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17th of July 2018

Canada



Residential school survivor Edmund Metatawabin appointed to the Order of Canada | CBC News

A residential school survivor from northeastern Ontario is being named to the Order of Canada.

Edmund Metatawabin, from Fort Albany, is being recognized for his advocacy work on behalf of residential school survivors.

He's also being honoured for his courage in sharing his own story of survival as an author, speaker and teacher.

For more than a century, First Nations, Inuit and Métis children were taken from their families to attend residential schools. Most were run by churches and funded by the federal government. As a result of being away from their families, students lost their language, culture and family bonds.

Metatawabin was one of thousands of children removed from his home and forced to attend a residential school.

For years, Métis, First Nations and Inuit children were taken from their families to attend residential schools, including St. Anne's in Fort Albany. (Edmund Metatawabin collection/Algoma University)

He attended St. Anne's Residential School for eight years. Many students were physically and sexually abused.

Metatawabin eventually became chief of Fort Albany and organized a conference for survivors of the school in 1992.

The information shared by the survivors prompted a police investigation the same year. Over the next six years, OPP interviewed 700 victims and witnesses to gather 900 statements about assaults, sexual assaults, suspicious deaths and abuses alleged to have happened between 1941 and 1972.

Eventually, 74 suspects were identified and seven people were charged. Five people were convicted of crimes committed at the residential school. Work is still being done to compensate the survivors.

Nishnawbe Aski Nation grand chief Alvin Fiddler says it's important Metatawabin is being recognized.

Edmund Metatawabin, a residential school survivor, is being honoured for sharing his story and advocacy work on behalf of other survivors. (Colin Perkel/Canadian Press)

"Edmund is a strong advocate for survivors and has worked for years to uncover the abuse that took place at St. Anne's," he said.

"Edmund has been monumental in ensuring that the federal government can no longer hide the shocking truth behind this terrible chapter in Canadian history. His refusal to be silent at a time when the horrors of the Indian Residential School system were not widely acknowledged took tremendous courage."

A ceremony to honour the 105 appoints to the Order of Canada, including Metatawabin, will take place at a later date.

The Order of Canada was created in 1967 to recognize outstanding achievements, dedication to the community and service to the nation.

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