KAMLOOPS, B.C. — The nightmares started last May, said Harvey McLeod, chief of the Upper Nicola Indian Band and a survivor of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.
They tormented McLeod for months after the discovery of 215 suspected unmarked graves at the school he attended for two years.
Then one night he was visited in his dreams by a young girl who set him free.
“It’s been tough on me and so wonderful at the same time,” said McLeod.
The year since the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced that ground-penetrating radar had located the suspected grave sites in a former apple orchard has been one of national reckoning about residential schools in Canada.
But for survivors of the residential school system it has meant much more: reawakened trauma, catharsis, and, for some, a kind of closure.
“There was a little girl by my right leg, always there,” McLeod recalled of his dream. “I’d get up and walk and she’d be holding onto my leg or my hand. It seemed like everywhere I went that little girl was there.”
The dream ended when the girl walked to a door, waved and left, he said.
“My conclusion was, I’m OK now and she’s OK and she’s going to go home,” said McLeod, 68. “I think she was another child at the school that looked after me and I took care of her.”
Percy Casper, 73, spent 10 years at the Kamloops school. He said he was distraught and angry when he heard the announcement.
“The last year I really had to bear down and go back to my ceremonial life and roots,” said Casper, a member of the Bonaparte Indian Band near Cache Creek. “When I first found out about the 215, I was like a rubber band. I was maxed out and I was ready to snap.”
The former U.S. Marine and Vietnam War veteran said he found peace following a summer solstice ceremony last June at a healing location near Cache Creek.
A mother grizzly bear and three cubs watched in the distance as salmon, venison and berries were left at the sacred site. They emerged from the forest to eat the offerings as he prepared to leave, said Casper, who took their visit as a sign to find strength.
“It was up to me to revisit myself spiritually, and say, ‘Hey, you have to help yourself. You’ve got kids. You’ve got grandkids and you have people,’” he said. “So, I’m very proud to say I’m guilty of helping my people.”
Prof. Nicole Schabus, an Indigenous and environmental law expert at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, said upset survivors started calling her in the hours following the announcement about the suspected graves last May.
“Immediately, it flashed the survivors back to being children again and it brought the intergenerational trauma,” she said.
Many told her about dreams of seeing little boys standing alone, said Schabus.
“It took them a long time to actually realize they were looking at themselves,” she said, adding that many survivors recognized they were ready to move on from their experiences.
Mike Arnouse, 79, spent 11 years at the Kamloops school. He said the past year has seen him renew his commitment to living in unity with the land.
“There’s a cycle of life and we belong in that cycle,” he said. “The birds know what to do. The four-legged animals know what to do. The fish know what to do, but do we?”
The Adams Lake Indian Band member said residential schools were built to take Indigenous people off the land and impose the Western world on them.
“They’ve been practising on us for 500 years,” he said. “I always make the joke, ‘I was the smartest one in Grade 2 for eight years.’ “
The Kamloops residential school operated between 1890 and 1969, when the federal government took over operations from the Catholic Church and ran it as a day school until it closed in 1978.
A 4,000-page report in 2015 by the National Truth and Reconciliation Commission detailed harsh mistreatment at the schools, including emotional, physical and sexual abuse of children, and at least 4,100 deaths at the institutions.
The report cited records of at least 51 children dying at the Kamloops school between 1914 and 1963. Health officials in 1918 believed children at the school were not being adequately fed, leading to malnutrition, the report noted.
Kamloops survivor Garry Gottfriedson, 69, said the past year had been emotionally draining for the members of Tk’emlups te Secwepemc, who were unable to mourn in private.
“This was such a public thing,” he said.
Gottfriedson, 69, an internationally known poet who provides curriculum advice to Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops on Secwepemc Nation protocols and cultural practices, said community members still struggled with anxiety about the discovery and the next steps for the site, including exhumation.
“It’s different than a graveyard because we know the people who are taken to a graveyard and buried there,” he said. “It’s settled. But there’s so many unknowns with the 215 bodies. Those kids are buried in our yard. It’s a constant reminder.”
McLeod said the discovery of the unmarked graves at Kamloops had forced individuals, institutions and countries to face their past.
“It’s going to take some time, but it changed all of us in one way or another,” he said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 21, 2022.
Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press
Airline travel: Canada not alone as airport issues continue – CTV News
As Canadian airports deal with their own set of problems amid the busy summer travel season, by no means are they alone.
Long lineups, cancelled flights, delays and lost luggage are issues infiltrating not just Canada’s major airports but those in other countries as well, one travel expert says.
“We’re seeing the exact same issues happening at all major airport hubs around the world,” Jennifer Weatherhead, founder of travelandstyle.ca, told CTV News Channel on Sunday.
“So Europe is facing a lot of these issues, the U.S. is definitely facing a lot of these issues, not just with flight delays but also with the cancellations, because they’re saying they don’t have enough pilots sometimes to fill up these flights and get people from place to place. So it’s a bit of an issue all around the world and I would keep that in mind.”
Weatherhead advises travellers to get to their departing airports as early as possible and check that their travel insurance covers trip cancellations, interruptions and lost or stolen baggage.
“Be prepared for delays at any point,” she said.
The aviation industry cut thousands of jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic as demand for travel plummeted. Now, with COVID-19 restrictions lifted in many jurisdictions, demand for travel has rebounded but staffing levels have not kept pace.
Travel in the U.S. has been particularly strained recently due to the Fourth of July holiday weekend, with airports seeing their largest crowds since the pandemic began more than two years ago.
The tracking site FlightAware reported more than 6,800 flight delays and another 587 cancellations at U.S. airports on Friday and more than 2,200 delays and 540 cancellations recorded as of late Saturday morning.
Airlines including Delta, Southwest and JetBlue have pared down their summer schedules to avoid further issues, something both Air Canada and WestJet have done, as well.
Outside North America, a technical breakdown on Saturday left at least 1,500 bags stuck at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport, with 15 flights departing without luggage.
Airport workers are also on strike in France, demanding more hiring and pay to keep up with global inflation. Aviation authorities cancelled a number of flights as a result.
In Amsterdam, the city’s Schiphol Airport announced last month it would limit the number of travellers departing each day to prevent long queues and missed flights.
The airport also is advising travellers to arrive no more than four hours before their flight to ensure a “smooth flow” at check-in counters and security.
Richard Vanderlubbe, an Association of Canadian Travel Agencies director and president of tripcentral.ca, told CTV News Channel on Saturday that if a pilot or crew calls in sick, an airline has to scramble to find a qualified pilot for that particular aircraft.
Many people also left the airline and travel industry for other “safer havens,” he said.
“Of course, when we’re on restrictions and had all these restrictions for so long, expecting that things are going to come on like a light switch, its not very realistic,” he said.
Justus Smith told CTV News Channel on Sunday he booked a flight from Regina to Boston but had his connecting flight through Toronto cancelled on June 25.
He got a flight for the following morning and chose to spend the night at the airport.
Even though he was 13 hours early, Smith says he couldn’t get through customs more than four hours before his departure.
Smith says he eventually missed his flight after being delayed at customs and security.
He eventually got to Boston but says he didn’t receive his checked-in luggage.
Now a week later, Smith is still waiting to get his bags.
“I spent the week at a professional development course. I was the only one with shorts and a baseball cap because I didn’t have clothes,” he said.
Despite the situation, Smith did credit the airport staff for the work they’re doing under difficult circumstances.
“The individual airport workers, they’re amazing. Everyone’s doing the best they can,” he said.
“You see a lot of angry customers. It makes no sense to get angry. It’s frustrating, but you can’t take it out on the staff.”
With files from CTV News and The Associated Press
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The unemployment rate across Canada dropped to a new low of 5.1 per cent in May — the lowest since at least 1976 — yet some businesses are struggling to fill job vacancies. One of the main reasons for that, according to one expert, is that people are more “picky” when it comes to applying for jobs because of the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the work environment.
“It’s very hard to make the argument that you need to physically come to work five days a week,” said Sarah McVanel, chief recognition officer and founder of Greatness Magnified, a company that helps organizations retain top talent and combat burnout.
McVanel says that COVID-19 presented Canadians with a different reality that changed the way people think about work.
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According to a report released by Statistics Canada on May 24, the number of job vacancies at the beginning of April hit just over one million, up more than 40 per cent compared to last year amid a tight labour market pushing up wages and fuelling inflation concerns.
The agency said on its website that employers in Canada were actively seeking to fill 1,001,100 vacant positions, up 23,300 from March of this year and a gain of 308,000 compared to April 2021.
Vacancies in the health care and social assistance sectors reached a record high of 136,800, up five per cent from the peak of three months earlier and up 90.9 per cent compared with the first quarter of 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic pummelled the economy, according to a report by Statistics Canada, which was released on May 21.
The report went on to state that nurse aide positions, in addition to registered nurses and licensed practical nurses, accounted for 67.7 per cent of the overall vacancies in the health sector compared to the first quarter of 2020.
Employers in the construction industry also found it challenging to fill jobs in the first quarter, as 81,500 positions were vacant, up 7.1 per cent compared to the fourth quarter of 2021, and more than double the number observed in the first quarter of 2020.
Helper and labourer job vacancies soared 97 per cent and vacant carpenter positions were up 149.1 per cent compared to the first quarter of 2020.
Job vacancies continued to reach record highs in the manufacturing and retail trade sectors as well, up 5.3 per cent and 12.8 per cent, respectively, compared with the fourth quarter of 2021.
McVanel said people are making huge career choices right now. Many are switching industries, not just employers.
“As people are looking out there in other industries, they’re seeing how there is an ability to have a different lifestyle, so they find that they can make the same amount of money, perhaps without needing to work in an environment that’s physically uncomfortable,” she said.
According to McVanel
, statistical data does not always shed light light on the real problem.
“Some businesses are struggling to keep (up), let alone attract people because of their policies, because of their work culture,” McVanel said.
“People can read on Glassdoor (about companies). That means that people don’t even apply. So this well is drying up.”
She says good qualitative data is needed to assess workplaces based on the amount of respect and recognition they have for their employees.
“If you’re not treating employees like human beings, not just as a number, and investing in their careers, then you are more than likely — no matter what sector you are in — you are less likely to be able to fill your position and attract people,” McVanel said.
An economics professor at the University of Ottawa, David Gray, says there are several obstacles coming between Canadians searching for jobs and employers looking to fill vacancies at the moment and the unwillingness to provide proper training to employees is one such.
“There are a lot of jobs begging…but there are frictions or obstacles when it comes to hiring and training employees,” said Gray.
Gray says there are jobs that “typically want their workers to be fully trained and ready to go.” But, are “often reluctant to invest in their training for fear of having their employees poached by some competing firm.”
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Gray explains that there are some jobs, which require seven years or more experience, but not all companies offer the necessary training for that and are often looking for workers who already have it.
“There are jobs that you can do practically right away, but most jobs require at least some training,” he said. “You have to invest (in employees) to reduce the turnover of workers.”
The issue of filling roles “can also be alleviated by offering higher wages,” said Gray.
Another obstacle that Gray points out is commuting.
“The jobs that are available, they aren’t necessarily geographically close to the location of the job searchers among the unemployed workers,” he said.
For some businesses, hiring is also an obstacle due to a shortage of affordable places for workers to rent. One such business that’s struggling is Fish & Sips in Collingwood, Ontario.
The owner Paul Heather said in an interview with The Canadian Press on Saturday that “it’s the affordability, but also the availability” that’s causing the issue.
“There isn’t enough rental stock for people to choose from,” said Heather.
He also said that his latest kitchen hire couldn’t find a place in town and commutes by car — another hurdle when gas prices are soaring and regional public transit lags.
Rentals.ca, a Canadian website for apartment rental searches, said the average rent for all Canadian properties listed on its site rose 10.5 per cent year over year to $1,888 per month in May. The average national home price topped $700,000 last month, up 41 per cent from two years earlier as mortgages ballooned from Vancouver Island to Atlantic Canada, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.
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— With files from The Canadian Press
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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