Student risked life running from residential school abusers
At the Indian residential schools it was forbidden to speak a native language in the classrooms, school yard, sleeping quarters and basically anywhere within earshot of the teachers. Students caught speaking Ojibwa at the Spanish Indian Residential School were quickly and smartly punished with a strap. This is reportedly the case at Reserve Day Schools as well.
However, there is one critical difference between being punished at a day school than at a residential school - the day school students got to go home at the end of the day to be consoled by a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle or sibling. This consoling was unavailable to residential school students. When their situation became unbearable, some residential school students ran away.
The following is a story told by Raymond Armstrong of M'Chigeeng First Nation. For two years Raymond attended Spanish Residential School for boys. Raymond moved back to the reserve and was kept back by his grandfather. The following is an edited, bilingual story of a young student who ran away from Spanish.
(Debaajmod: Raymond Armstrong)
Nahaa ga-dbaajmatooninim "Wiisagenh",
nahiing megwaa gii- skoonwiyaang oodi Spanish.
ngii-nigaagoomi oodi gii-yaawaang.
Mii-sh maaaba gaa-bi-nji-maajaad
maaba oodi, pane, maybe two-three times a year.
Maanpii gii-bi-zhaa, maanpii
maanda gii-bi-biindigebiiyaag oodi-sh gaaming.
Mii-sh maaba gaa-bi-zhaad zhiwi,
nahaa Wiisagenh, kina maanda gii-gbading.
Gii- gkendaan go wipii
Mii-sh go wiindamaagoowaang oodi
shkiniigshag wiindamaagoog, Aah, wii-maajaa miinwaa "Wiisagenh" kidoog.
Aash mii sa genii wi,
ndazhchigeyaan nahii, nwii-gimoodin bkwezhigan, maa bezhigwaatig.
Ngii-miinigoog shkiniigshag nahii,
"pillowcase", wii-tooyaanh wi miijim gaa-gimoodiiyaan, piniig, miinwaa wiiyaas,
Ko debnimaan, mii-sh go wi
ngojing ngii-ni-kidoon fridgeing.
Mii maanda gaa-daapnamaanh maage
nswi maage niiwin, mii-sh maanda biinamaanh niwi pkweshmoniiginoon maaba
Wiisagenh waa-bi-maajiidood, wii-bi-nwopod.
ko gnamaa ngoji gii-bi-nbaadigenag niwi mnishenying one of the islands here.
Aapji-sh go wipii gii-gzod
December, aapji gii-gnaajwi maaba mkom.
Nawaach maaba gii-yowaan
Wiisagenh, naa, zhooshkwaadaaganan mechwe-dkobzojig.
Mii niwi gaa-bmoomaajin miinwaa
wii-zhi- zhooshkwaadewag oodi
maamnik, mii-sh miinwaa bmosewaad ngoji shpaagonagaag
Mii wi gii-nigaajigaaza maaba
bmi-paakskindibe-ind, pshazhegaazo pshkwegin giishpin debnigaazod nishnaabemod.
Gaa go maamdaa gegoo
wii-nishnaabemtaadiyaang, shkwaa-skoonwiyaang kogaagoyaang niiwing naa wa zhiwi
go naa, nahii zhaabdisewaad zhiwi name-ninwag.
Miinwaa go zhiwi aanind
gaa-skoonwijig shkiniigshag gii-dbamaagaazod giwi wii-baataayaad giwi.
Aapji go gchi- nendamaawan gondag
Mii-sh maaba ko gii-bi-maajaad.
Mii-sh maaba pane gaa-dbaadang
Wiisagenh, gaa-zhi-nigaachigaazod oodi skoongamgoong.
Aaniish mnik oodi
gaa-bi-mshkowaakjiwaad giwi shkiniigshag, bi-maajaawaad ngoji negoodewaad
Gii-nigaazwidigenag oodi, bi-dkamiiwaad,
gnamaa gaye wnishnawaad.
mnik oodi gaa-bi-nji-gjibwewaad shkiniigshag gii-bi- dkamiiwaad zhonda mkomiing?
Aaniish mnik gaa-bkobiisewaad?
Wiisagenh is remembered by many people in M'Chigeeng as having run away from Residential School in the winter time by crossing the ice. Fortunately, he did not freeze to death on one of those islands. Wiisagenh's situation must have become intolerable and he felt he had to leave the school and come home to M'Chigeeng.