Otipemisiwak Métis return from Healing Retreat

The Otipemisiwak Métis Government is welcoming back 30 residential school survivors.

The Métis bearers of the residential school legacy participated in a Land-Based Healing Retreat at Métis Crossing a few hundred kilometers south of Fort McMurray from October 13-15.

This first-of-its-kind program offered them an opportunity to engage with Métis heritage and culture through art sessions, the use of traditional medicine, and language-based learning.

“Over the weekend, Métis Survivors came together in a spirit of resilience and unity,” said Otipemisiwak Métis Government Truth and Reconciliation Director, Lorna Dancey.

“This collective journey at Métis Crossing is a powerful testament to the indomitable spirit of Survivors and vibrant Métis community and culture.”

Métis Elder Doreen Bergum led a sharing circle and President Andrea Sandmaier of the Otipemisiwak Métis Government, along with Métis Elder and residential school Survivor Angie Crerar and Psychologist Melanie Palmier delivered remarks.

The survivors were gifted 30 orange sashes as a symbol of compassion and solidarity for Survivors and the children who never returned home.

“[The] sashes were conceived by the Otipemisiwak Métis Government’s Survivor Advisory Committee, comprised of individuals with firsthand experience of residential school trauma. Actions like this mark another step towards healing and Reconciliation” said Dancey.

Melvin Whitford, a Residential School Survivor from St. Bernard, Grouard, remarked how he is learning to talk about his residential school experience, vowing he will no longer be silenced.

“We are not Victims, we are Survivors,” concluded Angie Crerar, Residential School Survivor, Fort Resolution, NWT.

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