CHAPTER FOUR: DISCLOSURE AND HEALING

ADVISORY: Some of the videos on this website contain very sensitive subject matter and may trigger negative memories for survivors and their families. We advise people to use discretion when viewing or showing them.

4.1 Silence Ends

 For two decades, Garnet buried the confusion, pain, sadness, and anger caused by the abuse suffered at residential school. But one day in the Fall of 1990, he read an article in the Globe and Mail, in which then Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief, Phil Fontaine, disclosed that he had been sexually abused at residential school. For Garnet, the floodgates opened. In this video segment he describes the effect of that event.

4.2 Beginning Disclosure

In 1968, when he was 12 years old, and still attending Pelican Indian Residential School, Garnet was selected to participate in a student exchange program. The trip took him to San Antonio, Texas, with a visit to Ottawa as part of the itinerary. It was a wonderful adventure for Garnet, especially to get away from Leonard Hands, the school dormitory supervisor who sexually abused him. In this video segment Garnet describes another visit to Ottawa 25 years later. On that visit, in 1993, a shocking coincidence occurred that was upsetting and disturbing. It prompted Garnet to finally go public about Leonard Hands.

4.3 The Abuser

Warning: This video contains sensitive material that could trigger memories for survivors of childhood abuse.

Talking about his abuser (dormitory supervisor Leonard Hands) has always been one of the hardest parts of disclosure and moving forward. In this video segment, Garnet offers a frank, if difficult, assessment of how he viewed (and still views) the man who, eventually, was convicted of abusing 19 boys at Pelican Indian Residential School. In the ensuing years, more people disclosed abuse by Leonard Hands, but never pursued legal action.

4.4 Forgiveness Ceremony

In 1996, Leonard Hands, the dormitory supervisor at Pelican Residential School, was sent to jail for abusing 19 boys at the school. He died several years later, before Garnet had the opportunity to forgive him in person. In this video segment, you will hear excerpts from Garnet’s forgiveness ceremony, held in May 2002, on the site of the former school at Pelican. The songs (just snippets included here) were part of the ceremony.

4.5 Secret Legacy of Student on Student Abuse (windy)

Garnet’s healing process has been a long and winding road. It’s included major steps forward and frequent setbacks. One of the most difficult impediments to moving forward is the fact that some students were abused by other, usually, older students. They were not living in a safe environment, and neither the bullies nor the victims were getting the emotional support or guidance all children need. This video highlights the complexities of living in communities where survivors and abusers cross paths, even decades later. We recorded this interview outdoors, on the site of the former Pelican Indian Residential School. We apologize for the sound quality with the noisy wind in the background – perhaps it is symbolic of the turbulent times of the student on student abuse.

4.6 Elder memories of Indian Residential School

Part of Garnet’s healing process is turning to elders for traditional knowledge and teachings. Learning through oral history is a cornerstone of Aboriginal tradition. So when Garnet’s 93-year-old great-uncle Henry (Ogemah) Ackewance summoned him to his home on the Lac Seul First Nation, Garnet went. Henry wanted to tell Garnet about what happened to him when he attended residential school, beginning around 1927. During their conversation (in Ojibwe), Henry told Garnet details about early life on the reserve that possibly no other living person knows. He also shared many stories from the early days of Pelican Indian Residential School. Sadly, Henry passed away one year after this interview, taking so much knowledge with him.

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