ininiwag dibaajimowag: First Nations Men and the Inter-generational Experiences of Residential Schools

ininiwag dibaajimowag Poster

Between 2010 and 2013, six women and seven men produced 2-5 minute digital stories which tell about their experiences of being parented by a survivor of a residential school. The first project, kiskinohamâtôtâpânâsk: Intergenerational Effects on Professional First Nations Women Whose Mothers are Residential School Survivors was a project spearheaded by Prairie Women’s Health Centre of Excellence and the second project, ininiwag dibaajimowag : First Nations Men's Digital Stories on the Intergenerational Experiences of Residential Schools was done through the Oral History Centre and Indigenous Studies at the University of Winnipeg (funded through the Aboriginal Healing Foundation).


The men participated in a 5 day extended workshop during February and March every Saturday to discuss, collect and use the Oral History Centre's resources to create their digital stories. The final stories were debuted on March 21st at Convocation Hall at the University of Winnipeg. This event was attended by many members of the aboriginal community, researchers, students, participants of the current project and previous projects.


Thee projects were randomly selected to be featured on the Oral History Centre website. All the other videos created as part of this project are available through the Oral History Centre's Youtube.

My story as a son of a residential school survivor - Ryan Slater

My name is Welland Ryan Lyn Slater.  I go by the name Ryan.  I am an Ojibway band member of the Peguis First Nation.   I grew up in the North End of Winnipeg and am the youngest of thirteen, seven older brothers and five older sisters.  I graduated at the age of 18 from St. Johns High School in 1993.  After graduation, I attended the University of Winnipeg, Bachelor of Arts Program until 1996.  From there I worked for a year and a half in the construction industry.


I returned to school in 1997 and attended a course through Red River Community College called the Aboriginal Broadcast Training Initiative (ABTI) and graduated in 1998, certified in Broadcast Technology.


After graduation I was given the opportunity to be a cameraman through the Manitoba Indian Cultural Education Center and the “Sharing Circle” Television Program.  Those opportunities gave me the chance to travel and see the world, from Hudson Bay to the city of Babylon in Iraq.


In 1998, I received a Manitoba Aboriginal Youth Achievement Award for Artistic Visual. In 2000, through ICE Productions, we won a Blizzard Award for Best New Children’s Program (Cameraman).  In 2003, through Meeches Productions (Editor, Cameraman), we had received a Freeze Frame Children’s Festival Polar Bear Award, for celebrating Cultural Diversity.


I currently own my own company called Reel Indian Productions and work full-time for the Manitoba Government Education Department as a level 3 video Technician which includes acting as Writer, Director, Editor, Researcher and Cameraman.  I always look for the opportunity to assist other First Nations people in establishing careers in the broadcast industry.


In my spare time I like to attend pow-wows and ceremonies with my son and in Canada and the United States. I also train with my son in Brazilian Jujitsu and watch my sons’ football games. I also like to travel to different schools on reserves in Manitoba to attend career days to speak to kids about the Video Production Industry.


Ryan Slater is an Ojibway and member of the Peguis First Nation. He owns his own company called Reel Indian Productions and works full-time for the Manitoba Government Education Department. His video is called “My story as a son of a residential school survivor”.

  • Ryan Slater shows the Oral History Centre's Kent Davies the process he took in creating his own digital story

Second Chance - Dan Highway

Dan Highway is originally from Brochet, Manitoba (Barren Lands First Nation), Treaty 10 territory. Dan received his education in the Residential School system from 1955 at age 7 to 1969 in The Pas and Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Dan worked with the Province of Manitoba for 27 years as the Diversity and Employment Equity Coordinator in Transportation and Government Services from 1982 until his retirement in May of 2005.

Dan currently works as an independent consultant mainly with First Nations and Métis organizations. Dan also spends his time working with Residential School survivors in First Nation communities and urban centres.

Dan's commitment to the community is demonstrated by his numerous awards for volunteerism and community involvement at the local, provincial and national levels.


Dan Highway is originally from Brochet, Manitoba (Barren Lands First Nation), Treaty 10 territory. Dan received his education in the residential school system from 1955 at age 7 to 1969 in The Pas and Winnipeg, Manitoba. After 27 years of service to the Government of Manitoba, Dan now works as an independent consultant. His film is called "Second chance".


Sometimes I  wish I could get a  second chance to be a parent and take care of my children.


When I  became a parent and husband, at a very young age, I didn’t know the huge responsibility I was taking on. I thought being a parent and husband was just a matter of taking care of their physical needs and I could do that easy just by having a job and bringing home the  money. I soon found out the hard way it was much more that. I was very confused and frustrated as things were not working out in my relationships with my family. I started to wonder why, my wife was questioning why.  I started to think for the first time of my  life and of my  past.


All my research and troubles  had its roots in my experience at Residential School. I found out that because of my experience at the school and the abuses that took place I was very messed up. Being taking away to Residential school at the age of 7 and being away from my parents for 13 years of my life had a lot to do with it. I was very angry and I didn’t know anything about the responsibilities about being a parent or husband. My parents were not there to teach me and be role models.


And so I started my healing journey at age 26. The journey was difficult and long. My wife passed away at young and I  was left alone to raise my young children. So I had no choice but to take care of my two daughters. I am now 65 years.  I am in a good space. I have learned a lot about the impact Residential School has had on me. I now understand the effects and also the healing process.


So, Now in a way, I been given a second chance to be a parent. I now have grandchildren and  now a chance to be a good parent by supporting and helping my children in looking after their children My grandchildren will be ok. The  effects of the Residential School cycle stops with my grandchildren ..

  • Dan Highway used this newly constructed Oral History Centre's recording studio to record the voice of his digital story

  • Dan also worked closely with researcher, Roberta Stout, to use the Oral History Centre's digital equipment to create his video

Changes - Jason Parenteau

Jason is 30 years old and a member of the Moravian of the Thames Delaware Nation Band located in Ontario. He currently works for Manitoba Justice as an Aboriginal Spiritual Care Giver at the Manitoba Youth Center. He also owns his own business known as Niigaan Media which produces various multi-media products that help to restore and revitalize aboriginal culture and language.


Jason was born in Vancouver, British Columbia and lived there for the early years of his life before moving to his mother's home community of Moraviantown in Ontario. Throughout his life he has lived on the reserve of Moraviantown and in the City of Vancouver. He knows about the challenges of living in both environments. He now currently lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba with his wife Anna and his six-year old son, Zhaawashko.


Jason lives a drug and alcohol free lifestyle and is a Second Degree Midewiwin of the Three Fires Midewiwin Lodge. It is through the traditional teachings of the Three Fires Midewiwin Lodge that he is able to work with the youth in conflict with the law. He is very committed to his traditional teachings, since it is the very center of the way he carries himself as a man.


In 1999, Jason graduated from high school with Honors and the highest average in his graduating class. He also won numerous awards such as The Lenape Award and the Jessie Houston Scholarship. Jason went on to graduate from the Anishinabe Education Institute with a diploma in Traditional Aboriginal Healing Methods/Native Community Service Work. When he graduated he received the Spirit of Leadership Award.


Since his graduation he has been working in the social work field in various capacities such as: Treatment Counselor for Nimkee Nupugawaagan Treatment Center and Selkirk Healing Center, Wellness Worker for Ginew Wellness Center, Anishinabe Language Coordinator and Aboriginal Spiritual Care Giver for Manitoba Justice.


In the arts field, Jason graduated from the National Screen Institute's program New Voices in 2005. Jason has worked with broadcasters such as CBC and APTN. He also has worked on the shows "The Sharing Circle", "Tipi Tales" and many other independent projects. Jason continues to develop Aboriginal Language Resources for educational institutes and people who just want to learn from Canada and the United States of America. He certainly enjoys the creative capacities that today's technology has to offer.


In his spare time, Jason simply enjoys being a father and is a competitive Amateur Boxer. He also enjoys dancing pow wow and singing.


Jason Parenteau is a member of the Moravian of the Thames Delaware Nation Band (Ontario). He currently works for Manitoba Justice as an Aboriginal Spiritual Care Giver at the Manitoba Youth Center. He also owns his own business known as Niigaan Media which produces various multi-media products that help to restore and revitalize Aboriginal culture and language. His video is called “Changes”.

  • Jason Parenteau at one of the weekend workshops, writing the script that would later become his digital story

  • Jason was able to use the local CKUW Radio Station's recording equipment to record his story

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