Seven aboriginal students at École Queen Elizabeth II School have produced a book that taught them much about what previous generations endured with residential schools, and those students hope to pass that learning on to new generations.
“We Are FNMI of the future, writing the wrongs” is available now and creates a visual story as art and truth that reveals the author’s perspective of change, specifically in regards to identity, family and the positive changes occurring in their school from the ongoing effects of the residential school legacy.
The group of students, Colin Buffalo, Sephor Buffalo, Marie Buffalo, Azandsa Bull, Zander Johnson, Tyson Saddleback and Hailey Todd, stepped forward after Myra LaFrance, Maskwacis Wahkotowin Liaison, decided a book to reflect the mission and spirit of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was in order.
LaFrance said she’d been involved with the Montana School for eight years and was inspired by a project conducted there. She thought QEII School was capable of doing the same.
“This is their opportunity to be the voice,” said LaFrance at the official book launch June 14, held at Nepsis Café in the Samson Cree Nation admin office. “This generation has the ability to move in a healthier, positive direction.”
LaFrance, concerned that a younger generation didn’t know the impact of the residential schools trauma on aboriginal people, said she proposed the idea of the book in a poster, and had 22 students voice interest. Seven stuck it out to the end, and they were at the head table June 14.
“I’m very proud of the students,” said LaFrance, who said she had a couple of moments of doubt during the process that perhaps the youth didn’t understand how important the project was.
But she said the final product, a visual journey through the residential schools trauma and the damage it caused, speaks volumes. “I think the photographs themselves explain,” said LaFrance.
The book launch featured a number of guests from Maskwacis, Wetaskiwin and many other areas, including Collette Saddleback Burnside, Clifford Potts and Gerry Roasting. The book is for sale now and is available at QEII School.