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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Canada - Red Deer School 'Runaways', Fort Normandeau, AB, 1893-1919

    FORT NORMANDEAU — So many children escaped and simply disappeared.

    Parents who hadn’t seen their children came to pick them up for the summer, only to learn that they had died in school — or run away.

    “There’s a long history in my family of the residential school and its effects,” said Jonasson, recounting how children were taken to schools as far from their homes as possible to discourage them from running away. Many of those who did were never seen again.

    More at:


    Wilton Littlechild, one of the commissioners on the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission, called it a "freeing the spirits" ceremony. Many children were sent away to residential schools and never came home, he said.

    "Children who went to boarding school tried to run away, died trying to run away, and never came home," he said.

    But this ceremony will free those spirits to pass on to the other world, "whether you call it heaven or happy hunting grounds," he said.

    Archeological evidence and school records suggest between 27 and 65 people, including five staff members, were buried on a small strip of land on the banks of a creek about a 10-minute walk from the former Red Deer Industrial School, just west of Red Deer.

    The school building has since been destroyed, and the cemetery itself disappeared from property records years ago. But a private landowner preserved the site, along with four wooden headboards. In 2005, an area church decided to try to heal relationships with local bands by researching what happened and honouring the dead.

    The Red Deer Industrial School was built by the federal government and operated by the Methodist Church from 1893 until it closed in 1919. Children were supposed to split their time evenly between school and working in the fields, although former students later said work often took most of the time.

    Conditions were miserable at many residential schools, especially during the early years. In the close confines of the live-in facilities, tuberculosis and other epidemics killed.

    Red Deer Industrial was no exception, according to a 1993 University of Calgary study. The school reported problems with drainage from the boy's bathroom contaminating the well, and federal records show a third of the 62 students admitted between 1893 and 1895 died at the school or within a decade of leaving it.

    In a 1907 report, the federal chief medical officer said the school had the "worst mortality rate in the industrial schools examined across Canada."

    Red Deer is about 160 kilometres south of Edmonton.

    More at:

    Between 1893 and 1919, over 300 First Nation children were taken from their homes from across the West and placed into the gov't-sanctioned church-run residential school at the Red Dear Industrial School across the river from Ft Nomandeau in Alberta. They were forbidden to speak their own language or honour their heritage, and were kept from having contact with their parents.

    Many, if they tried to run, were never seen again. The graves of many have been lost or were never marked at all.

    Please, keep these children and their families in your mind during your research on unidentified remains. These children and their families deserve to have the reconciliation they were forbidden during their lives.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Natives gather to honour children buried in forgotten Alberta school cemetery

    Albert Lightning, a member of the Ermineskin First Nation near Hobbema, told his children their uncle was buried in that forgotten cemetery. He was 12 when he was called in from the field, arriving just in time to see the body of his six-year-old brother David being put in a grave. Then Albert was sent back to work.

    "He didn't even know his brother was sick until they threw him in the hole," said Albert's son Rick, now a grandfather himself and chair of the committee planning Wednesday's ceremony. Albert died 19 years ago at the age of 104.

    "He was really bitter about (his brother's death)," Rick Lightning said. "Because David was so young, we didn't know anything about him. My father never spoke much about him."

    But his father would have liked Wednesday's ceremony, Rick said. Years ago, his father sneaked onto the cemetery property, a grove of poplar trees on the edge of a small creek and prayed on his own for his brother.

    Official records list David Lightning as buried in the city's cemetery, not the small residential cemetery. But the records are so old and fragmented, "we don't know who was buried there," Rick Lightning said. "We're doing it for all of the children, not just one individual child."
    Read more: http://www.calgaryherald.com/Natives...904/story.html

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    "(The children buried here) actually existed, they were human beings and they existed, and the families that come will be able to honour these children."

    Read more: http://www.calgaryherald.com/Natives...904/story.html

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Industrial school — Students’ deaths have not been forgotten

    Never forgetting Red Deer's special children

    Because of the manner with which the school’s records are kept, there is no list of all of the students and staff who are buried in the little cemetery by Kinnikinnick Creek. Many of the old markers have rotted away. Others simply disappeared over the many decades that the cemetery sat neglected.
    More (including more history about the school) at:

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    What a tragic story, and one I have never heard of before. Those poor children, and their families.

    Thanks for posting this information.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Where most don't see.
    You know it makes me wonder if we (Americans) have stories like this relating to our own history. The "schools" where Native Americans were 'taught', 'converted', 'coerced', or whatever word you want to use, to be or become as much like Whites as possible.

    I had not heard of this 'school' and reading this made me think those schools here.

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