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“They made us believe we didn’t have souls:” Canadian residential school survivor on her experience

CA, 25 Jun 2021
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Elder Florence Sparvier of Cowessess First Nation shared stories of her years at the former Marieval Indian Residential School, following the discovery of an estimated 751 unmarked graves at the site.

“I was taken by my parents. At that time if parents didn’t want to allow their children to go to boarding school, one of them had to go to jail,” she said.

Sparvier said her mother and grandmother also attended the school, where all of the children learned how to be Roman Catholic.

“They pounded it into us, and really, they were very mean, when I say pounding I mean pounding. Those nuns were really mean to us," she said. “They made us believe we didn’t have souls."

Sparvier is one of the roughly 150,000 First Nations children who went through Canada’s church-run residential school system, which ran from the 1870s until the 1990s.

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