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> Issue 63 > Page 58 - Selections from Out of the Depths: The Experiences of Mi'kmaw Children at the Indian Residential School at Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia - A New Book by Isabelle Knockwood

Page 58 - Selections from Out of the Depths: The Experiences of Mi'kmaw Children at the Indian Residential School at Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia - A New Book by Isabelle Knockwood

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1993/6/1 (318 reads)

ton, and Edward McLeod are reported as having "stoutiy denied tiie boys had received excessive punishment." Evidentiy this denial was accepted by both tiie Judge and the newspaper despite the fact that medical testimony showed that seven of tiie ten boys examined on the day of the hearing still had marks on tiieir backs from the flog? ging they had received three months earlier.... When Judge Audette completed his report a littie over three months later he completely exonerated and even praised Father Mackey.... Two days later. The HaUfax Herald carried an editorial expressing considerable satisfaction at the vindication of Father Mackey and making fun of tiie complaint against him.... The majority of tiie nineteen boys who were flogged are now dead, as are many of their 1934 classmates. In any case, what remains in the survivors' minds is the memory of the beating itself. As children they knew nothing of the political machinery which led first to a public hearing and then to tiie dismissal of all tiie allegations against Fatiier Mackey. Also, at that time, many of their parents were unable to read and write, and therefore had to rely on people Uke my father to let them know what was in tiie newspaper. I have heard one story which illustrates the effect the hearing had on the Native community. One man told me that his father was present at a Council meeting which took place in tiie fall of 1934, after Au- dette's report had cleared Father Mackey of all wrongdoing. Two things shocked me when he told me his story. The first was that the special Council meeting was called in order to discuss a plan to as? sassinate Father Mackey. The second was that the man who had asked for tiie meeting to be called was my own fatiier, John Knock- wood, and it was held in my parents' house. They discussed what they knew of all the events which had led to the hearing and eventu? ally reached tiie agreement that the only way justice could be done was through their own actions and that Father Mackey would have to be killed. I was told that my father then cut sticks of different lengths and they used them to choose the man who would have to act as exe? cutioner. They sat for a long time in silence after each puUed a stick, so no one yet knew if he had chosen tiie shortest. [One elder witii whom I discussed this story suggested that the sticks woitid have been all tiie same lengtii since Mi'kmaw ttaditions would deem all of them equally involved in the decision.] over175titles FOR AND ABOUT lli' NOVA SCOTIANS c Government Bookstore Eventually one eld? er began to speak. He spoke of the frustration of being I unable to help tiie children at the school now that tiiere was notiiing to prevent Fatiier Mackey and Ed? ward McLeod from I strapping them just j as savagely as tiiey [ had beaten tiie nineteen boys in March. Even if tiiese beatings be? came public, it seemed that any court would not on-1 ly find him inno? cent but would praise him for what | he had done. Then he asked, but what Sixteen-year-old Isabeile Knockwood will happen to the children in those locked dormitories after we kill Father Mackey? This began a long discussion about the consequences for the children if Father Mackey was killed. Surely they would be in even greater danger. After talking nearly all night the men agreed that killing Father Mackey would only endanger the children's lives still further and that the only way they could protect children at the school was to make sure they visited on every available occasion. Then, one by one, the men rose and bumt their sticks in the Council fire. Altiiough Chief John Maloney, my father, and the otiier men who met that night were nearly powerless in their attempt to see justice done and to protect their children, the consequences of the 1934 beating and of other bmtal punishments at ttie school continued to be felt for many decades. By tiie 1960s, Native leaders were beginning to formu? late their own poUcy on education which led later on to the National Indian Brotherhood's 1972 statement on Indian Control of Indian Ed? ucation. Many meetings and many hours and days of discussion led up to the development of that poUcy. At one of tiiose meetings a man made a very powerful argument for our taking fiiU control of our chil? dren's education. No one remembers exactiy what Edward Poulette said, but everyone who was tiiere remembers what he did. He took off his shirt and showed the scars on his back. They had been put there over thirty years earlier by Edward McLeod and Father Mackey. Isabeile Knockwood's book Out of the Depths is available through bookstores or directly from Roseway Publishing Com? pany, R. R. 1, Lockeport, N. S. BOT 1L0 (phone 902-656-2223). Be sure to ask for the second edition, ISBN 0-9694180-6-X. This in? dicates the revised second printing, which includes an exten? sive revision by Bernie Francis of the spelling of the lUli'kmaw words. Price of $16.98 includes GST, postage, and handling. STEPHENS Building Supplies Makita Power Tools Mason Windows Donat Flamand Windows All Types of Cedar Sidings CGC Gypsum Board Plywood Iko Roofing Vinyl Replacement Windows Stanley Entrance Systems Pressure Treated Lumber Cedar Lumber SICO Paints & Stains Kaycan Vinyl Siding Fibreglass Pink Insulation 199 Townsend Street, Sydney 564-5554 Computerized Estimates
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