Indigenous Leaders Call for Healing from the Traumas of Indian Boarding Schools

Bringing Faith and Policy Together

G20 Interfaith Forum

The Boarding Schools in Canada and the USA have wounded the minds, bodies, and spirits of students, their families and communities.

The Boarding Schools in Canada and the USA have wounded the minds, bodies, and spirits of students, and communities. The experience was a man-made problem, therefore we can fix it by working together”
— Gerry Oleman of the St’at’imc Nation
ALPINE, UTAH, UNITED STATES, March 18, 2022 / -- March 24, 2022—The Anti-Racism Initiative of the G20 Interfaith Forum (IF20), the world’s leading organization focused on the intersection of faith and policy, is gathering representatives from the United States and Canada’s indigenous communities to discuss the lasting traumas of Indian residential school programs, their effect on indigenous communities today, and institutional racism in education at an upcoming webinar.

Ja:no’s Bowen of the Seneca Nation, who will moderate the webinar, wrote the following statement in behalf of the IF20 Anti-Racism Initiative:

“The G20 Interfaith Forum 2021 Working Group on Education recommended that institutions of learning ‘safeguard healing and well-being as a cornerstone of education.’ Nevertheless, in order to do so, countries such as the United States and Canada must first come to terms with their blatant disregard for the health and safety of generations of Indigenous children entrusted to their residential schools. While most Indian boarding schools have closed their doors, the effect of years of collective trauma linger in indigenous households throughout the United States and Canada, whose governments worked meticulously for over 50 years to ‘kill the Indian, and save the man.’”

Gerry Oleman of the St’at’imc Nation, who will speak at the webinar, said that unless spaces for healing are intentionally created, affected Indigenous communities will never recover:

“The Boarding Schools in Canada and the USA have wounded the minds, bodies, and spirits of students, their families and communities,” Oleman said. “This experience has left them in the place of living a miserable life. We must create healing spaces for them, or they will die a miserable death. The boarding school experience was a man-made problem, therefore we can fix it by working together.”

Hohahi:s-Leroy Hill, member of the Cayuga Nation and Bear Clan, said the culture of Indigenous People, sabotaged by residential schools, is the key to their survival and wellbeing:

“We Indigenous People are all survivors of an orchestrated attempt to erase us from Mother Earth,” Hill said. “Throughout our existence, Our Creator provided all that we need to be healthy and content. Indigenous Populations are now in a sincere battle to survive, revitalize, and reconnect with our true identity. Our health and strengths exist in our traditional teachings, languages, and spiritual connections that were sabotaged in the recent past.”

The virtual meeting will take place on March 24, 2022 at 2 pm EDT, and will aim to accomplish three purposes:
1. Discuss the continued struggle of Indigenous Peoples with institutional racism embedded in the US and Canada’s educational systems.
2. Discuss paths forward to repair relations between government-sanctioned educational institutions and Indigenous populations living within their scope.
3. Discuss what religious institutions can do to develop educational institutions that embrace healing and wellbeing rooted in faith while still demonstrating respect for Indigenous cultures and spiritual traditions.

Register for the free webinar at

Speakers will include:
• Ja:no’s Janine Bowen – Citizen of the Seneca Nation; Director of the Seneca Language Department, Allegany Territory
• Dr. Lori Quigley – Citizen of the Seneca Nation; Member of the National Advisory Council on Indian Education
• Hohahi:s-Leroy “Jock” Hill – Member of the Cayuga Nation and Bear Clan; Professor of Indigenous Knowledge and Cultural Advisor
• Gerry Oleman – Citizen of the St’at’imc Nation of Tsal’alh (Shalalth B.C.); Change agent for First Nations communities
• Dr. Denise Lajimodiere – Citizen of the Turtle Mountain band of Chippewa Indians; Artist, Poet, and Retired Associate Professor of Educational Leadership

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Marianna E. Richardson
G20 Interfaith Forum
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