It’s a small mural that tells a big story: The story of Métis memories of residential school.
“There was no such thing as Métis; we were a nobody,” said survivor Angie Crerar.
“I wanted so long to belong. I wanted to have a name.”
Crerar, of Grand Prairie, Alta., is one of many elders who guided the mural project on display at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg.
Parts of her life are portrayed in the installation, with each scene depicting a story of strength and survival.
“We were taken by the RCMP in the winter time,” says Crerar. “They’d taken kids from their mothers’ arms; I witnessed it. I was one of them.”
Métis educator Billie-Jo Grant submitted the piece to the museum to help educate the public.
“The Metis experience in residential schools was unique,” says Grant. “Those differences were in part to how the government treated First Nations people and Métis people.
“Métis people were under the provincial government, where First Nations were under the federal. That’s what led to a lot of the differences in our experiences.”
Crerar says the Métis experience at residential schools is often overlooked.
“Nobody knew who you were, nobody checked on us. We weren’t allowed to see our parents. We were forgotten.”
She gifted Pope Francis a book of Métis stories as part of the Métis delegation to Rome last spring. She then attended his visit to Alberta on July 27 in a step towards her own healing.
“He was looking at me, and you can see the pain on his face and he looked square at me. Having the pope come over here and bless you is the ultimate honour.”
The mural will be on display at the museum until January 2023.