Church Fund Helps Abused Heal: Projects Originate from Grassroots

Article excerpt

Told that some people suggest aboriginals should forget about the unhappy legacy of residential schools and get on with life, Donna Bomberry smiles.

"We'd like to get on with life," says Ms. Bomberry, the Anglican Church's indigenous ministries coordinator and a Native woman herself. "The cycle of abuse continues."

Ms. Bomberry administers the church's healing fund -- money to be used to help Native individuals and communities recover from the wounds of various forms of abuse.

The fund began in 1992. This year, General Synod has allotted $100,000 for projects across the country. The New England Company (founders of St. George's Indian Residential School in Lytton, B.C., and the Mohawk Indian Residential School in Brantford, Ont.) will contribute another $12,500 to projects related to training. It has committed to do this for the next three years. (The NEC contributed about $250,000 in total to various projects in Canada in 1999.)

The cycle of abuse is a legacy that has been handed down through several generations, Ms. Bomberry said.

She has visited healing gatherings across the country. She sees three generations of former students, all who have had different experiences.

There are the people in their 60s and older who feel they missed out on a good education. These people attended school part of the day and were forced to do manual labour the rest of the day, such as chopping trees and farming. They sometimes became injured. The schools ran these farms for the money, Ms. Bomberry said. The children were not allowed to eat any of the food they harvested, she said, and would be strapped if caught.

As funding became less of an issue, the farms closed down.

The second generation is people in their 40s and 50s. The last group is in their 30s, since the schools closed in the 1970s. Students from more recent times were in school all day. "The abuses happened elsewhere in the schools, in the dorms," Ms. Bomberry said.

All approved projects for the healing fund must be initiated by aboriginals and involve aboriginal people at the grassroots level. …