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Residential school survivor calling on people to 'learn' on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation


On Saturday, people throughout Calgary will mark National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

Residential school survivor Lena Wildman wants people to take the opportunity to understand what she and many others went through.

“This is an opportunity for everybody to learn the truth about this dark time,” said Wildman. “(Learn) what really happened in the schools. Because when I went to school, none of that was in the social curriculum.”

Lena Wildman, was taken from her family at four years old. She said she was camping with her family on the east end of the Stoney Chiniki First Nation in 1965 when authorities arrived.

She was enrolled in the Morley Indian Residential School, located about 50 kilometres west of Calgary, where she experienced some of the most traumatic moments of her life.

“It was a place where I learned the hard way, hard way, not to speak my language,” she said.

The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation now has more than 4,100 confirmed names of children who died while at residential schools. The commission said the number of lives lost is likely much higher.


To help mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, St. Francis High School unveiled a 15-foot Indigenous art piece on Friday.

Rick Wolcott, the artist who made the totem art piece, had three sons go to the northwest Calgary school.

His grandson is currently enrolled at St. Francis, and his wife previously worked at the school.

"We feel sort of a kinship with the school," Wolcott said.

Friday's event marked the first time he'd seen the work hanging up.

"I have been looking at it on the flat, mostly. I was really impressed when I saw it actually hanging up," he said.

Wolcott centred the totem art piece around inclusion.

"At the top of the totem, the three bears, that's inclusion. They're a team. They are working together," he said.

The ceremony at the school also included Indigenous musical performances and hoop dancing.

Approximately 175 students attended the ceremony.

At the University of Calgary, a flag raising ceremony was held to raise awareness about the residential school system and honour the experiences of Indigenous people.

“I think there is a sense of compassion, I think that when people think about children, we all connect universally about the well being of our children,” said University of Calgary director of Indigenous studies Shawna Cunningham.


  • All day events at Fort Calgary starting at 9 a.m.
  • The fifth annual Children’s Commemorative Walk and gathering at Shaw Millennium Park.
  • Siksika Health Services and the Calgary Hitmen hosting an Every Child Matters traditional pow-wow. Doors open at 6 pm, pow-wow starts at 7 pm. Top Stories

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