Fading memory, fragmented records and the passage of time keep some residential school truths hidden forever

Fading memory, fragmented records and the passage of time keep some residential school truths hidden forever

(Norman Yakeleya, the NWT MLA for the Sahtu, says the federal government needs to fund the continued search for the children who never came home from residential schools. APTN/Photo)

By Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
It was at about 3:30 p.m. on a Friday in January 1958 when the truck pulled up next to the Edmonton Indian Residential School with a coffin from the hospital.

George Muldoe, 13 at the time, was in charge of the grave digging. He and two other boys had a shovel and pick for the job. He remembers bone-chilling cold, maybe -30C, when they started hewing at the frozen ground until dark.

They dug all day Saturday and into Sunday.

“It took us over two days to bury one person,” said Muldoe, who is now 71 and attended the residential school from 1951 to 1962.

Muldoe was from the Gitxsan community of Kispiox in British Columbia but the children from his area were sent to the United Church-run residential school in Alberta. The children were put on a train for a three-hour ride and fed spoiled baloney sandwiches.

He can’t erase the memory of the grave digging.

“The only way to get rid of this is when we die, it’s the only way. You never get rid of it period,” he said.

He buried three coffins, all from the Camsell Hospital where Inuit and Dene suffering from tuberculosis in the Northern territories were sent for treatment. He said they dug the graves with no supervision from school officials.

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