An Apology In his 2008 apology, Stephen Harper said, “The Residential Schools system [was] ... based on the assumption that Aboriginal cultures and spiritual beliefs were inferior and unequal. Indeed, some sought, as it was infamously said, ‘to kill the Indian in the child.’... We now recognize that it was wrong to separate children from rich and vibrant cultures and traditions, that it created a void in many lives and communities.... We are sorry.” When I finally finished translating the lines and coached the actors on how to say them, hearing them back was interesting. The impact of the words really hit me when I got home and thought about what I heard. Powerful, painful words to hear, especially in your own language. Weeks went by and I thought I was done with We Were Children, but then I was asked to coach the actors in postproduction, so I did. Once that was done, I was asked to take the whole script, translate it all into Cree, and then voice it. This is where the work got extremely heavy for me. The few lines that I had a hard time with before were now magnified into nearly 40 pages of script. Again, I struggled with some of the words, but thanks to my parents and siblings, I got through it. Where I hit the wall and felt the most stress was translating Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s apology into Cree. “To kill the Indian in the child” was by far the hardest part of the speech to say; the phrase just hit the deepest part of my emotions. It made me realize how close our people came to being wiped out. Sitting in the sound booth by myself and formulating the ideas in my head brought back images and feelings for Residential School victims like my mother and aunts. I felt so sorry for them; it broke my heart to imagine how they must have felt. I broke down, cried silently. It took every ounce of strength I had to gain my composure and finish the words. The producer, the sound guy, and my sister were sitting on the other side of the glass, unaware of how hard that day actually was for me. Their hugs immediately after helped, but the pain of the words affected me for weeks. Physical pain formed on my hands, my arms, and shoulders. It wasn’t until I prayed over and over again that the pain finally left. We Were Children is an important project and I’m very proud that I was involved in a very small way. RESPONDING Discussion Questions Drawing ConClUsions Why is it significant that the Cree language does not have a word for the English word savage? Explain how this contributed to Sheila North Wilson’s emotional response to translating the script. analyzing FlUenCy evalUating How effectively do the first four paragraphs use sentence fluency? How effective is this blog entry in helping you understand the lasting impact of the Residential Schools system? Support your evaluation. tasks PreParing a Presentation Research the use of Truth and Reconciliation commissions around the world. Discover the origins and purposes of these commissions. Synthesize your findings and prepare a presentation using effective visuals to support your ideas. resPonDing Creatively Imagine that the federal government has decided to construct a memorial to the victims of the Residential Schools system. Create a proposal for an appropriate monument that both remembers the victims and educates future generations about the mistakes of the past. about the author Sheila North Wilson is the chief communications officer for the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and a reporter for CBC Manitoba. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba. NEL no word for ... 207