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Not all accepted apology

Letter to the Editor
Letter to the Editor

My parents were fisher and trapper people so when I became of age to attend school I had to leave my parents at their outpost where they trapped and fished to attend the residential school at Cartwright. There was the threat from social services at the time if my mother did not send me to school she would lose my portion of the family allowance that was paid at the time.

When I first started attending school, at the age of five years old, at the residence (known as the dorm), I had a problem being able to eat some of the food. I would very often throw it back up and for this; I would be made to eat the food I had thrown up, and often beaten by those in charge of the Dorm. There were times I would be stripped naked and beaten in front of other students and classmates.

At times, my whole body would be bruised black and blue from these beatings. There were times I would be locked in a dark room and left there for hours on end. The only way out was at times an employee (night watch person) there might hear my crying late into the night and let me out. This could happen on a daily basis or two or three times per week. This treatment went on for months. No visitors were allowed to see me, and when someone would come to the dorm I was kept hidden. I guess this is the reason there are no medical records, because it was all kept very secret by those in charge.

Others knew what was happening to me but since there was no contact with my parents this treatment went unreported for some time. Finally, a resident of Cartwright, Mrs. Martha Mugford (now deceased) got some insight into what was happening and had to make several attempts to get into the dorm to see me, as those who treated me this way would not allow her to enter the building.

Eventually reports did find it way to the Department of Social Services and a social worker, a Mr. Moors I believe, saw me.  It was determined at that time that I had received such severe treatment Mr. Moors contacted my mother informing her that I WOULD NO LONGER BE REQUIRED TO ATTEND SCHOOL AND THERE WOULD BE NO LOSS OF ANY FAMILY ALLOWANCE PAYMENTS.

Seven years later the two women who treated me this way during the first year of school could no longer live with the memories of this treatment. They both travelled all the way back from England just to apologize to me for the suffering they had caused. I only accepted because my mother told me I had to. The mental scars can never be erased; those memories are as alive today as it was some 60 years ago.

Jane Shiwak


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