Michael Cheena, 64
Attended Bishop Horden residential school in Moose Factory, Ont., from 1958 to 1966.
Also went to Shingwauk Hall residential school in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., from 1967 to 1968.
For Michael Cheena, the path to reconciliation is through traditional healing, which is why he feels the Catholic Church has an obligation to provide for spiritual healing for survivors, and that not doing so is disrespectful.
“It makes me feel the Catholic Church isn’t fully committed to the residential-school settlement agreement,” he said. “I’ve been institutionalized, I’ve been abused, traumatized and indoctrinated to be a Christian.”
Mr. Cheena was 6 when he first attended Bishop Horden.
The 10 years he was in the system were punctuated by occasional beatings – “If we stepped out of line we were subjected to the strap or other physical abuse,” he said – but more painful than that, he was stripped of his Cree culture and beliefs.
The church’s failure to raise the total amount for dedicated healing and reconciliation programs leaves survivors fewer options, the Toronto man added.
“If you go to a professional psychiatrist or psychologist,” he said, “that person doesn’t understand the residential-school experience – they give you medication. I still haven’t taken medication. I go to an elder and healing circles.”