the worst 10 years of my life. I was away from my family from the age of six to 16. How do you learn about family? I didn’t know what love was. We weren’t even known by names back then. I was a number.” Image by Daniella Zalcman. Canada, 2015.

For more than a century, many Western governments operated a network of Indian Residential Schools...


It’s been 51 years since Deedee Lerat, 60, attended the Marieval Indian Residential School on her home reservation of Cowessess in Saskatchewan, Canada. But the memories of the abuses the Saulteaux Cree woman endured there still haunt her. “There was so much fear,” she says.

The fear came rushing back when the Cowessess First Nation announced on June 23 that it had discovered 751 unmarked graves at the site of the school. “I would like answers,” says Lerat. “Why weren’t they reported? Why wasn’t this stopped?” She was five years old when she was forced to attend Marieval. “That could’ve been me.”

Read the full story on the National Geographic website.


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Indigenous Rights


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