Diane Hill had just celebrated her seventh birthday when she first arrived at the Mohawk Institute Residential School in Brantford, Ont., in November, 1963.
“The first night there I was crying,” said Hill, a retired Mohawk languages teacher at Six Nations of the Grand River.
“I wanted my mom. I didn’t know where I was. I was crying. Every child will cry for their mom. And I was beaten to a bloody mess by the house mother. I was beaten to a bloody mess on the floor for crying for my mom.”
She describes the institute as “hell on earth.” When asked how long she was there, she replies, “too long.”
“You can’t imagine that in the human world: what we witnessed, what we smelled, what we saw, what we felt, what was committed against the children,” said Hill. “Yes, we had tuberculosis go through. We had medical epidemics such as smallpox, various scarlet fevers, go through.”
Hill sits on the board of directors of the Survivors’ Secretariat, an organization dedicated to sharing the truth of what happened at the Mohawk Institute. She said she’s heard from many people who had never heard of residential schools.
“Many, many people have said, ‘I didn’t know, it wasn’t in the history books.’ It’s very deep and dark, but the truth is coming out with the unmarked graves.”
Hill said she typically does many interviews leading up to this day, recognized Tuesday nationwide as National Indigenous Peoples Day, which falls on the same day as the summer solstice.
“I am devoting my day to just attending events,” she said. “I just want to go out and feel the unity of the people.”
National Aboriginal Day, as it was known at the time, was first recognized in 1996 by the governor general at the time as a way to celebrate the culture and contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples.
The day is seen in a new light by some this year as the first since Ontario earmarked funding for residential school burial site investigations. The Progressive Conservatives promised last November to double a $10-million investment they had designated for such searches.
“It’s a start,” said Hill. “The Mohawk Residential School, the ‘mush hole’ it was commonly called — the overgrowth since 1970 … it needs to be environmentally, cautiously cleared.”
Ontario has said it believes there are likely more unmarked burial sites in the province than the 12 identified by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which documented abuse suffered by Indigenous children at residential schools and the deaths of more than 4,000 children.
Hill said she believes National Indigenous Peoples Day is becoming more broadly recognized, particularly after news about unmarked graves.
“National Indigenous Peoples Day is a call to reflect on the history of Canada, and to learn the dark, dark history of Canada, and to learn and to begin to heal,” she said.
For Sherlene Bomberry, 66, of Six Nations, the day means coming together with friends and family.
“I’m going to be spending it in my community,” said Bomberry. “We have free food, they have free rides, and they have music, and there’s (information) booths happening. It’s a gathering, a coming together.”
Bomberry, who is also a survivor of the Mohawk Residential School, said the 215 unmarked graves found in May, 2021 at a former such facility in British Columbia really jolted her.
“The last 21 years I’ve been talking about (hearing) cries in the night, and everything like that, but I said it without emotion, you know what I mean? I was emotionally numb, until the 215, and then my body just let it go,” said Bomberry.
She said attending the Brantford school made her very good at burying what she was feeling.
“When you were laying in bed there (at the school), you were repressing stuff, right? And I had already got the strap, the ruler, on my hand, so I didn’t want to be saying anything,” she said. “And not consoling my own sister, who was laying right underneath me in the bottom bunk.”
Bomberry, who is an outreach worker at the Native Horizons Treatment Centre, said she is proud of herself for how far she’s come in dealing with her trauma and growing as a person.
“You’ve got to get to all the core issues, it’s just like peeling the onion off, the layers,” said Bomberry.
“I’m kind of at peace where I am right now, but I know there’s still stuff there, and that’s OK. Because I passed this down to three generations already. I have children, I have 14 grandchildren, I have one great-grandson. So I passed it down, but I can also pass my healing down to those generations too.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 20, 2022.
Jessica Smith, The Canadian Press
Canada Day Ottawa: Ottawa police prepare for festivities, possible protests | CTV News – CTV News Ottawa
Police officers in cruisers and on bicycles are patrolling downtown Ottawa and the Parliamentary Precinct today, as the city prepares for Canada Day festivities and possible protests against COVID-19 mandates and the federal government.
Tens of thousands of people are expected to visit downtown Ottawa and the LeBreton Flats area over the next few days to celebrate Canada’s 155th birthday. Canadian Forces veteran James Topp will also complete his cross-country march at the National War Memorial, as he protests the remaining COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
At LeBreton Flats, there was a very strong security presence Friday morning as preparations continued for the Canadian Heritage Canada Day festivities. The Canada Day daytime show begins at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, while the evening show begins at 7:30 p.m.
Ottawa police interim Chief Steve Bell says the increased police presence will remain in place through the weekend.
“We’ve talked for a number of days about all the planning and preparation we have and the expectation of people attending,” Bell told CTV News Ottawa. “I think what you’re seeing is those plans coming into action and us being out there and vigilant around who’s attending, and trying to make sure people that understand it’s a safe place on Canada Day and you should come down and enjoy the festivities.”
On Wednesday, officers stopped a small convoy of vehicles in the area of Pinecrest Road and Hwy. 417 and several tickets were issued. Bell defended the actions of officers to stop vehicles in the capital region.
“We actually have good legal grounds for the plans we’ve put in place. We make sure that we stay on legal grounds because that’s very important as a police service,” Bell said. “We’re comfortable with the posture we’re taking and the actions officers are taking, and it’s all in the name that we ensure public safety and we can have a good, festive Canada Day.”
JAMES TOPP ARRIVES IN OTTAWA
Canadian Forces veteran James Topp will finish his cross-country march to protest COVID-19 vaccine mandates this evening at the National War Memorial.
The final leg of his journey began at 1811 Robertson Road at 10 a.m. Topp is scheduled to arrive at Hog’s Back Park at 1:30 p.m. and finish his march at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider at 6 p.m.
“We have been in contact with Mr. Topp and his group and have plans in place to ensure that he can safely and lawfully move from the west end of the city down to the Parliament Hill buildings,” interim chief Bell said on Monday.
Speaking in Ottawa last week, Topp said a number of groups that formed out of the Freedom Convoy had come together to protest the federal government.
“What I would like to see with the establishment of C3 – the Canadian Citizens Coalition is for us to have further conversations about the way forward, about the way of the future, of what we see Canada being and becoming,” said Topp.
The Canadian Forces Snowbirds will not be taking part in Canada Day festivities in Ottawa.
The Royal Canadian Air Force announced the Snowbirds fly-past over Ottawa on Friday has been cancelled, following a problem with the aircraft’s emergency ejection parachute that grounded the fleet for nearly a week.
Visitors to Parliament Hill will need to pass through a security checkpoint, and be searched by a Parliamentary Protective Service officer.
A sign on the fence along Wellington Street says several items are restricted, including tables, speakers, barbecues, aerosols, weapons, fireworks and sporting equipment.
MOTOR VEHICLE CONTROL ZONE
A motor vehicle control zone remains in effect around the Parliamentary Precinct, downtown Ottawa and roads near LeBreton Flats.
The zone stretches from Colonel By Drive/Sussex Drive in the east, Booth Street in the west, Laurier Avenue in the south and Wellington Street in the north, along with the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway and Albert Street west of Booth Street.
The roads in the motor vehicle control zone are not closed today; however, motor vehicles taking part in any form of demonstration, event or protest will not be permitted in the area. There will be no on-street parking or stopping on roads in the control zone.
The city of Ottawa says a motor vehicle control zone will be in effect from Wednesday at 8 a.m. until July 4 at 6 a.m. (City of Ottawa/Twitter)
TICKETING AND TOWING VEHICLES
Ottawa Bylaw and Regulatory Services says officers are out ensuring all parking regulations are observed in the motor vehicle control zone.
“All vehicles found failing to observe the no-stopping zones will be ticketed and towed. Parking time limits and no parking zones outside the centre core will also be strictly enforced,” the city said.
Between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Ottawa Bylaw says 120 parking tickets were issued and 28 vehicles were towed in the vehicle control zone.
Ottawa Bylaw will also be focusing on the following bylaws to ensure residents and visitors obey the rules over the Canada Day weekend.
- No unnecessary motor-vehicle or other noise, including speakers or shouting
- No unnecessary motor-vehicle idling
- No encumbering a sidewalk or roadway by any means, including setting up tents or other illegal structures
- No public urination and defecation
- No open air fires
- No littering
- Discharging of fireworks – contravening any regulations under Fireworks By-Law.
Ottawa City Hall and the underground municipal parking facility will be closed all weekend.
City Hall and the parking structure will be closed from 5 p.m. Thursday until 6 a.m. on Monday.
Tips for starting online betting safely
Sports betting has been part of the entertainment world for a long time now, but it has become even more popular now. This is because of the internet and especially online betting. It has increased the number of opportunities for betting and now people don’t need to leave their homes to have fun.
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Choose a safe betting site
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Spouse of gunman to testify at N.S. shooting hearings but won’t be cross-examined
HALIFAX — The spouse of the gunman in the Nova Scotia mass shooting will testify mid-July before a public inquiry, but she won’t face direct questions from lawyers representing victims’ families.
Lisa Banfield, on the advice of her lawyers, had initially refused to speak under oath at the hearings into the 22 killings carried out by her spouse on April 18-19, 2020.
However, she changed her stance after a criminal charge laid against her for supplying ammunition to the killer was referred to restorative justice.
The public inquiry said today in a news release that due to Banfield’s status as a “survivor of the perpetrator’s violence,” only the inquiry’s lawyer will be asking her questions during her July 15 appearance.
Josh Bryson, a lawyer for the family of victims Peter and Joy Bond, says his clients are losing faith in the credibility of the inquiry.
Bryson says the families’ lawyers have been polite and respectful throughout the hearings, adding that it is frustrating to be denied the opportunity to pose direct questions to key witnesses.
“Cross-examination can make or break a witness’s evidence … You test the evidence in a meaningful and trauma-informed way,” he said in an interview today.
The inquiry has also refused to allow cross-examination of Staff Sgt. Brian Rehill and Staff Sgt. Andy O’Brien, who were the first RCMP managers overseeing the response to the shootings.
Emily Hill, senior commission counsel, says participatinglawyers can submit their questions in advance and can provide follow-up questions to the inquiry’s lawyer to ask during the single day set aside to hear Banfield.
Banfield’s evidence could provide further information about the killer’s personal history and state of mind and may also be key to the commission’s mandate to examine the “role of gender-based and intimate-partner violence” in the killer’s actions.
The inquiry has heard she was the last person with the gunman before he went on his rampage. The killer allegedly assaulted her and confined her in a car, but she managed to escape. She fled into the woods and hid before emerging the next morning and telling police the killer was driving a replica RCMP vehicle.
The RCMP have said from the outset that Banfield wasn’t aware of her spouse’s intentions when she provided him with ammunition, but they proceeded with charges alleging she, her brother and her brother-in-law had illegally transferred ammunition to the killer.
During a briefing this morning, the commission confirmed that senior RCMP officers, including Supt. Darren Campbell, Chief Supt. Chris Leather, assistant commissioner Lee Bergerman and Commissioner Brenda Lucki will testify in July and August — under oath and subject to cross-examination.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 30, 2022.
The Canadian Press
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