Mohawk Institute poised to be 'the first Canadian museum of conscience': Amos Key Jr.

News Mar 05, 2017 by Mike Peeling Brant News

Amos Key, Jr. avoided the "sixties scoop" that put many First Nations children in the residential school system because of a strong family.

Key, director of the First Nations language program at Woodland Cultural Centre, shared stories of his brushes with the school system designed to solve "the Indian problem" starting in 1800s Canada during a lecture at Wilfrid Laurier University Brantford, which donated the space for the night, on Wednesday.

"I was very lucky," Key told the audience. "I had a very strong extended family. We were strong in our support of each other."

The presentation was the latest in a speaker series hosted by the Friends and Neighbours group, a grassroots committee of residents supporting the Woodland Cultural Centre's Save the Evidence campaign. The campaign aims to save the Mohawk Institute, a former residential school designed to disabuse native children of their cultural roots and heritage, and preserve it as a reminder of atrocities committed within the Indian residential school system.

As a boy in the 1960s, Key didn't end up living in the Mohawk Institute or one of the other 138 such schools — now known for the frequent trauma and abuses they dealt out to children — across Canada by heeding his mother's advice to run and hide when he heard a vehicle coming down the road.

It was a very necessary precaution because a woman employed by the Mohawk Institute would often drive the roads of Six Nations of the Grand River looking for children to kidnap and take to the school.

"My mom would say, 'If you hear a car coming, run into the bush because that women will take you,'" Key recalled.

The Mohawk Institute in Brantford was founded in 1828 as a mechanics school and later evolved into a residential school. The last of the schools was closed just over 20 years ago, while the Mohawk Institute closed in 1969.

Key expressed his appreciation for the support the Friends and Neighbours group is giving the Save the Evidence campaign to "save the witness."

"That building witnessed what happened to those 15,000 children who went through that school," he said.

The Woodland Cultural Centre, which owns the Mohawk Institute, is looking for "an innovative designer" to turn the building into what Key calls "the first Canadian museum of conscience.

"Perhaps then the federal government will pledge to join our campaign," Key said.

The Mohawk Institute, already undergoing massive renovations to preserve it, is a popular host of educational tours that have seen an 10-fold increase in attendance over the past three years as the Save the Evidence campaign has received considerable funding from Six Nations, the City of Brantford, Rotary Club of Brantford-Sunrise, and $2.6 million from the Ontario government.

A group of school survivors is planning a five-acre memorial garden on Woodland Cultural Centre property. Fundraising for the garden has already begun.

The federal government paid out an estimated $1.3 billion in compensation to the former residents and families of the survivors of the schools.

Key said the concept of schools as a place to extinguish the roots of native culture and traditions originated with Canada's first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald. In 1883, MacDonald called the families of native children "savages who can write."

"I am a savage," Key said with a smile.

The schools were opened by the federal government, but typically run by clergy of the Anglican, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic and United churches.

Of the 150,000 children who went to live in the residential schools, an estimated 50,000 went missing based on the fact they never had social insurance numbers as adults.

In 1920, deputy superintendent of Indian affairs Duncan Campbell Scott was the first person to publicly speak of wanting to "get rid of the Indian problem" through the schools.

"We had no human rights," Key said. "We were still governed by the Indian Act until recently. It was the most racist piece of legislation in Canada."

Key's lecture was the fourth and final in a series, but Dave Neumann of Friends and Neighbours said they have a fifth lecture in the works they hope to announce soon. Also in the planning stage is a new lecture series likely to start in the fall.

The group presented Key with a donation to the Save the Evidence campaign.

To learn more about supporting the campaign or to book a tour, contact Jessica Powless at jpowless@woodland-centre.on.ca or 519-759-2650, ext. 257.

Follow Friends and Neighbours of Save The Evidence on Facebook, email friendsandneighbours@email.com or call 519-861-5330.

 

Mohawk Institute poised to be 'the first Canadian museum of conscience': Amos Key Jr.

First Nations language professor shares perspective on residential school system

News Mar 05, 2017 by Mike Peeling Brant News

Amos Key, Jr. avoided the "sixties scoop" that put many First Nations children in the residential school system because of a strong family.

Key, director of the First Nations language program at Woodland Cultural Centre, shared stories of his brushes with the school system designed to solve "the Indian problem" starting in 1800s Canada during a lecture at Wilfrid Laurier University Brantford, which donated the space for the night, on Wednesday.

"I was very lucky," Key told the audience. "I had a very strong extended family. We were strong in our support of each other."

The presentation was the latest in a speaker series hosted by the Friends and Neighbours group, a grassroots committee of residents supporting the Woodland Cultural Centre's Save the Evidence campaign. The campaign aims to save the Mohawk Institute, a former residential school designed to disabuse native children of their cultural roots and heritage, and preserve it as a reminder of atrocities committed within the Indian residential school system.

As a boy in the 1960s, Key didn't end up living in the Mohawk Institute or one of the other 138 such schools — now known for the frequent trauma and abuses they dealt out to children — across Canada by heeding his mother's advice to run and hide when he heard a vehicle coming down the road.

It was a very necessary precaution because a woman employed by the Mohawk Institute would often drive the roads of Six Nations of the Grand River looking for children to kidnap and take to the school.

"My mom would say, 'If you hear a car coming, run into the bush because that women will take you,'" Key recalled.

The Mohawk Institute in Brantford was founded in 1828 as a mechanics school and later evolved into a residential school. The last of the schools was closed just over 20 years ago, while the Mohawk Institute closed in 1969.

Key expressed his appreciation for the support the Friends and Neighbours group is giving the Save the Evidence campaign to "save the witness."

"That building witnessed what happened to those 15,000 children who went through that school," he said.

The Woodland Cultural Centre, which owns the Mohawk Institute, is looking for "an innovative designer" to turn the building into what Key calls "the first Canadian museum of conscience.

"Perhaps then the federal government will pledge to join our campaign," Key said.

The Mohawk Institute, already undergoing massive renovations to preserve it, is a popular host of educational tours that have seen an 10-fold increase in attendance over the past three years as the Save the Evidence campaign has received considerable funding from Six Nations, the City of Brantford, Rotary Club of Brantford-Sunrise, and $2.6 million from the Ontario government.

A group of school survivors is planning a five-acre memorial garden on Woodland Cultural Centre property. Fundraising for the garden has already begun.

The federal government paid out an estimated $1.3 billion in compensation to the former residents and families of the survivors of the schools.

Key said the concept of schools as a place to extinguish the roots of native culture and traditions originated with Canada's first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald. In 1883, MacDonald called the families of native children "savages who can write."

"I am a savage," Key said with a smile.

The schools were opened by the federal government, but typically run by clergy of the Anglican, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic and United churches.

Of the 150,000 children who went to live in the residential schools, an estimated 50,000 went missing based on the fact they never had social insurance numbers as adults.

In 1920, deputy superintendent of Indian affairs Duncan Campbell Scott was the first person to publicly speak of wanting to "get rid of the Indian problem" through the schools.

"We had no human rights," Key said. "We were still governed by the Indian Act until recently. It was the most racist piece of legislation in Canada."

Key's lecture was the fourth and final in a series, but Dave Neumann of Friends and Neighbours said they have a fifth lecture in the works they hope to announce soon. Also in the planning stage is a new lecture series likely to start in the fall.

The group presented Key with a donation to the Save the Evidence campaign.

To learn more about supporting the campaign or to book a tour, contact Jessica Powless at jpowless@woodland-centre.on.ca or 519-759-2650, ext. 257.

Follow Friends and Neighbours of Save The Evidence on Facebook, email friendsandneighbours@email.com or call 519-861-5330.

 

Mohawk Institute poised to be 'the first Canadian museum of conscience': Amos Key Jr.

First Nations language professor shares perspective on residential school system

News Mar 05, 2017 by Mike Peeling Brant News

Amos Key, Jr. avoided the "sixties scoop" that put many First Nations children in the residential school system because of a strong family.

Key, director of the First Nations language program at Woodland Cultural Centre, shared stories of his brushes with the school system designed to solve "the Indian problem" starting in 1800s Canada during a lecture at Wilfrid Laurier University Brantford, which donated the space for the night, on Wednesday.

"I was very lucky," Key told the audience. "I had a very strong extended family. We were strong in our support of each other."

The presentation was the latest in a speaker series hosted by the Friends and Neighbours group, a grassroots committee of residents supporting the Woodland Cultural Centre's Save the Evidence campaign. The campaign aims to save the Mohawk Institute, a former residential school designed to disabuse native children of their cultural roots and heritage, and preserve it as a reminder of atrocities committed within the Indian residential school system.

As a boy in the 1960s, Key didn't end up living in the Mohawk Institute or one of the other 138 such schools — now known for the frequent trauma and abuses they dealt out to children — across Canada by heeding his mother's advice to run and hide when he heard a vehicle coming down the road.

It was a very necessary precaution because a woman employed by the Mohawk Institute would often drive the roads of Six Nations of the Grand River looking for children to kidnap and take to the school.

"My mom would say, 'If you hear a car coming, run into the bush because that women will take you,'" Key recalled.

The Mohawk Institute in Brantford was founded in 1828 as a mechanics school and later evolved into a residential school. The last of the schools was closed just over 20 years ago, while the Mohawk Institute closed in 1969.

Key expressed his appreciation for the support the Friends and Neighbours group is giving the Save the Evidence campaign to "save the witness."

"That building witnessed what happened to those 15,000 children who went through that school," he said.

The Woodland Cultural Centre, which owns the Mohawk Institute, is looking for "an innovative designer" to turn the building into what Key calls "the first Canadian museum of conscience.

"Perhaps then the federal government will pledge to join our campaign," Key said.

The Mohawk Institute, already undergoing massive renovations to preserve it, is a popular host of educational tours that have seen an 10-fold increase in attendance over the past three years as the Save the Evidence campaign has received considerable funding from Six Nations, the City of Brantford, Rotary Club of Brantford-Sunrise, and $2.6 million from the Ontario government.

A group of school survivors is planning a five-acre memorial garden on Woodland Cultural Centre property. Fundraising for the garden has already begun.

The federal government paid out an estimated $1.3 billion in compensation to the former residents and families of the survivors of the schools.

Key said the concept of schools as a place to extinguish the roots of native culture and traditions originated with Canada's first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald. In 1883, MacDonald called the families of native children "savages who can write."

"I am a savage," Key said with a smile.

The schools were opened by the federal government, but typically run by clergy of the Anglican, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic and United churches.

Of the 150,000 children who went to live in the residential schools, an estimated 50,000 went missing based on the fact they never had social insurance numbers as adults.

In 1920, deputy superintendent of Indian affairs Duncan Campbell Scott was the first person to publicly speak of wanting to "get rid of the Indian problem" through the schools.

"We had no human rights," Key said. "We were still governed by the Indian Act until recently. It was the most racist piece of legislation in Canada."

Key's lecture was the fourth and final in a series, but Dave Neumann of Friends and Neighbours said they have a fifth lecture in the works they hope to announce soon. Also in the planning stage is a new lecture series likely to start in the fall.

The group presented Key with a donation to the Save the Evidence campaign.

To learn more about supporting the campaign or to book a tour, contact Jessica Powless at jpowless@woodland-centre.on.ca or 519-759-2650, ext. 257.

Follow Friends and Neighbours of Save The Evidence on Facebook, email friendsandneighbours@email.com or call 519-861-5330.