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Lorraine Daniels: “I was taught that God was a punishing God. And I was punished a lot."

It has taken Lorraine Daniels, a second generation Indigenous Residential School survivor, over 60 years to accept her Ojibway culture. As a student at the Indigenous Residential School, we were taught that God was a punishing God, and she and other children were forever being punished and not loved. She recounts that Indigenous children were not allowed to converse with other family members, such as a brother or sister, or talk during meals and that pulling their hair and getting the strap were normal forms of punishment because the children were considered sinners.

Today Lorraine Daniels is the Executive Director of the National Indigenous Residential School Museum of Canada Inc. The National Indigenous Residential School Museum of Canada Inc. was established in 2018 for the Indigenous Residential School Survivors; to create a memorial for those who went through the experience and honour the survivors, their families and community. It was established as a place to heal, to understand and to move forward. And it was established as one of the 10 Principles of Reconciliation included in the 94 calls to action in the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions final report.

Lorraine Daniels shares that her work at the Museum has given her the opportunity to learn more about her Ojibway culture as it was forbidden in the Residential Schools she attended. She talks about how she was shamed of her culture and stripped of her language but has since learned how to balance her Christian faith and accept her Ojibway culture. “Forgiveness is essential to my healing journey and to be kind to others.”

Episode Transcript:

Stuart Murray 0:00

This podcast was recorded on the ancestral lands on Treaty One Territory, their traditional territory of the Anishinaabe, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota and the Dene peoples and on the homeland of the Métis nation.

Amanda Logan (Voiceover) 0:19

This is Humans, On Rights. A podcast advocating for the education of human rights. Here's your host, Stuart Murray.

Stuart Murray 0:30

Canada does have a National Indigenous Residential School museum and my guest today is Lorraine Brenda Daniels. Lorraine is currently the Executive Director of the National indigenous Residential School of Canada, but she's also a member of Long Plain First Nation. She is a mother of three children, a grandmother of 10 grandchildren and a great grandmother of seven. She is the second oldest in a family of 11 siblings. Lorraine currently resides in Portage La Prairie. Her parents are first generation survivors that went to the former Portage La Prairie Indian Residential School. And Lorraine Daniels is a second generation survivor, who went to three residential schools, Brandon for grade two, Sandy Bay Indian Residential School for five years and the Birtle Indian Residential School for one year. Now for grade 10 and 12, Lorraine left residential school and lived in a private home for those two years. Lorraine Daniels, welcome to Humans On Rights.

Lorraine Daniels 1:44

Thank you. Thank you for inviting me.

Stuart Murray 1:46

So Lorraine, before we get into anything about your background, which we want to, 10 grandchildren and a great grandmother of seven, what do they call you?

Lorraine Daniels 1:56

They call me Kohkom.

Stuart Murray 1:56


Lorraine Daniels 1:59

Yeah, short for Kohkom.

Stuart Murray 2:01

Kohkom. Okay. All right and all of them whether their grandchildren or great grandchildren use the same term of endearment.

Lorraine Daniels 2:08

Yeah, yeah. It's Ojibwe for great grandmother. It's Anikou, but I just, they all call me Cuckoom and I'm okay with that.

Stuart Murray 2:17

Okay. No, that's, that's fantastic and, and so do you get a chance to spend a lot of time with them? Are they are they around you a fair bit? Are they spread out across the province or the country?

Lorraine Daniels 2:26

The majority of them were, they had moved to Kelowna, but they're back now. They're, they're just in the process of moving and right now, a third of them are at my house right now. I spend time with them. Right now I have my daughter and my grandkids at the house, because they're in the process of moving and eventually get their own place, but it's good to have them at the house.

Stuart Murray 2:50

Yeah, for sure. So Lorraine, let's talk a little bit about it. We're going to obviously spend a lot of time talking about your role at the National Indigenous Residential School Museum of Canada, I would have to say that a lot of people probably listening to this podcast, aren't even aware that we have a Museum of Canada, but let's talk about your your life journey. You You obviously were a second generation survivor and I talked about that in the introduction. When you graduated from I think it was Michael Mann or Arthur Meehan. I'm sorry, Arthur Meehan high school, what got you involved it, you know, you decided to pursue a little bit of a financial background? What, what made you, what got you interested in that?

Lorraine Daniels 3:32

I think because I liked working with numbers. That was kind of my interest in high school and I think I spoke to somebody when I was in the private home, I talked a little bit about accounting and bookkeeping, and it got my interest. So that's how I got started. I lived in the PA for a while I worked in an accounting office for about 12 years maybe. And then then I, I decided that I could do a little bit more with a I could do more than just working with numbers. I decided I would go back to school and do something different.

Stuart Murray 4:05

Yeah, and I just did, we're going to talk about that what you did different, but I just want to ask you, Lorraine, when you took your grade, grade 10,11 and 12 I guess that's three years, you left residential school and lived in a private home. What was the process involved for you to get involved or to live in that private home?

Lorraine Daniels 4:24

Before I left Sandy Bay, it only went up to grade nine. I was about 14 at the time and they gave us some forms to fill out and without my parents consent. I fill out the form. There was three different decisions that I had to come up with one was to go back to residential school which would have been in Winnipeg in Santa boya. Or go home and live in my community or or live in a private home, which was in Portage and so I chose to live in a private home because at the time I was into sports and Long Plain didn't have any kind of organized sports and it would have been difficult for me to come in into the town to, to be involved in sports because at the time my parents didn't have vehicle. And so I chose to live in town. I lived in a very loving home, I was very blessed to be with a family that were very caring and was part of the family. And so I chose to live there thinking that I would go home on weekends. That didn't happen, because they still treated us like we were in residential school, the government, so I would only go home on during Christmas holidays and summer holidays. So I stayed there for three years and I got involved in sports and Arthur Meehan and I, I was selected as a sports reporter for me and, and it kind of got me out of my my shyness, and also the, the shock of being institutionalized for seven years, you notice. It was a difficult transition for me, but I think sports helped pave the way for me to get involved in the high school, yeah.

Stuart Murray 6:01

Yeah. Yeah what kind of sports did you like?

Lorraine Daniels 6:04

I was just about in everything I, I learned to play hockey in residential school and I continued on with that. I raced like long distance and short distance. I even did hurdles even though I'm short. I'm five foot one. Yeah, baseball, every sport, I was very competitive and I just love sports. And I think that's what kept me in school. I love sports. And I, volleyball, basketball, even played basketball in high school. So I'm five foot one and I still love it yeah, I just tried my best.

Stuart Murray 6:37

Good for you know, love the attitude and all the competition and all that Lorraine, for sure. Lorraine just to clarify, you left residential school in Portage for grade 10,11 and 12. Did you live with a non Indigenous family?

Lorraine Daniels 6:50

Yes, I did.

Stuart Murray 6:52

And can I just ask the notion again, that you thought you could go away on weekends? Did they have to deliver the message to you as as part of that family to say I'm sorry, Lorraine, you're not allowed or you cannot, I'm not sure what language they would use to say that you're not going back home this weekend?

Lorraine Daniels 7:07

Yeah, they had to tell me that I couldn't go on weekends. And I was okay with that because if I came in town and my mother was in town, then I got to see them.

Stuart Murray 7:17

Yeah, no, interesting. So. So the rain you you spent a lot of time on the economic side, finance side. I mean, you've been Long Plain First Nation Finance Officer Assistant. You talked about spending some time up in the PA, then you said at some point that you wanted to go back to school because you thought you could make a difference. What got you thinking that that was an important thing for you to do to go back to school, and we'll talk about what you went back for in a second.

Lorraine Daniels 7:42

I think every time I wanted to change careers, I decided to go back to school. And I felt like I can do more with an accounting background or bookkeeping background, that I could offer more to my community. And so when I came back from university, I applied for economic development officer and in Long Plain. So I stayed there for for seven years, and I just enjoyed helping people. It opened doors for me to work in different communities. I stayed for seven years in Long Plain and then I went to work for Dakota Ojibway Community Futures and that really opened doors for me to to teach small business development. So I did that for a number of years and it was always going back and forth. Like if I, if I was going to change careers, and I go back to university, to get to get that training and education, to always improve myself and better myself, so that I can have that background to do my job.

Stuart Murray 8:39

So you went to Laurentian University in Sudbury, and what did you study there?

Lorraine Daniels 8:43

I studied Law and Justice and Native studies, I graduated and I decided to come home because my parents are getting getting older and wanting to be home. I think that was when I filed for economic development and say, well to do the work.

Stuart Murray 9:00

Just curious to see Lorraine, that you started to get interested inLaw and Justice in Native studies, which is a little bit of a, you know, not a pivot, but it's a change from numbers. You're talking about people, you're talking about human beings, human rights and that sort of thing. Was there a reason that you started to feel that kind of pull to your career?

Lorraine Daniels 9:21

I think because I wanted to know a little bit more about my my background, I took Native studies. And at the time, I was interested in law and justice. And I was hoping to work in that area, but that, it never happened. And so with my background, I was able to to get into economic development. And at the time, there was a position open, so I applied.

Stuart Murray 9:43

And then you eventually went to the University of Winnipeg and Providence seminary where you I believe, got your master's in Christian Educational Ministry.

Lorraine Daniels 9:55


Stuart Murray 9:56

Tell me about that.

Lorraine Daniels 9:56

After I left Long Plain, I was an economic developement for a number of years, I wanted to change careers again and that was kind of one of my goals on my bucket list was to, to get a master's degree and I had become a Christian at the time and wanted to, to be able to go to a faith based university, and to be able to see through through God's eyes and to be able to, to help people and that really helped me in my personal life, as well as working in the community. I went back and worked for my community. I think at the time when I was going to university I was involved with with my church, and when it begun, and did a lot of volunteer work and ministry work. When it came up to one plane, I was able to, to apply that and I worked with Long Plain ministries and worked under the leadership of a youth pastor. And we did Sunday schools and did some youth ministry work and then I worked I worked as well, too. So that was, I guess that was my passion was was to, to work in youth ministry, and also carry that into my my own work as well to to be a blessing to the community and not just get it as work as ministry work, yeah.

Yeah. So I want to explore that, but I want to make sure, Lorraine part of my journey and I know that I love that you talked about the fact that you're on a lifelong journey all the time you want to learn, as do I, so please help me with one thing- when we talk about the word Indigenous residential school, I think I made a reference earlier on and I called it an Indian residential school. What is the correct language?

They've changed it over the years. First, it was Indian, Aboriginal and now it's Indigenous. I guess the correct language now is the Indigenous, so we are Indigenous to the land, so it's, it's Indigenous. Yeah.

Stuart Murray 11:45

Okay, so so when we look at when I see something that is abbreviated IRS, that is for Indigenous residential schools, that's the correct term. So, okay, please forgive me, I apologize if I if I used the wrong language.

Lorraine Daniels 12:00

When I refer to the Portage Residential School I, I always use the old term because back then it was that was the term Portage Indian Residential School. So I stick to that term, because that's how it was the former in residential school, but now it's like for the National Indigenous Residential Museum, we use the word Indigenous.

Stuart Murray 12:19

Yeah, no and that makes sense. I mean, that's all part of the education which we which which you're involved in. Lorraine, I'm, I'm interested to just explore with you the fact that you went to and I'll call it an Indigenous residential school, for your early grades. What was your sense of, the purpose of religion at those times, if you think back on those years, when you were in an Indigenous residential school?

Lorraine Daniels 12:41

I came from a really a very loving home, I lived with my, I just want to go back to my childhood years, I think were very loving home. I lived with my grandparents and my parents were all lived in the same house. And my parents, my grandparents, they followed the cultural teachings, they're very traditional, but they also embraced the Christian way of praying and so they were able to blend the two. So I learned that as a child, to be able to follow those teachings and both both teachings. I've done that throughout my life. And then when I was in residential school, I think I was able to accept the religion. Back then I was, I think I was a very serious child that I took religion seriously. I learned about who Jesus was and who God was, but in the residential schools, they didn't walk their talk, it was it was, you know, they're teaching, teaching us that God was a punishing God, we're for forever being punished and not being loved. And I didn't catch that till I was older. Because I got punished as a child when I was in residential school. And prior to that, like I came from a loving home and your, your center is into school and you learn a different lifestyle. You're not getting that love that you, you had at home, so there was a difference there and yeah.

Stuart Murray 14:00

So I and Lorraine, I'm just very fascinated at how you could look at you know, growing up in a residential school where as you say, you were learning about God, but at that point, God was a punisher because you're being punished all the time. And yet, you've been able to, you know, reconcile that experience with a more spiritual deeper experience of where you've embraced your Christianity and you talk about it openly that I think is an incredible testament to you as a human being that you were able to sort of break through what you experienced as a child. And now you're you're really a teacher, if you will, and you're the Executive Director of the National Indigenous Residential School Museum, but you're really a teacher. How did you, how did you reconcile what took place as a as a youth when God was a punisher are taught that's how they were taught to today talking about your your experience as God as a as a healer I assume, would you would you use those terms?

Lorraine Daniels 15:00

I think as a child, when you learn that foundation is firm, it's grounded in your life. So that that stays with you throughout your life. So I did stray away from for a while from the churches, and as a teenager, and just, I guess, kind of mixed up, eventually, I did go back to the church, and and then I started with my Indigenous culture, I started questioning it because we were shamed and even our language, you know, it was almost to the point where it's a shame to talk my language. So I lost a lot of my language, but I'm regaining it now. I'm kind of getting lost to what the question is.

Stuart Murray 15:40

Well, no, you're you're talking, I asked you the sort of how did you reconcile, I mean, and that's just your, your sense of when you were younger, and now you're, as you say, you've done a lot of understanding to gather your culture back, you're an Ojibwe woman, you're getting your language and your culture back, and which was, which was taken away from you.

Lorraine Daniels 15:58

Yeah, yeah so it's taken me over 60 years to accept my culture. And the very first time that I that was an eye opener for me about the culture was, when my mother passed away, they they had a traditional ceremony for her at the at the service. And what they did was they added in a casket, and as they were, or they were going to take her out of the area, they they had her side of the family, a very traditional people, the Longclaw side of her family and her nieces had these whistles that they use when they have their sun dances. And they were dressed in their, in their outfits or regalia and as they were moving her out, before they moved, or outside of the building, they they were whistling and singing with these whistles and dancing and that was the very first time that I accepted my culture. Sorry.

Stuart Murray 16:56

No, Lorraine and I apologize if I'm asking you to relive some of those very difficult experiences. So please accept my apology. It's not my intention to upset you, but I appreciate you-

Lorraine Daniels 17:11

No, I just, there's just some days I can talk about it. And some days, it's just triggers and I just want to compare what I saw that day, when a soldier dies, and they, they fire the rifles, as the casket is being moved. That's what I saw. She was a very respected and honored Indigenous woman in my community and it really hit me that it's okay. This is okay, this culture is okay. Because in in residential school, they prevented us from learning our culture, practicing it. And here that day, I was able to practice and be in my culture.

Stuart Murray 17:57

Lorraine, that is a very powerful moment and again, I you know, thank you for sharing that. I think it's always a challenge when there are things that just as you say you have days that are better days that are more challenging. And so so thank you for sharing.

Lorraine Daniels 18:13

Yeah, so that was the kind of like a pivotal moment for me to accept my culture, because I would question everything, as I was learning about the culture. And the thing was, is this acceptable to God? Am I going to be punished for this? Am I going to hell for this? Is this a sin? So all that I questioned. Is this the right thing to do? Because that was that was ingrained in me in residential school. Sin, always pending, you know, always being punished because that's a sin. And being especially in the Catholic Church, going to confession, and trying to find every little sin that you had, as a child, you'd go to confession every week, well, I swore 10 times I, you know, like, stuff like that and trying to be perfect. You can't be perfect in this world because we don't live in a perfect world. So that was ingrained in me that taken years to get that to unlearn all that teaching that I got from the residential schools, but the key to for myself, in my healing journey is forgiveness. My faith has really helped me move through through my journey, my journey of healing.

Stuart Murray 19:25

Yeah, you have a strong Christian belief, but it it it does not today impact the fact that you're a proud the Ojibwe woman. So you've got that kind of that blend, if I can say it that way. You got that incredible blend. So let's talk a little bit Lorraine, about the National Indigenous Residential School Museum of Canada. What's the, give us a bit of a history, how did it get started, it being the National Indigenous Residential School Museum of Canada, how did it get started? And how did you become involved in it. Just give us a bit of a timeline, please.

Lorraine Daniels 20:03

When our current knowledge keeper advisor, Ernie Daniels was Chief at the time and our current chair, Dennis Meeches, I think he was on council, they decided to look at the land, the land was transferred over from Indian Affairs. So they were able to acquire the land and the building.

Stuart Murray 20:23

And Lorraine, just to give context, when was that? Can you give us a sense of when that was?

Lorraine Daniels 20:28

I think it was back in the 80s.

Stuart Murray 20:32

Yeah, because the Indigenous Residential School I think it opened what in 1915? Initially?

Lorraine Daniels 20:36

Yeah, 1915. Yeah, yeah. For a while, for 1970- 1975. It shut down and I think it's just sat there for a while. And the Long Plain decided to acquire the land through treaty land entitlement through within universe. And then I had moved into employment and training at the time and I had been there for about 12 years and I was feeling burned out, because I was working a lot of overtime and meeting deadlines. And, and I just wanted to start winding down because I was getting to my retirement years, and thought that this would be a good job for me to take on. Ernie Daniels was an adviser to counsel I think, at the time, and there had been people working here off and on, it wasn't open consistently. And so he asked me if I would take over. So I did say yes and I asked for a lateral transfer. So I got the job thinking it to be an easy job, because it was a small museum and thinking that this will be an easy job to do and to set it up and a little, little did I know that day, it was going to be turned into something more than what I had expected.

Stuart Murray 21:55

Yeah. Well, and as you talk about your lifelong journey of learning, I mean, you're you're teaching, but you're still learning. So, so Lorraine, I understand that in in 2000, I just went onto your website just to get a bit of history. So in 2000, they renamed the building the Rufus Prince Building.

Lorraine Daniels 22:12


Stuart Murray 22:12

And Rufus Prince was obviously played a huge role in Long Plains. Just tell us a little bit about Rufus Prince.

Lorraine Daniels 22:19

Rufus prince. He was a world war two veteran and he's he's done a lot of work with Long Plain as well as the coder job by tribal council. He was instrumental in setting up the Dakota OjibweTribal Council, as well as the policing and very well respected Captain just outspoken. He was also a residential school survivor, he attended school here and so they named the building after him, to honor him.

Stuart Murray 22:48

Yeah, and I, you know, just make a comment. Because I've heard this many, many times, Lorraine from from other elders, knowledge keepers, when they make reference to the fact that so many First Nations, Métis, Inuit men, and women went to World War Two to fight on behalf of Canada. And you think about the strained relationship that Indigenous peoples had with non-Indigenous peoples and they were prepared to go stand side by side to fight for Canada. It's a, it's just an interesting observation. Because now I think it's a great opportunity to acknowledge people like Rufus Prince, and many, many others who stood tall for this country called Canada.

Lorraine Daniels 23:32

And that's one of the projects that we want to actually start it then it's kind of at a standstill, because we have so many other things that we're working on and to have an area to honor the veterans that went to war and to have a place in the museum donor them and acknowledge them. So that's one of the projects that they have on going.

Stuart Murray 23:51

So Lorraine, when you look at the role that you are now overseeing as the Executive Director, one of the questions may be, why is it important to have a museum that focuses on the National Indigenous Residential Schools?

Lorraine Daniels 24:05

To bring awareness as to what has happened in a residential school era, and to to educate people so that they can learn about the history because a lot of people are not aware of it. When we do have tours we have survivor's elders that come out and share their story. I think that the individuals, the groups that come out, need to put a face to the residential school era. And so that they they know yes, this actually happened. And to hear stories firsthand, and then to go through the tour. To see we have a lot of displays we have, we have songs, we have artifacts, we have a lot of content, we usually start off with a pre pre contact, pre residential school and then we have the residential school era and then we're currently working on post residential school. And then we have we're reclaiming and regaining our culture we have we have for gallium in there and some drums people have donated, the majority of the stuff that we have is donated.

Stuart Murray 25:10

The sort of the number of people, Lorraine that would come to visit the museum, would they mostly be non-Indigenous Canadians?

Lorraine Daniels 25:20

The majority of them are non-Indigenous. And we just had a group two weeks ago, the delegates from Taiwan, they were part of the the Police and Fire. So they came to or there was about 24 of them and we had survivors come and share their story and elders, and they had a whole barbecue for them. So that a taste of the Indigenous cuisine that they have so yeah.

Stuart Murray 25:45

Yeah and Lorraine, the idea being that you are trying to create an educational experience for the visitors, as you say, to understand what the residential school process was about the history. So you're talking a lot of artifacts, but when people if they came through the building, would they see an actual sort of example of what a school room would look like? Or is there a sense or their photographs of what's, you know, the sleeping accommodation would be? Tell me a little bit about what you mentioned artifacts and a lot of things what are people seeing when they come into the museum.

Lorraine Daniels 26:22

When when they go into the area where there isn't a school starts we have pictures of children that are being taken to the to the residential school, either by truck, treated like cattle going by boat, by plane, so it was all different types of transportation for them. So the first room would have that. Also pictures of hair that was being shaved off and cut and we also have a little mannequin child that has a replica of hair that was cut, the girl's hair was cut, like you know how Dora doll looks like Dora hair cut, they were all at the same same way. And also when you enter that room, there's the the mannequin has a total wrapped around her head, because this is my experience and a lot of other reasons called experience. So I'm able to share that for a firsthand story. So they would put DDT in the hair and that's the story we tell. And there's also a picture that was it was an original picture that was donated by intergenerational survivor, as father had gone to Brandon and he donated the picture and it's a very dark, dark picture of a priest or he has a strap and where he's hitting the the young, the young boys. And then you go into the next room there's a replica of a dining room to just contrast where the staff ate with the fine china and where the children ate with just plastic plates. And then the next room is we have a bed that was traded from the former Birtle Residential School we have that setup. Then we have picture setup with the dorms where they have the beds and the bunk beds we are always looking for stuff like a bunk beds and that are replicas of what we had in the last room is actually have three other rooms. I usually explain what's in the hallway between the two doors they were separated the hallway was separated the the girls side and the boys side so the upstairs would have been the dorms and the the main floor would have been where the the common area or the playroom. So the boys on one side, the girls on one side and then there would have been the probably rooms for staff or they could sleep or office space and children weren't allowed in between those in between the the hallways, they were separated. They destroyed the family unit. I guess for a year if you had a sibling like a brother or sister you weren't allowed to speak to them. But I think as the years went by the rules started to relax.

Yeah and then you say there's three, sort of three rooms at the very end, Lorraine?

Yeah, yeah, there was three more rooms I didn't talk about. One is a room that's dedicated to the children that never came home. There's a lot of, again, there's artifacts in there and also just people that have donated items. We had little shoes that were gifted back in the day when they first discovered it to 15 unmarked graves. We brought those in because it was kind of a rainy season and we have those in the room there and talk about the children that never came home. We have Chanie Wenjack historian there that was donated by Oracle, high school, alternative high school. And then the room next door to it is it's a better it's a better story. It's the glee club that they formed here. Jack Harris back then was was the administrator and they started up a Glee Club. Actually, I was part of the Glee Club so, I was already living in town and I used to come here and just socialize with the kids. And I joined the Glee Club, the music director was was my science teacher in North German. So he would pick me up for practice or if we had to go out and we did fundraising, we'd go to the different towns and sing the fundraise to go to Japan and that was my main reason was to go to Japan.

You were 15 or 16?

16 at the time, yeah.

Stuart Murray 30:08


Lorraine Daniels 30:08

Went to the World Fair in Osaka, Japan. We stayed in Tokyo most of the time and then we went and sang at the Canadian pavilion in Osaka.

Stuart Murray 30:41

Quite an experience, right?

Lorraine Daniels 30:42


Stuart Murray 30:43

Yeah. From a from a young girl from Long Plains yeah, First Nation. Lorraine, just on the glee club. What sorts of songs would you be learning? Would they be traditional songs or?

Lorraine Daniels 30:54

No, they were just regular, folk songs, I guess. There was one song they did sing in Cree. Majority of the kids that were on the glee club were were from up north and most of them are Cree. So then there was a few children that were Dakota and an Ojibwe, so there was a mixture. We actually got together last Orange Shirt Day, and we were able to get a hold of our music conductor. We came out and we did a little did a few songs and Orange Shirt Day and did a little reunion. So that was good.

Stuart Murray 31:25

Yeah. Interesting. Yeah, that must have been great. And I can see the smile on your face. It means it means a lot to you for sure. Yeah. Yeah. So the Lorainne. You mentioned Orange shirt day or National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, which is the last day of Septemberm, September 30. Tell me a little bit about, what does that, what does that mean to you? And you know, and then I'd like to ask you a second question of that is, what would you like it to mean to non- Indigenous peoples?

Lorraine Daniels 31:54

I think it's a day of reconciliation, and to come out to honor the children that that were in residential school and the ones that never made it home. But also it's a day to celebrate, to get together, both Indigenous and non- Indigenous.

Stuart Murray 32:11

Because I think that's one of the things that I think is very important is that it is a day, but reconciliation is not a day or about a day for sure. So, so what have you got going on? What do you got planned?

Lorraine Daniels 32:24

So this year, I wanted to do something different, totally different. It's for everybody, not just not just Indigenous people. But to come out and celebrate together. So this year, is called the healing dance of reconciliation. We've done a partnership with Portage Community Revitalization Corporation. And last year, they organized a walk from the city of Portage from City Hall and all the way to to the residential school year and it just oh, it just, it just fills me with joy because it was so good to see these people walking, just a sea of orange shirts. And we also had Dakota Ojibwe police services, they they came in the front and they had their their vehicle and kind of like being the front and guiding them and it was so beautiful to see. And so we're doing that again this year. The CRC is going to be doing the walk again ao they do that. It's called a Reconciliation Honor Walk from City Hall to here. So there'll be escorted again by by the First Nation policing. And then we have our of course, our opening prayer and welcoming remarks, we have different delegates are hoping that they will all show up and the mayor usually shows up to us. So we have Mayor Sharon Knox coming. and our chief as well, too. We have a guest speaker this year, she did a reconciliation project with us. Kristen Lynn Blue, she's a professor at University of Wisconsin. She came out this year with a group of seven number students and she wanted to give back to the to the community because her grandfather had run ran the school for a couple of years and she didn't realize the impact the recent schools have had on survivors.

Stuart Murray 34:18

So her grandfather's non-Indigenous?

Lorraine Daniels 34:20

Yeah, he's non-Indigenous and she wanted to give back so done a project we have a garden in the back they bought bought all the equipment and so we have a raised garden in the back that they they worked on and and so and then we also worked with them and and taught them some of our cultural activities, cultural teachings, so get that as well too. And so they were here for a whole week we work on some of the things that we we did with them was did the healing garden we did some activities like we did songs with them. They did the washing of the tears at the end. They did some beading, they learned how to beat some some stuff and they did some kind of a sharing circle with a medicine wheel with one of the elders. And they also heard one of the elders share his story about his residential school experience. So that that's who will be doing the we've invited her back to to come in.

Stuart Murray 35:24

That's interesting. Yeah so she's an American?

Lorraine Daniels 35:27

Actually, she's originally from from Portage. She's moved to Wisconsin. She's your teacher there, Professor. Yeah.

Stuart Murray 35:36

Oh, interesting. Okay, so she does have I mean, other than her grandfather, who was in volved, in the in, as you know, involved in the residential school. She also has some, being from Portage she has some some community roots.

Lorraine Daniels 35:49

Yeah, yeah.

Stuart Murray 35:50

Perfect. Yeah. Yeah. Interesting. So so, you know, Lorraine, when I asked about what you're doing on the National Day For Truth And Reconciliation, Orange Shirt Day, great explanation. Thank you so much. If people want to come, do you is there is it just the open house? Do they should they be they shouldn't be aware of anything? And if they do want to come, where, should they go to City Hall to be part of the walk? Or what would you advise on that day?

Lorraine Daniels 36:16

we're going to have saved the data we'll be posting it on we have, we have our Facebook page, we also have the website for the walks, usually PCRC that organizes that for us.

Okay, and PCRC is?

Portage Community Revitalization Corporation. They do a lot of work with Portage area, a lot of projects, activities. And so yeah, so they'll be organizing that. They also helped organize the dancing part of the that'll happen in the afternoon. So they've been able to get a Filipino dance troupe that there's going to be about 20 of them. We also have a Ukrainian dance troupe that they organized well, too. We've also been able to acquire a Métis fiddler, and then we have fun jigging by, by some, some use that there will be doing that as well. And then we'll have our Indigenous dance troupe. So it's, it's all about dancing this year, I think then bringing healing and dancing. Dancing is this universal, and everybody brings a unique style of dance their dance regalia. So I'm just really looking forward to see all the different types, you know, dances. And so that's going to happen in the afternoon. And I'm not sure how I'm going to do that. The final one will be a dance of reconciliation, all nations. And so they're either gonna dance, probably dance in their regalia, and all dance together either and we have a drum group and hopefully we'll have a round dance where everybody wants join. The for, for lunch, we're also have this year we've included it's called more moly, guacamole. They're Mexican, Mexican food. So I'm going to have people have already spoken to them and also we have our Indigenous cuisine.

Stuart Murray 38:14

Yeah a tremendous, yeah, it sounds fantastic Lorraine. I mean, it really sounds incredible. And you mentioned that you've got a Facebook site and a website, your Facebook site would just would that be? If you went to somebody's listening, saying what's your Facebook? How would I find you on Facebook?

Lorraine Daniels 38:30

National Indigenous Residents School Museum?

Stuart Murray 38:33

Okay and then your website is?

Lorraine Daniels 38:35

Again it's the National Indigenous Residents School Museum. Yeah.

Stuart Murray 38:38

Okay. Excellent. So, So Lorraine, I want to sort of, you know, look at a couple of things before we find our off ramp on this conversation. When I asked you what is going to happen you gave a very detailed a program of what you're planning for that day. What what do you hope that non-Indigenous people will take away from your museum? Our museum? I don't know if I can say our, I apologize if I'm trying to say, I mean, it's, but it's, I mean, the you know, what, what do you want people to learn? Both from an I don't know if you can tie in what they could learn from a journey through the National Indigenous Residential Schools Museum that you are overseeing, and also the Day Of Truth And Reconciliation. I don't know if those two can be tied together, but I'm interested to get your perspective of what you would like or your hope is that from non Indigenous people, what would be their, what would they learn and what would you hope them that their takeaway would be?

Lorraine Daniels 39:43

I think, I think for me, you know, sometimes we set invisible boundaries, okay, you know, I'm scared to go there. And you know, I'm not going to go there. So to be a welcoming place, a warm place to be inviting, and this is a place is where you can come and learn and share respectfully, just it's a safe place to come and learn about our culture, also about the dark era of residential school, and that, that we can all work together and that there is hope for everybody that we can work towards, work together in unity, towards truth and reconciliation, it's, it's a hard truth, but it has to be told, and there's a structure I, I am thinking about, the truth will set you free. And my hope is that everybody will learn. I know, I know, the kids in school are learning about about the residential school. And we've had families that come here, and the parents tell us that you know, that their child is teaching them, because they're learning it in school. So which is good. It's all about educating the public, this is what happened. And not to take it away and not to blame yourself, because it happened back in the day, when the government of the day and the churches of the day, thought they were doing right but it wasn't, it was harming the indigenous people. And that we're all free to live in this world and to, to live and practice our cultures, like around the world, indigenous people around the world there that it's okay to practice that culture to, to be accepting. And it's all about, we're all the same, you know, we all have, we all have, everyone has a spirit, you know, and to to move forward, I guess to celebrate, I guess this is about celebrating life. And that we can move past the damage that was done. But there's but to be aware that there's still people that are still hurting, and there's some people that have been able to, to overcome, but there's always that it stays like for myself, you know, you get triggered to help one another, you know, to lift each other up and not to, to keep a person down, but to be able to say how can we help? What can we do to work together to make our world a better place?

Stuart Murray 42:13

Yeah and for somebody who as a young student in a residential school system, to be told that you're a sinner, that things are bad, that there's all of this negativity, for you to be able to leave a message of hope and a journey that we can walk together and become human beings and respect one another. I can't think of of a more powerful way to say thank you for taking some time to share your personal journey, and what you're what you're doing as the Executive Director of the National indigenous Residential School Museum of Canada. Thank you for for your conversation, thank you for your time, your wisdom and knowledge. And I look forward to the opportunity of visiting you and visiting the museum and having an opportunity to walk through it.

Lorraine Daniels 43:05

So thank you for inviting me to share my thoughts and to be able to share what we're what we're doing out here and in the in the museum and hopefully that will we'll have more more tourists more visitors and to come out and just learn, learn firsthand what, what happened here. And you know, it's it was from a place of hurting to now it's a place of healing, and to bring healing through a reconciliation day that people will learn and, and just come out and celebrate with us through dance and, and eating, people like to eat and people like to dance and you know, it just lifts up people.

Stuart Murray 43:47

Yeah it does, it does, and I appreciate that. So, Lorraine Daniels, thank you so much for this conversation. I really appreciate all you've done. Thank you so very, very much.

Lorraine Daniels 43:56

Thank you so much.

Matt Cundill 43:58

Thanks for listening to Humans, On Rights. A transcript of this episode is available by clicking the link in the show notes of this episode.Humans, On Rights is recorded and hosted by Stuart Murray, social media marketing by Buffy Davey, music by Doug Edmund. For more, go to

Tara Sands (Voiceover) 44:19

Produced and distributed by the Sound Off Media Company.


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