Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
January 26, 2009
Natives hurt by loss of traditional ceremonies – Hodgson
Generations of pain stand in love's way
BY GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
Edmonton - Former students of Indian residential schools often see being removed from their homes as the greatest suffering they experienced, says Maggie Hodgson.
But the respected native elder and Roman Catholic says that even more important than being removed from their homes was the fact that residential school students were taken away from their traditional ceremonies.
By losing their ceremonies, they lost the ability to heal themselves, she said Jan. 21.
Hodgson was the keynote speaker at a two-day conference on Truth and Reconciliation in residential schools put on by The King's University College for its students and the public.
She asked those seated in the front row of the several hundred people in the college gymnasium to imagine that they were sent to be with Martians and to learn Martian spiritual practices.
Those in the next rows would be the next generations who were sent to be with the Martians.
"By the time you get to the sixth row, we have removed you from your capacity to heal yourself."
Hodgson described the process of reconciliation as "very difficult" and said overcoming the past will not be easy.
"When you have deep pain and deep abuse for generations, how do we come to that place of love that the Bible talks about?"
People can make a start in their daily lives, she said.
"I strongly and passionately believe that we need to understand you as King's College students just as you need to understand us. Reconciliation is a two-way street."
Hodgson said many believe residential schools were the only source of pain for native people and that all who worked in those schools were bad.
She told of her experience in a boarding school where one sister was "an old bag. She was a very cranky woman."
But often when Hodgson felt hurt by that sister she ran to a young nun, Sister Rose Alma. "I would put my head between Rose Alma's breasts and say, 'I hate her. She's such an old bag.'
"Her breasts in my face felt so motherly. It was the closest I could have to a mother."
Her conclusion: "It's important to know those people who were good, who were kind and who did good work. It's important not to brand all the people who worked in the schools as treacherous."