There’s a Powerful New Canadian Heritage Minute We All Need to See

It’s pretty rare that we talk openly about the bleak past Canada’s Aboriginal people.

Historica Canada is doing just that in a new warts-and-all video that was released on Monday.

The sobering minute-long clip tells the story of Chanie Wenjack, an Aboriginal boy who was taken 1,000 kilometres away from his home and forced to attend a Canadian residential school.

That system operated between 1876 until the late 20th century, with more than 150,000 Aboriginal children attending them. The residential schools’ aim was to remove children from their family’s sphere of influence and integrate them into the Canadian culture – “to kill the Indian inside the child.”

Like thousands of other children who attended them, Wenjack lost his life in 1966. After running away from his residential school, he died of hunger and cold, which sparked a national investigation and the first inquest into the treatment of Indigenous children at these institutions.

Wenjack’s sister, Pearl Achneepineskum, narrates the short film – herself a survivor of the school.

As the video states, she is one of over 80,000 survivors who live with its legacy today.