First Nations Expedition: Day 7 | Plenty of Emotions in Pikogan

February 2, 2024. We spent the day in Pikogan, an Algonquin community of 700 inhabitants. Activities were organized, including a sharing circle among all participants in the school gymnasium. The goal was to talk about how we feel so far. We also visited the site of a former residential school near Amos. It was an emotional day for me and many others.

I can also tell you that I feel deeply ashamed and extremely disappointed in my people. Even more so now, learning about the atrocities we subjected them to and continue to do so to this day.

Hanna, an elder from the village, came to tell us her story in front of the ruins of that cursed residential school, of which she still bears vivid scars. She was identified by her student number (109), which was written on all her clothes. Hanna, along with many other children, was forcibly taken from her real family to be assimilated and essentially exterminated. The priests subjected the children to atrocities within those walls. It’s horrifying to think that it’s possible to treat people in this way. And I spare you the rest because it hurts me just to think about it.

Today, I have no photos to provide because I wanted to show my respect for them and have you focus on this short narrative.

We resume the journey tomorrow towards Rouyn-Noranda.

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