Warning: Some of the details in this story may be upsetting to some readers. Discretion is advised.
The death of Queen Elizabeth II and the mass mourning that followed comes as a deep blow to some indigenous peoples, including a prominent matriarch in BC who escaped from a residential institution.
Now serving as director of the Bossa Center for Film and Animation at Capilano University in North Vancouver, Manuel founded a number of programs for students starting a new term. Few of them know about the filmmaker and educator he is in as a survivor of a Port Alberni, BC, residential institution.
âI was beaten, I was bullied, I was starved. My head was under water until I died. I was just a kid,â Manuel recounts his experiences at the institution of assimilation in the 1960s said about.
Manuel directly accuses the monarchy of being responsible for perpetuating and supporting the systemic abuse that has been caused to generations of him and his family. The 62-year-old says she still has nightmares, insomnia and night light sleepiness due to the horrors she experienced as a child in the residential school system.
“That monarchy and that government have approved the genocide of my people, they have allowed the rape and murder of children…
Manuel said he had to shut down social media and the people in his life to deal with the Queen’s passing and the mass worship that followed.
âWhen we were living in poverty, they got rich from our country, and we starved to death; I ate chicken legs when I was a little kid because there was nothing else to eat,â she said.
At the time, his father, Jorge Manuel â a legendary leader known today by many as the visionary behind the modern reconciliation movement â ââwas traveling the world fighting for indigenous sovereignty.
“I think this country should spend more of its time building a relationship with us. We are the government to which they should build their relationship. This is exactly what my father asked, and the leaders before him: us sovereign nations.” needs to be recognized as such,â Manuel said.
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His father helped lead a grassroots campaign called the Constitution Express, which traveled by train to the Rajdhani 40 years ago, continues to this day.
Then-Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau promoted the community-led initiative after signing a proclamation with Queen Elizabeth II formally transferring the constitution from the United Kingdom to Canada without Indigenous consent in 1982.
Manuel said it would probably take another similar effort to lead to any meaningful action from today’s monarch.
Continuing his father’s fight against oppression, Manuel says the royal family needs to take more action to advance truth and reconciliation, compensation for indigenous communities and support the ‘Land Back’ movement .
Diana Day with the Pacific Association of First Nations Women echoed Manuel’s call for action, as well as urging King Charles to immediately condemn the Doctrine of Discovery, a philosophy that legitimized the colonization of indigenous peoples around the world. Make.
“We fought with them in all wars and helped set up the whole of Canada and then we were left behind … thinking about the need for healing and it might be time for that to happen.”
That healing may only be possible, Day says, if indigenous communities decide how to allocate funds for culturally safe programs they believe the monarch plays in providing needs to be fulfilled.
For Manuel, healing is when she focuses on helping others.
Manuel said, “There’s a lot of need all the time and I forget what I’m going through, what’s hurting me and I just focus on that and it always gets to me,” Manuel said.
This is a powerful example of the sensitivity needed at the moment, as survivors like Manuel work on moving after injury.
The Indian Residential School Crisis Line (1-866-925-4419) is available 24 hours a day for anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of their residential school experience.