Treaty as Sacred Covenant Videos

Lyndsay Mollins Koene with Sam Achneepineskum

Lyndsay is honoured to have spent over 25 years working with Mennonite Central Committee's Indigenous Neighbours Program. As Coordinator, she partners with First Nations and Indigenous Organizations throughout Ontario to pursue relief, development and peace. Lyndsay earned a Masters of Education; but she feels it is the traditional knowledge shared with her by Indigenous teachers over the years that has brought to life the work she does with communities. Lyndsay works at the MCC Timmins Regional office on the Traditional Territory of Mattagami First Nation as part of Treaty Nine, living with her partner Job, and children Christian and Amanda.

Links of Interest:

Information on Treaty 9 and treaties in general

Information on Truth and Reconciliation Commission  

Information on Mennonite involvement in residential schools

Residential Schools

Mennonites were latecomers, but we too were a part of the “Indian School system”  

1939-1945: During World War II, Mennonite Conscientious Objectors were placed as teachers in Manitoba Day and Residential Schools. 

1950s and 60s: Mennonites were running ‘Indian’ schools and homes in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario.  

1948–1968: Mennonites operate Day Schools on the Sunchild Cree Reserve and at Fort Vermillion in Alberta, and in Pauingassi and Bloodvein in Manitoba  

1955: The Department of Indian Affairs estimates that between 1/3 and ½ of all teachers in the ‘unorganized territories’ are Mennonites. 

1962–1989: In Northwestern Ontario three Residential Schools are operated by Mennonites. 

1973 – 1990: Mennonite volunteers serve at the Montreal Lake/Timber Bay Children’s Home in Saskatchewan. The home was for indigenous children whose parents were away on the trap lines; children were legally bound to attend school by the Canadian government.  

Stirland Lake; a boys’ high school, and Cristal Lake; the girls’ high school, opened in the 70’s, eventually merged, and continued to operate out of the Stirland Lake campus. During this time, the lives of more than 600 children in 18 First Nation communities living in the far north were affected. After the amalgamated Stirland Lake High School was closed in the early 1990’s, survivors and their communities petitioned the courts and successfully had both schools added to the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement. Indigenous communities and former Mennonite staff have much to contribute to our conversation around residential schools. Mennonite Central Committee is making efforts to hold space for those conversations.

Apology:

  • The 1997 Apology from Northern Lights Gospel Mission, renamed Impact North Ministries.
    “…We sincerely acknowledge and validate your perspective on your school experiences, even when our perspectives may be different than yours. For the times when we physically inflicted pain, or added to the pain of your soul by our actions, we are sorry. For the times when we underestimated or ignored the impact on you of your separation from your family, we are sorry. For the times when our ignorance or negligence caused you to suffer additional emotional and physical pain at the hands of other students, we are sorry. For the times when school personnel were not properly screened, and when personnel were not adequately trained to relate to you in culturally appropriate ways, we are sorry. For the times that we acted as though we were culturally superior to you, we are sorry. For the ways in which we cooperated with the national plan to force your assimilation into Canadian society, we are sorry.”

An Apology Statement - 2013:

To: the former Students of Poplar Hill Development School, Stirland Lake School, and Crystal Lake School

From: the current representatives of the Administration and Staff members of the agencies that operated these schools (Impact North Ministries and Northern Youth Programs)

We have heard the expressions of genuine pain in what you have said about the schools and your experiences there. We are doing our best to understand you and to empathize with you in your

journey to healing and resolution.

We sincerely acknowledge and validate your perspective on your school experiences, even when our perspectives may be different than yours.

Our apology today includes the following specifics:

For the times when we physically inflicted pain, or added to the pain of your soul by our actions, we are sorry.

For the times when we underestimated or ignored the impact on you of your separation from your family, we are sorry.

For the times when our ignorance or negligence caused you to suffer additional emotional and physical pain at the hands of other students, we are sorry.

For the times when school personnel were not properly screened, and when personnel were not adequately trained to relate to you in culturally appropriate ways, we are sorry.

For the times that we acted as though we were culturally superior to you, we are sorry.

For the ways in which we cooperated with the national plan to force your assimilation into Canadian society, we are sorry.

Conclusion:

We pledge ourselves to the ongoing healing process by offering ourselves to you for private conversations, or with a third party present, as you wish.

Please consider our apology, and our sincere desire for a successful healing journey.

Drafted by: Merle Nisly; Living Hope Native Ministries, Red Lake, ON and Clair Schnupp; Northern Youth Ministries, Dryden, ON


Janis Monture

Janis is from Six Nations of the Grand River, Mohawk Nation Turtle Clan. She has recently returned as the Executive Director of Woodland Cultural Centre. Previously, Janis was appointed the Director of Tourism and Cultural Initiatives for the Six Nations Development Corporation. Janis was a committee member for the Great Lakes Research Alliance for the Study of Aboriginal Arts and Cultures and for the Arts & Culture Advisory Council for the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Para Pan American Games.

Links of Interest:


Myeengun Henry

Myeengun is Manager/ Counsellor of Be-Dah-Bin Gamik, Indigenous services at Conestoga College and former Chief of Chippewas of the Thames First Nation. He created an Indigenous studies course called “A first nations experience” and practices Indigenous ceremonies and language.  He serves as co-chair of the Indigenous Advisory group at the Ontario Law Society Law Society of Ontario; an elder/teacher at McMaster University; and Indigenous advisor to the Ontario Provincial Police. He organizes rallies to address the climate crisis; and hosts CJIQ-FM’s NISH-VIBES radio show. Myeengun is building an off the grid house and several tiny houses on his reserve.